First Amendment victories may seem few and far between, but Jonas Phillips scored one in Asheville, N.C., on March 6.
That was the day Jonas Phillips was found not guilty on charges that he was blocking a city sidewalk when he held an “Impeach Bush, Cheney” sign over the I-240 bridge on the morning of August 15.
“I was surprised and relieved,” says Phillips, who calls himself a highway blogger. “I was expecting a fine because we had several motions to dismiss denied.”
Phillips said the judge ruled in his favor because the police couldn’t show that he had obstructed anybody while he was holding his sign.
According to Phillips, the arresting officer told him at the time, “I’m sick of this shit, you’re going to get your 15 minutes of fame, now buddy.” (See http://www.progressive.org/mag_mc082807.)
“We are so relieved,” says Phillips’s wife, Kindra. “It’s been seven months that it’s been dragging on.”
When the judge came down with his ruling, “the whole courtroom erupted into applause and cheers, and people ran up and hugged Jonas,” Kindra says.
On her blog, Gaiastears.blogspot.com
Kindra wrote: “Truth and justice prevailed on our side today.”
Phillips says his lawyer charged $750 in fees but that supporters came up with the money. “We got a lot of local activists and groups that helped us,” he says, “and DailyKos raised money donated $300 to our cause.”
Phillips says he’s “definitely” going to go out and protest again. “Our message now isn’t going to be ‘Impeach Bush and Cheney’ but ‘Arrest Bush and Cheney.’ ”