RALEIGH — The ACLU of North Carolina will defend a 57-year-old Occupy Raleigh protester who has a disability and was charged with trespassing in October after she refused to move her chair.
Police arrested Margaret Schucker and seven other downtown demonstrators who would not leave the sidewalk in front of the Capitol on Oct. 27.
Schucker wore a blue and white handicapped permit on her chest and told officers she had back problems and needed the chair to participate.
Officers told Schucker she had a right to stay but that she could not continue to sit in the chair on the sidewalk.
Several of the protesters briefly resisted arrest by locking their arms together, but Schucker thrust her wrists out to the officers waiting to handcuff her. Schucker is represented by ACLU cooperating attorney Scott Holmes of the Durham law firm of Brock, Payne & Meece, and by Katy Parker, legal director of ACLU.
"I wanted to exercise my free speech rights on the same terms as my fellow demonstrators," Schucker said in a news release. "The only difference was that, because of my chronic lower back pain, I couldn't stand while demonstrating and had to use a chair. As a disabled person, I have always been very aware that the sidewalk must be kept clear so that everyone may pass. If I had moved to the bench on the Capitol grounds, as the police suggested, I would have been removed from the view of passersby with whom we were trying to engage."
Court records show Schucker's trial date as Thursday. An ACLU spokesman said no defense is being offered for the other arrested protesters.