NATO BOMBING BLASTS FREE SPEECH
Even while escalating the bombing of Yugoslavia last spring, NATO found time to host their annual Azalea Festival in Norfolk, Virginia, where NATO operations is headquartered. On April 17, Steve Baggarly and a few others gathered at Town Point Park with anti-war leaflets to pass out among the festival goers. Baggarly had barely brandished the papers when police swooped in and arrested him for violation of a town ordinance requiring pamphleteers to get a permit from the city before handing out literature. Mary Franke was also arrested and charged with obstructing justice when she persistently questioned the police about Steve's arrest.
Their trial began in July but was adjourned until mid-August, before Baggarly could present his first amendment defense. In the meantime, even a conservative local newspaper, the Virginia Pilot, called for repeal of the permit requirement as clearly unconstitutional, and criticizing Baggarly's prosecution in the same editorial where it condemned Federal Judge Rebecca Smith's restrictions on Michele Naar-Obed's constitutionally-protected freedom of speech.
About a week before the trial was to resume, the city charges were dropped.
For more information, contact the Norfolk Catholic Worker, 1321 W. 38th ST. Norfolk, VA 23508, (757)423-5420.
Two peace activists stood outside the Nashville, Tennessee Federal Building on March 31, waiting to begin a protest against the Kosovo bombings. When it began to rain, they took shelter under the overhang of one of the building's entrances. Although the doors there had already been locked for the day, the Federal security guard came out to tell them they were blocking the entrance, and ordered them to move out onto the sidewalk. When Karl Meyer refused, he was arrested.
At his June 4 trial, Meyer was convicted of disorderly conduct and sentenced to 16 hours of community service, or 4 days in jail, plus court costs.
For more information, contact Karl Meyer, Nashville Greenlands, 2407 Heiman St., Nashville, TN 37208, (615)322-9523.