June 26, 2012
Occupy The Stage founder, Justin Warren was held at Orleans Parish Prison from June 20 - June 26 and transferred to Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a warrant he didn't know existed. His bond in Eastern Baton Rouge for charges of disturbing the peace and resisting arrest totaled 1,000.
Justin Warren has a voice that can carry and be heard over the din of city streets. His key voice at assemblies and protests in the occupy community has demonstrated his dedication as an advocate of freedom of speech. The charges he is facing are for allegedly disturbing the peace on the steps of the capitol building in Baton Rouge. On the 12th of March, he was in Baton Rouge with Occupy The Stage, Occupy NOLA and Occupy Baton Rouge for the opening of the 2012 session of the Louisiana Legislature that included a protest against budget cuts in education.
He was making a speech when an officer approached him and attempted to silence him. He continued exercising his First Amendment rights and was then approached by several officers who attempted to grab him from behind.
However, he slipped out of his jacket and left the steps of the State Capitol.
After he departed, Officer Holman (badge # 6071) said on camera that Justin was no longer disturbing the peace and would not be arrested. (see min 1:40 here: http://youtu.be/86OSs6YmM8s)
When questioned as to why Louisiana State Police were interfering with Justin's First Amendment rights, Officer Holman replied that he was speaking without a permit. Apparently, The Tea Party had scheduled a separate event in
the same area, and they were not approached by the police because they had obtained said permit. The New Orleans protesters did not have a permit, nor did they need one according to The Bill of Rights. Occupy movements across the country continue to battle relentless attacks on free speech and assembly, which are assured to all citizens by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The warrant and the ensuing transfer to Baton Rouge are obviously a ridiculous waste of taxpayers' money. No citizen should need a permit to exercise freedom of speech in the State of
Louisiana. Public spaces, including the steps of the capitol building, are protest points where free speech has been exercised for decades.
Justin Warren was released after spending 6 days in Orleans Parish Prison and 1 day in Eastern Baton Rouge Parish Prison. He needs to be compensated for his loss of income while being held for no justifiable reason.