Category Archives: בּ״ה

Dr. King’s 1963 Letter from a Burmingham Jail

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1402317/increasing-infant-mortality-trump-proposed-budget/

 

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

 

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

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On August 11th at 9:15 AM when the only cars and vehicles on Beaver Avenue as I was en route to the Orthodox synagogue, I was arrested for “recklessly endangering traffic on a public highway ( maximum two years in jail) here while one lieutenant and eight police officers were there to make sure I was arrested appropriately. This is the official State College Police photo of my arrest.

 

 

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Please help in my efforts to end the de facto segregation that we the disabled and elderly experience here in the Commonwealth of PA

An $18 contribution would help:

Antaeus Mobility, the disability rights and equipment organization I have established here in Central Pennsylvania as an homage to Antaeus the mythological Greek hero who represents earthly power and who– like the community where we live–will ascend again.

‘Hercules and Antaeus’ (cast ca. 1460), attributed to Maso Finiguerra. (Maggie Nimkin Photography, courtesy the Frick)


Another victory like that and we are done for.
--Ulysses by James Joyce. 
When it comes to disability rights: Say it ain't so.

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Wikipedia

The Birmingham campaign began on April 3, 1963, with coordinated marches and sit-ins against racism and racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama. The nonviolent campaign was coordinated by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference(SCLC). On April 10, Circuit Judge W. A. Jenkins issued a blanket injunction against “parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing.” Leaders of the campaign announced they would disobey the ruling.[1] On April 12, King was roughly arrested with SCLC activist Ralph Abernathy, ACMHR and SCLC official Fred Shuttlesworth and other marchers, while thousands of African Americans dressed for Good Friday looked on.[2]

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_from_Birmingham_Jail

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Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

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Protest observer (Walter Gadsden, 17) in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, on 3 May 1963, being attacked by police dogs during a civil rights protest. See Birmingham campaign.

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Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self purification; and direct action. We have gone through all these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham.

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On August 11th, my second granddaughter--soon to be Cosette Lilian--was two months overdue. I was worried. I wanted to go to synagogue to pray for her safe arrival.

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Chabad religious service entirely in Hebrew where men and women are separated during prayer. In August, this was the only synagogue service available to me. This is (with the exception of women being separated from men) the service with which I am most comfortable. The service is entirely in Hebrew and Aramaic. Under the rules of the sabbath codified by the great Rabbi Maimonedes, one is not permitted to work. Today that is defined as not driving a car, exchanging money, turning a light switch on or off, etc.

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https://tribune.com.pk/story/1402317/increasing-infant-mortality-trump-proposed-budget/

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You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate this probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs. On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained. As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?”

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We decided to schedule our direct action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoral election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Public Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct action program could be delayed no longer.

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Why now? For me, now was my 70th birthday. A new restaurant had opened up across the street from my apartment. A vegetarian restaurant. What a great location to celebrate this significant occasion: I had survived cancer three times to arrive at the Biblically significant three score and ten. Each of my daughters is a vegetarian. Perfect. new place. Clearly a new restaurant thirty-seven years after adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Acct would be wheel-chair accessible.
Thanks in no small part to the autocratic rule of PA Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards, I had to take the cripple's course and crawl in. 

Way to go, Leslie.

Secretary of Transportation Richards controls from afar (an hour drive away) who unconstitutionally prevents me from exercising my First Amendment rights to pray to God from an administrative office an hour drive from the street where I live.
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You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.”

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I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolence to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

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It is said. “We sit on the shoulders of giants.” 

VA Delegate Jay Jones sits on the shoulders of that giant Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, who wrote his letter from the Birmingham Jail. In so doing, Del. Jones has himself become a giant

On February 21st, Delegate Jones delivered his Black History Month speech from the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates and shared his personal and family experiences with racism in the Commonwealth.

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One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham.

While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

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We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.”

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But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

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PA Transportation Secretary Leslie’s Richards autocratic agency violated my First Amendment right to pray to God

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Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal. Let me give another explanation. A law is unjust if it is inflicted on a minority that, as a result of being denied the right to vote, had no part in enacting or devising the law. Who can say that the legislature of Alabama which set up that state’s segregation laws was democratically elected? Throughout Alabama all sorts of devious methods are used to prevent Negroes from becoming registered voters, and there are some counties in which, even though Negroes constitute a majority of the population, not a single Negro is registered. Can any law enacted under such circumstances be considered democratically structured?

Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.

I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.

Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical inquiries precipitated the act by the misguided populace in which they made him drink hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion? We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber. I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.” Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. At first I was rather disappointed that fellow clergymen would see my nonviolent efforts as those of an extremist. I began thinking about the fact that I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community. One is a force of complacency, made up in part of Negroes who, as a result of long years of oppression, are so drained of self respect and a sense of “somebodiness” that they have adjusted to segregation; and in part of a few middle-class Negroes who, because of a degree of academic and economic security and because in some ways they profit by segregation, have become insensitive to the problems of the masses. The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad’s Muslim movement. Nourished by the Negro’s frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination, this movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible “devil.”

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the black nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood. And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare.

Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: “Get rid of your discontent.” Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Was not Amos an extremist for justice: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.” Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Was not Martin Luther an extremist: “Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” And John Bunyan: “I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.” And Abraham Lincoln: “This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.” And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .” So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

I had hoped that the white moderate would see this need. Perhaps I was too optimistic; perhaps I expected too much. I suppose I should have realized that few members of the oppressor race can understand the deep groans and passionate yearnings of the oppressed race, and still fewer have the vision to see that injustice must be rooted out by strong, persistent and determined action. I am thankful, however, that some of our white brothers in the South have grasped the meaning of this social revolution and committed themselves to it. They are still all too few in quantity, but they are big in quality. Some -such as Ralph McGill, Lillian Smith, Harry Golden, James McBride Dabbs, Ann Braden and Sarah Patton Boyle–have written about our struggle in eloquent and prophetic terms. Others have marched with us down nameless streets of the South. They have languished in filthy, roach infested jails, suffering the abuse and brutality of policemen who view them as “dirty nigger-lovers.” Unlike so many of their moderate brothers and sisters, they have recognized the urgency of the moment and sensed the need for powerful “action” antidotes to combat the disease of segregation. Let me take note of my other major disappointment. I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. Of course, there are some notable exceptions. I am not unmindful of the fact that each of you has taken some significant stands on this issue. I commend you, Reverend Stallings, for your Christian stand on this past Sunday, in welcoming Negroes to your worship service on a nonsegregated basis. I commend the Catholic leaders of this state for integrating Spring Hill College several years ago.

But despite these notable exceptions, I must honestly reiterate that I have been disappointed with the church. I do not say this as one of those negative critics who can always find something wrong with the church. I say this as a minister of the gospel, who loves the church; who was nurtured in its bosom; who has been sustained by its spiritual blessings and who will remain true to it as long as the cord of life shall lengthen.

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leaders; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained glass windows.

In spite of my shattered dreams, I came to Birmingham with the hope that the white religious leadership of this community would see the justice of our cause and, with deep moral concern, would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure. I had hoped that each of you would understand. But again I have been disappointed.

I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”

Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? I am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.

There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department.

