In Toledo, "free speech" is for Nazis only

From Trudy Bond:

Dear Friends:

On December 10, 2005 the city of Toledo was shut down and freedom of speech was declared dead. This martial law was not the result of a threat of nuclear attack or terrorist “chatter” but rather a decision by the city administration, the police and the judicial system in Toledo that protecting a small group of white supremacists was worth sacrificing first amendment rights.

As a result, ANYONE – who assembled ANYWHERE IN THE CITY OF TOLEDO FOR ANY PURPOSE outside of the city sanctioned perimeter for the Neo-Nazi rally could be threatened with arrest and jail, and some people actually were arrested, as we explain below. According to Judge Thomas Osowik’s ruling, this right to assemble was suspended indefinitely until the city’s lawsuit was settled. And ironically, the City administration dismissed the lawsuit on Monday, December 12, two days after December 10, as it had served its illegal purpose.

Now, we in the community are facing several court battles. There are the cases of 7 young people from Chicago, including two juveniles who were arrested only for allegedly violating an unlawful, unconstitutional restraining order of which they were unaware. The fact that the city of Toledo was under martial law had not been publicized. They were jailed from Saturday until Monday afternoon without bail, and have civil and criminal charges pending
against them, in spite of having committed no illegal actions.

Then there are 6 individuals from Lansing, Michigan who have a variety of “disorderly conduct” charges for such crimes as shouting profanities at the Nazis and criminal charges which stem from their presence at the actual “sanctioned” neo-nazi demonstration.

Those present at the counter-demonstration agree that they witnessed no violence or even “disorderly conduct,” except by the police, whose outrageous and dangerous tactics included several unprovoked charges into the crowd by platoons of cops on horseback.

All of these people are being defended by one attorney, Terry Lodge. With no assistance from any organization (not even the state or local ACLU), Terry faces a huge task and at this point is protecting the rights of all of us single-handedly. The civil contempt charges will go to trial in a few weeks, and it is likely that there will be several jury trials on the bogus criminal charges. Such things take many hours of preparation in advance, and careful attention to detail at the actual trial. A typical criminal jury trial in Toledo Municipal Court can cost $2,500.00 to $7,500.00 in lawyer fees alone; with such a large number of defendants, the burden of defending vital free speech concerns becomes immense.

Legal fees for those of us involved in civil disobedience have never been an issue with Terry. We have paid what we could and he has been most gracious in accepting what we could pay; for many that has meant pro bono. However, with 13 defendants, most of whom are unable to pay, money is essential to cover potential fines and court costs as well as a minimal portion of
Terry’s hundreds of hours that will be spent in protecting the First Amendment.

The Freedoms we often take for granted: freedom of speech, association, and the right to assemble are under fire in Toledo. All of us have a stake in making sure that the reprehensible viewpoints of a distinct minority aren’t allowed to be made into the excuse for shutting down the freedoms of others.

Please support this ongoing fight to protect our freedoms. Donations can be sent to Terry J. Lodge, IOLTA Account, 316 N. Michigan St., Suite 520, Toledo, OH 43624-1627.

In Solidarity and Resistance,

Trudy Bond
Alan Hart
Kathleen Baldoni

0 thoughts on “In Toledo, "free speech" is for Nazis only”

  1. You’re leaving out that a bunch of “counter-protestors” stopped doing actual protesting and instead began to riot and commit acts of vandalism and arson.

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