Elizabeth Nolan Brown // Blog

media. music. feminism. food. city-dwelling. story-telling. and other things.

DC resident arrested for dancing at Jefferson Memorial

with one comment

This has to be just about one of the weirdest things I’ve heard as of late: a girl I vaguely know (as in, like, I know her name and could point out who she is at functions) has been arrested for dancing in front of the Thomas Jefferson memorial. I remember seeing the invite on Facebook a few weeks ago for a “Thomas Jefferson Dance Party” — a bunch of the DC libertarian kids, mainly the Bureaucrash/CEI bunch — were gathering in front of the memorial at midnight to celebrate the dude’s birthday (this is the kind of thing that happens in DC, okay?). From the Bureaucrash press release:

A DC resident celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to our nation’s founding was arrested at the Jefferson Memorial on Saturday night, April 12. Now known as “The Jefferson 1,” 28 year-old Brooke Oberwetter and approximately 20 other fans of the founders’ ideas were present at the monument in celebration of Jefferson ’s birthday.

The revelers gathered just before midnight to silently dance with iPods and headphones in front of the statue of Jefferson, who once noted that “Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness.” The celebration was intentionally scheduled late at night—the memorial is open 24 hours a day—in order to not disturb other visitors.

Shortly after the dancing began, U.S. Park Police officers began forcibly pushing people toward the steps. According to witnesses, an officer approached Oberwetter, who was near a wall in the chamber, talking to friends, and standing in place “bopping” to the beat of Rob Base’s 1988 classic “It Takes Two.” The officer, later identified as Officer Hilliard, badge number 246, unit D-1, asked her to leave and physically pushed her toward the outer chamber of the memorial.

Oberwetter repeatedly asked the officer what rule or law she was breaking and why she was being asked to leave. The officer responded that she was being “noisy” and “disrespectful” before shoving her against a column and placing her in handcuffs, all under the watchful stare of the 19-foot statue of the author of the Declaration of Independence. Oberwetter did not resist and went quietly with the officers.

Although initially charged with disorderly conduct, the charge was later reduced to “interfering with an agency function” under Title 36, Sec. 2.32 of the code of federal regulations. Oberwetter was released from custody over 5 hours later, and a court date has been set for April 29, 2008. FreeTheJefferson1 was formed to advocate that the unjust charges against Brooke Oberwetter be dropped and that she receive an apology from the U.S. Park Police.


Written by Elizabeth

April 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Posted in The Best Things

One Response

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  1. Why are you in Wisconsin? We are a simple people, easily impressed.


    May 1, 2008 at 5:54 pm

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