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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Nature Dave Wanted Attention, And He Got It!

When David "Nature Dave" Gorczynski walked into two downtown Easton banks, dressed in black, with a sign saying "You're being robbed," all he wanted was attention. That's what he told police when they apprehended him in a Bank of America parking lot on August 6. He succeeded. He was charged with two counts of attempted robbery, terroristic threats and disorderly conduct. He was also jailed briefly, until he posted bail.

But that's not the kind of attention Gorczynski wanted. He was instead protesting bank policies, as evidenced by another sign that said, "Give a man a gun, he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob a country."

At a August 8 news conference, Northampton County District Attorney announced that, after reviewing all the evidence compiled by Easton police, he has directed them to withdraw the attempted robbery charges. Both he and police agree that Gorczynski never intended to commit robbery. But the terroristic threat and disorderly conduct charges will stand. According to Morganelli, the bank protester's conduct instilled real fear in bank employees and customers. The prosecutor added that "Nature Dave" should consider himself lucky that no one with a concealed weapon permit reacted.

In his years as the District Attorney, Morganelli has garnered a reputation as a First Amendment purist. In 2004, he dismissed trespassing charges brought against anti-war activists who distributed fliers at the Palmer Post Office on tax day, questioning defense spending. In 2007, Morganelli dismissed Flag Code charges brought against a libertarian who hoisted the American flag, upside down, to protest the federal government. Most recently, the DA refused to prosecute a blogger who had made threatening online comments about a judge.

But even Morganelli, with his expansive view of the First Amendment, believes Gorczynski crossed the line.

"'You're being robbed' is not a political statement," noted Morganelli. "It is a direct statement that brought real fear to employees and [bank] customers."

The DA stated that Gorczynski's conduct was equivalent to yelling "Fire!" in a crowded movie theatre. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes first used that analogy as an example of speech that has no protection under the First Amendment.

"These days people are shooting up movie theatres, churches and other public places," said Morganelli, concluding that Gorczynski had acted with "reckless disregard," creating "the kind of psychological harm that the Terroristic threat Statute was meant to discourage."

Although the terroristic threat charges are felonies, Morganelli doubts he will seek jail time and might even consider a special program for first offenders, in which charges are dismissed after a successful period of probation.

Laini Abraham, author and publisher of "Laini's Little Pocket Guides," attended the news conference, claiming she was a "witness" and that Easton police had threatened her with arrest, too. Morganelli quickly established that she was in neither bank with Gorczynski. He told Abraham that police were clearing a crime scene and acted properly in asking her to leave.

Blogger's Note: DA John Morganelli's complete statement.

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

The shiftless just don't understand what work is like.

Tellers work for peanuts and are constantly in fear of having a gun shoved in their face. There have been over a dozen bank robberies in the LV this year. They seem to be more frequent. Many of us remember Marty Apple and his murderous rampage. Banks do get robbed and tellers do get terrorized and shot.

His free speech is akin to yelling "fire" in a crowded theater or joking about bombs when at the airport. If he's as dumb as he looks, this all figures.

I can't stand Morganelli. But he got this one right by citing the context of public place shooting and acknowledging the terror visited upon bank employees.

Lighthouse said...

The first amendment protects much today as "speech" that I personally shake my head at. However, protesting banks (and how they are regulated, or not, by the government) is at least in the realm of its original intent of protesting the government, whether one agrees with the message or not.

That said, there are lines and boundaries. Even the despicable Westboro Baptists won in the Supreme Court, while the SC acknowledged there could be limits imposed as to time and place. Mr. Gorcznynki actually walking INTO a bank with a sign "you are being robbed" crossed that line. And to any of his supporters who claim, "how could you take that seriously?", ask the poor tellers at the bank robbed by a woman dressed as a clown how some fool (protesting or not) holding up a sign saying "you're being robbed" should be taken seriously.

He crossed a line, and I am glad he faces consequences.

Anonymous said...

Why do people do thing like this in little tiny branches of small towns instead of at least going to Corporate? I'm sure anyone making a little above minimum wage that has to stand all day is in full support of the Revolution. There are no fat cats in a branch.

Anonymous said...

You cannot yell "Fire" in a crowded theater.

You cannot yell "bank run" in a crowded bank. It is actually against the law in many states.

