Friday, August 31, 2007

Call to Action! Strike

The horrific acts of September 11th, 2001, do not justify destruction of the US Constitution and the world. The Bush Administration has steadily curtailed the civil rights of US citizens and shown utter disregard for human dignity worldwide. This endless war has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and cost over $450 billion dollars, at a cost of over $800 million for the 11th district of North Carolina alone. This September 11th, those that demand a restoration of habeas corpus, need to strike. Those that demand government accountability, need to strike. People, who feel that our country is in distress, need to strike. People, who no longer want to fund an illegal war, need to strike. Skip work, school. Don’t buy anything. Hit the streets. Let your voice be heard. More information can be found at

There is also a terrific article by CELESTINA on newsvine including an interview with the strike's organizers.

Anyone interested in organizing something locally, contact us.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Iraq Vets Against The War - St. Louis

I ran across this video on YouTube. Maybe we should organize an anti-recruitment demonstration in Asheville...Contact me if you are interested.

We are not against recruitment. We are just for truth in recruitment. Speaking from experience, people join the military as a hasty decision and do so without seeing the big picture.
The following 'Points to Consider' was clipped from the American Friends Service Committee website:

1. Do not make a hasty decision by enlisting the first time you see a recruiter or when you are upset.

* A recruiter is a salesperson who will give only a positive, one-sided picture of life in the military. Don't make this important decision when you are depressed, hard up for work, confused or unsure about your future, or pressured by your family. This decision affects many years of your life; don't make it lightly.

2. Take a witness with you when you speak with a recruiter.

* There is a lot of information to take in. A friend can take notes and help you ask questions.

3. Talk to veterans.

* Veterans can give you their view of military life, good and bad.

4. Consider your moral feelings about going to war.

* The mission of the military is to prepare for and wage war. If you cannot in good conscience engage in war or in killing, you should not consider enlisting. If you become opposed to war after you join, you have the right to seek a discharge, but it is a long, difficult, and uncertain process.

5. Get a copy of the enlistment agreement.

* Read the fine print carefully, especially the part about what the military can order you to do. You do have a right to take this home, look it over, and ask others about it.

6. There is no "period of adjustment" during which you may request and receive an immediate honorable discharge.

* Once you have left for basic training, you must fulfill the full number of years (usually eight, with some of these in the reserves) on your enlistment contract. You cannot leave of your own free will. The military, however, may decide you are "unsuitable" and discharge you without your consent.

7. Get all your recruiter's promises in writing but also remember that the military can change the terms (such as pay, job, or benefits) of your work.

* Though there are no guarantees, a written statement may offer you (as a service member) some protection if promises are not met. However, the contract is more binding on you than on the military. You are ultimately responsible for information on the form, so don't tell lies, even if pressured.

8. There are no job guarantees in the military.

* The military is not required to keep you in the job you trained for on a full-time or permanent basis. In fact, most recruiters were involuntarily reassigned to their jobs. Placements are mostly dependent on what the military perceives it needs. Most military jobs are in areas which account for only a small percentage of civilian jobs.

9. Military personnel cannot exercise all of the civil liberties enjoyed by civilians.

* You do not have the same constitutional rights. Your rights to free speech, assembly, petition, and exercise of individual expression (such as clothing or hairstyle) are restricted. You must follow all orders given to you, whether you agree with them and consider them right or fair.

10. Many opportunities exist for you to serve your community and enhance your skills.

* Before you decide to enlist, check out other options that would help you "be all you can be." Travel, education, money for school, job training, and adventure can all be found in other ways. Your local community may even have opportunities that you hadn't considered.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bushism #2

Here is the second in a series of quotes by our War Criminal In Chief, George W. Bush:
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mountaintop Removal

The New York Times
August 23, 2007

Rule to Expand Mountaintop Coal Mining

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

It has been used in Appalachian coal country for 20 years under a cloud of legal and regulatory confusion.

The new rule would allow the practice to continue and expand, providing only that mine operators minimize the debris and cause the least environmental harm, although those terms are not clearly defined and to some extent merely restate existing law.

The Office of Surface Mining in the Interior Department drafted the rule, which will be subject to a 60-day comment period and could be revised, although officials indicated that it was not likely to be changed substantially.

The regulation is the culmination of six and a half years of work by the administration to make it easier for mining companies to dig more coal to meet growing energy demands and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Government and industry officials say the rules are needed to clarify existing laws, which have been challenged in court and applied unevenly.

A spokesman for the National Mining Association, Luke Popovich, said that unless mine owners were allowed to dump mine waste in streams and valleys it would be impossible to operate in mountainous regions like West Virginia that hold some of the richest low-sulfur coal seams.

All mining generates huge volumes of waste, known as excess spoil or overburden, and it has to go somewhere. For years, it has been trucked away and dumped in remote hollows of Appalachia.

Environmental activists say the rule change will lead to accelerated pillage of vast tracts and the obliteration of hundreds of miles of streams in central Appalachia.

“This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration,” said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. “What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal.”

Mr. Lovett said his group and allied environmental and community organizations would consider suing to block the new rule.

Mountaintop mining is the most common strip mining in central Appalachia, and the most destructive. Ridge tops are flattened with bulldozers and dynamite, clearing all vegetation and, at times, forcing residents to move.

The coal seams are scraped with gigantic machines called draglines. The law requires mining companies to reclaim and replant the land, but the process always produces excess debris.

Roughly half the coal in West Virginia is from mountaintop mining, which is generally cheaper, safer and more efficient than extraction from underground mines like the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah, which may have claimed the lives of nine miners and rescuers, and the Sago Mine in West Virginia, where 12 miners were killed last year.