It is true that the police have exercised a degree of discipline in handling the demonstrators. In this sense they have conducted themselves rather “nonviolently” in public. But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the past few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Perhaps Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather nonviolent in public, as was Chief Pritchett in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of racial injustice. As T. S. Eliot has said: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

I wish you had commended the Negro sit inners and demonstrators of Birmingham for their sublime courage, their willingness to suffer and their amazing discipline in the midst of great provocation. One day the South will recognize its real heroes. They will be the James Merediths, with the noble sense of purpose that enables them to face jeering and hostile mobs, and with the agonizing loneliness that characterizes the life of the pioneer. They will be old, oppressed, battered Negro women, symbolized in a seventy two year old woman in Montgomery, Alabama, who rose up with a sense of dignity and with her people decided not to ride segregated buses, and who responded with ungrammatical profundity to one who inquired about her weariness: “My feets is tired, but my soul is at rest.” They will be the young high school and college students, the young ministers of the gospel and a host of their elders, courageously and nonviolently sitting in at lunch counters and willingly going to jail for conscience’ sake. One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters, they were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judaeo Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Never before have I written so long a letter. I’m afraid it is much too long to take your precious time. I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else can one do when he is alone in a narrow jail cell, other than write long letters, think long thoughts and pray long prayers?

If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.

I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil-rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Official State College Police Photograph of my August 11th arrest for “ recklessly endangering traffic

Reckless

On August 11th at 9:15 AM when the police filled the street with the only cars and vehicles on Beaver Avenue as I was en route to the Orthodox synagogue, I was arrested here in this picture for “recklessly endangering traffic on a public highway” (maximum two years in jail)
One lieutenant and eight police officers were there to make sure I was arrested appropriately. Note again and again: This is the official State College Police photo of my arrest. A jury of my peers will be shown this photo as evidence that I was “ recklessly endangering traffic. See?.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me the Worricker Trilogy is an example of the power of entertainment to distract from pain

Johnny Worricker conspires with a fellow agent to get the goods on the prime minister

 

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For me the Worricker Trilogy is an example of the power of entertainment to distract me from relentless pain

Caution: Loaded with spoilers.

The prime minister’s press secretary attempts to console his boss (as is true of every cast member: played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes) after our anti-hero, a secret service agent, progresses with eventual success with his campaign to remove the autocratic and corrupt Fiennes from office. The secretary says, “You are under a lot of pressure.” The would-be tyrant replies, “Pressure like whiplash does not exist.”

A hallmark of the Worricker Trilogy is the captivating quality of David Hare’s writing. “Pressure like whiplash does not exist” is a good example. As every schoolboy knows both whiplash and pressure do exist. Yet we the viewer are told it does not and for a brief moment we become nihilists and believe him. The conundrum; namely, how something can exist and not exist at the same time is the hallmark of the brand of British spy fiction that John le Carré’s Smiley series turned into the political action/thriller genre to which I am most attracted.

Before le Carré, authors of espionage novels presented us with good guys and bad guys. James Bond was a good guy. A hero. The ones implausible Bond was licensed to kill were bad guys. This was axiomatic.

By comparison David Hare’s Johnny Worricker (played by Bill Nighy) is an anti-hero who left his wife when she became pregnant. Despite Johnny severe character flaws (or perhaps because of them) we are nonetheless sympathetic to Johnny’s continual questioning of a world where the good guys do bad things; bad guys do good things. Concepts like good and evil (much like pressure and whiplash) are presented as mythological.

For me, this brand of existentialism bordering on nihilism consistently has been compelling. This is the way to hook me as Johnny Worricker and his Dickensian colleagues, lovers, enemies and friends did. From frame to frame The Worricker Trilogy stops time with its presentation of a world that appears to be true. Verisimilitude serves as catnip for me.

I am the kind of person who craves catnip given my personal circumstance. Yesterday, when I watched the series from start to conclusion without pause, my objective was distraction to the point where I no longer felt relentless pain–a consequence of surgery for kidney cancer. As with Ralph Fiennes’ ability to transfer pressure and whiplash from the real to the non-existent, the realization of David Hare’s words was entirely successful.

–Joel Solkoff is the author of Learning to Live Again, my Triumph Over Cancer

http://www.joelsolkoff.com/book-store/books/learning-to-live-again-my-triumph-over-cancer/

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Transcript of my preliminary hearing where the Court found enough evidence to try me in Commonwealth Court

The Chabad religious service is entirely in Hebrew and Aramaic where men and women are separated during prayer. In August, this was the only synagogue service available to me. This (with the exception of women being separated from men) is the service with which I am most comfortable. Under the rules of the sabbath codified in Arabic in the Twelfth Century by the great Rabbi Maimonedes, one is not permitted to work on the Sabbath. Today that is defined as not driving a car, exchanging money, turning a light switch on or off, etc.

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Raw unedited transcript of my preliminary hearing

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS CENTRE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA CRIMINAL DIVISION

COMMONWEALTH : NO. OTN X 198324-0

VS :

JOEL SOLKOFF :

TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS (Preliminary Hearing)

BEFORE: Thomas Jordan, MDJ

DATE: August 15, 2018

PLACE: Centre County Courthouse Courtroom No. 3 102 South Allegheny Street Bellefonte, PA 16823

APPEARANCES:

FOR THE COMMONWEALTH: Amanda Chaplin, Esquire Assistant District Attorney

FOR THE DEFENDANT: Patrick  Klena, Esquire Assistant Public Defender

NOTES BY: Patricia A. Grey, RPR Official Court Reporter Room 208, Centre County Courthouse 102 South Allegheny Street Bellefonte, PA 16823 814-355-6734 OR FAX 814-548-1158

 

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INDEX TO THE WITNESSES

DIRECT CROSS REDIRECT RECROSS

COMMONWEALTH:

Gregory Brauser

Andrew Sim

DEFENDANT:

Joel Solkoff

INDEX TO THE EXHIBITS

ADMITTED

COMMONWEALTH:

(None)

DEFENDANT:

(None)

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P R O C E E D I N G S

THE COURT: This is the Commonwealth

versus Joel Ezra Solkoff. Mr. Solkoff’s case is

identified by OTN No. X 198324-0.

Does the defense waive the reading of

this complaint? MR. KLENA: Yes, we do.

THE COURT: Is the Commonwealth ready to

proceed?

  1. CHAPLIN: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: All right. Then you may go

ahead and call your first witness.

  1. CHAPLIN: Lieutenant Brauser.

Whereupon,

GREGORY BRAUSER

was called as a witness and having been duly sworn, was

examined and testified as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Lieutenant, could you please state your

name and then spell your last name for the record?

  1. Yep. It’s Gregory Brauser,

B-r-a-u-s-e-r. I’m a lieutenant with the State College

Police Department.

  1. And were you — what are your duties as a

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lieutenant at the State College Police Department?

  1. I’m currently in charge of the community

relations division of our department.

  1. Were you working back around August the

9th of 2018?

  1. Yes, I was.
  2. Are you familiar with the defendant in

this matter, Joel Solkoff?

  1. Yes, I am.
  2. Do you see him in the courtroom here

today? A. He’s seated next to his defense attorney.

THE COURT: I’ll note that he identified

the gentleman to Mr. Klena’s right.

  1. CHAPLIN: Thank you, Your Honor.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. And can you describe for the Court what

your involvement with Mr. Solkoff has been leading up to

the events that occurred on August 11th of 2018?

