Eminent domain protester Lauren Canario, who was arrested last month for criminal trespass in New London, Conn., after refusing to leave a property seized by the city for private development, appeared in court Monday and was ordered held indefinitely for trial at an unscheduled future date which a court official said could be as much as a year in the future.
Canario’s friends and family, who have followed the case and protested eminent domain in New London, say that Canario’s rights have been repeatedly violated by Superior Court Judge Kevin P. McMahon.
“This is a wake up call for America,” said John Connell, who traveled from New Hampshire to join the protest. “You’re supposed to have a speedy and public trial in this country. The portion of the public that was there specifically for this trial was known by the court officers, including the pompous court jester in the black robe. . . . [McMahon] gave this prolonged speech about the right to remain silent, and then punishes a person for doing it.”
Canario was arrested September 22 and has been held since her arrest at York Correctional Institute for Women in Niantic. Canario has engaged in classic nonviolent civil disobedience by remaining silent and going limp whenever police or other officials want her to move somewhere.
No one has been able to visit her in prison, including her husband, Jim Johnson, he said.
Protesters arrived early Monday to support Canario. But, according to Free State Project member Kat Dillon, “They told us she wouldn’t be brought in until 2 p.m., so we went out until about 1:30 p.m. When we came back, it was done and no one got to see her.” 10-year-old protester William asked his father, “Why would they trick us like that, Dad?”
An anonymous source at the courthouse said State officials were heard laughing about the demonstration. — Michael Fisher
William’s father, Roger Grant, answered: “Because they are evil, son.”
Radio talk show host Ian Bernard, who had joined the protests outside the courtroom, called the court’s treatment of Canario “disgusting and despicable” on his talk show, Free Talk Live, (MP3) Monday night.
“The American people are asleep at the wheel,” Bernard said. “They go to work, they come home, crack open a beer, and put on Britney Spears. The American people aren’t paying any attention to what’s going on.”
It is not known whether attack dogs have been used against Canario in this case, nor is it known how Canario was being treated. When she was arrested a year ago, she was kept in solitary confinement, shackled, with bright lights in her cold cell 24 hours a day, a treatment which closely parallels that given to prisoners held for terrorism in Guantanamo Bay.
“What Lauren is doing is exposing the brutality of the system,” Connell said. “Today’s [court proceeding] was a subtle brutality, things you will never read in the newspaper. If you want to exercise your rights, you’re going to get punished for it.”