The rule, which would apply to waste from both types of mines, is known as the stream buffer zone rule. First adopted in 1983, it forbids virtually all mining within 100 feet of a river or stream.

The Interior Department drafted the proposal to try to clear up a 10-year legal and regulatory dispute over how the 1983 rule should be applied. The change is to be published on Friday in The Federal Register, officials said.

The Army Corps of Engineers, state mining authorities and local courts have read the rule liberally, allowing extensive mountaintop mining and dumping of debris in coal-rich regions of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

From 1985 to 2001, 724 miles of streams were buried under mining waste, according to the environmental impact statement accompanying the new rule.

If current practices continue, another 724 river miles will be buried by 2018, the report says.

Environmental groups have gone to court many times, with limited success, to slow or stop the practice. They won an important ruling in federal court in 1999, but it was overturned in 2001 on procedural and jurisdictional grounds.

The Clinton administration began moving in 1998 to tighten enforcement of the stream rule, but the clock ran out before it could enact new regulations. The Bush administration has been much friendlier to mining interests, which have been reliable contributors to the Republican Party, and has worked on the new rule change since 2001.

The early stages of the revision process were supported by J. Stephen Griles, a former industry lobbyist who was the deputy interior secretary from 2001 to 2004. Mr. Griles had been deputy director of the Office of Surface Mining in the Reagan administration and is knowledgeable about the issues and generally supports the industry.

In June, Mr. Griles was sentenced to 10 months in prison and three years’ probation for lying to a Senate committee about his ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist at the heart of a corruption scandal who is now in prison.

Interior Department officials said they could not comment on the rule because it had not been published. But a senior official of the Office of Surface Mining said the stream buffer rule was never intended to prohibit all mining in and around streams, but rather just to minimize the effects of such work.

Even with the best techniques and most careful reclamation, surface or underground mining will always generate mountains of dirt and rock, he said.

“There’s really no place to put the material except in the upper reaches of hollows,” the official said. “If you can’t put anything in a stream, there’s really no way to even underground mine.”

He said the regulation would explicitly state that the buffer zone rule does not apply for hundreds of miles of streams and valleys and that he hoped, but did not expect, that the rule would end the fight over mine waste.

Mr. Lovett of the Appalachian Center said the rule would only stoke a new battle.

“They are not strengthening the buffer zone rule,” he said. “They are just destroying it. By sleight of hand, they are removing one of the few protections streams now have from the most egregious mining activities.”

Bushism #1

Here is the first in a series of quotes by our War Criminal In Chief, George W. Bush:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

I'm not sure where I found this pic, but I wanted to share it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Well, my lawyer has informed me to keep silent until this case is over. So I cannot discuss anymore details regarding my case. But I will field any questions anyone has as best I can. Sorry, this sucks for me because I have to refrain from freeway blogging also. :(
BUT I ENCOURAGE ALL AMERICANS TO DO IT! Especially here in Asheville!
AND I SHALL RISE AGAIN, (one day soon i hope).
PLEASE HELP WITH MY LAWYER FUND! We have raised $100 so far!!! Its a great start and any other kinds of support would be going for the fight for FREE SPEECH.

Your local Freedom Fighter, Jonas

Freeway Blogging on the Flint Street Bridge

Jonas freeway blogging on the Flint Street Bridge:

Witness testimony?

WLOS ~ More Biased Media in Asheville

The following is WLOS's account of things:

So we should contact the police every time we want to express our opinion in public? Don't they have more important things to worry about?

Asheville Citizen-Times ~ Infecting Asheville With Right-Wing Bias

Here is what the Asheville Citizen-Times has been printing about the 'highway blogger':

This first article is vague at best:

Charges against ‘highway blogger’ will change

ASHEVILLE — Police said Thursday that it would change charges against a man who held an “impeach Bush, Cheney” sign from a bridge over Interstate 240.

Jonas Phillips, a 35-year-old West Asheville resident, said he had recently taken up “highway blogging,” a protest practice of displaying signs of political discontent from highway overpasses.

Police cited him Wednesday for obstructing the sidewalk but said Thursday a N.C. Department of Transportation violation would be more fitting.

Phillips said he had the signed propped on the Haywood Road bridge railing over I-240.

He had not been charged with the new violation, a class 1 misdemeanor, by late Thursday night.

“The intent was public safety and the banner being a hazard,” Asheville police Capt. Wade Wood said. “That’s basically to the benefit of the motoring public.”

Wood said there was a possibility of the sign falling on motorists below. The sign had not been returned pending court proceedings, he said.

Phillips said he was not blocking the sidewalk while holding his 5-by-1 foot sign. He said he was aware of that ordinance and not trying to break it.

Police gave him no warning to move before putting him under arrest, Phillips said.

“I don’t want people in Asheville to be scared of protesting,” he said. “I wasn’t asking for trouble.”


This second article, by a different reporter, relays what was said in the APD press release and was printed online only:

Police Consider Additional Charges against 'Highway Blogger

ASHEVILLE — Police Chief Bill Hogan said Tuesday the department would consult with the district attorney’s office before moving forward on an additional charge against a man accused of obstructing a sidewalk.

Jonas Phillips was charged Aug. 15 with violating a city law after hanging a sign over an Interstate 240 overpass, Hogan said in a news release Monday.

Phillips, a 35-year-old West Asheville resident, said he was “highway blogging” by holding a 5-foot-by-1-foot cardboard sign reading “Impeach Bush, Cheney,” which he said he propped on the bridge railing.

Police said Phillips’ sign was creating a traffic hazard. “It was not the content of the sign, but the risks posed to drivers that precipitated our actions,” Hogan said.