  1. Yeah. I was made aware by our chief of

police that on the 6th, which was the Monday, that

Mr. Solkoff was at the borough council meeting that

night and was complaining about the condition of the

downtown sidewalks and the inability that he was having

with his electronic scooter to get around downtown and

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5

that the borough was not making proper accommodations

for him to be able to get through the downtown. He at

that point had requested the chief arrest him during his

arguments in council. The chief declined to do so

stating that Mr. Solkoff was just exercising his rights

of free speech. Mr. Solkoff was very insistent on being

arrested and informed the chief that he was going

downstairs to get arrested.

He subsequently, Mr. Solkoff, rode his

device out into the middle of Beaver Avenue at the

intersection of Allen Street and blocked that

intersection for vehicular traffic. Our department

responded to that report from civilians that the roadway

was blocked by Mr. Solkoff. Officers on scene spent

approximately 15 to 30 minutes trying to convince

Mr. Solkoff to leave and securing an ambulance for him

to be removed from the roadway.

As a result of that, we later in the

week — I believe it was Thursday — were contacted by a

defense attorney representing Mr. Solkoff who wanted to

inform us of Mr. Solkoff’s wishes that we be aware that

on Saturday, the 11th, he was planning to repeat the

blocking of Beaver Avenue in protest for better access

for persons with disabilities on downtown sidewalks.

As a result of that notification, I was

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assigned to reach out to Mr. Solkoff and his attorney.

I did so and on Thursday of that week, I spent

approximately an hour with Mr. Solkoff going over his

concerns about the sidewalks down there. I informed him

that in the time between the notification that his

attorney provided us and speaking to him that I had

arranged for free public transportation for him to reach

specifically religious services that he was going to get

  1. I had reached out to CATA bus services, the Centre

County transportation services, and his synagogue to

arrange those — free transportation for him to get to

and from services.

I also provided him with an alternative

route if he wished to still take his own means there.

Instead of coming out of his building and heading east

on Beaver Avenue, he could turn west to go half a block

and basically continue the exact same route that he

would have taken and avoided all the construction. He

advised me that that was not his wish; that he was at

this point protesting and demanding to speak to the

secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania in order to bring light to his cause and

insist on State Route 26, Beaver Avenue, be converted to

a pedestrian walkway either in whole or at least the

right travel lane being shut down and converted to a

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pedestrian walkway.

Like I said, I spent pretty close to an

hour with him and also a little bit of time with him and

his attorney during that time trying to convince him to

either protest peacefully on the sidewalk, even

mentioned I think going to Bellefonte where their office

was and protesting there, or using our alternate means

of transportation. And Mr. Solkoff was very polite

stating that those were not options that he wanted, just

being that he was very set on doing his protest in the

roadway and blocking traffic and very insistent that he

was to be arrested.

During the police’s first encounter with

him on the Monday prior, he was actually not arrested.

He was taken to the Mount Nittany Medical Center for an

evaluation to see if it was something that he was a

danger to himself or others for. He was very upset that

that was the process that was taken on Monday and

adamant that he wanted to be arrested and put in jail.

  1. Okay. So, alternative means to reach his

destinations were provided?

  1. Correct.
  2. And alternative venues to protest were

provided?

  1. Yes.

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  1. But he refused those?
  2. Yes, he was very adamant that he didn’t

want that. He wanted to be arrested and put in jail.

  1. Did he ever obtain a permit from State

College Borough to protest in the street or to close

down the street?

  1. He did not obtain a permit from anybody,

borough or PennDOT, to block the roadway.

  1. Is that the extent of your involvement in

this case?

  1. No. In preparation for his planned

protest, I actually reached out to the jail and made

them aware that this was a potential person coming in

with disabilities so that they would be prepared for

that. I contacted the District Attorney’s Office and

spoke to the district attorney about appropriate charges

for the case and actually pre-typed a criminal complaint

with the charge on there to provide to the day shift on

Saturday to expedite the removing him from the roadway

so that it was less of a safety hazard for himself and

the general public.

That information that I typed up was

provided to the day shift supervisor and officers

working for that Saturday where the protest was planned,

and we had arranged with Centre LifeLink EMS to

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transport for us so that it was a more comfortable

transport for him and his electronic device.

  1. You say electronic device. Can you

describe it for the record?

  1. He has a motorized scooter that he uses

to get around town. That’s seated right next to him.

  1. Were you involved at all on October (sic)

11th or is your involvement everything before?

THE COURT: What day? It’s August.

  1. CHAPLIN: August.

THE COURT: I thought she said October.

I’m paying attention actually. August.

  1. CHAPLIN: I think I did say October.

THE COURT: All right.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. August?
  2. After the incident on August 11th, I

actually secured the video from the patrol cars and

brought those into evidence and also took still shoots

from the downtown cameras that showed the defendant in

the middle of the roadway.

  1. So there was video and still shots?
  2. Yes. I also had some follow-up with the

office of the aging. He has a caseworker with them to

try and see what services we may be missing to provide

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or that they’re able to fill in the gap. That was one

other resource we reached out to.

  1. CHAPLIN: I don’t believe I have any

further questions for this witness.

THE COURT: Mr. Klena, would you like to

ask the lieutenant any questions?

  1. KLENA: Briefly.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. Lieutenant Brauser, in terms of his

charges, is he charged under Title 18 the Crimes Code

obstructing highways and other public passages, correct?

  1. Correct.
  2. Because he persisted on or this wasn’t

the first time, that’s what makes that offense a

misdemeanor of the third degree, correct?

  1. I believe it’s because of the order from

the police at the day of. It doesn’t have to be a prior

incident. Just consistent or continued after being

ordered by police to leave the roadway while being

provided an alternate venue.

  1. Okay.
  2. So, there’s two sections. There’s a

misdemeanor and a summary section.

  1. Now, did Mr. Solkoff express that the

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alternative route was not satisfactory or essentially

nonexistent? Did you have that conversation with him?

  1. It wasn’t satisfactory to him. It was

completely existent.

  1. And you would agree that the condition of

downtown State College in terms of the sidewalk does

prevent him from traveling his route to his synagogue,

correct?

  1. No, it does not prevent him from getting

to that location. It prevents him from getting on

Beaver Avenue to that location, but there’s alternate

routes that he can take.

  1. Did he express to you that the sidewalk

of the alternate route is dangerous?

  1. He did, and I traveled that route and

verified that it is not. The route going down Beaver

Avenue to Allen Street, Allen Street down to Waring

Avenue and Waring Avenue across, every one of the

sidewalks has been replaced at the corners by the

borough to be ADH compliant with handicap ramps and

anti-skid plates on each one of those sidewalk corners.

  1. Lieutenant Brauser, when he went out into

the roadway the — I guess the second incident — and

that was on the 11th; is that correct?

  1. Correct.

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  1. The phone call received from his

attorney, that would be Matt McClenahen, that was on

August 9th that both these things, correct?

  1. Thursday, correct.
  2. He went out onto Beaver Avenue; is that

correct?

  1. Correct.
  2. What location on Beaver Avenue? What

would have been one of the side streets?

  1. On the first one or the second one?
  2. The second one?
  3. It would have been mid-block in the 100

block directly across from Uncle Eli’s.

  1. Okay.
  2. He basically came right out right of

Addison Court and right out into the roadway from their

driveway.

  1. At that time did you receive any

complaints from the public that Mr. Solkoff was making

Beaver Avenue impassable?

