Friday, December 09, 2005

Update on Deborah Davis in Denver--"Papers Please"

The following is an update on the continuing saga of Deborah Davis in Denver, CO. and the right to travel within our own country without having to produce our “papers.” She is the lady who decided she lived in America, and in America you do not have to show anyone your “Papers Please” just to simply travel to and from work on public transportation. Or anywhere else in this country for that matter. My good friend Doris Colmes, who at 11 years of age fled Germany in 1938 with her parents, wrote an excellent piece on this which I highly recommend reading: Ridin’ the Bus With Deborah.

Deborah Davis has my full and complete support; as what she is fighting for concerns each and every single individual in this nation, directly! Only police states demand to see people’s papers when moving about in their own city, state, or country. This is what Deborah has taken a public stand against, “Papers Please”. – Jack


Deborah Davis Update: “Papers Please” in Denver
From: Deborah Davis
12-9-05
http://www.papersplease.org/


Today's rally on the courthouse steps was extremely small and VERY cold. Journalists & TV crews were there, as was Bill Scannel (Publicist, Washington DC) & Jim Harrison (lawyer from California) and of course, Gail, Norm, and Mark (the lawyers & the ACLU here in Denver). Bill spoke briefly, then Gail gave a short speech, then I gave a short speech (both speeches follow below).

Then we all boarded a chartered bus provided by John Gilmore (minus the lawyers) and rode to the Cold Springs Park & Ride where we got off the chartered bus & boarded an RTD bus. "We" consists of Bill, 2 Rocky Mountain News journalists and two Denver Post journalists, and me. There were about 10 other bus passengers on the RTD bus. An RTD Supervisor talked quite awhile with the bus driver. Finally, we left the Park & Ride and got to the gates of the Federal Center (1 block away).

The bus stopped and a Federal policeman got on and announced that the bus was about to cross federal property and that ID was required. This had never happened before. Then a guard got on. He looked at me, then asked passengers across from me (who happened to be journalists) to see their IDs. They showed them to the guard. The guard made a big production out of looking at the IDs, comparing the picture to the face, and handing it back. This had never happened before. At the same time, there were guards with mirrors on poles looking under the bus. This had ever happened before.

When the guard turned to me and asked if I had an ID, I said I did, he asked to see it, I said "no" he said, "OK" and turned around (without asking the 10 other passengers for ID) and got off the bus.

Another RTD bus drove by and stopped in front of the bus we were on.

The federal policeman got on our bus again and said, "Everyone who has shown ID or will show ID needs to get on the other bus. THIS bus is not going through the Federal Center." The newspeople and I stayed on the bus. When asked by the newspeople what I was going to do, I said I'd pay another $1.50 and try & ride the bus across from the other side. I told them that they are going to run out of buses by the end of the day. They were with me on that.

The RTD Supervisor (who had ridden the bus, too) got back on our bus and asked me if I was going to do this again today, from the other side & I said I did not know. He got off the bus.

Our bus driver turned the bus around and drove around the federal center and we got off at the next stop, where the charter bus and the lawyers were waiting for us.

The newspeople, lawyers, Bill, and I talked about what to do. At first we decided that we would ride it one more time. Then we decided to wait until rush hour on Monday instead. We may do that. The newspeople all said they would be there if I told them what time. They said to not invite the TV people because the TV people had abandoned us after the rally. We all laughed.

That's it for now.

Friday, 8:30pm & Sun again 11:30… the interview that Gail & I did at KBDI channel 12 will air.

I'll let you know when the FOX interview is to air. I think they said tonight, but I don't know the name of the program. I don't know, either if this is the local FOX channel 31 or the cable channel FOX news.

It's all a blur.


Gail's Speech

I’d like to thank the ACLU Foundation of Colorado for taking on Deb’s case and for all of the excellent work that they do protecting our civil rights and civil liberties. And in particular, I’d like to thank their executive director, Cathy Hazouri, and their legal director, Mark Silverstein. It’s been a pleasure working with them.

I’d also like to say a quick thank you to Norm Mueller, my colleague on this case, and the other partners at my law firm, Haddon, Morgan, Mueller, Jordan, Mackey & Foreman. Our firm has a strong tradition of pro bono representation, and I’m proud to be a part of that.

The support that Deb and her legal team have received on this case has been incredible. We’ve had investigators from two local investigation firms who have been working with us on Deb’s case for free. We’ve had lawyers both from within Colorado and from out-of-state who volunteered to assist us. And we were contacted by folks in Utah and California who offered to file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Deb’s defense. People who had useful information, information about the Denver Federal Center, RTD, and the federal government’s use of contract security guards, they all contacted us to try to help Deb’s defense. The support we have received has been extraordinary, and we truly appreciate it.

