I've just returned from Mississippi (aka MissinHippie). Here's the short story with the longer to come when I have more time to do it.
Five individuals filed a Complaint in the US District Court in Jackson, MS on Tuesday, March 24, 1998 against the Forest Service, the US Marshals Service, and the Sheriff of Copiah County against roadblocks and other law enforcement harassment at the Mississippi gathering. They included a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, ex parte (meaning without hearing from the other side), and attached the Order from Florida last month.
The case landed in Judge Tom S. Lee's court. Unfortunately, Judge Lee was hearing cases in another court or was otherwise unavailable or unwilling to rule on the Motion without a hearing. It was also too late for him to call a hearing before the order would go moot (many Federal Judges refuse to hear cases ex parte as a rule and apparently Judge Lee is one of them).
The Plaintiffs tried to cut a deal with the US Attorney to stipulate to Florida in absence of a TRO. The US Attorney assigned to defend the Forest Service and the Marshals Service was unable to reach the parties in time and assured the Plaintiffs that officers would follow the law (which, after all, is all the Florida order ensures).
I returned to the gathering site at about 5pm expecting to see the usual roadblock boogie and was shocked and amazed when it wasn't there. Then I found out that Copiah County had released all but 3 of the 30 or so prisoners that afternoon (there was a kangaroo court involved, so don't get too excited).
At about 6:30pm, a roadblock went up, but it was nothing like the week before. It consisted of two Forest Service LEO cars and two Copiah County Sheriff's cars. Folks who drove through it were asked for driver's license, registration, and whether they had any beer (beer is illegal in that part of Copiah County, but not liquor and wine....go figure....). There were no dogs and no arrests made at the roadblock all weekend and no further civil rights abuses that we are aware of at this time.
So, we were unable to get the piece of paper, but we did get:
I'd also like to send out a big HO! to Freddie S., who held my hand all the way through this thing.
In Loving Service
The Good Folks at Pronoid Central
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