  1. I wasn’t working that day. He actually

pulled out directly in front of an unmarked police car

which was able to stop at that point and turned his

lights on to alert traffic that he was in the middle of

the roadway.

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  1. Did he have any signs with him or

anything — to your knowledge, did he have signs with

him?

  1. The video didn’t show any signs.
  2. Mr. Solkoff is 70 years old?
  3. Correct.
  4. The issue with the sidewalks being

currently impassable, that’s not a permanent condition

or you don’t foresee that being a permanent condition,

do you?

  1. No, it’s a temporary construction issue.

The south side of Beaver Avenue in the 200/300 block is

under construction due to a building being rebuilt. The

north side is a delay. They initially started to

replace all of the street lights in the downtown area.

The borough obtained permits from PennDOT to rip those

up and after they took out the old ones, an inspector

came in I believe and determined that the new ones —

there was an issue with something they were doing which

delayed the process of getting the new ones immediately

installed. So, it’s on delay that’s causing the

problems.

  1. Okay.
  2. So, it’s temporary construction on both

sides.

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  1. But for now they are impassable to

someone in Mr. Solkoff’s condition in terms of requiring

either a wheelchair or a motorized —

  1. I don’t know that they’re impassable.

They have taken up some of the blocks where there was

solid cement and replaced it with gravel.

  1. Okay. Well, you would agree that it

would be difficult —

  1. Inconvenient for sure, yes.
  2. — to navigate on gravel on a wheelchair?
  3. Correct. But there’s always a block

either direction that’s not being torn up at this point.

  1. Did Mr. Solkoff show you a video that he

had made?

  1. He did not. He had mentioned a video

that he had made during Arts Fest that he stated he

couldn’t get to some venues at Arts Fest. I had pointed

out that the construction was actually the opposite

direction from his house from where the Arts Festival

was. So, I was confused by how he couldn’t get to the

Arts Fest.

  1. You would agree that Mr. Solkoff, like

every American, has a right to express grievances

against their government, local, state, or national,

correct?

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  1. Absolutely.
  2. You believe that was ultimately what

Mr. Solkoff is doing here by his going out onto the

roadway? He had a grievance and this is the way he was

going to bring attention to it; is that your

understanding?

  1. That was what he stated his purpose was.
  2. You have no reason to believe other than

that?A. No.

  1. Did you have a meeting with the fire

chief with Mr. Solkoff?

  1. Not over this incident.
  2. KLENA: I don’t have any further

questions of Lieutenant Brauser.

THE COURT: Anything on redirect?

  1. CHAPLIN: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Thank you for your testimony.

THE DEFENDANT: May I ask some questions?

  1. KLENA: No, you can’t.

THE COURT: Well, you can’t now. I

excused him so. THE DEFENDANT: Well, that’s

unreasonable. The lieutenant made several errors of

fact.

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  1. KLENA: That will be up to the jury

to determine whether or not his errors are fact.

THE COURT: You also have a right to

testify, too.

THE DEFENDANT: Can I testify now?

THE COURT: Well, that’s up to your

attorney.

  1. KLENA: I would advise against it,

but if that’s what you wish to do, that’s your choice.

THE DEFENDANT: I want to testify.

THE COURT: Well then, we’ll wait until

it’s your turn, okay?

THE DEFENDANT: Of course.

THE COURT: There’s a certain protocol.

THE DEFENDANT: I’ll be glad to follow.

THE COURT: We’re going to allow the

Commonwealth to present additional evidence. It appears

they have additional evidence.

THE DEFENDANT: That’s fine.

THE COURT: We’ll let them present their

case.

THE DEFENDANT: That’s fine.

THE COURT: And let you, if you choose,

sir.

THE DEFENDANT: Okay. Thank you.

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THE COURT: Officer.

Whereupon,

ANDREW SIM

was called as a witness and having been duly sworn, was

examined and testified as follows:

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Officer, could you please state your name

and then spell your last name for the record?

  1. Andrew Sim, last name is S-i-m.
  2. Where are you employed?
  3. State College Borough Police.
  4. In what capacity?
  5. Patrol officer.
  6. What are your duties as a patrol officer?
  7. Calls for service, investigations,

traffic patrol.

  1. Were you working back on August 11th of

2018? A. I was.

  1. And on that date did you have occasion to

come into contact with the defendant in this matter,

Joel Solkoff?

  1. I did come in contact with him.
  2. Do you see him in the courtroom here

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today? A. I do. He’s sitting with defense counsel.

THE COURT: I’ll note he identified

Mr. Solkoff.

  1. CHAPLIN: Thank you.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Can you describe for the Court how it is

that you came into contact with Mr. Solkoff?

  1. I was actually told ahead of time — this

is out of the ordinary way things work. — that

Mr. Solkoff had already or his attorney had made our

department aware that he was going to block Beaver

Avenue as I understood he had done earlier in the week.

And we were given a time of 9:30. At 9:15 I drove to

that location going up Calder and then the alley that is

perpendicular to Beaver Avenue facing Addison Court

where I knew his residence was. I was made aware that

this would happen in the area of Unde Eli’s, which is on

that half block.As I pulled up there, I saw Mr. Solkoff

was already in the roadway and an unmarked car of ours

which was driven by Captain Fishel blocked the right

lane which Mr. Solkoff was in the middle of. I went

ahead and parked on the alley and walked across to make

contact with Mr. Solkoff.

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  1. You say he was in the middle of the right

lane? A. Middle of the right lane, correct. Right

eastbound lane. That’s a one-way eastbound highway.

  1. Okay. Can you describe for the Court

East Beaver Avenue? Is it a public roadway or highway?

  1. It’s a public roadway. As I said, it’s

one-way eastbound. It’s State Route 26 that goes

through the heart of the Borough of State College. It’s

the business district.

  1. And is that an area that sees daily

traffic?

  1. A lot of vehicular traffic on that being

the main thoroughfare. There are also a lot of

pedestrians that cross that roadway.

  1. And when you arrived there, was he, in

fact, blocking the roadway?

  1. The right lane, correct.
  2. So, were vehicles able to use the right

lane of East Beaver Avenue?

  1. Yes, vehicles could use the left lane.
  2. Were they able to use the right lane?
  3. I am sorry. No, they could not use the

right lane. In fact, after he had it blocked, like I

said, for his safety, a patrol car had pulled up there

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to also block that lane while we dealt with him.

  1. Is that so he wouldn’t get hit by —
  2. For his safety and officers that were

going over there since we knew this was happening in

advance.

  1. Were there cars on the road while this

was going on?

  1. Yes.
  2. I guess, what did you do once you got

there and saw this?

  1. I spoke to Mr. Solkoff. I told him that

I understood that he had a protest and that he had the

right to protest but that he could not block, obstruct

the roadway; that he would have to move off the roadway.

He told me — and he did give me a name. I don’t

remember or know who the person is but he gave me the

name of the secretary of transportation I believe of the

State of Pennsylvania and said that he was blocking the

lane and he would like to speak to the secretary of

transportation of Pennsylvania. This is a female name.

I do not know what it was.

THE DEFENDANT: Leslie S. Richards.

THE WITNESS: Okay. I told him I was

unable to do that for him and asked him again to get off

the roadway, and he said that he would like to be

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arrested.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Do you know how many times he was asked

to leave the roadway?

