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The Problem is Civil Obedience
Defenders' Sample Prep Questions
questions were taken from actual questions that were asked during
motions and/or trial testimony. While the
questions you might be asked if you testify may differ from the ones
below, you could use these as a guide to prepare your statement and
your notes. Remember that your answers will be individual and you
should always tell the truth as you know it. Generally, you should
not speak to anything that you do not have direct knowledge of,
therefore do not feel that you must have an answer to each question.
It is perfectly permissible to say "I don't know" or
"I don't remember" if this is the truth. There are expert
witness that can testify to matters of federal indian law and
policy, constitutional law, and genocide, so don't feel that you
must know everything. You can be cross examined on anything you
testify about so consult with your attorney prior to and during the
trial if you have questions. Having written statements that you can
share with your attorney can expedite the process.
Nothing in this
website constitutes legal advice and you should always consult an
attorney with any legal questions.
examination ~ Cross examination
~ Summaries of motions
(Examples of your defense lawyer’s questions to you)
1. State your name and how employed.
a. How long so employed?
b. What is your educational background?
c. What is your tribal affiliation, if any?
d. Do you have any affiliations with the American Indian Movement?
e. What was your role, if any, in organizing the 2004 Columbus Day
2. What is your understanding of the purpose of the Columbus Day
3. What does Columbus represent to you?
4. How does your understanding of genocide relate to the Columbus
5. How did you first become involved in the Columbus Day issue?
6. Describe your involvement, if any, w/ Columbus Day protests in
a. Did you ever use violence in Columbus Day protests in the past.
7. What was your purpose in protesting the 2004 Columbus Day
a. Why do you feel it is important to protest the Columbus Day
b. How does the Columbus Day parade impact you, your children and/or
c. How do you view the Columbus Day parade as incite to hate speech
or ethnic intimidation?
d. Do you believe the Columbus Day parade is an act of ethnic
intimidation? How so?
e. How were your actions a response to ethnic intimidation?
f. How do you see the celebration of Columbus Day as part of a
pattern of ethnic intimidation against American Indian people?
8. How did you come to enter the parade route?
a. Did you remove barriers set up by police?
b. Did you block traffic?
9. When you entered the street, were you aware of any law or
order that you were violating?
a. Are you aware of any law that makes it a crime to protest a
parade on a public
10. Did you hear the orders to disperse given by the police?
a. Who made the announcement?
b. Describe your location in the crowd (front, back or middle;
different places at different times?)
c. From your position in the street where were the police located?
The crowd? The barricades?
d. Were you blocking traffic? From which direction was the
e. How was the announcement made?
f. What exact words did you hear?
11. How easy was it for you to hear the police announcements?
a. Do you recall hearing drums or singing?
b. Were you able to talk to those near you in a normal
12. Did you use violence at any time during the protest? Did you
intend to become violent?
13. How did you know you were under arrest?
a. Was it your intention to be arrested that day?
b. Did you sit or remain in the parade route after you were
personally directed to leave the parade route?
c. Did you in any way resist arrest?
d. Did the arresting officer(s) tell you why you were being
arrested? What did they say? When and where you told?
e. What was your understanding of why you were being arrested?
f. Did you believe you were committing a crime that day? Did you
intend to commit a crime?
g. Describe the police officers interaction with you upon your
14. Describe your interaction, if any, with those in the Columbus
a. Did you physically confront or threaten to cause harm to anyone
in the parade?
b. How was your First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and
exercise free speech interfered with that day and by who?
c. Were you able to confront the 2004 Columbus Day Parade and
exchange your opposing views?
d. After the police ordered you to disperse and move you out of the
street were you still able to protest? Why or why not?
e. Were you carrying a sign? What did it say? What happened to your
sign after you were arrested?
f. While the police detained you, could you see or hear the parade
as it passed by? What did you observe? How did it make you feel?
15. Even though the City of Denver abolished Columbus Day as an
official city holiday some years ago, how do you see the city
actively supporting this event?
16. When you were ordered to disperse and to stop expressing your
views, do you believe you were given a lawful order?