But most of all I want to thank Deb Davis. She’s the one who started this all, with a simple act of dignity on a public bus. She has educated us about our constitutional rights, and reminded us of the importance of our civil liberties. And it is amazing to me how, in a nation that sometimes seems to suffer from such sharp political divisions, Deb stumbled across the one issue that brings us all together. We all care about the Bill of Rights, and we know in our hearts that the United States Constitution is not a technicality. It is the foundation of our free society, a society that protects individuals against excessive and arbitrary government power.

I’m particularly proud of Deb because, from the first day I met her, she made it clear that this issue was not just about her. She wanted to make sure that everybody had the right to ride the public buses without being forced to show their identification to federal agents. She was willing to stick her neck out and risk going to jail in order to protect the rights of others.

And there are many others whom this policy has affected. Deb received an email from the mother of a 15-year old girl who had to take the Route 100 bus to get to school. At a time when the school had not yet issued her an identification card, the guards on the bus gave this 15-year old girl such a hard time that she broke down in tears and cried. That’s just wrong.

A current employee of the federal government who used to work at the Denver Federal Center told us about the arbitrary enforcement of the identification policy. From what he saw, if you were young, female, and cute, and you flirted with the guards, they would wave you on through. That’s not security. That’s just wrong.

And a few days ago we spoke with an elderly Mexican-American woman who had been deeply humiliated by her experience being forced to show identification on the Route 100 bus. This was a few years ago, when she was 80 years old and was riding the bus with her walker because she had just had cataract surgery and was unable to drive. Out of 8 or 9 passengers on the bus, she was the only person who wasn’t white. The guards got on the bus, looked around, and approached her -- and only her -- and asked her to show identification. This experience was embarrassing and degrading to her. That’s just wrong.

Deborah Davis stood up for all of these people and countless others when she made the courageous choice to take on the federal government. And even though the criminal case against her has been dropped, she continues to stand up for others now and fight the good fight. I’m very pleased to introduce you to my client, Deborah Davis.

My speech

I began this endeavor with simple knowledge of our Constitution and Bill of Rights from my 8th grade Civics class.

Now I will attempt to use what I learned in my 8th grade Speech class. I'm a little nervous.

First of all, I want to thank all of you all for the overwhelming support, especially my legal team and Publicist who have worked ceaselessly on my behalf.

Two months ago when I decided to challenge the less than meaningful ID check on a public bus, I stood alone (and later sat alone, hand-cuffed).

I now know I am not alone in this battle against government bullying.

The emails, phone calls, and letters continue to give me encouragement to not back down.

Just a little more than two weeks ago, my story was posted on the Internet at papersplease.org.

In those two weeks, there have been over 7 million visitors to that site and I have received over 2,000 emails in support of my actions.

Not only am I not alone, WE, collectively are not alone.

A couple of weeks ago, I refused a plea bargain.

Four days ago I was facing a possible 60 days in jail and a fine.

(Actually, that would have been OK with me because I would be able to catch up on my reading.)

Three days ago the government decided to drop the case against me on a technicality.

Apparently, their signs demanding ID were not clear enough.

This is certainly a victory for which I am happy.

But it is ONLY a victory for me personally.

It is NOT a victory for all of us.

There has been no guarantee that the government's solution won't be merely tightening up of the wording on the signs.

I wonder what the signs will say-

"You're going the wrong direction" maybe or "Welcome to the Police States of America"?

We are still required to comply with their demands for ID in their faux security display or else we risk persecution.

We have not won yet.

Two hours of me being handcuffed is nothing compared to the two centuries of battles * fought by people willing to give their lives to protect our Constitution, our freedom.

(* I got really choked up here. It was embarrassing trying to talk and wipe away tears. Gail came over & patted me & asked if I was OK, I said yes and kept going. Later a journalist asked if there was any particular reason why I began crying when I did & I said, "This really means a lot to me." To continue…)

When we can ride public transportation without showing ID, then we will have a true victory.

Flashing ID is NOT the answer to the problem.

Flashing ID does NOT keep us safe.

From the beginning I have been willing to go the whole nine yards.

Without regard to religious views, political views, age, gender, or background, Americans have come alive over this.

Because of this support, I am not going to back down.

It's not over yet.

THIS FIGHT HAS JUST BEGUN.

I will be on the 100 bus after this rally.

Yesterday I arranged for someone to feed my dog and water my plants in case I am detained again while riding a public bus.

More important than that, I will have an entire legal team behind me.

There is no guarantee, should you decide to ride the bus with me and decline to show ID, that there will be help if any of you were to be arrested.

I must warn you, from personal experience, deciding not to show ID can be harrowing experience.

Thank-you again for your incredible support.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bus to catch.




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