In the flurry of the first week of the semester, a very unusual commitment quickly fell onto a long To-Do List: buy books, make photo copies, get on-campus job, go to court, do laundry. By 9 AM this morning, February 1, I had checked off everything else (ok, maybe not the laundry, but give me a break) and was standing in the 6th floor lobby of the Boston Municipal Court House. I was there along with 20 other campaign members to serve summons for trespassing on the Boston Common in fall 2009.
Our National Lawyers Guild representative, Jeff Feuer, briefed us on the situation and then we began to wait for the creaking wheels of the Massachusetts judicial system to turn. I was in the next to last group of five, which didn’t enter the hearing room until 10:45 AM. The magistrate read the charges and explained the deal which had been reached with counsel: we would pay a $50 fine for each infraction and then the criminal complaint would be denied, and would not appear on our records.
On the table lay the criminal complaints: thick stacks of paper for each of us, outlining the details of the trespassing offenses. Except for the papers that were missing; several records could not be located by the clerk. He said because of my honestly in owning up to a third summons, he would dismiss it immediately if it ever turned up.
Paying $100 to the state didn’t seem so bad, especially considering the costs of not acting in support of legislation like our bill. I slept out on the Boston Common last fall to secure a just future for all, and my conviction has only increased since those chilly nights. What I find more chilling are the failed climate conference and the election of a new state Senator which have occurred since the fall. There is no backing down at this point. Acts of civil disobedience such as Sleeping Out draw a line in the sand between those solely supportive of change and those willing to fight for it. Being supportive won’t save our generation’s future- we’re going to have to fight for it.
Worried about going through the legal process? It will all feel worthwhile after marching to the State House and being able to tell a legislative aide, maybe even a legislator, that you just appeared in court for your convictions. It’s time to lead by example, and show our representatives the meaning of “serving the public interest.”