As far as yelling "robbery" in a bank. I don't know. Holding up a poster that contains the word "robbery" is not a crime. Something has to accompany the picture that makes the threat real: a gun, explosives, a weapon, holding a hostage. Picture a person walking down the street carrying such a sign. From the logic being stated we would be in our rights to have him arrested if we felt threatened. That thinking does not hold water. Something else has to be present to complete the message as a threat.

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:05, I think it's safe to say that Nature Dave did not think this through.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:03, You don't know whether it's OK to yell "robbery" in a crowded bank? You think the threat has to be real? Read the statute. It's in Morganelli's statement. This is precisely why that statute exists.

Anonymous said...

What, Geeting wasn't in attendance too? Must have been his day off.

Anonymous said...

As far as yelling "robbery" in a bank, the reason I said I don't know is that the statement has never been tested in court and in view of the US Supreme Court's modified standards in Brandenburg (sp) v Ohio, I cannot absolutely agree with Morganelli. Perhaps he is correct. I am not a constitutional scholar. I suspect that this case will be tested in local court. The ACLU has already entered the case and the test if the speaker intended "to incite a violation of the law that is both imminent and likely" will be debated.

Anonymous said...

The EPD acted properly no doubt and based on their thorough investigation supported the DA's decision to drop 2 of the charges. However, the lady that attended the press conference apparently wasn't a witness at all. She continues to state that she was a witness but was never inside the bank. She should talk to some of the employees and see what we have to say about that. She should have been arrested because her behavior as well as the protesters that evening was totally unacceptable.

I thank the police department and the DA for the way they handled this situation and yes, the man is very fortunate that an individual with a license to conceal wasn't in the bank at the time.

Lighthouse said...

The Brandenburg KKK case deals more with inciting others to violence, and whether or not that threat was "imminent".

In Snyder v Phelps, 2011, the Court reaffirmed: "That said, “[e]ven protected speech is not equally per-missible in all places and at all times.” Id., at 479 (quoting Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Ed. Fund, Inc., 473 U. S. 788, 799 (1985)). Westboro’s choice of where and when to conduct its picketing is not beyond the Government’s regulatory reach—it is “subject to reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions” that are consistent with thestandards announced in this Court’s precedents. Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U. S. 288, 293 (1984)."

Again, considering the totality of circumstances, Mr. Morganelli is not pursuing robbery charges. However, he is pursuing appropriate consequences to make the point that a line was crossed by Mr. Gorczynski. It sounds like he is even agreeable to seeking rather lenient consequences.

Laini said...

Dear anonymous bank employee commenting above,

I never claimed to have physically witnessed the actual demonstrations. I was a witness to the arrest, and a character witness and Dave is a friend. As a citizen, I believe I have a right to stand by and bear witness to the arrest of a friend. I was concerned to see him surrounded by so many officers. I know him and know he is in no way dangerous.

And it happened in the morning, not the evening.

I'm sorry for that you were afraid of Dave when he came into your bank. I don't think he'll be doing it again anytime soon. We all make mistakes and hopefully, we all learn from them. But a mistake does not constitute a felony. Definitely not four of them.

I would hope that you never have to be arrested so quickly and so unnecessarily, in your own neighborhood, by officers who see you all the time. And I would never wish on someone to be arrested for questioning the actions of public servants. I'm sorry you thought my actions were inappropriate, but all I wanted to do was know what was going on and be able to stand by to witness the actual arrest. Dave is 22. He is a friend. I could technically be his mother. I just wanted to be there. The police know me, too. I didn't need to get the screaming threat of being arrested.

Hopefully, through this process that has now been set in motion, justice will be served. It will be interesting to see how this turns out. And thanks to the overzealous initial charges, there are now a lot of people watching this case. As someone who has worked very hard for a long time to promote this City, I find it sad that once again, Easton is making big news for something that isn't exactly good.

Laini said...

And for the record, since I mentioned making mistakes, I think Dave's biggest mistake was demonstrating alone. Not even a week earlier he participated at a bank demonstration in Philadelphia with Green Party Presidential candidate, Jill Stein. He was with a large group of people. He was wearing the exact same outfit. But it was a large group, in a city where people are more used to people exercising their first amendment rights. Dave was not arrested on that day. Jill Stein was.

There are some thing worth getting arrested for. I believe that speaking out about the corruptions and problems we currently face in this country is one of them. If we don't talk about it, and raise awareness about it, and reach out to other people, and organize, nothing will ever change.

