Excellent Progressive Magazine Article on “The DuPage Two”
Posted by: "Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo" kklcac@...
Fri Dec 7, 2007 1:15 pm (PST) Please come to demonstration on December 11, and please help spread the
word about it.
In the meantime, please demand that the DuPage County State’s Attorney,
Joe Birkett, drop the charges.
His contact information is:
Joseph Birkett, State’s Attorney
503 N. County Farm Road
Wheaton, IL 60187
Phone: (630) 407-8000
Fax: 630) 407-8151
Anti-Bush Protesters Prosecuted for "Unlawful Display of Sign"
December 6, 2007
By Matthew Rothschild
Jeff Zurawski and Sarah Hartfield had never even gone to a political
demonstration before this year. But because they were outraged by Bush's
war, they went to Washington a couple of times and to Camp Casey once.
When they returned to their homes in DuPage County, Illinois, this
spring, they decided to try to wake up their fellow citizens.
And so on May 6th, they went out onto the bridge over the North-South
Highway and held a banner that said, "IMPEACH Bush and Cheney—LIARS."
They also displayed a flag upside down.
"If I had the money to buy a billboard, I would but I don't," says
Zurawski, a home inspector. "So that's what I came up with."
They were there for about an hour and a half when a state trooper pulled
"He said he understood our message, but he was concerned about traffic
safety and asked us to take the sign and flag down," says Hartfield, a
medical assistant. "We respectfully did so."
They started to leave when three deputy sheriffs showed up.
One was irate, they said.
"He was clenching his teeth, and his veins were bulging out, and he was
red-faced," recalls Zurawski. The deputy accused them of throwing things
off the bridge.
"Almost simultaneously, Sarah and I said we didn't throw anything,"
Zurawski says. "Then he asked us what our sign said, and demanded to see
it. And he was shaking his head back and forth."
He also told them the upside down flag was "disrespectful to the
troops," adding: "I'm a vet, and I've got a kid fighting in
Afghanistan," he said, according to Zurawski and Hartfield, who tried to
explain to him that they weren't being disrespectful to the troops but
that they were distressed that Bush was exploiting the troops.
"The cop didn't hear us," says Zurawski. "He said, `We can't have this
here. This is mayhem.' "
The other two deputies took down their personal information and checked
it on the computers in their squad cars, but found nothing on them.
So the irate officer told them they could go but warned them that he
would put a call into the state's attorney, and he hoped to see us soon,
Soon came in three weeks, when another DuPage County deputy walked up to
Zurawski's home with a warrant for his arrest.
"I'm just here doing my job," he said, according to Zurawski. "A judge
signed this warrant. You need to come with me. We can do this one or two
ways: You can be a gentleman and come with me peacefully, or I'll call
for backup and we'll take you in. So why don't you come with me, Jeff?"
Zurawski spent several hours in jail before being released on $100 bail.
When he got out, he called Hartfield and warned her there might be a
warrant out for her arrest, too.
"I waited after Memorial Day weekend to turn myself in," she says. "I
went and borrowed the money and drove to the Naperville police station.
I told them I wanted to know what was wrong and why there was a warrant
for my arrest. They were kind of evasive at the desk. They called in an
officer. He handcuffed me and walked me out of the building and put me
in a cruiser and drove me around to the back of the building and booked
me. I asked, `For what?' And he said, `It shows something about a May
6th war protest.' "
Hartfield says she was upset.
"I felt like a dog," she says. "I was told to sit there on the bridge,
and we did, and then just for the hell of it, they smacked us on the
At first, they were charged with "disorderly conduct." Then the
prosecutors added two others: "reckless conduct" and "unauthorized
display of sign." The latter two were each punishable by up to a year in
jail and $2,500 in fines.
The prosecutors then offered them a plea bargain, dropping the two extra
charges if they'd plead guilty to the first.
Zurawski and Hartfield declined.
"We had an opportunity to get out of it with a gentle wrist slap, with
just 90 days court supervision, but it meant admitting to something that
we didn't do," says Zurawski. "And Sarah and I refused because of that."
The prosecutors dropped the extra charges anyway, but then tacked on an
additional disorderly conduct charge, alleging that Zurawski and
Hartfield had made a throwing motion toward the vehicles.
"The content of the sign has no bearing whatsoever on the charges," says
Paul Darrah, spokesman for the State's Attorney's office. "It's more of
a public safety issue. We think people driving 55 mph should keep their
eyes on the road, not above them. This is all we can say at this point.
We stand behind the allegations and will let the court decide guilt or
Zurawski, by the way, doesn't buy the argument about the sign
"If what we did is illegal, then all the signs on bridges or billboards
anywhere along the highway are equally distracting and equally against
the law," he says.
Zurawski and Hartfield have a court hearing on December 13, when their
pro bono lawyer, Shawn Collins, will ask the judge to dismiss the case.
On Tuesday, December 11, there will be a protest in support of Zurawski
and Hartfield in the courtyard next to the State's Attorney's office at
503 N. County Farm Rd, Wheaton, IL.
How many people are they expecting?
"Fifty would be good and reasonable," says Zurawksi, "and 10,000 would