Double Standards

March, 1988

On March 24, 1988, the Washington Post printed a demonstration story quoting U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. "We are glad to be here, where freedom reigns, where the Supreme Court protects us from oppression from our friendly police." Senator Lautenberg and some of his friends were demonstrating in front of the Soviet Embassy.

Meanwhile Thomas and Ellen were doing three months in jail because some friendly police didn't like their demonstration in front of the White House. Philip and Sunrise had completed fifty-day sentences, and Scott had been locked up over four months.

According to the newspaper story, Senator Lautenberg and his fellow demonstrators did many of the things the White House demonstrators had done. They yelled "be decent, be moral, be ethical." They passed out literature. They stuffed literature in the mailbox. They also did a few things the jailed vigilers hadn't. They obstructed a pedestrian from leaving the embassy. They couldn't think of anything else to do so they went home.

Because Thomas, Ellen, Philip, Sunrise, and Scott had been devoting their lives to their demonstration they didn't "go home," and United States Federal District Court Judges Charles Richey and Thomas Flannery sentenced them to jail for falling asleep in the park.

At his sentencing Judge Flannery refused to entertain Thomas' oral motion to stay execution of the jail term pending appeal of the misdemeanor conviction. "Put it in writing," Judge Flannery advised, as he sent them to prison. Thomas put it in writing and Judge Flannery denied it in writing.

In contrast, on February 11, 1988, Judge Flannery found ex-presidential aide Franklyn (Lyn) Nofzinger guilty of three felonies. In April Judge Flannery sentenced Mr. Nofzinger to serve thirty days in prison on each of the three counts, and suspended execution of the sentence pending appeal.