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        Guest For  Thursday, NOVEMBER 9, 2006



Dear Members of the List & Others: We are VERY happy to announce:


                          Like a Beautiful Soaring PHOENIX - The




          Utilizing the much improved Windows Media Player format:



                               GEOFFREY  BLANK 



                  President: No Police State Coalition 


                       P.O. Box 940182 Rockaway Park, NY 11694-0182


                                                         (718) 945-5188



Freedom Socialist Vol. 27, No. 2 April-May 2006
Fighting for free speech: the Geoffrey Blank case

by Sharin Chiorazzo

Geoffrey Blank, Union Square, April 2005.    
How's this for irony? Geoffrey Blank, president of the No Police State Coalition formed in 2003, faces three years in prison for his many speak-outs in Manhattan's Union Square Park against the imperialist war in Iraq and repression at home. Blank faces an array of false charges, which include resisting arrest, inciting to riot, and assault.

In their protests, whose targets include the USA Patriot Act and the so-called Homeland Security Act, Blank and other coalition members use a 10-watt, battery-powered megaphone to be heard above the noise of the city, without "permission" from the New York Police Department.

This challenges city ordinances that require a permit to use bullhorns and the like. The coalition cites a number of U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have found such laws unconstitutional, because devices to amplify sound can be "indispensable for effective free speech" (Saia v. New York, 334 U.S. 558, 1948).

New York City officials are using these unconstitutional sound regulations to try to silence dissident voices. They are part of a pattern of massive police harassment and even violence against coalition members, resulting in numerous arrests and injuries.

The police and district attorney's office are zeroing in on the organization not only because it holds the U.S. government directly responsible for 9/11, but also because of its outspoken condemnation of NYPD abuse against political protestors. The sound regulations are never applied to innocuous or pro-government speakers, and other groups in the park, from musicians to Hare Krishnas, are left alone.

When confronted by police, coalition members chant, "We already have a permit, the First Amendment is our permit!"

Why should we be concerned about cases such as Geoffrey Blank's? When coupled with the expansion of the Patriot Act, the growth of local ordinances that limit where and when protesters can engage in political dissent have grave political consequences for us all. These clampdowns on the free exercise of First Amendment rights have a chilling effect on society as a whole.

The New York City police have a history of trumping up false charges against protesters during an arrest. Blank's charges are typical: resisting arrest, assault, and inciting to riot. Prosecutors know that these charges are mostly unfounded. However, they can have serious legal implications for the protester, sometimes resulting in jail time and often impeding the future right to protest.

It is a criminal offense to issue false charges against anyone. Police officers and prosecutors who do this must be held accountable to the law and brought to trial.

What can you do to help Geoffrey Blank and other political activists facing similar charges?

If you live in the New York City area, attend Blank's trial beginning on April 11 at the Manhattan Criminal Court at 100 Centre Street in New York. Write an article about him, help to organize an event for him, or invite him to speak at one of your political forums.

You can also write letters to the judge and the district attorney's office asking them to dismiss the charges: Criminal Court Judge Abraham L. Clott, 100 Centre Street, New York, NY 10013; and District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, 1 Hogan Place, Room 854, New York, NY 10013. For more information, write the No Police State Coalition at PO Box 940182, Rockaway Park, NY 11694-0182 or call 718-945-5188.

We must take a stand against political repression wherever it is found. An injury to one is an injury to all!

Sharin Chiorazzo is an educator who hosts "Live from Palestine" on WBAI Radio NY, a program begun by her late partner Farouk Abdel-Muhti.

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Freedom Socialist Newspaper ---Fighting for free speech the Geoffrey Blank case

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