Well, today, upon completing his community service, Tripp Lewis went to court, where the trespassing charges filed against him for this incident were dismissed. As Flagger Grayson Jennings reported some time ago, Lewis will also have to keep his distance from some folks (one wonders why that was necessary …):
There is no admission of guilt and no new restrictions placed on TriPp going forward, other than an order that prevents him from going within 300 ft. of the residences of certain board members and officers of the VMFA.
There is a token amount of community service required. TriPp had hoped to fulfill this requirement by volunteering at the Confederate Memorial Chapel, but his offer was refused by the Lee-Jackson Camp. Instead, he will spend his time helping with Confederate grave locating and marker restoration.
Some people celebrated this as “Great News!” and the like … but the fact is that what happened was the result of what one might call an old-fashioned de facto plea bargain, the details of which appear to have escaped people who denounce what they claim is lying by omission. Seems they’ve gone ahead and done just that. Let’s call it what it is: a negotiated settlement reached some time ago.
Once more, Tripp had no comment about his role in the Rob Walker story. But we’re glad to see he’s a free man. Otherwise he could not provide us with more entertainment.
It sounds like some form of ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Discharge). I’d sort of suspected that earlier but didn’t have enough information to say anything before. The requirements for this type of program can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but, generally, it involves a low-level, non-violent crime and the accused is a first offender and the DA’s office has to agree to it. Usually there is some sort of rehabilitative action that must be fulfilled (community service, counseling, etc), if the defendant fulfills the terms of the program, the charges will be dismissed. If the defendant violates the terms of the agreement, they’re back at square one. If the charges were dismissed, then he’d complied with the terms of the program.
When Flagg said the charges were dismissed, he made it sound like the charges had simply been dropped with the implication that there was no merit to the charges. That’s clearly very misleading.
But very typical of the Flaggers. Sometimes, as in the case of Rob Walker, Tripp falls silent altogether.
I read the Jennings thing again. This is no marvel of legal negotiation. This sort of agreement is very common to avoid clogging up crowded criminal court dockets with minor offenses. It’s also an effort to see if people can learn their lessons and avoid being repeat offenders.
Look, civil disobedience is common enough that I know dozens of people who have been arrested for it. Judges usually recognize it as a way of getting attention for a cause and they realize that sending someone to jail just gets more attention. Tripp’s arrest was unusual because he seemed to be about to punch the cop. Normally, no one is allowed to participate in these actions unless they first take training in non-violence. The flaggers may want to invite a representative from a local Gandhian organization to give them a training. Hitting an officer can result in injury or death and discredits your cause.
That’s actually a really good point Pat. But something tells me Tripp’s bark is scarier than his bite.
I thought the same thing the first time I watched the video, but to be fair I think he was just spun around by the guy pulling away his flag.
Could be Tony, but while Mr. Lewis may only seem to be moving into a fighting stance immediately after the flag is taken, he clearly tries to push past an officer and puts hands on a cop around the 54 second mark. Just thinking that in a place less forgiving than Richmond, this could have deteriorated quickly. People who have done similar things have been maced or charged with resisting arrest or assault.
Groups that use civil disobedience owe it to their participants to train them in how to react to police. You never want to react in a way that could lead to law enforcement misinterpreting your actions.
Also, someone who is genuinely committed to civil disobedience not only knows their behavior violates the law but knows and accepts that jail is the likely result of an act of civil disobedience. This is from the online version of the “Thoreau Reader”: “According to some accounts, Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?””