Texas Civil Liberties, Going Once, Going Twice...

Things are once again amiss in the Lone Star State. First case in point: Crawford, Texas. Civil rights are now on sale for $25. And protest should be considered with at least two week’s forethought, or else you’ll be visiting the newly expanded jail.

On February 16, [a local jury] convicted five peace activists of violating the parade and procession ordinance of Crawford, Texas. That ordinance required 15 days’ notice and a $25 registration fee.

At trial, the police testified that the protesters in Crawford were yelling “anti-Bush, anti-war slogans,” though the defendants deny this and a tape of the arrests backs them up, they say.

Their lawyer, Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, asked Police Chief Tidmore “whether one of the defendants would have violated the ordinance by sporting political buttons, such as those that read ‘No Nukes’ and ‘Peace,’ without the permit.” According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Chief Tidmore responded, "It could be a sign of demonstration."

Second case in point: Austin, Texas. At UT Austin, plain-clothed military counterintelligence agents mingled with students, professors and citizens at a well publicized February 4th conference titled “Islam and the Law: A Question of Sexism.”

“It was nothing out of the ordinary for a law school conference,” says Sahar Aziz, a law student and activist in Austin. "It was an academic conference discussing...sociological, political, historical, and legal perspectives [of sexism in Islamic Law]."

However, after questions surfaced about the Army’s attendance at the conference, “two U.S. Army counterintelligence special agents went to the law school to request a roster of attendees in an attempt to identify...suspicious individual[s]...”

Will Harrell, the executive director of ACLU of Texas, says, “I don't care if it's FBI or Army intelligence. The aim is the same: to intimidate.”

Where are my civil liberties? It seems that my constitutional rights are now being subsumed by Crawford, Texas, and Bush’s newly commissioned Gestapo Chief Tidmore. I want the same freedoms that Bush is so passionately stressing that we're securing for Iraq. I want the rights that our servicemen and women are being sent overseas to fight for. But until those rights are secured here at home, my fellow brothers in uniform are dying in vain! Give me back my rights YO!!