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by Duane J. Roberts
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003 at 12:49 AM
Civil liberties are won only when masses of people organize with one another to vigorously assert and defend their rights.
Monday, January 27, 2003
ANAHEIM POLICE LOSE BATTLE TO SQUASH FREE SPEECH
People defend their rights while under seige by a
platoon of police
By Duane J. Roberts
ANAHEIM, CA -- Last Saturday night, the streets and
alleyways surrounding the venerable Unitarian Church
of Orange County suddenly came alive with huge armada
of Anaheim police cars and motorcycles passing by.
What happened a neighbor might ask?
Did an armed robbery occur? Was someone brutally
raped? Had a mass murder taken place?
The Anaheim Police Department was waging a fierce
battle to shutdown a small event being held on church
grounds that was organized by the Los Angeles
Anarchist Black Cross Federation, a political prisoner
In a scene reminiscent of the kind of intense
repression that routinely occurs in "third world
countries", a platoon of Anaheim police officers spent
several hours spying and harrassing the crowd that
The war against civil liberties began early Friday
afternoon when Anaheim Police and City Code
Enforcement left a flurry of frantic messages on the
Unitarian church's answering machine inquiring about
Several church members met later that night with a
very hostile Anaheim police sergeant who bullied
and intimidated them into pressuring organizers to
cancel the whole affair.
But this decision was reversed the next day as
everyone concluded that under no circumstances
should the church capitulate to unreasonable demands
by Anaheim Police to curb free speech.
It was a veritable war zone Saturday evening as
untold numbers of Anaheim police cars and motorcycles
circled around the church much like hungry sharks
looking for an easy kill.
About a dozen police officers quickly seized control
of a nearby elementary school parking lot, bringing
along a K-9 unit whose German Shepherds could be heard
barking and yelping in the background.
As people arrived, six church members stood their
ground as the same police sergeant mentioned earlier
came over and tried to bully and intimidate
them into submission.
But this time the sergeant's tactics backfired and he
was forced to back off a bit as one church member
whipped out his cellphone and contacted an Anaheim
police captain he knew.
Despite the intense police harrassment, the event
proceeded without incident until a City Code
Enforcement officer arrived and ordered that all
amplified sound be shut off under threat of citation.
The crowd of mostly young people remained peaceful
even when the police sergeant called up about a dozen
of his men and lined them up along an alleyway in a
brazen show of force.
But instead of getting angry, all seventy of them
proceeded to walk across the street to Anaheim Police
headquarters to get what forms they needed to file a
Upon arriving at the front entrance, they soon
discovered that Anaheim Police had locked all the
doors with handcuffs to prevent any of them from going
into the lobby.
After several minutes of negotiations, three police
officers opened the doors and handed out forms to
everybody who requested them, and they promptly
returned to the Unitarian Church to fill them out.
It was then that Anaheim Police realized they had
lost this battle, and they gradually withdrew all
their forces and faded away into the darkness of the
The battle that occurred last Saturday showed that
civil liberties are won only when masses of people
organize with one another to vigorously assert and
defend their rights.
At grave personal risk to themselves, seventy people
openly defied efforts by a small platoon of police
officers to deny them of their rights to free speech
The massive amount of resistance Anaheim Police
encountered that night no doubt will make them think
twice about trampling over anybody else's civil
liberties anytime soon.
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