So over the last few weeks, I have seen more and more Occupy DC protesters being brought in to DC Superior Court, arrested for this and that. DC has a system where most people charged with misdemeanors will be released on personal recognizance – allowed to go home as long as they check in with pretrial services, and follow any other orders the judge feels necessary. These orders are put in place at the time of arraignment.
All of the Occupy DC folks I saw come in have been ordered to stay away from the place where they were arrested, either McPherson Square or Freedom Plaza. I had not seen any of the defense attorneys object to this “stay away” order. It occurred to me that the stay away is an underhanded attempt by police and prosecution to stifle the protest – to deprive the movement of its leaders (if you accept that’s who the police target), or even of followers. If everyone has to stay away from the site of the protest, there is no protest.