District Attorney Drops Case Against Disabled Woman Arrested at Occupy Raleigh

ACLU Represented Margaret Schucker, Who Was Arrested For Refusing to Move the Chair She Required Because of Back Problems Away from Protest FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org RALEIGH – This morning, the Wake County District Attorney’s Office dropped criminal charges filed against a 57-year-old disabled Raleigh resident who was arrested Oct. 27, 2011, and charged with second-degree trespassing for refusing to move a chair she required because of back problems away from the Occupy Raleigh demonstration in which she was participating. Margaret Schucker received legal representation from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) and ACLU-NCLF Cooperating Attorney Scott Holmes, of the Durham law firm of Brock, Payne & Meece. The ACLU-NCLF argued that Schucker’s arrest violated her right to free speech. “We’re very pleased that the charges against Ms. Schucker have been dropped,” said Katy Parker, ACLU-NCLF Legal Director. “Today’s news is a victory for the First Amendment and for the rights of the disabled.” Schucker was sitting in a chair while protesting Oct. 27 on the public sidewalk along Morgan Street outside the North Carolina State Capitol, where protestors were forced to move after being expelled from the Capitol grounds. Police ordered Schucker to move her chair from the sidewalk and relocate back away from the street, to a bench on the Capitol grounds, where protestors were not allowed to demonstrate. Schucker, who was wearing a blue and white handicapped permit on her chest, told the police that she had back problems and needed the chair to participate in the demonstration. She was not blocking traffic on the sidewalk and had made sure to leave at least three feet of space for passersby, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. When she refused to move her chair, Schucker was arrested for second-degree trespassing. The ACLU of North Carolina is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving and expanding the guarantees of individual liberty found in the United States Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, and related federal and state civil rights laws. With more than 8,000 members and supporters throughout the state and an office located in Raleigh, the organization achieves its mission through advocacy, public education, community outreach, and when necessary, litigation.