'One Small Step for Freedom of Speech,' Writes One Member of Cindy Sheehan's Courageous Band of Iraq War Protesters...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2008, 6:19pm PT  

That's "one small step for freedom of speech," our friend Jesse Dyen writes to us this afternoon.

Dyen was arrested, along with a number of other freedom fighters who had the temerity to show up near Bush's "brush ranch" in Crawford, Texas, several years ago to protest against the war, only to be arrested (twice) by police enforcing an ordinance, passed by the locals after Cindy Sheehan's original stand there in the Summer of 2005, that no such protests on public lands were to be allowed.

Today, he writes to let us know that the guilty charges were overturned by an appellate court that decided [PDF] in favor of the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment, and other quaint old notions such as those.

See below for Dyen's missive explaining what happened back then, and in the court decision today, to the courageous arrested "Prairie Dogs" (who happened to include legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, as well as a number of other notables), and a video made from one of our favorite songs, as written by Dyen, during the original historic tipping point moment in Crawford back in the Summer of 2005…

Today's note from Jesse...

After Cindy Sheehan's courageous and historic protest at the Bush brush ranch in Crawford, Texas, the powers that be in McClennan County wanted to be sure to prevent such an event from ever happening again. Not long after we left town in September of 2005, they passed an ordinance that made parking and camping (among other things) near the Bush compound against the law.

As this was an obvious attempt to restrict the type of free speech that caused thousands to flock to Sheehan's side that summer, a number of us decided to challenge the ordinance when we returned to Crawford in November. Twelve of us were arrested for erecting tents in the ditch (where Sheehan had begun her protest in August). We were booked and released and then never charged.

So we went back and did it again in April. We were arrested and got to visit the Waco jail again (this time they even had us wear jumpsuits).

I was in good company, with the likes of Daniel Ellsberg, Ann Wright, Cindy's sister Dede, Iraq Veterans Against the War members Charlie Anderson and Geoffrey Millard, and a number of other veterans and citizen activists.

We had practically begged them to charge us, and eventually two of us were formally charged with obstruction of the highway. There was a trial in late 2006, and both Hiram Myers and Em Hardy (the only two charged) were found guilty.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of our attorney, David Broiles, who argued our case so eloquently during the trial, an appeal was filed. I am just learning that the appellate court has ruled in our favor, overturning the guilty verdict.

One small step for freedom of speech.

Jesse Dyen

A video of Dyen's classic Crawford tune, Sons and Daughters, as made by Gordon Soderberg of New Orleans Voices For Peace. We recommend you give it a listen...

And, if you're interested, here are some highlights of a few of our own audio interviews from our "Operation Noble Cause" live broadcasts on the ground inside of "Camp Casey" during that amazing (and very hot, in more ways than one) summer. The interviews at that link happen to include an amazing live version of Dyen performing his song, which he performed live for us as a wind storm...the front end of what would become Hurricane Katrina...blew into the tent as he sang.