HERE LIES LIBERTY
Faux graveyards with elaborate tombstones and spooky, sometimes kooky, themes are a Halloween tradition, but the 13 tombstones erected on LSU’s campus Wednesday highlighted what the students behind them say is a major concern for all Americans.
The Young Americans for Liberty hosted the Graveyard of Civil Liberties in Free Speech Alley, in front of the Student Union next to the Parade Ground, to exhort students and faculty to learn more about how they think the government is slowly eroding civil liberties.
The idea for a graveyard followed the group’s tradition of hosting a rally or event around Halloween.
“It’s kind of an analogy or metaphor that civil liberties are dying,” said Young Americans for Liberty member Alan Rada, 23, of Puerto Rico.
The group planted moss-covered tombstones that read “Freedom of Speech,” “Due Process,” and “Privacy” in front of a table with an American flag draped over a miniature black casket.
At about 1:30 p.m., they placed a copy of the U.S. Constitution in the casket and held a second-line funeral with a jazz band.
“We’re just trying to promote awareness and get people involved and question what’s going on,” Rada said. “Anything to bring awareness to the erosion of our civil liberties and the Constitution.”
Rada pointed to the right to privacy as one right that is being eroded with the proliferation of cameras and webcameras that could be hacked so people could view into someone’s living room.
Members of the group said they hoped to catch the eyes and ears of thousands of students who pass in front of the union daily, especially during high-traffic midday hours.
Isaiah F. Cohen, the group’s vice president, dressed as the grim reaper and pointed passerbys to the graveyard, saying, “You should see what’s in our graveyard so you know what you’ve been missing.”
Braylon Hyde, a 19-year-old political science major from Mississippi, was among those who found the display interesting.
He said he supported the group’s message and hoped others would stop and listen.
“Influence really comes greatly from peer pressure. I mean if we see people our age interested in it and putting the message out there, eventually somebody else is going to want to be interested and it’s going to be a domino effect,” he said.
“Whether or not you consider yourself liberal, conservative, or even if you don’t care about politics at all, at least you’ll still remember the American flag over the casket.”
At about 11:15 a.m., Tom Brewer walked up next to the group’s table in Free Speech Alley and began reciting Bible verses.
Christopher Ambrogio, secretary and adviser for Young Americans for Liberty, said he had absolutely no problem with Brewer preaching next to them.
“We take the opinion that the best remedy for the infringement of free speech is more free speech,” he said. “In fact, I hope he talks to us. I would love to talk to him about civil liberties.”
He got his wish.
Brewer read for about 20 minutes before closing his small Bible, walking up to group members and thanking them for fighting for civil liberties.
He said he supports their fight.
“Because of people like them, I preach without fear of arrest or persecution in this country,” Brewer said.
Marjorie R. Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, was excited to hear about the demonstration and applauded the group for standing up for what they believe in.
“I think we need more of that,” she said. “I think it’s incumbent upon young people to know what their rights are, to know when their rights are being violated, to do whatever they can to stand up for their rights. I admire them for recognizing the problem and taking steps to alert others to it.”