We have 10% unemployment, a minimum wage which is impossible to live on, a majority of people who are underpaid, without adequate or any "health care", and increasingly alarming health crisis in the obesity epidemic, and a political system that is not longer working for the people. What do these things all have in common? I believe the underlying problem is the way the large corporations are and have been able to influence our policy-makers and hence, our policies. And it is no exaggeration to say that it is killing people. And the unfortunate increase in actual bank robberies that people in your profession have to deal with? They are being done by people who are desperate. I'm not saying that makes it ok, it's not. But continuing to look the other way is not going to solve anything. So, I believe anyone who is working in any way to raise awareness is doing something which is so necessary.

We can not go on like this for much longer. Most people seem to be fine with the status quo until it affects them directly. Only then do they seem willing to take action. I don't believe in waiting until then. I live in downtown Easton. I see too many people suffer everyday and it's getting worse. Changing our system and exposing the people who are taking advantage of it is part of what needs to happen for it to get better.

The two banks which were involved on Monday are two of the four worst offenders. I do believe they are thieves. However, until our leaders choose to do something to change things, they will still be protected by every police department in the country, even from unarmed 22-year olds carrying handmade signs.

Laini said...

Oh, yes, and an unarmed 22-year old who LEFT THE BUILDING when he was asked by the person (teller/manager) who walked right up to him and told him he needed to leave.

So just out of curiosity, was the alarm activated before or after she asked him to leave?

Anonymous said...

You can't even joke in an airport about criminal actions. You go to jail!

In this age, threats are real if anyone reasonably feels potential harm.

These Occupy folks are political activists. But, they should not be allowed to terify people who are not causing any harm like tellers.

LainiAbraham said...

In this age, there are people who work very hard to make us fear as much as possible. As long as we are fearing each other, we don't have time to even think about them.

Speaking of fear, why all the "anonymous" comments, and monikers? What's so scary about using your real name?

Hi Bernie. At least you're not afraid. Thank you for that.

You look great, btw. I've been meaning to tell you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Laini. You always look great.

BTW, I think Dave will be eligible for ARD, which will result in a dismissal of all charges if he successfully completes probation.

John Morganelli is a First Amendment purist. You will find very few prosecutors with his expansive view of Free Speech. But after hearing his version of the facts, it's pretty clear to me that Dave crossed the line and is very lucky that some trigger happy person with a LTC did not pull out his (or her) pea shooter and let him have it. It could have been very tragic.

LainiAbraham said...

thank you, Bernie.

I'm very thankful that nothing tragic occurred. I also think DA Morganelli sounded very reasonable. I am concerned that the "facts" are not proven/known yet. I do believe in innocent until proven guilty. It will be interesting. Truly. It almost makes me want to study law.

LainiAbraham said...

One more thing, I disagree with the "In this age, threats are real if anyone reasonably feels potential harm" comment. first, an illustration:

Female visits a downtown restaurant at night. She parks on Spring Garden St. As she's walking back down Sitgreaves to her car, she hears someone behind her, turns around, and sees a black male has just turned the corner. He's walking a pit bull. This particular woman isn't used to seeing too many black men. This guy has dread locks. She thinks he must be dangerous. Pit bulls are dangerous, too, at least that' s what she thinks. So she gets scared. She keeps walking, he keeps following her. She gets more scared. She feels it reasonable that there is a potential threat.

Just because she FEELS it doesn't make it true. In that scenario, the black man with a pit bull lives in that block. They're both friendly. It's their neighborhood, their home. What if she called the police because she thought this man was following her when he was really just out walking his dog?

Just because she felt potentially threatened, he can not be charged with threatening her. The feeling can not be the thing to define the action.

Anonymous said...

I love when imbeciles are hoisted by their own petard. It renews faith in karma and provides a lot of laughs. Dopey Dave rocks!

Anonymous said...

does this long hair have any previous convictions?

Anonymous said...

He showed no common sense in his actions. Fortunately, no one was hurt. I think Morgannelli is handling this well. I don't see any justice served by this fellow serving time. Also I doubt the Banks are intersted in a discussion of the merits of his claims.

Of course due to the political nature of his stunt, the teabaggers want him hanged. That is how some countries end up with politcal prisoners.

Anonymous said...

So what if the black male with dreadlocks and pit bull, was carrying a sign that said "I'm going to rape and kill you"

Anonymous said...

