Today I witnessed the very lively Baltimore Spectator hearing. The judge did not grant Frank James MacArthur bail so he is still in jail. Before you read my summary of events I want you to check out some links to other sources. The Baltimore Sun story is pretty solid. In the past I thought MacArthur was 47, but he is actually 37 like the Sun says (I had a source confirm this fact today).
Hassan Giordano has some interesting insights here. He also adresses some of the odd control freak anti-freedom tendencies that some of the security officials at the courthouse displayed.
Marcie Jones at the Baltimore Crime blog has a great summary of what happened during and after the hearing. Since she was forced to sit in the back of the room by one of the odd control freak anti-freedom security officials she did not clearly see everything and thus totally misidentified MacArthur’s lawyer. Jill Carter was his lawyer the entire time. Other than the Jill Carter mistaken identity this summary is awesome in many ways. It notes how quite a few people with hearings later in the hour were allowed to have bail and thus the option to get out of jail.
I entered the hearing room about a minute after the hearing started. MacArthur and I made eye contact and I could see he was very happy to see me and others. It sounded like the prosecution was saying that MacArthur should not receive bail because he was a threat. Jill Carter (his lawyer) said he had no serious history with the law. There had been minor incidents in the past, but nothing major that would imply he was a serious threat and not worthy of bail. Carter asked his family (his sister was there) and friends to stand up. Over twenty people stood up and you could hear a sound shock from family members of other people awaiting hearings. I think it was pretty unprecedented to have that many supporters at a hearing like that one. The judge was unmoved by Carter’s attempt to portray MacArthur as a community minded person. She seemed like she wanted to get things moving and that she already made up her mind. At some point during Jill Carter’s presentation I saw the court guard ask Marcie Jones to get up from her seat (she was sitting in front of me). I thought he did not like her using a notepad and I thought he might come for me next for taking notes. Marcie was replaced by a person who had wheeled in a wheelchair bound prisoner. I guess that was the space reserved for that kind of person? The guard could have told her that and he did not have to move her to the back of the room. She actually could have sat between me and one of MacArthur’s friend (we easily could have made room for her). The guards who work at the courthouse permeate this control freak aura that is really sickening. It is as if their only pleasure in life is to boss other people around and make them do things that make them go out of their way for no reason.
The judge handed down her ruling (NO BAIL) and MacArthur asked to speak, she said NO. MacArthur then said a few things that were sort of hard to hear. He thanked people for coming. People in the audience started to make noise including Shorty the toilet guy who like a typical child with no impulse control and an inflated sense of importance started to yell (let’s go, let’s go). I guess he wanted to feel like his command made people leave the room. As they lead MacArthur away I thought I heard him say “Adam write about this”. It was hard to hear. I am writing about it though (as I would have not matter what).
I met some MacArthur supporters who had traveled from outside of Baltimore just to support their friend. They were really nice/normal people and it would have been nice if the judge, the police, or some media members would have talked to them. They are very familiar with the real Frank James MacArthur. It appears the state is going to bring even MORE charges against MacArthur (second degree assault?). Jill Carter tried her best and after the hearing you could tell she was legitimately saddened by the results. She later told me that MacArthur appreciated the support from his friends and supporters.
The issue that we all need to think about here is not about guilt or innocence in regards to the charges and pending charges, but if a man with MacArthur’s history should be allowed to be granted bail and at the very least temporary freedom. The judge mentioned “Threats on the social media” as a reason why he was not deserving of bail. You could tell by the way she said “the social media” that she had no clue about what she was talking about. In this modern world the Internet is an incredible new voice for our freedom of speech. It appears that MacArthur’s freedom of speech angered some people. He is paying dearly for broadcasting his standoff to the world. Are you a threat if you say anti-police statements on Twitter? Are you a threat if you post certain pictures that can be interpreted many different ways on your blog or Twitter? In Baltimore it appears you are. Spread the word about what is going on. I think this is more than a local story because it involves the confluence of technology, freedom of speech, and the law. There has to be a national reporter or big-time lawyer who would like to tackle this situation.
In a city where violent drug dealers go free on a daily basis it just stinks that a man I personally know as a respectable non-threatening human will be rotting in jail at the start of the futuristic year of 2013.