(Examples of City Attorney’s questions to try to discredit your
testimony given during direct examination):
1. Did you hear the order to disperse?
2. Where were you located in the crowd when the orders were
3. Why do you claim you didn’t hear the order?
4. Are you saying that out of the multiple announcements given
over a megaphone by the police that you didn’t even hear one
5. Wouldn’t you agree that even if you did hear the order, you
wouldn’t have obeyed it anyway?
6. Isn’t it true that you were determined to get arrested that
7. Do you agree that you should obey a lawful order?
8. Do you think that it is ok to pick and choose which laws you
will follow, and which laws you will disregard based upon your
political or personal views?
9. Are you aware that Columbus Day was abolished by the city of
Denver as an official holiday? Wouldn’t it be more effective to
take your cause to the state government instead of to the city?
10. Is it your position that the City of Denver should not issue
another permit to the Columbus Day Parade organizers? So you would
interfere with another groups First Amendment rights just because
their views are not politically correct?
11. Do you agree that those in the Columbus Day parade also have
First Amendment rights that should be respected?
12. Isn’t this protest really about interfering with the First
Amendment rights of another group?
13. Do you even have one example where the Columbus Day parade
participants threatened you personally?
14. Do you have even one example of the Columbus Day parade
participants causing you physical harm?
15. Do you really think that candy thrown by women and children
on floats in a public parade is the same as cross burning by the KKK
on the lawn of a Black person?
16. Are you aware that there are more productive ways to change
policies that you do not like besides breaking the law?
17. Have you taken steps to change the state law through the
legislature? Why not?
18. You spoke of the so-called impact the Columbus Day holiday
has on Indian children? Do you think breaking the law is setting a
good example for them?
of the motions
(click on the title in each summary to open the full motion in Adobe
Speech Motion: Not all speech is protected by the 1st
Amendment to the US Constitution. The Columbus Day Parade is
"celebrating" the genocide of indigenous peoples and
therefore it constitutes hate speech and ethnic intimidation. Such
speech and activities are not permissible under US, Colorado, and
international law. The defenders had a duty to take peaceful action
to oppose hate speech, the same way they would be justified to take
action if the Paraders were marching through the streets, burning
crosses in front of black citizens in an attempt to incite violence
and harm to the community. US Supreme Court cases, as well as
Colorado and international law make it clear that the defenders had
not only the right, but the duty to Act.
Law Motion: The celebration of Columbus Day in general and
the "Convoy of Conquest" in particular constitute
incitement to and/or advocacy of genocide. The U.S. government, as
well as the City and County of Denver, are obligated by
international laws, treaties and conventions to prevent genocide as
well as any activity that promotes racial hatred or discrimination.
The defenders were acting within the rights, indeed the
requirements, of international law, to stop the incitement to and
advocacy of genocide. The defenders did not disobey any lawful
order by the police since the order itself was unlawful as it would
have allowed the continuing violation of the most fundamental of
human rights. The defenders were not loitering which is generally
interpreted to mean remaining in an area without purpose. All
charges therefore must be dismissed.
Law Motion: Both the "loitering" and "failure
to obey a lawful order" ordinances are unconstitutionally
overbroad and vague, both in how they are written and in how they
were applied in the arrests of the defenders. In this instance they
have interfered with the constitutionally protected of the exercise
of free speech by the defenders. The defenders were not loitering.
As the courts have said "loitering is aimless. Social protest
is purposeful." The arrests of the defenders under the
loitering ordinance violated their free speech rights under the US
and Colorado constitutions because the actions of the defenders did
not meet the legal requirements of loitering and the city had no
other justification for the arrests. Denver's "failure to
obey" ordinance says that it is illegal to disobey a police
officer if that disobedience interferes with the officer doing his
job. Since the defenders, at the time of their arrest, were
engaging in purposeful political speech in a traditional public
forum, and not loitering, the order to leave the streets was a
violation of the defenders free speech rights and therefore
unlawful. All charges therefore must be dismissed.
©2001-2005 Transform Columbus Day Alliance