1930 July 21

ACLU Publicity Director “Wiggles Shoulders” in Newark, is Arrested


Alexander Taylor, ACLU publicity director, was arrested at a free speech meeting in Newark, New Jersey, and fined $25 for loitering and interfering with a police officer. Saul Stark, a Communist Party member, was fined and sentenced to 10 days in jail. The police argued that the free speech meeting, held on this day, was illegal because it interfered with traffic. Testimony against Taylor said that he “wiggled his shoulders” when a police officer placed him under arrest, and apparently that was the basis for the charge of  interfering with a police officer.

The incident was typical of innumerable such events in the 1920s and 1930s where the police made arbitrary arrests to prevent any pro-labor demonstration or rally. In the 1920s, ACLU leaders were arrested on a number of occasions when they tried to read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. See March 23, 1920; October 12, 1920; and May 15, 1923, when the famous novelist Upton Sinclair was arrested at a labor union rally in California for reading the Bill of Rights.

Learn more about the history of the ACLU: Samuel Walker, In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!