Americans marching for their civil rights

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Americans marching on Capitol Hill, Birmingham and Sacramento for their civil and God given rights

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The comparisons are stark to the January 6th protestors, who were unarmed unlike the Black Panthers of 1967. The January 6th protestors were on Capitol Hill just like the Women’s March protestors who were obstructing legislative session to the extent that lawmakers came out and investigated. Yet the Women’s March protestors were let go with a fine.

Why should the American justice system treat such individuals so differently under the law? Lady Justice is blind for a reason.

January 1946

More than 100 black members of the Southern Negro Youth Congress marched in a double file to the Jefferson County Courthouse and demanded the right to vote. Despite trespass and obstruction charges that could have been filed, none were arrested. The Southern Negro Youth Congress remained a fundraiser for various black causes in Birmingham, Alabama until 1949.

December 1956

Political agitator Fred Shuttlesworth led blacks illegally onto Birmingham buses, causing traffic disturbances and violation of various public ordinances. Twenty-two were arrested, no jail time was served.

April 1963

Shuttlesworth was arrested, along with 30 others, for marching towards Birmingham City Hall. Shuttlesworth remained in jail for just 5 days for his ongoing disturbances of the peace, riot activity while the other protestors were released.

April 18 1963

Arrests could have been made for demonstrators causing disturbances in various diners throughout Birmingham, however dining staff ignored the picketers and rioters and no arrests were made.

May 1st 1963

Alabama judge William Jenkins issues fines and just five-day sentences for 11 black leaders who defied his injunction against public demonstrations and advocated for picketing, trespass, boycott and violation of Birmingham city ordinances.

May 1963

Birmingham, Alabama exploded in civil riots. In the wake of the Birmingham truce agreement, black protestors torched businesses owned by Italians and other whites. Hand-to-hand combat with police throughout Birmingham occurred. White police officer J. N. Spivey was knifed in the ribs by three black men.

Frustrated by Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for peace in a time fraught with Ku Klux Klan vengeance on a black parsonage due to white women attacked by black youths earlier that year, riots were so bloody that the U.S. Federal government intervened with a domestic military employment. Quelling the riot was of paramount importance to the U.S. federal government, which placed 18000 local military men on high alert for intervention and peacemaking purposes. Malcolm X correctly categorized the Birmingham riots as a catalyst for future violence across the country.

May 1967

A group of 30 Black Panthers walked into the California state capitol building while it was in session. Armed with automatic rifles, shotguns, revolvers and handguns, the 24 men and 6 women were accompanied by journalists. Six of the Black Panters entered the legislative session without incident, causing politicians to duck under their desks.

No building security stopped the Black Panthers, nor were there charges of obstruction filed despite the ongoing legislative discussion taking place. Police eventually convinced the Black Panthers to leave, without incident. Not all of the trespassers had the appropriate gun permits in place, yet no arrests were made and no jail time was served. This violent display continued with one Black Panther, Huey Newton, shooting and killing white police officer John Frey a few months later.

Newton had an extensive violent history, including stabbing another individual with a steak knife in 1964, but only served 2 years in jail for his murder of Frey

March 1st 1971

On March 1, 1971, a group of college students associated with the Weather Underground detonated a bomb inside the U.S. Capitol. Over $300,000 in property damage was done due to the bomb blowing out the windows of the Capitol building. The Weather Underground started as the Students for a Democratic Society, which adopted Bob Dylan lyrics for their manifestos (“”You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows” (taken from a line in Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”). Members of the group repeatedly left the United States, traveling to Cuba to gain knowledge of resistance from North Vietnamese fighters.

The group traveled around the United States, including to California, to plot attacks on the U.S. Capitol and then in 1972, on the Pentagon. The FBI was aware of “the Weathermen”, stating that the group had enough explosives to destroy entire New York City streets in February 1970, but were not placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list until June 1970. The Weathermen broke into various factions and came back together repeatedly.

In 1971, a group calling themselves the “Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI” broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania and made off with files on the agency’s COINTELPRO operation. The information was vital, as it was discovered the FBI was using undercover agents in violation of the constitution to gain information about the Weathermen. Most of the members who went above ground following the reckoning of the FBI’s illegal acts received large fines and short stints of probation. Many of the members (including Bill Ayers) who turned themselves in had all charges dropped.

November 1983

The bombing of the U.S. Capitol, Fort McNair and Capitol Navy Yard in 1983 was carried out by members of the Resistance Conspiracy. In retaliation for the U.S. bombing of Grenada and Lebanon, Resistance Conspiracy included male and female Americans. A bomb was hidden under a bench in the U.S. Senate chamber and detonated on November 7 1983, blowing the hinges off of the Senate minority leader’s office.

Five historic paintings were also damaged, and the bomb blast created a hole in the wall to the Republican cloakroom. This blast caused pulverized brick, plaster and glass to rain onto the floor. The area was sparsely attended at the time, but was not vacant. The bomb blast at the U.S. Capitol caused over $250,000 in damages. The FBI took 5 years to investigate and in 1988, arrested just seven members of the “Resistance Conspiracy”: Marilyn Jean Buck, Linda Sue Evans, Susan Rosenberg, Timothy Blunk, Alan Berkman, Laura Whitehorn and Elizabeth Ann Duke. Susan Rosenberg may be a familiar name to readers as she is a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) movement.

June 2018

U.S. and non-U.S. citizens crowded D.C. for the Women’s March. Nearly 600 protestors were joined by democratic lawmakers on stages around Capitol Hill. These mostly female protestors demanded the end to ICE, despite ICE advocating for Angel Moms whose children have been killed by illegal immigrants around the country. Crying out “Abolish ICE”, the protestors enjoyed fullscale support from female democratic representatives including Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kristen Gillibrand (D-New York) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut).

Linda Sarsour, the organizer of the Women’s March, stated publicly that she was willing to commit acts of civil disobedience to get whatever she wanted. U.S. Capitol Police were on the scene, and arrested 575 individuals. Despite charges of trespass and obstruction, as well as the concealed weaponry of mace that many of the protestors had, every protestor was let go after paying a fine of $50.


Federal property was on the menu for Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots in 2020. In Portland OR, Corrections Records Office employees were subject to broken windows and shattered glass from rioters entering their workplace. Members of Antifa started fires inside the Multnomah County Justice Center, caused property damage with spraypaint and destroyed state property such as computers. The rioters added incendiary material to cubicles for employees to find upon their return.

A jail also exists in the same building that was experiencing multiple fires started by Antifa, with 289 people unable to escape should the conflagration have continued. Despite the huge danger to life these actions posed, only one count of arson was handed down to the one ringleader, Edward Schinzing. Of the 99 rioters arrested in connection with federal charges (including trespass, arson and destruction of federal property) during the attack on the Multnohmah County Justice Center in 2020, 50 were released without issue.

By Sara Sass

Sara Sass is a published author (2021: There Are Some Secrets) and intellectual property attorney. She successfully reopened oyster bed waters in favor of local oystermen versus the United States Coast Guard in 2023. Winning awards before the American Arbitration Association and drafting commercial documents is also in her repertoire. She enjoys sailing on the Chesapeake Bay with her husband.