March 10, 2010
Dear supporter of the ANSWER Coalition,
I am writing to let you know about a serious assault on free speech rights that we believe is intended to hamper and obstruct the mobilization for the March 20 anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
On Sunday night, March 6, volunteers in Los Angeles were arrested for allegedly putting up three posters announcing the March 20th action. They were charged with felony vandalism and kept in jail on a $20,000 bail for each of them. Thanks to volunteers coming together, we were able to raise bail money and they are now out of jail.
The heavy felony charge and huge $20,000 bail in Los Angeles comes shortly after a nearly identical situation in San Francisco. Two ANSWER organizers were arrested on felony vandalism charges for allegedly putting up a political poster and also each given a $20,000 bail.
In Washington, D.C., the ANSWER Coalition has been hit with another wave of fines for March 20th political posters. These thousands of dollars of new fines are on top of an unprecedented $70,000 fines from the two most recent mobilizations. We are challenging the old and new fines. The posters conformed to lawful regulations—as they always have. No organization, corporate entity or politician has ever been hit with these massive fines.
Just today, we received another $1,300 fines on top of earlier fines.
Anti-war organizations and volunteers are also being hit with heavy fines in Chicago, New York City and elsewhere.
The stakes here are high.
The massive fines and felony arrests with extraordinarily high bail come just before what we believe will be the largest outpouring to date against the war in Afghanistan.
The large corporations, including the biggest war contractors and banks, have billions of dollars to advertise their message of war and profit. Grassroots organizations have always relied on leaflets and posters to build progressive movements for change.
The government and national and local law enforcement agencies are now engaged in a nationally coordinated effort to stamp out the exercise of classic grassroots organizing.
We will never surrender to this campaign that aims to intimidate and bankrupt the progressive movement.
We are fighting back. Most importantly, we are continuing to mobilize.
We ask you to show your support by coming to the March 20 demonstrations and by bringing your friends, families, co-workers and fellow students. We will not be silenced.
You can also support this movement by sending an urgently needed donation today.
We want to thank the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF), the public interest legal organization, which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the ANSWER Coalition and Muslim American Society Freedom that challenges the constitutionality of the D.C. postering regulations. Their tireless pro bono legal effort has resulted in an important victory at the U.S. Court of Appeals, which allows the lawsuit to proceed. The government had tried to stop us from even having our day in court. In California, constitutional rights attorney Carol Sobel has waged a major legal battle against the government’s efforts to target free speech postering activities.
In order to win this fight, we have to both defend our rights in the courts and to show solidarity with activists who are facing repression. And each and every one of us can do our part to help support the mobilization of the people against war and occupation. Basic rights were never a gift from politicians. Important change, including basic free speech rights were the result of the struggle by generation after generation.
Thank you for your support. And please, take action now. Together, we can make the difference.
All out March 20!
National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition
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Please make your plans to come to Washington, D.C., now. If you cannot come, please make an urgently needed donation that can help others attend.
The March 20 National March on Washington depends on the support from thousands of others like you who are taking a stand against the expanding wars and occupations. Please make your contribution today.