The department is considering charging Phillips with violating an N.C. Department of Transportation law that prohibits hanging signs on an overpass, which poses dangers for motorists passing below.


This latest one was in the Opinion section and expresses the 'Citizen-Times Viewpoint':

Political messages should not interfere with traffic
published August 22, 2007
author unknown

It would be hard to find stauncher advocates of free speech and the right of people to protest the actions of their government than a group of journalists. But it’s time to draw the line when it comes to endangering people’s lives to get out a message that could just as well be broadcast without the threat of harm to others. That’s akin to yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Which is to say Asheville Police acted properly in arresting a man holding a sign over the side of the Haywood Road/Interstate 240 overpass. Such behavior is a threat to public safety and rightfully carries legal consequences.

The arrest occurred shortly after 8 a.m. Aug. 15 after a person flagged down an officer on Haywood Road and told him that a man was standing on the I-240 overpass and obstructing traffic. When the officer arrived he found Jonas Phillips, 35, holding a sign over the overpass. Phillips walked across the bridge through three lanes of traffic.

When the officer caught up with him, he asked Phillips how long he intended to be there, according to a police account. Phillips said he would be there until he had to go to work. The officer called his supervisor, Sgt. Randy Riddle, who came to the bridge and told Phillips he was violating the city’s municipal code that prohibits obstructing streets and sidewalks.

As Phillips held his sign over the edge of the bridge, drivers on the interstate were slowing down and honking their horns, creating a traffic hazard and impeding the flow of traffic, the officers said.

Danger to motorists

The officers charged Phillips with violating the city code, but he also could be charged with violating a state law that prohibits hanging signs on overpasses, which poses a danger to motorists passing below.

Because the sign Phillips held contained a political message, “Impeach Bush, Cheney,” critics are accusing the Police Department with infringing on Phillips’ constitutional free speech rights.

“The sergeant (who arrested Phillips) didn’t even see what was on the sign,” Police Chief Bill Hogan said Tuesday. “It was never about the message. It wasn’t the content of the sign. We had gotten complaints that he was obstructing traffic.”

Hogan said the department received multiple complaints last month about individuals holding up signs at the same spot.

Unwelcome distraction

Anyone who regularly drives Interstate 240 knows how dangerous the highway is at the best of times. The speed limit on the section that flows under the Haywood Road overpass is 55 mph. At 8 a.m., it is heavily traveled.

On such a road, a driver’s full attention should be on driving. A person leaning out from an overpass holding a sign with content likely to cause drivers to slow down or react by honking their horns is an unacceptable distraction. There’s also the possibility that the protester could drop the sign on a windshield, causing a driver to brake or swerve. At highway speed, a collision could be fatal.

If such an accident occurred after police were alerted and failed to arrest the protester causing the distraction, we would be among the first to hold the department accountable.

Police actions correct

Phillips, a West Asheville resident who insists he “wasn’t asking for trouble,” said he has recently taken up “highway blogging,” a protest practice of displaying signs of political discontent from highway overpasses.

If he wants to avoid trouble, he should reconsider his means of getting his message out. It’s irresponsible and against the law. There are plenty of places Phillips can display his sign to large audiences without posing a danger to the motoring public.

“I don’t want people in Asheville to be scared of protesting,” he said. He needn’t worry. Asheville residents and others regularly protest at Pack Square and other locations in the city. The Police Department protects and facilitates protests that don’t break city or state laws.


Please, if you care about fairness, write a letter to the Editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times. Hopefully they will be fair enough to print it.

Freeway Blogging ~ Sometimes OK, Sometimes Not

In Mike Stark's Diary on the Daily Kos he spoke with Lt. Welch and Chief Hogan about the charges against Jonas. Lt. Welch told him that 'as a result of City Council interest and the inordinate amount of attention the case had received, there was a special meeting going on that involved the Police Chief and that a decision would be made at the conclusion of the meeting.'