  1. I said it specifically to him twice. The

one response was to speak to the secretary of

transportation. The second one was to be arrested. And

following that Lieutenant Smail walked out and greeted

Mr. Solkoff. I believe they shook hands and

introduced — he introduced himself to him. He asked

him to leave the roadway and then read a prepared

statement to Mr. Solkoff which indicated that the

borough and police felt that they had taken measures to

accommodate him and he needed to leave the roadway or

would be arrested. I was there. I didn’t hear

everything read, but I know that he read from the

statement.

  1. So, would you consider Mr. Solkoff being

in the roadway a hazard?

  1. It is. At the time the right lane was no

longer a hazard because we had it blocked off for his

safety and the safety of officers dealing with this

incident. He is in a motorized scooter which at any

time he could have pulled into the only lane that was

available and so, yes, it could have been a hazard for

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him.

  1. Would you consider it a hazard for

oncoming traffic for a person to be sitting in the

roadway?

  1. Anybody. Even for officers that were

dealing with it.

  1. Did all of this occur in Centre County?
  2. It did.
  3. I guess, ultimately did he refuse to

leave the roadway?

  1. He did. We even, Officer McDannel at one

point — when we had initially determined to use the

LifeLink ambulance, we were made aware that they brought

a van specific for a mobility device. And

Officer McDannel offered for him to go over to the

Addison Court parking lot to pull into that and

Mr. Solkoff did not stating he wasn’t leaving the

roadway. He did comply once they pulled the van onto

the roadway. He went unassisted posing no problems into

that vehicle once he was told he was under arrest.

  1. Did he have alternate areas where he

could have made this protest?

  1. Right off the roadway where he was where

I believe is his residence, there’s sidewalk area there

where he could have, without even blocking the sidewalk,

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23

made any speech that he wanted to give. I don’t know

what other areas where provided to him but, yes, he

could have made a speech nearby.

  1. CHAPLIN: No further questions at

this time.

THE COURT: Mr. Klena, would you like to

ask the officer any questions, sir?

  1. KLENA: Briefly.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. Just to clarify for the record, Beaver

Avenue in downtown State College is a two-lane one-way

roadway, correct?

  1. Yes, sir.
  2. And the speed limit in downtown State

College is what; 25 miles per hour?

  1. Yes.
  2. He never went into the left lane. He

stayed solely within the right lane during this protest?

  1. Yes, Your Honor — I’m sorry. Yes,

counsel.

THE COURT: You just got promoted.

  1. KLENA: Maybe some day. Who knows.

THE COURT: Just not yet.

THE WITNESS: Can you strike that?

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24

THE COURT: No, leave that in there.

Patrick wants that in the record.

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. He was — and in your interactions with

Mr. Solkoff, he was pleasant, polite but insistent upon

his grievance about the sidewalks and wanting that

situation corrected?

  1. The grievance per se wasn’t so much given

to me as it had been done prior to other officers. The

demand to me was that he wanted the right lane open or a

lane of Beaver Avenue open and he wanted to speak to the

secretary of transportation.

  1. His goal was to have at least one of the

lanes made into a pedestrian — for solely pedestrian

traffic?

  1. That is my understanding, yes.
  2. There was a potential for danger had the

police been unaware of this occurring beforehand; would

you agree with that statement?

  1. There could be.
  2. But with kind of the planned protest

through Attorney McClenahen contacting, saying this is

the date and time that he was going to be entering onto

the roadway, State College Police were able to take

preventative measures to stop any incident from

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25

happening either to motorists or Mr. Solkoff; would you

agree with that?

  1. We tried to make it as safe as we could.
  2. The street was closed off at the point

where he was ultimately then taken into custody on the

11th; is that right?

  1. Just the right lane.
  2. Just the right lane. The left lane was

still — there was still vehicular traffic in the left

lane? A. Vehicles were permitted to continue in

the left lane.

  1. No one was — at that point you didn’t

take the keys out of his motorized scooter or anything

like that, correct?

  1. I did not. I will say I have a lack of

familiarity with them but I did not.

  1. In your opinion he could have backed it

up or drove it forward right into the left lane of

traffic?

  1. Yeah. He was facing that open lane at

the time when we were dealing with him. He was

broadside to the lane he was in.

  1. KLENA: I don’t have any other

questions.

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26

THE COURT: Any redirect?

  1. CHAPLIN: One question very briefly.

REDIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Would his position in the road have

hindered public transportation or emergency vehicles in

the event of an emergency?

  1. Yes.

THE COURT: Follow up?

  1. KLENA: No questions.

THE COURT: Thank you, Mr. Klena.

You may stand down, officer.

Does the Commonwealth have any other

evidence?

  1. CHAPLIN: No, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Commonwealth’s closed their

case. Does the defense have anything?

THE DEFENDANT: I want to testify.

  1. KLENA: Mr. Solkoff wants to testify.

THE COURT: I’m going to let you testify

from there, sir. I’m not going to make you take the

stand.

THE DEFENDANT: Okay.

THE COURT: I do have administer the oath

to you though. And I’m going to ask Mr. Klena if he

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would pull that microphone closer.

Whereupon,

JOEL SOLKOFF

was called as a witness and having been duly sworn, was

examined and testified as follows:

THE COURT: Are you going to direct him,

Mr. Klena?

  1. KLENA: Yes.

DIRECT EXAMINATION

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. Mr. Solkoff, you have expressed your

desire to testify. You understand what you are charged

with, correct?

  1. Yes, I do.
  2. Why do you believe that you shouldn’t be

charged with this offense?

  1. I believe that neither the Commonwealth

nor the lieutenant are correct in there having been

provided to me any alternatives. CATA was not an

alternative. I was planning on praying, (inaudible) and

it’s a term that comes instantly to mind as Hubad, which

is an orthodox Jewish service. The reform service which

Lieutenant Brauser made contact with my rabbi did not

have a service at 10:00 o’clock in the morning on that

Saturday morning. The only service that was available

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28

was at Hubad which is an orthodox congregation which

follows the 12th century ritual established by

Maimonides in Cairo in Egyptian, in Arabic. And in

which the entire service is in Hebrew and in which men

and women are segregated and where no automobile traffic

is permitted. Going on CATA and going off CATA would

have been an offense to my synagogue.

And as to the notion that Allen Street is

passable, I have many videos of impassable streets and

the problem with Allen Street was that before the cross

street there where there is, in fact, a tree the

sidewalk was all cut up.

As for other side streets, Pugh, for

example, I have gone on the crosswalks. The street cuts

is what they’re referred to as. On Pugh Street and on

one occasion my scooter went one way and I landed on the

floor. It is true that in many cross areas that is to

say, for example, at the corner of Allen and Beaver, the

cross streets — the street cuts there are in absolutely

perfect condition and they have added to them because —

I mean, I’m a disability advocate, voice of America

citizen disability advocate. I have been a disability

advocate for the 24 years I have been a paraplegic.

Cross street — street cuts these days

also have little rubber things on the bottom if you’ve

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29

noticed them and, therefore, the blind or the visually

impaired so that if, for example, you’re there with a

white cane you don’t go falling down because suddenly

there’s a street cut. But in the interim in the middle,

for example, in the middle of Pugh when you’re going

down Pugh in the direction of Guacamole and Days Inn,

those street cuts are in a situation of considerable

disrepair.

