‘SOS Five’ given new court date

SOS leaders hold press conference in front of Montgomery Justice Center, L. to R. Karen Jones, Kamasi Amin, John Zippert and Faya Rose Toure, Ellen Dungen in background.

On September 21, 2020 the ‘SOS Five’ went to the Montgomery Justice Center for arraignment on misdemeanor charges for “defacing public property” writing “Black Lives Matter and Expand Medicaid Now”, on July 16th, in the street in front on the Alabama State capitol in Montgomery. The SOS Five planned to plead “not guilty” at the hearing.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the City of Montgomery Court was not in session, and the court appearance was rescheduled for November 23, 2020.
Four of the five SaveOurselves and Black Lives Matter leaders were present: Karen Jones, Faya Rose Toure, Kamasi Amin and John Zippert. Former Mayor Johnny Ford had an attorney to postpone his hearing because he was dealing with a family health emergency.
The ‘SOS Five’ turned themselves in on July 20, 2020 and were held in the Montgomery City Jail for five hours and exposed to coronavirus, by staff and inmates, who were not wearing masks and were not socially distant.
The two women, Karen Jones and Fay Rose Toure were subjected to a full body strip search, including their private parts, as part of the jail processing routine. The men in the group were not strip searched but had to strip to their underwear and don prison jumpsuits.
The SOS leaders spoke to the press before going into the Justice Center. “We are innocent and we will plead not guilty because we are not guilty. We demand that these unnecessary charges be dropped. All we did was try to use our Constitutional free speech and freedom of assembly rights to send a message to Governor Ivey and the people of Alabama,” said Fay Rose Toure of Selma.
Kamasi Amin said,” Young people like me, I am 26 years old, must get involved in this struggle to end police brutality and provide health care to all of our citizens especially in this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Black Lives Matter!”
Karen Jones said, “I am deeply concerned and offended at the way we were treated and strip searched by the Montgomery police. We are seasoned and educated activists, who know our rights. What are they doing and how are they treating average ordinary people who are arrested in Montgomery? The Mayor and the City Council must investigate this and change their policies and procedures.”
“I did write Expand Medicaid in the street, with spray paint in front of the State Capitol, because I wanted Governor Ivey to see it. The misdemeanor, we may have committed, was for a greater purpose of alerting the Governor and the public to the denial of health care to over 340,000 working poor people,” commented John Zippert, who is also Co-Publisher of this newspaper.
The ‘SOS Five’ and eleven other demonstrators who were arrested two weeks later by Montgomery City Police at another demonstration on the steps and street in from of the State Capitol still await trial.
The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy will be back protesting for Medicaid Expansion, equity in the fight against coronavirus, and police killing of unarmed Black, Brown and poor people, at the State Capitol steps in Montgomery on this Thursday, October 1, 2020. For more information or to support the SOS, contact through Facebook and the Internet or call: 334/262-0932.

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