Later in the evening on the same day, Chief Hogan relayed the following "facts" regarding the case:
  • This was not the first time a sign-holder had been asked to refrain from standing on the overpass with their sign: Jonas' wife, just a couple of weeks earlier, had been asked to stop and complied with the request.
  • Trouble was brewing. As Jonas has stated, this was something he has done more than once. It turns out that the highway he held the sign above is a main traffic corridor in Asheville that, during rush hour, get's very busy. As people drove beneath the overpass, his activism caused some people to slow down, honk horns, etc. The poloce expressed a concern for the worst case scenario - that Jonas might accidentally drop the sign and cause an accident.
  • On previous occasions, the police had received calls from passing motorists. The motorists were told that the police couldn't - or wouldn't - take any action. At that, the motorists called into a local radio show and sentiment was whipped up until a plan was hatched to confront Jonas on the overpass with signs of their own. This escalation concerned the police.
  • the Chief was concerned for the repuation of his department. He repeatedly told me how diligently his force has worked to provide safe spaces for protestors. From Wiccans that wanted to pray over trees on private property scheduled for a date with a chainsaw, to KKK members that insisted that their rights be respected, the Asheville PD has consistently made efforts to protect and accomodate both protestors and the public at large.
  • regarding the incident in question, Jonas crossed went to the other side of the bridge when the police first approached, causing them to have to circle back in order to accost him. (I didn't ask, but this may be the reason Sgt. Riddle was called to the scene.)
  • I asked why Jonas was handcuffed and arrested instead of simply ticketed and released. The Chief said that was a matter of Police discretion.
  • Sgt. Riddle is a dyed in the wool Democrat and really stunned at some of the email he has received. This entire state of affairs is a shock to everyone concerned. He thought he was writing a ticket and never expected it to blow up into this. Jonas' adept use of the internet has really blown this up in a way that nobody expected.
  • When I asked if there was an avenue that Jonas could pursue in which he might offer to waive any right to a civil suit in exchange for the City telling him exactly how he could protest and why what he did ran afould of the law, the Chief said that was out of his hands, but that it would be something that he wouldn't mind seeing come to pass. Jonas would have to speak with the DA about it.
  • In retrospect, the Police do have some regrets with regards to what was said on the scene.
On the day I (Kindra, Jonas's wife) was approached by the police officer on the bridge I was never told to stop and I have been back since that encounter. The officer told me that the same individual had called the police department 3-4 times complaining about 'someone loitering on the bridge'. He said that he drove by a couple of times and saw that I was not doing anything wrong, but with the continuing phone calls he was prompted to stop and talk to me. He said that as far as he knew, there wasn't any ordinance against what I was doing and at the end of our conversation he drove off letting me continue with my freeway blogging.
On another occasion which was a day or two after Jonas's arrest, I was approach by two different officers in the same hour. The first officer asked for my ID and I told him that I did not have it on me and that it was in my car. He questioned me about why I was on this specific bridge (Haywood Road). I told him that I was there because it was a convenient location close to my house. He then asked to look at my sign to see what it said. After reading it he said "It looks like free speech to me", and then returned to his car and drove off. Moments later I was approached by another officer and she conveyed her concern over it being a dangerous distraction to motorists, which is the first time that any officer had expressed this concern. By this time I had already been there 50 minutes and my hour was almost over. I had also secured my sign with a cord that was hanging behind my neck. She did not make me leave and I continued staying the additional 10 minutes I had planned on.
Downtown on the Flint Street bridge, several people have been freeway blogging for the past few months. On a couple of occasions, the police have questioned them and let them continue about their business.

This is the guiding principles of the Asheville Police Department:

Guiding Principles
The Asheville Police Department will achieve its mission by committing to excellence through:

Honesty, compassion, trust, and accountability. Police officers have the courage to do what is morally, ethically, and legally right regardless of risk.

The Police Department will treat everyone impartially without favoritism or bias.

The Police Department will treat everyone with dignity and courtesy without prejudice.
The Police Department will deliver quality services through cooperation, open communication and a commitment to continuous improvement.

How fair are they really?

Silenced in Asheville. ??

Well, it appears the statement by the chief of police has left a dangling state charge over my head and questions in my mind as to what will happen if I Freeway Blog again. In three separate articles in the Asheville Citizens Times, he stated that he was consulting with the district attorney before moving forward with an additional charge. The charge appears to be a DOT one where it is unlawful to post a sign on a bridge, OR that it was a danger to motorist. So where does that leave me? I will post all the articles and other local reports later today.

We are starting an effort to raise money for my lawyer so please help us! (One quote is $500 and an additional $250 to go to trial.)


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Town Called Dobson

This cartoon courtesy of

ACLU No Longer Interested


The ACLU believes that, in light of the Asheville Police Department's Press Release, it is no longer a Constitutional issue and they cannot help us.

What? What? What?

The statement by the Asheville Police Department raises further questions. If they felt that Jonas was a danger to traffic, why did they not tell him that when they arrested him? Especially if that was the original police complaint. Why did Officer Crisp need Sergeant Riddle to arrest him? Is he not a law enforcement officer? And how can one person impede traffic?
After freeway blogging for two months now, I have never seen cars slow down to honk. They 'keep on a truckin'.
Due to the changing circumstance, we will not be making any further statements at this time regarding this specific incident. But we will continue to freeway blog, and so will others.

This Picture was taken by Kindra on 8-20-07 on the Flint Street Bridge in Asheville.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Legal Defense Fund

We have set up a Legal Defense Fund for Jonas as it is obvious that we will need it. It will stay on the Blog. Thanks for the support. It is greatly appreciated.

Asheville Police Department Press Release

The following is a statement by Asheville Police Department Chief of Police, Bill Hogan:

The Asheville Police Department is a professional, well trained, and accredited agency that is committed to protecting individuals’ Constitutional rights. Our Department has assisted with untold rallies and protests to protect citizens’ opportunity for free speech while maintaining the safety of all individuals present. The press release attached below describes the facts surrounding this case. Expressing one’s opinions must be done in a manner that does not infringe upon the rights and safety of others. In this case, the actions of Mr. Phillips was impeding the flow of traffic and endangering motorists by holding a sign over Interstate 240 during rush hour traffic which could have caused a serious traffic crash. It is unfortunate that this event and the motives of the officers have been misconstrued to represent an act by the Asheville Police Department to deprive someone of their Constitutional rights.

Chief Bill Hogan

For Immediate Release

Aug. 20, 2007

Asheville Police Department

Contact: Police Chief Bill Hogan

Phone: 259-5901, or 552-1900


APD responds to concerns about charges against West Asheville man

ASHEVILLE – The Asheville Police Department has received several inquiries about the Aug. 15 arrest of an Asheville man who was holding a sign on the Haywood Road Bridge over Interstate 240, and was subsequently charged with impeding the flow of traffic.

A review of the incident including interviews with the officers discloses the following:

Shortly before 8 a.m., during rush hour on Aug. 15, a person flagged down APD Officer Russell Crisp, who was in his police car on Haywood Road, to inform him that a man was standing on the I-240 overpass and obstructing traffic.

The department had received multiple complaints over a two-week period last month about individuals holding up signs at that same spot.

