By Benjamin Bartholomew
>On Wednesday, April 27, my brother and I were arrested. Our crime was wearing masks while holding a sign that read “TAXES=THEFT”. We were charged with penal code 185 for wearing the masks. We wear Guy Fawkes masks as political theater. The masks act as a force multiplier for our outreach. We were also charged with PC 602, trespass / damaging State property because we had tied our sign to the fence on a local highway overpass. As part of the arrest several pieces of our property were taken as “evidence” including our sign, a video camera and the tripod it was on, and both of our cell phones which were Qik enabled.
This incident has convinced us that cameras are not enough and that Qik is more than just handy; it’s essential, as without Qik we wouldn’t have video of what happened, making it our word against theirs.
On Tuesday, May 24, we appeared in court as ordered for an arraignment. We brought with us a lawyer, and a dozen or more supporters, some of whom were individuals we had never met before. In order for us to all be easily seen as a group, we all wore 3-inch buttons bearing the image Guy Fawkes and our group’s name “Good Men Do Something”, which were made for us by Robert, another member of our Group. We didn’t bring in cameras, as our petition to do so was denied since we didn’t know our case number, something we weren’t given until the day of the arraignment.
Luckily, since our last name starts with “B”, we were third in line to be arraigned. When it was our turn, we were notified that the DA had decided to drop the PC 185 charge and only move forward with the PC 602(f) charge. We entered a plea of “not guilty”, and our lawyer setup the next court date, which will be 11:00 am July 13.
Once we were done, we and all our supporters got up and left, leaving what was a standing room only court room of about 50, a quarter empty, something that hopefully caught the attention of those who remained in the court room.
Now having the name of the DA handling our case as well as a case number, our lawyer has begun working to have our property returned to us.
With the mask charge having been dropped, this case now stands as a pure Freedom of Speech case.
Thank you to everyone who came out to support us. And thank you to the Liberty Activism community for showing us support, giving this incident attention, and for inspiring us to stop merely complaining and start getting active and do something.
Those interested in following us can check us out at www.facebook.com/GoodMenDoSomething
You can donate to our legal defence by chipping in at www.gmds.chipin.com
Video of our arrest www.youtube.com/watch?v=sG0rAkTJDmQ
Penal code 602 http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/602.html
Penal code 185 http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/185.html