Everyone knows that the First Amendment protects Americans’ freedom of speech, but it also protects our freedom to gather together for political purposes. On March 17, 2012, when citizens all over the state were gathering to choose delegates for Missouri’s state Republican convention, the St. Charles County Republican Caucus adjourned improperly without choosing delegates. Following Robert’s Rules of Order and acting with the assistance of the head of the Missouri Association of Parliamentarians, Brent Stafford attempted to convene a “rump” caucus on the grounds of Francis Howell North High School. But within minutes St. Peters police arrested Stafford – and only Stafford – dragging him away from the assembly and later trying to justify the arrest by charging him with “trespassing.” The arrest takes less than two minutes to watch and can be seen below:
The Freedom Center of Missouri is taking this case because politically-motivated arrests endanger the very basis of our constitutional system. As is evident from the video, the police turned the First Amendment upside down, singling Mr. Stafford out for arrest and hauling him to jail precisely because he was overseeing a peaceful political assembly. Tomorrow morning we will be with Mr. Stafford as he pleads “not guilty” to the bogus “trespassing” charge under which St. Peters is prosecuting him – and we are confident that the First Amendment will prevail.