Officer Russell Crisp arrived to find Jonas Phillips, 35, was holding his sign over the I-240 overpass. When Officer Crisp arrived at the location, Mr. Phillips walked across three lanes of traffic on the bridge, thereby impeding the flow of traffic on Haywood Road.

After Officer Crisp caught up with Mr. Phillips, he asked Mr. Phillips how long he intended to be there. Mr. Phillips replied that he would be there until he had to go to work.

At this point, Officer Crisp called his superior, Sgt. Randy Riddle, who came to the overpass and informed Mr. Phillips that he was in violation of Sec. 16-2 of the city’s municipal code pertaining to "Obstruction of streets, sidewalks by persons prohibited."

Sec. 16-2 reads in part:

It shall be unlawful for any person, singly or in a group, to:

(1) Obstruct or cause to be obstructed vehicular or pedestrian traffic on the streets or sidewalks or in parks or other public areas within the corporate limits of the city.

Mr. Phillips was charged and arrested for being in violation of that code, and the department is also examining whether he may also be charged for violating an N.C. Department of Transportation law that prohibits hanging signs on an overpasses, which poses dangers for motorists passing below.

The officers can attest that as Mr. Phillips held his sign over the edge of the bridge, drivers on the interstate were slowing down and honking their horns, which also created a traffic hazard and impeded the flow of traffic. Interstate 240 on the west side of the city is often congested, especially at rush hour, and this congestion heightens the potential for accidents.

"This city and this police department pride ourselves on protecting people’s right to free speech, as long as they don’t infringe on the rights, safety and freedoms of others," Police Chief Bill Hogan said. "It was not the content of the sign, but the risks posed to drivers that precipitated our actions."

A Good Lawyer Is Hard To Find


We have contacted the ACLU and although they are interested in the case, they are having trouble finding a lawyer for us. We may need some help finding legal representation.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ashevilles True Heroes

Asheville has several groups that have been protesting for years now and I think they deserve more attention than I do.

The Veterans for Peace, chapter 099 have a protest near the Vance Monument in downtown Asheville every Tuesday from 5-6pm. We stand with them in their efforts and encourage you to also. If you are for Impeachment, ending the war, civil liberties, or just accountability from the Bush administration, JOIN US!

The Women in Black have a silent vigil against violence at the Vance Monument on Fridays from 5-6pm. We stand in solidarity across the street from them and hold our protest signs to lend their silence a voice. These ladies have been an INSPIRATION to my wife and I. Please, JOIN THEM!

The Western North Carolina Peace Coalition is a group that does all kinds of great things in the name of peace and understanding. They have been doing good in the city long before we have. Please, LEND THEM A HAND!

And last but not least, Claire Hanrahan! SHE HELPS EVERY CAUSE FOR TRUTH AND LOVE IN THIS CITY AND SHE IS MORE OF A HERO THAN I WILL EVER BE! THANK YOU CLAIRE, YOU HAVE DRIVEN US TO KEEP UP OUR EFFORTS! Please lend her your attention for she is the mother of Asheville protests! (And she has written several nice books.)


Thanks again to these groups, and to those that I don't know about... yet.

Freeway Blogging in America

Does anyone have information on someone else being arrested for Freeway Blogging? This is a phenomena that goes on across the country. Check out: Freeway for examples. People have been freeway blogging in Asheville for years now and my arrest is unfair. I did not 'hang my sign over the overpass' or post my sign on the bridge, (which is illegal in this city). I did however prop my sign on the ledge of the overpass as I held onto it. Lets not forget Sergeant Riddle's exclamations about me 'blocking the sidewalk'. Or the large printout of City Ordinance 16-2 in his hand as I was arrested. He never mentioned anything about me being a danger to motorist below. And as I mentioned before, we have a right to protest peacefully on the sidewalks of this city. As long as you do not block the walkway, road or business.
Besides, how can reading three words, 'IMPEACH BUSH / CHENEY' be a danger to motorist?

Asheville and America we encourage you to MAKE A SIGN, PICK A BRIDGE, and RAISE IT HIGH FOR ALL TO SEE! (Be sure to check your local ordinance). Freeway blogging has been going on for years and is a great and easy way to get your opinion seen by thousands of people.
When we started, it was our sole purpose to counter the corporate medias disinterest for Impeachment. We never imagined our message would spread across the country!!! Just Google 'Asheville arrest' or 'Jonas Phillips Asheville' and see for yourself. Since my arrest last Wednesday I have lost count of the minds that have been penetrated by our message online! So thank you Sergeant Riddle, you have helped our cause more than I could have ever done by myself!

Thanks everyone! Jonas

Support Alternative Media!

We started protesting in Asheville because the mainstream media seems more interested in Celebrity gossip and the race for 2008 than Accountability and Justice for the current administration. My wife and I decided to do our best to let people see our signs so they know there are dissenting voices out there. It's time to change what we watch and listen to! Watch DEMOCRACY NOW, or ASHEVILLE GLOBAL REPORT, and compare it to your regular news outlet. These two sites have video and audio that you can download and take with you. (I get Democracy Now every weekday morning and take it to work on my music player.) Years ago I used to watch FOX NEWS and CNN, and I thought I would never find any better news source. I WAS WRONG. WAKE UP TO REAL NEWS! Or just get your news directly from the ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Please support Asheville Global Report! They have a weekly show that covers global news that is UNDERREPORTED by the Corporate Media. The last month or so has been tough on them. As their funds are running short. PLEASE DONATE!

Also Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on Democracy Now! I LOVE THIS SHOW! They cover the most IMPORTANT NEWS IN THIS COUNTRY! Thank you Amy, Juan, and everyone at the Firehouse Studio in NYC for all your hard work! WE ARE LISTENING!

