Occupy Asheville

In late 2011, my sense of social justice and civil rights led me to assume pro bono representation of those arrested for taking part in the Occupy Asheville movement. That, and Cecil Bothwell told me I had to do it.

In all, I helped about 40 people who were charged with crimes ranging from trespass to obstruction of justice and resisting arrest, as they engaged in various acts of protest and civil disobedience. One of those individuals was Lisa Landis, a citizen journalist who videoed a march by Occupy protesters through downtown Asheville on November 2. Three days later, police, using video they had taken of the march, pulled Ms. Landis off the street and arrested her on charges that she intentionally impeded traffic and resisted arrest during the march when, in order to get a better camera angle, she stepped briefly into the street that the police had blocked off for the marchers.

We took Ms. Landis’ case all the way through a two-day trial in Buncombe Superior Court, after which the jury came back in less than ten minutes with a unanimous verdict of acquittal.

I learned a lot about courage handling these people’s cases. As my good friend Anne Feeney sings, “If you’ve been to Jail for Justice, you’re a friend of mine.”