The week before I met at the — at the

borough council. I met with Tom Fontaine who is in

charge of the borough council and is a wonderful person

and we discussed the situation. Now the reason that I

pulled Leslie S. Richard’s name out of the hat is that

she’s the secretary of transportation and she is in

charge of PennDOT and PennDOT owns Beaver Avenue and the

sidewalks on both sides of Beaver Avenue. And they are

in tragedy when it comes to simple issues such as making

Arts Fest available and such as making it possible for

me to go to synagogue.

What I did on the Monday at the meeting

of the borough council was I showed the borough council

the route I took to synagogue a couple years ago when I

went to Rosh Hashanah service and I showed the borough

council the way it is now. And it is not possible to

get from here to either Hubad or to my shul on Hamilton

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30

Brit Shalom in any way that is safe.

And it is my — and to further add insult

to injury, I attempted to celebrate my 70th birthday.

70th birthdays are regarded biblically as matters of

considerable import especially since based on the notion

of threescore and ten in the Solomon’s. I attempted to

celebrate it with my daughters, each of whom are

vegetarians and a new restaurant opened up on Beaver

Avenue called Cafe Vere which is not wheelchair

accessible but complied technically with the — with the

rules in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which requires

that 20 percent of the money be spent on

disability-friendly repairs. So as a consequence the

bathroom in Cafe Verve is wheelchair accessible but the

entrance is not. One reason the entrance is not

accessible is because —

THE COURT: I’m going to stop you here.

We’re way off point about the restaurant. Let’s stay

focused on the street.

I have a question for you. Where is

Hubad?

THE WITNESS: Hubad is on Weaver.

THE COURT: Weaver?

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Waring.

THE WITNESS: Waring. It’s a small —

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31

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Bottom of highlands.

THE COURT: Where at?

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Down by McCormick.

THE COURT: Okay.

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Between University

Drive and Garner Street.

THE COURT: Okay. I just wanted a

visual.

THE DEFENDANT: I was there a year ago.

I celebrated Shabbat there with my friend, Elliott

Weinstein.

THE COURT: I appreciate that. All

right. So I don’t need to hear any more about the

restaurant. That’s another issue. That’s an issue that

you can take up with — not with this Court, with

another entity. THE DEFENDANT: Okay. All right.

THE COURT: Are you satisfied that you

got to say what you wanted to say about the traffic

situation?

THE DEFENDANT: Well, two things I wanted

to say.

THE COURT: Let’s hear them. Go ahead,

sir.

THE DEFENDANT: Lieutenant Brauser and I

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32

didn’t just meet on this issue. Which — and this issue

may make it sound like I’m somewhat rattled in terms of

driving my scooter out into the highway and so on.

Lieutenant Brauser and I met at the fire department with

Steve Bair and we were there to protect — to institute

procedures to protect the 89 people in Addison Court.

THE COURT: Okay.

BY MR. KLENA:

  1. When did that occur prior to this?
  2. Three months ago? Two months ago?
  3. It’s your recollection.

LIEUTENANT BRAUSER: Last fall I think.

THE WITNESS: Last fall. And then —

THE COURT: This was some time ago?

THE DEFENDANT: But earlier this year,

two months ago, the mayor and the police chief and

Lieutenant Brauser and I were all in the social hall at

Addison Court handing out earplugs.

THE COURT: Okay. All right.

THE DEFENDANT: So, you know, it’s —

this is — I mean, I understand that you don’t want to

talk about anything other than the street and I

appreciate that. But PennDOT is responsible for major

injury to the elderly and disability community that is

on Beaver Avenue and this particular issue, namely

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33

depriving me of the right to go to synagogue finally got

my goat as it were. And there was certainly, you know,

the officer was correct in everything he said. But, you

know, this was a planned arrest. There was no danger at

all to me or anybody on the highway when I went out into

the middle of the road with two police cars here, an

unmarked police car there which I knew was an unmarked

police car, and several officers there, and an ambulance

over there.

I mean, you know, I’m not — I am not

certifiable and proof that I’m not certifiable is that

the police chief and an officer sent me to the hospital

to try to certify me and they wouldn’t do it so.

THE COURT: Point taken.

THE WITNESS: I’m done, unless you have

questions.

THE COURT: Dare I ask if you want to

cross-examine?

  1. CHAPLIN: Very briefly.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. Just for the record, it was your intent

to block the roadway that day, correct?

  1. Oh, yes.
  2. You did block the roadway on the right

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34

lane? A. Well, no, my van. You know, there was a

right side and there was a left side. The unmarked

police car was on the right side. I knew it was an

unmarked police car. I wanted to block the roadway but

I didn’t.

  1. They were blocking the roadway because

you pulled into the roadway?

  1. Because I told them I was going to get

arrested and I didn’t want to get killed because I have

a granddaughter who’s about to be born any day now.

  1. It was your intent to be arrested that

day?

  1. Yes.
  2. You didn’t get a permit to protest in the

road? A. Well, no, I had gotten permission to

protest on Valentine’s Day.

  1. But not on August 11th?
  2. No, I didn’t.

THE COURT: Okay.

THE WITNESS: I did not.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. You can protest in an alternative manner

out of the road?

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35

  1. Assuming that it didn’t do any good.

Martin Luther King protested in Birmingham, Alabama.

  1. Okay. We’re not here about —

THE COURT: We’re way off course here.

BY MS. CHAPLIN:

  1. You did repeatedly tell the police that

the only alternative was to be arrested and that was —

  1. The only alternative other than to get

Leslie J. Reynolds there was to get arrested.

  1. CHAPLIN: I have nothing further.

THE COURT: Okay.

Mr. Klena, do you have a closing

argument, sir?

  1. KLENA: To the extent that the left

lane was still open on Beaver Avenue, I would argue it

didn’t meet the definition of obstruct in terms that it

made it impassable.

THE COURT: All right.

Ms. Chaplin, do you have a closing

argument?

  1. CHAPLIN: Well, Your Honor, I think

that for today’s purposes of a prima facie case the

Commonwealth has met its burden on the misdemeanor

charge. The statute says a person, who having no legal

privilege to do so, intentionally or recklessly

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36

obstructs any highway whether alone or with others and

that if he persists after warning by law officer, it is

a misdemeanor of the third degree. I think all those

elements have been established. I don’t think it’s any

questions that the right lane did have to be closed down

because of his protest. I would suggest that does meet

the definition of obstruct because everyone then had to

be moved into the left lane. It did shut down an entire

lane of traffic. THE COURT: Safety is really not even an

element here. It’s whether or not he blocked traffic,

he obstructed traffic, and whether he was officially

told not to do that, and he was. The elements of the

offense are met. Therefore — it’s not my authority

today, Mr. Solkoff, to determine guilt or innocence.

It’s a preliminary hearing, sir. I simply need to

decide whether an offense was committed and whether you

were the person who could have committed the offense.

That’s the burden of proof.

So for today’s purposes, the Commonwealth

has met its burden. I’m binding you over to the Centre

County Court on the obstructing highway and other public

passage charge. Your case is bound over to the Common

Pleas Court. All right.

  1. CHAPLIN: Your Honor, if I may ask a

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37

question about bail. I know you had changed it from —

THE COURT: Bail is ROR right now. He

refused to sign the bail bond but he is released on his

recognizance and if he’ll sign the bail bond today, I’ll

have him sign it. If he doesn’t want to, I’m not going

to force him — I can’t force him to sign it. But bail

— I was involved in this issue yesterday and bail has

been changed by Judge Lachman who was the issuing

authority who granted the complaint to ROR.

