Sunday, March 20, 2011

Support the Atheists of Florida (UPDATED)

We had posted the Please Donate to the AoF Legal Fund link in last weeks FLD before any of us were even aware all this went down. Unfortunately, it seems appropriate to post it here again. The arrests and charges against EllenBeth Wachs and, in a separate (but surely related) incident, John Kieffer are trumped up bullshit.

John Kieffer, the President of Atheists of Florida, is being charged with the following crime: Florida Statute 871.01 - Disturbing schools and religious and other assemblies. Mind you, he was protesting a prayer to begin a Polk County School Board meeting. That  is a local government assembly. Not a religious one. It cannot be a religious assembly or it violates the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. In an attempt to “get around” the First Amendment the school board now prays before the gavel is struck to indicate the meeting has begun and thus, they argue, it is not a violation. By charging him with this particular “crime” the authorities are proving the Atheists of Florida’s contention that Polk County governments amount to a theocracy. Also, how can one disrupt a meeting before the meeting has begun?

Several days after Mr. Kieffer was arrested, EllenBeth Wachs was also arrested and taken into custody at her home on the charge of impersonating a lawyer. The justification for “The arrest was based on the fact that she had signed her name on letters to the Polk Sheriff's Office followed by Esq., which indicates the person is a practicing attorney.” Now, it is true that by convention most of the people who call themselves 'esquire' are lawyers. Most likely Ms. Wachs started using the moniker while she was a lawyer in Pennsylvania.  But there is nothing, absolutely completely nothing, illegal about anyone using it. Sure it alludes to being a practicing lawyer; however, an  “Attorney may ethically use the title "Esq." after his or her name, even when acting in a non-legal capacity.”  

Such as the legal affairs coordinator for a non-profit organization...

Defense Fund page


Tom said...

I have a lot of respect for police. There have been many cops in my family that do their job well. However, the cops of Polk county Sheriff's office need to be punched in the dick for this absurd abuse of power.

Adam said...

If the prayer is before the meeting,
and the prayer is being protested,
then protest occurs before the meeting.
In order for him to break the law, they have to admit that they broke the law. A law he was calling attention to by his protest.

You can't have your faith cake and eat it too.