You can catch both shows in Asheville, NC on local station 103.5 WPVM, the progressive voice of the mountains. Please support this station as well. (they need a stronger signal)
PLEASE DONATE!!!! Thank you to Barry Summers of the show Making Progress, AND Cecil Bothwell of Blows Against the Empire for letting me tell my story on your shows!

And I must thank Virato Live!. His show is broadcast on 880 The Revolution, an AM radio station. Virato has been a major voice behind my story and I THANK YOU SIR! Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing you and EVERYONE at the Patriots Meeting at the WEST ASHEVILLE LIBRARY on Tuesday Night at 6:30.

One more note, if you do listen listen to these shows encourage your family and freinds to also! It is important to spead the word and counteract the corporate grip on news. Please support alternate media in your city and let us know if you have a news outlet we should check out.

Thanks Again, Jonas.

Wake up America!

Posted by Jonas Phillips:
Notes for our cause: WAKE UP AMERICA!!

We encourage everyone interested in Democracy and Freedom to call a few numbers to further our cause for the IMPEACHMENT of GEORGE W. BUSH and DICK CHENEY.

Call or write House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, CA District 8, and tell her to start the IMPEACHMENT PROCESS IMMEDIATELY!

--Washington D.C. office: 202-225-4965
--District Office in CA: 415-556-4862
450 Golden Gate Ave. - 14th floor
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dennis Kucinich, OH District 10, has presented a resolution to IMPEACH VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY.
Convince YOUR representative to Co-Sponsor House Resolution 333.

Current Co-sponsors of H.Res. 333: Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA), Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. Al Wynn (D-MD).


As for us in NC district 11, lets not forget our Representative Heath Shuler.
Call or write and tell him to Co-Sponsor House Resolution 333 and to support any Impeachment effort towards president George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

-- Washington D.C. office: 202-225-6401
-- District office in NC: 828-252-1651
356 Biltmore Ave. Suite 400
Asheville, NC 28801

We the people cannot afford to wait and see what the democrats do in the 2008 election. If we let these criminals walk free then what happens tomorrow? Its time to roll back the Bush agenda and take back or CIVIL LIBERTIES.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dissent in the Press

Here is the link to the Asheville Citizen-Times Article.
Also the interview with Cecil Bothwell on Blows Against the Empire on WPVM 103.5FM. After a few songs and some technical difficulties, Jonas recounts the events on Wednesday, August 15th.

These types of abuses have been happening across the country, not just in Asheville.

A couple in Ohio were recently awarded $80,000 over being arrested for wearing anti Bush t-shirts.
There is also a man in Ohio facing littering charges for placing an impeach sign about the size of a real estate sign, on a corner.
And the group organizing the September 15th march in DC are facing over $10,000 in fines for placing flyers on utility poles.

I will try to get the links to these stories and others soon.

Letter From the Chief of Police

This is a letter forwarded to me from the Chief of Police, William A. Hogan, to Gary Jackson, City Manager regarding my husband's arrest. Very interesting...

TO: Gary Jackson, City Manager
FROM: William A. Hogan, Chief of Police
SUBJECT: Wednesday’s Enforcement Action at I-240 Overpass
DATE: August 17, 2007

Please be advised that we will do a full investigation of this incident.
At this juncture we do not have all the facts but we will follow-up on
this incident to ensure that the action of the officers was lawful and
appropriate. If we find that something was not handled properly we will
take steps to rectify the issue. From what I do know there was no intent
to deprive anyone of the opportunity to exercise their right of freedom of
speech. As I currently understand the reported facts, officers were
concerned about the public’s safety and the actions were taken with that
purpose in mind.

Here is what I know about this incident. Wednesday morning a person
flagged down Officer Crisp complaining about an individual blocking the
sidewalk and/or endangering the flow of traffic on I-240. He called Sgt.
Riddle and was advised to stand by. Apparently the Police Department had
received complaints approximately two weeks ago about the same activity
with accusations that the police were doing nothing to protect the public.
After this first event another officer had contacted Curt Euler to obtain
advice on how to legally address these incidents. The original event
occurred during Bele Chere with heavy foot traffic going to and from the
event. The Department was advised that blocking the sidewalk would be the
most appropriate charge. I do not have the facts at this time to
determine if the individual arrested was in fact impeding the flow of
pedestrian traffic.

When I was made aware of this incident yesterday I contacted Sgt. Riddle
so I could meet with him to determine what action was taken and why we
took this action. He relayed to me that a previous event had occurred and
that legal advice was obtained. Based upon this discussion it was
apparent to me that we were not attempting to infringe upon anyone’s free
speech but to address the concern for the safety of motorists that travel
on I-240. Sgt. Riddle has reported that the individual was leaning over
the railing and hanging the sign over the side of the overpass. In my
initial review of this matter I was concerned that a sign may cause a
motorist to take his or her eyes off the road or for the sign to fall from
the hands of the sign holder and cause a distraction or block a driver’s
vision which could result in a serious traffic crash.

I asked Sgt. Riddle to contact the NC Department of Transportation and to
ask them, from their experience, what possible violations existed if a
person hung or held a sign over an overpass on a state roadway. Sgt.
Riddle obtained the appropriate information from NC DOT and the following
statute applies to these situations in an effort to keep motorists safe on
our highways.

