Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
“OK, then,” said attorney Amy Handleman. “We’re all going to get out there and protect Occupy demonstrators’ civil rights.”
“Right!” affirmed Jill Poke.
“You bet!” said Howard Bashford.
The three lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union had just concluded a meeting about the eviction of Occupy campers in Philadelphia, Oakland and Los Angeles as well as from the University of California campuses in Berkeley and Davis.
“It’s outrageous what they did to those students in Davis!” sputtered Bashford, shrugging on his overcoat. “Pepper spray!”
“I’ll say,” said Poke. “They had no respect at all for freedom of expression under the First Amendment.”
“Time for lawsuits!” exclaimed Handleman, her hand on the door knob.
She turned the nob and pushed, but the door opened outward a scant three inches before it encountered an unyielding mass.
“What the … ?!” she said, her eye to the crack. “The hallway is jammed with people sitting on the carpet runner!”
She shouted through the opening, “Hey! You’re blocking the door. Move it!”
“No way!” a woman’s voice responded. “We aren’t leaving until you agree to our demands.”
“Demands?” said Poke. “What are you talking about?”
In response, several voices shouted, “We want justice! We want equality! We want our civil rights!”
The three attorneys looked at each other, befuddled. Then Bashford moved to the door opening and shouted, “Justice, equality and fair treatment are what we’re all about. We were just going out to seek these things for the downtrodden members of the Occupy movement.”
“That’s us!” a male voice answered. “We’re ‘Occupy the ACLU,’ and we want fair treatment from you one percenters.”
“One percenters! He called us one percenters,” said Handleman, feeling a bit dizzy.
“That’s right. You lawyers make more money than any of us out here, but we don’t see you defending our rights,” the man’s voice said.
“I’ve had about enough of this,” said Bashford. “You folks clear that hallway or we’re calling the cops.”
“But we’re just exercising our right to peaceful protest,” came the woman’s voice, “just like the other Occupy demonstrators.”
“Blocking our hall and keeping us from going about our business is hardly peaceful,” shouted Poke.
“That isn’t what you said about the Davis students who locked arms and wouldn’t move out of a walkway,” said the male voice. “Are you going to pepper spray us now?”
“No, no!” said Handleman. “It’s just that we don’t understand. After all, we’re on your side.”
The woman’s voice answered, “You weren’t on our side when we were barred from picketing peacefully at a Planned Parenthood abortion mill.”
“Well, you were harassing women exercising their right to choose,” shouted Poke.
“Was not,” came the reply. “We didn’t block the doors or the driveway or the sidewalk the way other Occupy demonstrators have.”
“You weren’t on my side when they wouldn’t let me mention God in my high school valedictory speech,” a younger female voice shouted.
“I’ll take this one,” said Bashford, who yelled, “The First Amendment says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’”
He grinned smugly until the girl’s voice retorted, “I wasn’t establishing a religion, and I guess you forgot the part about not ‘prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’”
“Look here!” said Handleman. “You’re trampling our rights. We demand that you clear the hallway and let us out!”
“Only if you agree to represent our civil rights, too,” said the male voice.
“Looks like it’s going to be a long night,” muttered Bashford.
And another voice shouted from the hall, “You going to let us use your bathroom, or what?”