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)

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