NC GS 136-18(10), entitled Powers of Commission which reads, “The said
Department of Transportation shall be vested with the following powers:
…(10) To make proper and reasonable rules, regulations and ordinances for
the placing or erections of…boards…that may, in the opinion of the
Department of Transportation, contribute to the hazard upon any of the
said highways or in anywise interfere with the same, and to make
reasonable “uses and regulations for the proper control thereof…

With this authority the Department of Transportation has established an
administrative order, 19A NCAC 2E.0415, Advertising Signs within Right of
Way. This rule states: It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or
corporation to erect or place any advertising or other sign, except
regulation traffic and warning signs approved by the Department of
Transportation on any highway or the right of way thereof, or so as to
overhang the right of way, or to permit the erection or placing of any
advertising or other sign, as herein prohibited, on any highway right of
way which is situated over any land owned, rented, leased or claimed by
such person, firm or corporation…

I have been advised that this is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Today, Curt Euler has reviewed the ordinance use to take enforcement and
we will be examining the content and intent of this ordinance as part of
our internal investigation. I have included it so you can see the
potential violations under this ordinance.

After reviewing 16-1 of the City Code, person, singly or in a group, can
be charged under this ordinance if

1. The person obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic
(I interpret this to mean physically does not act to obstruct traffic); or
2. The person causes to be obstructed vehicular or
pedestrian traffic (i.e. some indirect act that causes vehicular or
traffic to become obstructed)

Since the City Code does not define obstruct, the plain meaning of the
word means – to hinder or prevent from progress, check, stop, also to
retard the process of, make accomplishment difficult or slow. Another
definition is to block up; to interpose obstacles; to render impassable;
to fill with barriers or impediments. Therefore, I think it is possible
\that a person’s conduct on top of a highway overpass can impede the
vehicular traffic below. However, I think the officer must state how the
person’s conduct obstructed the traffic, as opposed to, MAY obstruct
traffic. Hence, a person can use hold a sign over his or her head over
the overpass until the traffic below becomes “obstructed” or “to slow the
traffic on the highway”. If the traffic is not messed with, then I think
there is no violation of the statute.

As we move forward in investigating this matter, we will take into
consideration at a minimum the following issues:

Did our actions impede the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech?
Do our actions represent a proper balance between the public’s safety and
security when compared to the rights of an individual expressing his or
her opinion or free speech?
What is the intent of the Department of Transportations Administrative
Rules and what level of concern do they have as it relates to traffic
safety and the displaying of signs on highway overpasses?
Once we answer the above questions, we will establish a clear policy and
train personnel in the policy to ensure we have a fair and appropriate
response to similar events in the future.

Should you have further questions concerning this matter and our
investigation, please advise.

We still have yet to hear from the Asheville Police Department regarding this matter.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Trouble Right Here in River City

During an interview with Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Adam Behsudi yesterday evening, my husband Jonas was informed that the APD has plans to possibly change his charges. Apparently they want to charge him with a state charge concerning endangering motorists. How is a motorist endangered by cardboard? We have yet to hear from APD concerning this matter. What's next, a terrorism charge?
Certainly they are trying to quell any dissent in Asheville and across the country. Their terror tactics will not stop many. Although slightly filled with trepidation, I will return to the Haywood Road bridge this morning. I will use a sign just like the one my husband used on Wednesday, but I have attached a cord to hang across my neck and help support the sign. There is no possible way that this sign could fall on the road. But then again, my husband's sign was also supported in a way that it would not fall on the road. He's a tall man and can handle holding a cardboard sign without dropping it.

Please join us Tuesday night at the West Asheville Library on Haywood Road at 6:30PM. We will discus how our civil liberties are being threatened across the country, not just here in River City. We do have Trouble, right here in River City. With a capital T, that rhymes with P, which stands for Patriot Act!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Intolerance of Mayor Bellamy?

I am editing this blog because we watched the city council meeting and saw for ourselves exactly what was said. Mayor Bellamy was referring to the environmental protesters who chained themselves together inside the Bank of America downtown on Monday, mainly concerning private property rights. She said she didn't like having people coming from out of state practicing civil disobedience on a small branch when the main branch is in Charlotte. But the Climate Convergence was not in Charlotte, it was in Brevard. Asheville is the closest big city. Our coal plants ARE destroying our environment and our government refuses to listen to scientific evidence.
It is civil disobedience that has shaped our nation.
Mayor Bellamy may need to clarify her statement. After all it is past civil disobedience that has changed things so we could have a strong African American woman as mayor of this Southern town.
As a coincidence, Jonas's roots are in Selma, Alabama. He moved to this beautiful city in 1992.


We have an update on our situation. We have contacted the ACLU and they are very interested in our case and are searching for an attorney.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, we need to speak out! Tell your neighbor, tell your family and friends.

We ARE the people!
Use your voice!

Abuse of Power in Asheville

Yesterday morning at about 9-9:30 am my husband called. This was the usual time he would call after he got to work. He left a little early to do some freeway blogging before he went to work as he had been doing off and on for the past couple of months. He says to me, "Hey, I need you to come pick me up...I got arrested." I laughed at him. We have often joked about similar things especially after what happened recently to another couple in West Asheville. He had to tell me three times before I took him seriously. In his own words, my husband relates what happened:

I am writing to tell you about an abuse of power in Asheville, NC by a police sergeant. I occasionally stand on an interstate overpass near my place of work in the mornings and hold a sign that says 'IMPEACH BUSH / CHENEY'. On Wednesday August 15, I was standing alone with my sign for about 10 minutes, when I was approached by Police Officer Russell Crisp. He asked me how long I was planning to stay there and I told him just a few more minutes because I had to go to work at 8:00. He asked for my ID and I obliged. I asked him if I was doing something wrong, and he said that his Sergeant was on the way and he was going to wait for him. SO, I went back to my sign holding over the interstate. A few minutes later Sergeant Randy Riddle showed up with a paper in his hand. He spoke briefly to Crisp, then walked over to me and told me to put down my sign, put my hands behind my back, and that I was under arrest! I was shocked and almost thought he was joking until he told me again to put down the sign and put my hands behind me and I was under arrest. So I peacefully agreed and he cuffed me. I asked him why I was being arrested, he told me I was in violation County Ordinance 16-2, (the print out in his hand that he didn’t bother to read to me or show me.) He told me I was obstructing the sidewalk. I told him I was not and that officer Crisp had witnessed a guy walk by me moments before. Riddle yelled at me, "You were obstructing the sidewalk!" and "I'm sick of this shit!" then he said, "Here’s your 15 minutes of fame buddy!" I looked back to see his name plate and he said in a mean condescending tone, "Yea, that's 'Sergeant Riddle’ get it right!" He then put me in Officer Crisp's police car. Riddle took my sign with him and I was taken downtown and booked by Crisp.

