It is hard to believe that more than three years has passed since I was arrested for merely carrying a sign which said “Cheney-10th Century Energy Man” outside a political rally featuring our vice president. But that was 2/6/02.
In any case, the dubious charges against me were dropped a couple of weeks after that and I sued the City of Evansville and several of their policemen for violating my civil rights using arguments under both the 1st and 4th Amendments of the Constitution.
Last week, Federal Judge Larry McKinney issued his decision and backed me up on three of the four counts that were being litigated. Actually, he kind of spanked the officers and the City for arresting me with “no probable cause” and their establishment of an overly large “no protest” zone.
Of course, I am delighted in the decision and look forward in the negotiations that I will have in determining the monetary punishment that will be paid by the City. I can assure everyone who receives this note that while I will not be greedy, I will make sure the monetary award is sufficient to cause enough pain to assure they will not do this sort of thing again.
I was exceptionally well represented by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union and their dedicated civil rights attorney Kenneth Falk. It is really great to know that such an organization exists and is there for us when we need them.
Last, I hope that my case serves to inspire others across the country to stand up to the assault on our civil rights that is occurring in our country today. George Bush likes to speak about liberation of Iraqis and Afghans but has consistently pursued a policy of attacking the rights of citizens in the US.
The only way we can remain free is to make sure that each of us exercises our freedom each and every day, every hour. Freedom is like a muscle, if it is not exercised, it will atrophy. We must never let that happen.
Thanks for all the support that has been given me over the last three years. It has been very helpful in staying the course.
JOHN BLAIR is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer from Evansville, IN and also serves as president of Valley Watch, Inc., a regional environmental health advocacy group. He can be reached at: Ecoserve1@aol.com