  1. CHAPLIN: Okay. I guess, I was just

wondering is the condition that Judge Lachman had put in

the original bail paper to not go back into the roadway,

is that still — THE COURT: That is not a bail condition.

There are no non-monetary conditions on an ROR bail

bond.

  1. KLENA: That would be a new offense,

Ms. Chaplin.

THE COURT: That’s right.

  1. KLENA: If that occurs, then I

imagine the police will respond accordingly.

THE COURT: We cannot — we cannot issue

a non-monetary bail condition on ROR bond.

  1. CHAPLIN: Thank you for the clarity,

Judge.

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38

THE COURT: My pleasure.

We’re adjourned.

E N D O F P R O C E E D I N G S

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39

C E R T I F I C A T E

I hereby certify that the proceedings and

evidence are contained fully and accurately in the notes

taken by me upon the hearing of the within matter and

that this copy is a correct transcript of the same.

Date Patricia A. Grey, RPR Official Reporter

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40

C E R T I F I C A T E

I hereby certify that a copy of this

transcript was made available to counsel of record for

the parties, advising they had until

in which to file any

objections or exceptions to the same. That time period

having elapsed without recording of objections or

exceptions, the transcript is therefore lodged with the

Court for further action.

Date Patricia A. Grey, RPR Official Reporter

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41

ACCEPTANCE BY COURT

Upon counsel’s opportunity to review and

to offer objections to the record, the foregoing record

of proceedings is hereby accepted and directed to be

filed.

Date Pamela A. Ruest President Judge

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many of the homeless here in affluent State College will be dead by midnight Christmas Day?

This photograph should tell you all you need to know. All the rest is merely commentary.

++++

Homeless in Downtown State College the residential community for rich as Croesus Penn State

I took this photograph less than an hour ago. A homeless man is bundled over a cup of coffee as the wind chill factor is 27  degrees F and  scattered flakes of snow are beginning to fall. Four blocks away a brand new multi-story Hyatt has gone up where on premium football weekends a single room costs $450 a night.

As the Manhattanization of Downtown State College progresses with abandon, it is no surprise that this month—just in time for Christmas—less than three blocks away one of this community’s homeless shelters shut down. The temperature is dropping rapidly. Will this man be dead by midnight when Santa Claus begins his rounds determining who has been naughty or nice?

Come back soon, hear, I have just begun this screed

+++++

Footnotes

1. Wikipedia: “In Greek and Persian cultures the name of Croesus became a synonym for a wealthy man. Croesus’ wealth remained proverbial beyond classical antiquity: in English, expressions such as “rich as Croesus” or “richer than Croesus” are used to indicate great wealth to this day. “

2.

 

 

 

Dancing a wheelchair tango at the Inaugural Ball for New Mexico Governor Grisham

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Lujan_Grisham

++++

Santa: In my Yiddisha stocking, please insert a plane ticket to New Mexico, a reservation for a mobility device when I arrive, one $1,00 ticket and enough moolah to make  a donation to HIAS,*, pay off my most demanding creditors before dancing the tango at the inaugural ball for Michelle Lujan Grisham, the wonderful new governor of New Mexico, who will embrace refugees from the horrors of central America as the Statute of Liberty recommends.

++++

Joel,

I am so honored and excited to take office as Governor of New Mexico in just a little over a week. We’re about to begin a new chapter of our state’s history – and I can’t wait to get to work fighting for a brighter future for New Mexico’s families.

I want to kick it off with the folks who made it possible over the last two years – including you! That’s why the inaugural committee is giving away five tickets to one contest winner to celebrate with me at the Governor’s Ball.

++++

++++

This is a chance to celebrate all we’ve accomplished. It was a long, hard road to get to this historic night, and I want to honor the hard work and dedication of my team and my supporters.

If you’d like to join me at the Governor’s Ball at 8 p.m. on January 1st in Santa Fe, you can donate any amount before midnight tomorrow to be automatically entered for a chance to win tickets for you and four of your loved ones.

Click here to give ANY amount to enter our contest to win five tickets for you and your loved ones to celebrate this historic moment for New Mexico at the Governor’s Ball.

Thank you so much for being part of my team,

Michelle Lujan Grisham

P.S. If you don’t want to leave it to chance, you can click here to purchase a ticket to the Governor’s Ball before January 1st.

https://www.mlginauguration.com/tickets

++++

++++

Contributions or gifts to the Lujan Grisham Inaugural Committee are not tax deductible.

No purchase, payment, or contribution necessary to enter or win. Contributing will not improve chances of winning. Void where prohibited. Entries must be received by December 23, 2018. Enter by contributing here, or click here to enter without contributing. One (1) winner will receive the following prize: five tickets to the Lujan Grisham Inaugural Ball (approximate retail value of prize: $500). Odds of winning depend on number of entries received. All prizes will be awarded. Promotion open only to U.S. citizens, or lawful permanent U.S. residents who are legal residents of 50 United States, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and 18 or older (or age of majority under applicable law). Promotion subject to Official Rules and additional restrictions on eligibility. Sponsor: Lujan Grisham Inaugural Committee, P.O. Box 4700, Santa Fe, NM 87505.

—30–

*

https://www.hias.org/

PBS: Appoint Jane Ferguson, risking her life in Yemen, permanent moderator, Washington Week

How we got the images you weren’t meant to see in Yemen
July 3, 2018 2:44 PM EST
As I arrived in Sana’a city late at night on June 6, the few working street lights cast a glow over the closed doors of shops, trash on the streets, and the earthen color of the buildings. All so familiar. Driving past the enormous Saleh Mosque — a major landmark in the capital — the sign now read “the people’s mosque” in Arabic. Yemen’s former, long-time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, had turned against the Houthi rebels occupying this city in December and paid with his life. All visible reminders of him have been removed.
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/reporting-in-yemen-the-city-that-has-fallen-off-a-cliff

Jane Ferguson is risking her life right now to report the news from Yemen for PBS

Yesterday, at risk to her life, Jane Ferguson reported on the PBS’ excellent News Hour from the only open port in Yemen from which food and medicine can still be shipped to provide relief to millions of civilians . A fragile cease-fire the UN negotiated in Sweden may bring a modicum of hope in a country where tragedy prevails.

Meanwhile, also  on the PBS network, Washington Week—once the premier weekly opinion program in the US—exemplifies the dominant isolationism of,the  White House Corps. On Friday night Washington Week continued to ignore ( as it has for years) the humanitarian tragedy in Yemen and President Trump’s complicity in Saudi genocide.

PBS should immediately appoint Jane Ferguson Washington Week’s peermant moderator,replacing Robert Costa who covers the White House for The Washington Post. If Ferguson is not available, Reporters without Borders has many brave reporters on the front lines of the world’s humanitarian crises. American politicians tell the public we are the leading power in the world. If that power is to mean anything, it must be used to resolve crises— not hide from them and pretend they do not exist.

Reporters such as CNN’s Arwa Damon bring the news of US complicity or indifference to the millions of children and their parents dying .  Meanwhile, their coverage of life and death issues do not receive priority coverage. Instead, the  majority of the well-tailored White House Press Corps seems to focus exclusively on the Presudent’s soap opera machinations.

Remember, if the public had to rely on the White House Press Corps  during  Watergate, Richard Nixon would have completed his second term in office. Woodward and Bernstein were not a part of the White House Press Corps. They were low-level reporters covering night court.

