April 30th, 2024

Protesting Students and January 6ers

Across many college campuses now there are various anti-Israel protestors that are, to varying degrees, yelling, hanging signs, occupying walkways and common areas, and on occasion occupying and vandalizing buildings.

And, in conduct that is incredibly easy to predict as it parallels much of partisan politics, people will do everything to highlight both the absolute worst (or best) of whatever opinion that they have. And, by implication, try to show that the folks highlighted are representative of the whole.

In the January 6 cases we saw some who violently attacked the police and actively stormed the Senate to stop votes from being counted. Others strolled in after the damage was done and took pictures. And still others stayed outside and never entered, perhaps just wandering past the line of busted barricades that may, or may not, have even been there anymore.

Every case is different.

But the analogy to those Trumpers is perfect for the kids on campus today. Many call for the extermination of Israel (“from the River to the Sea”) or other forms of violence as to Israel or Jews generally. You need not look hard to find these. Unlike Vietnam era protests, these people don’t call for peace but for war.

Others are simply clueless, and could not name the river in question, and have no idea that it’s a call for extermination.

Some are violently attacking police and vandalizing buildings. Others are standing around either watching or half-heartedly chanting because, “hey, there’s a protest, and that cute classmate asked me to go.”

The vast majority would probably fail a course on the basics of the current Arab-Israeli conflict that dates back 100 years.

The point, of course, is that each of the arrested students — and there will be many — will have their days in court. Each case will rise/fall on the details of that particular student. Pretty much like every other case in the courthouse, be in criminal or civil. Because details matter. Just as in the January 6 cases.

In the meantime, for any student that may be reading this, the very, very old adage applies of “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

But unlike in days of yore, it’s not just jail time that might be at issue for those arrested, as future employers now have the internet. And if you’re arrested while standing in a crowd with people holding signs to “globalize the intifada” you should fully expect that future employers will find it.

They won’t give a damn if you were not holding that sign. And if you try to claim it was written in Arabic, and that you couldn’t read it, they will just assume that by joining a protest that you didn’t understand that you are also too dumb to hire. It won’t matter if you agree, because you’re not the hiring manager.

Be careful of the company you keep.


January 2nd, 2024

Now the WSJ likes Trial Lawyers?

Every trial lawyer knows the routine: Bash us until you need us. Then we become your best friends.

And so it is with the Wall Street Journal. They are rightfully unhappy about two things — that anti-Israel protestors are blocking highways to airports and disrupting others from going about their business, combined with the fact that the police will likely do little:

Normally we wouldn’t wish trial lawyers on our worst enemy. But as anti-Israel demonstrations grow increasingly lawless, the plaintiffs bar could help. Why not hit protesters who break the law and keep Americans from getting to their destination with a tort liability suit for false imprisonment?

A fine idea in concept. Sue the people obstructing the public way for false imprisonment, and also I suppose, for any costs associated with missed flights, vacations, etc. The WSJ lists other “protests” including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Rockefeller Center tree lighting among others in the past.

Before I go into why the idea isn’t really all that hot, let me first remind readers that blocking roads is just about the dumbest type of “protest,” because they are not only attacking the wrong people but making them hate your cause. See, Well that Wasn’t Very Persuasive.

And after being annoyed at the police for not doing more — would the WSJ like to raise taxes to pay for more police? Asking for a friend — they launch into their Big Idea:

In the absence of real criminal penalties, the protesters’ escalating resort to lawlessness calls for some creative class actions. Tort actions would hit the lawbreakers in their pocketbooks, even if district attorneys like New York’s Alvin Bragg won’t prosecute them.

Protesters have the right to call for a cease-fire, denounce Israel for “genocide,” and chant “from the river to the sea” all they want. They can protest within orderly parameters. But it’s long past time American justice made clear that, however right they think their cause, protesters can’t legally prevent their fellow Americans from going about their daily business.

Except for a couple of small problems. The kids doing the protesting aren’t organized by anyone with actual money to pay a damages award. And it’s unlikely that the actual protestors have more than a pot to piss in. And intentional torts aren’t covered by any kind of insurance, as that would be against public policy.

So, dear WSJ, who is going to pay for your Big Idea to sue the protestors knowing full well that there will be no recovery? Whose time is it that you think should be spent? Who will be paying the bills?  

I suppose, in theory, that a GoFundMe type collection could be done to pay some lawyers to do the work. And if successful, the payoff would be judgments against the protestors that would muck up their credit for years to come.

But that’s about it. Perhaps that will be worth it to some —  in the absence of any real law enforcement action, and a willingness by judges to dump guilty protestors in the pokey for a week or so to help persuade them not to do it again.

If the WSJ thinks any real money will change hands, however, they had best remember something trial lawyers learn when young — you can’t get blood from a stone.