I was never read my Miranda rights. While at the jail I was asked several times about what groups or organizations I was with, like a local group Veterans for Peace. And more specifically the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action group that had protested at the Bank of America on Monday. I was told by officer Crisp that since that protest the police had pulled out this ordinance. I was searched, and they took pictures of me and my tattoos. Since I haven’t been in trouble in 15 years, I was given a court date and allowed to sign a written promise to appear in court.

This is an example of an American citizen having his/her civil liberties tread upon. In Asheville, you are allowed to protest on city sidewalks without a permit. The sidewalk is about 5 feet wide. I never blocked the sidewalk; I knew about that ordinance already and was not trying to be arrested. It was obvious to me that Riddle had a problem with my sign because there is no way I could block the sidewalk all by myself. I feel like my rights were trampled by this harassment from Riddle. I got the feeling that he was trying to scare me away, but he only strengthened my resolve to protest more!

By the way, I never got my sign back from Sergeant Riddle.

He stood on Haywood Road in West Asheville on the bridge that overpasses I240. At lunch time, after contacting all the local media about my husband's ordeal, I went to the Flint Street bridge downtown to do some freeway blogging myself. Other local activists often use this bridge with 'Honk to impeach' signs. Meeting me there was Barry Summers, co-host of Making Progress: News for a Change on WPVM 103.5FM, a local progressive radio station. I consider it one of the only sources of unbiased news in the area. He brought along a photographer friend. He came to catch it on film if I too were to be arrested. One and a half hours in the hot midday sun later and I had not been arrested. During an interview with Barry, he asked if my goal was to get arrested. I answered him, "No. Our goal has always been to get people to wake up to what is happening in our country and it still is."

At 4:30 PM my husband and I planned to return to the same bridge, on Haywood Road, that my husband was removed from, accompanied again by Barry. Joining us this time was Virato, host of Virato-Live!, and his wife, Dhiraja. Virato has planned a community action meeting at the West Asheville Library next Tuesday at 6:30pm. He will mention it on his show on Saturday.

We will continue to stand up for our freedoms and against the blatant abuse of power in our government, on the local and national level. Please join us!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No More!

I had a dream the other night that the government was making war toys to ship to Iraq. My mission was to infiltrate the building where they were being manufactured and spoil their plans. Somewhere in the upper rankings I had an ally, a former coworker who was a Goth Wiccan. And that's where the dream ended. The dream seemed was so real, so vivid. I woke up with a feeling of purpose, like I could actually make a difference against this government run a muck.
I do feel that something is coming, though. Some greater change, a rising up of the population. As we stood on our usual corner with our signs last Friday, it was encouraging when another couple joined us. I wonder if they will come back. If slowly, one by one, couple by couple the citizens of this country rose up and say, "No more! No more will I stand by and let our criminal president destroy our country's good name! No more will I support an unjust war! No more!".

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Crying for Mother Earth

As this week passes by, there is hardly any mention of the tragic thing our country did this week in 1945. Over 140,000 voices, mostly civilian, silenced in under a week in Japan. This not only affected the population at the time, but for generations. As of 2005, there were around 266,000 people labeled as hibakusha, explosion-affected people. Needless to say, the nation of Japan is a pacifistic society now.
Why, after seeing what affect this had on a population, does the USA insist on restarting the cold war? Will it take a major strike on our soil to turn our countrymen into pacifists?
Our Mother Earth is struggling to maintain her balance, yet our fearless leader insists that global warming is a myth. He appoints people who disbelieve the scientific evidence, or forces them to cover it up. We aided Bin Ladin and the Talaban. Watched as they destroyed one ancient Buddhist statue after another.
I wish deeply to have pride in my country, but the more research I do, the more shame I feel. I am so sad about the state of things, I find myself crying often. Crying for the Afghani and Iraqi children , hungry, not able to go to school. Crying for the brave young men and women dying for an unjust war. Often the only reason they joined the service was so they could go to college. Crying for Mother Earth and the lack of care so many have for her.
When I go to the candlelight vigil for Nagasaki on Thursday, I will cry. Tears of remorse, shame, and sadness. Tears for Gaia, our Mother Earth.

Monday, August 6, 2007

United States of Apathy

Having recently joined the Asheville anti-war movement, I am in shock. Why are more people not outraged?!!? Where is everyone who opposes the war?
Standing on our usual corner last Friday I watched one apathetic car after another cruise past us, not looking. Doing their best to avoid eye contact and talk on their cell phones while pretending that life is beautiful everywhere. Convinced that who the winner of American Idol is, is more important than being informed. After all, the news is depressing, right?
Why do they not care that people are dying every day in a country that the US chose to "liberate" by force? Why do they not care that soldiers who finally get to come home struggle to maintain a sliver of a normal life?
Welcome to your country, The United States of Apathy.