++++

Friday night should cause Bob Costa and his Washington Week panelists shame for failing even make mention of the two Senate resolutions on Yemen

From: FT comment alerts <[email protected]>
Date: Sat, Dec 15, 2018 at 10:19 AM
Subject: Kincaid recommended your comment on “Senate votes to withdraw support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen | Financial Times”
Finally.
For the past four years, 88,000 children have died needlessly, avoidably in Yemen. The Guardian reports starvation on a mass basis has become so severe people are committing suicide rather than wait to die from hunger and cholera.
Is this US Senate vote too little too late? As international journalists risk death to cover the horror, will the US press (for the most part) continue to ignore the reports of US assistance in Saudi genocide?
Or will Robert Costa and his fellow Washington Week reporters on the US Public Broadcasting System (PBS) continue to disregard (as they have been for the past four years) infants being bombed in hospitals and schools—preferring to critique President Trump’s capitalization within his lunatic tweets?
PBS’ hour long nightly news is the best news program on American television broadcasting the courageous Jane Ferguson from a bombed out Physicians without Borders hospital tent in Yemen.
Yet, Washington Week—hitherto regarded as the premier opinion program in the country ( in the tradition of, for example, my late friend Eileen Shanehan)—will certainly devote considerable space to the President’s efforts to hire a new chief of staff.
I predict that tonight’s broadcast will devote more time opining on whether Jared Kushner is qualified for the job at the expense of any international news story.
Of the two Yemeni developments this week, the Senate non-binding resolution may be mentioned because of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ role in drafting the resolution. (No doubt Costa is aware a significant number of his viewers are Sanders supporters.)
I would be pleasantly surprised if the truly significant Yemeni story of the week was covered at all:
A UN brokered truce with the Yemeni combatants. The truce could easily result in hundreds of thousands of lives being saved because of the truce, Yemen’s last operating port will/may not shut down distribution of food and medicine.
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Note: My comment was published early on Friday morning December 13th before the announcement that President Trump selected by tweet Mitch Mulvaney as his acting Chief of Staff.

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Take note Washington Week, this is the kind of reporter your panelists should emulate

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“Once inside, there is an unnerving quiet to the children’s ward. The healthier babies cry, but many just stare blankly. It’s not immediately clear if their eyes look too big or their faces too small.

“Malnourishment can have very few tell-tale signs to an untrained eye — perhaps just a paleness, a smallness. As the scale continues, some children have lost hair or had their hair turn orange, some have swollen bellies, or no belly to speak of, or bones sticking out through wilted skin. Some of them have aged faces, with skin that wrinkles when they cry.

Their parents have exhausted all “coping mechanisms” as the aid organizations would say. To you or I, that’s anything we would turn to if a salary suddenly stopped: savings, relatives, a cow or some chickens in the backyard, a line of credit at the local grocery store. After three years of war, most people have exhausted all of those. Sweet tea and bread is keeping an untold number of people here alive, barely. It’s especially tough on the babies as mother’s cannot produce enough high nutrient milk when they themselves are not eating nearly enough.”

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/reporting-in-yemen-the-city-that-has-fallen-off-a-cliff

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After years of effort— of driving his Senate colleagues crazy by insisting every time he rose to speak—that the Senate ratify the genocide treaty, it is now a matter of law that the kind of genocide the US participates in today ( right now) must result in the US being tried in the World Court if our country does not stop it.

Last week, when the Senate took initial steps to end this the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, this— to its shame—is what the trendy news organizations ignore. CNN, MSNBC, and nearly everyone else on US television have been flogging to death for the previous two days, the same old same old Washington Week’s host decided to repeat yet again on Friday night.

No one at Washington Week saw fit to even  mention Yemen. How many more infants have to die in Yemen before Robert Costa decides it worthy of even ten percent of his show’s time?

Shame on you, Washington Week;shame on you.

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Rose Mallinger, 97, was the eldest of the 11 members of Pittsburgh’s Conservative congregation killed in the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history

On October 27th,eleven of my people were killed while attending Saturday morning synagogue services at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue. The synagogue is affiliated with the Conservative Jewish Movement centered at the Jewish Theological Seminary at 125th Street in New York City.

When my mother Dr. Miriam P. Schmereler was 67, she  received her doctorate in Hebrew letters from the Jewish Theological Seminary. 

Words fail in my grief and that of my people as a consequence of this the worst anti-Semitic act in U.S. history. What follows is the obituary that appeared in USA Today for Rose Mallinger, the eldest of the eleven women and men killed because they were Jewish and because as Jews our obligation to assist refugees made Pittsburgh's synagogue a target because of its support for HIAS [Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society], the organization that helped settle my father Isadore, his parents and sister before World War I who fled pogroms in Russia.
The corpses of the Jews killed during the 1906 pogrom of Bialystok are laid down in the yard of the Jewish hospital

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Synagogue shooting: Crowds mourn Rose Mallinger, 97, in the last funeral of 11 victims

, USA TODAYPublished 2:01 p.m. ET Nov. 2, 2018 | Updated 2:56 p.m. ET Nov. 2, 2018

Hundreds of mourners had to be turned away Friday at the funeral for 97-year-old Rose Mallinger as family, friends and community members turned out to pay their last respects to the oldest victim of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the last of the 11 to be laid to rest.

Despite gray, blustery weather, long lines formed early outside Rodef Shalom Temple where the services were held because the Tree of Life synagogue, the site of the shootings Saturday, has not reopened.

It was hardly surprising that Mallinger found herself at the synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill community on that fateful day when an armed man, spewing anti-Semitic epithets, opened fire.

Mallinger, who once served as school secretary at Tree of Life, was a fixture there for 60 years, regularly attending worship services with her family.

The synagogue was the “center of her very active life,” her family said in a statement. “Her involvement with the synagogue went beyond the Jewish religion. … It was her place to be social, to be active and to meet family and friends.”

“She retained her sharp wit, humor and intelligence until the very last day,” the family statement said. “She did everything she wanted to do in her life.”

Mallinger was one of six siblings, had three children, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“It’s surreal to be here because you never think of losing someone who is 97 years old to gun violence,” said Michele Organist, a friend of both Rose and her 61-year-old daughter, Andrea Wedner, who was injured in the shooting.

“I’ve known Rose a long time and it was always going to be that she was so vibrant and bright and sharp-witted that she would live past 100,” said Organist. “You knew something was going to take her eventually, but it wasn’t going to be gun violence.”

Elizabeth Murphy of Sewickley said Andrea Wedner was her dental hygienist. Murphy emerged from the visitation for Wedner’s mother, Rose, with lines of mascara running down her face.

“I moved to Pittsburgh 22 years ago from Boston thinking I came from a strong Jewish community and the Pittsburgh community has been amazingly tight,” she said. “I felt integrated in just a few years and I felt like I needed to be here with my people.”

It was not immediately clear if Wedner was unable to attend the services. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, without naming the patient, said a 61-year-old woman fitting her description remained in stable condition at the hospital.

UPMC said on Friday that the two most seriously injured victims had been moved out of the intensive care unit. Hospital officials say a 70-year-old man has been upgraded from critical to stable condition. A 40-year-old police officer remains in stable condition.

The officer was previously identified as Timothy Matson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The wounded congregant is Daniel Leger, a nurse and hospital chaplain.

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