Heyburn 9 Trial Exposes Ills

Being an American civil rights lawyer is a lot like being a doctor, except your patient has more moving parts than just one bipedal sack of meat and bones and is therefore easier to misdiagnose, as I did a couple of weeks ago.

My patient is my community, a body I think I know reasonably well (better than my own). But what happened at the trial of the Heyburn 9 was akin to having someone go through scan after scan, finding only a tiny glob of nothing conclusive, scheduling an exploratory surgery just to be safe and discovering an abdomen full of giant, bulbous, malignant tumors.

The Heyburn 9 are activists who were arrested for shutting down Louisville’s immigration court by chaining themselves to the elevator bank at the Heyburn Building downtown. This act of civil disobedience was in keeping with a grand tradition of peaceful protest in that, according to the letter of the law, it was criminal trespass. They went to trial not expecting to get off scot-free but to draw attention to the nightmarish conditions faced by a wave of desperate immigrants.

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