Who is this Laini person? As far as I am concerned, this city was way too leninent with the Occupy Easton group last year when they allowed them to camp out on city property. Now they turn their backs on our police with vile and vulgar signs and comments. Please don't let them get out of hand. They should be required to live within the same laws as all others and I believe the parks all close at dusk. It is pretty sad to force a homeless person out of the park but they wqere allowed to stay.

LainiAbraham said...

In order to be a fair analogy, the sign you are asking about would need to say something like "you are f#@%ed". Passive voice.

I still believe the actual intent of the person is what should matter.

Anonymous said...

Deeds, Laini, deeds. He terrified poor tellers who dont make much money and just got their pockets picked by crooked Sal Panto, Then, you insult law enforcement with foul and vicious signs for doing the job they are paid to do and wonder why nobody gives a shit what you think or say. You're just like clinic bombing nuts. You harm the cause you think you're aiding by simply being yourself.

Anonymous said...

So the black male with dreadlocks and a pit bull, is walking behind a female who is alone. She turns the corner into a dark alley, and suddenly realizes that he too turns that corner. She then realizes that he's carrying a sign that says "you are being raped and murdered!!!"

Wasn't "Nature Dave" also wearing a bandana? How can we work a similarity into our "dark alley" story. Maybe the black male had his pants undone? No, that wouldn't work. He wouldn't have enough hands to hold a leashed dog, a sign, and hold his pants up. Let's say he was dangling an unraveled condom in the same hand he was holding the sign. What would you do Laini?

So if you say intent is the issue, any *failed* perpetrator could simply claim that it was merely a protest. Example: "I meant nothing by this underwear bomb, I just wanted to protest the TSA's invasion of my privacy." Yeah, that should work.

LainiAbraham said...

A sign is not a weapon.

Enjoy your anonymous commenting.

Anonymous said...

Those poor tellers work for some of the biggest criminal enterprises the world has ever seen. They were so traumatized that they walked right up to him and asked him to leave, which the da acknowledged, he did.

I think holding up a you're being robbed sign to a man getting a loan (as da *only* released this still.. ) is much different than telling or displaying it to a teller.

For the record, the Easton Occupation regularly boarded and fed the homeless. They didn't turn on the cops until the cops turned on them and hammered a square peg thru a circular hole by trying to hit him with attempted robbery.

To the idiot talking about ”long hairs”- grow up and open your mind. Categorizing people by hairstyle is just fucking ignorant.

Anonymous said...

Why did this warrant a press conference?

Bernie O'Hare said...

" black male with dreadlocks and pit bull,"

Why black male???

Bernie O'Hare said...

"does this long hair have any previous convictions?"

No.

LainiAbraham said...

Because many people.still treat/think about people/men of color differently. And my example was based on a real person.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why did this warrant a press conference?"

Because the DA was directing police to dismiss two major felony charges, there were critical issues of free speech and public safety. It was more than warranted.

LainiAbraham said...

Same for pit bull.

Anonymous said...

Let's try another story. "Hassam Akbar" wanted to protest the massive amount of junk mailings coming from AAA. The mail kills trees, it creates waste, and is generally unpleasant. So one day Hassam wakes up and walks INTO the local branch of AAA with two signs "stop deforestation" and "you are being bombed." Of course he meant "bombed" as in excessive mailings, but lets also say that to add to the protest, he has a bunch of wires coming out of the top and bottom of his jacket.

Of course Hassam would be arrested! But a White guy walks into a bank with a sign that says "you're being robbed" and has a bandana on, and OE is there to defend him. Is it because a white guy couldn't possibly do any wrong? These OE folks are coming across as racist. Especially with the "black man" stuff in earlier posts.

Wayne S. said...

How sad it is to see so many people with opinions yet they are afraid to use even their first names. I feel that if a person won't stand behind what they have to say, it is probably because they know it isn't true. I applaud Laini for attaching her words to a real person. But all the rest of this "anonymous" really cheapens what could be a real nice blog.

As for the fear instilled, I have seen a still from the bank video, on worker is continuing to work and a customer is reclines back in his chair reading the signs that Dave is holding. Neither is trembling in fear or even seems to care that he is there.

Karen M. Samuels said...

Thank you, Laini! I have met Nature Dave and found him a dedicated, sweet person. He may not have used the best judgment with the wording of one of his signs but he has the right to protest anywhere he wants.

Anonymous said...

Actually for almost a year straight now you can go to those banks in the Big cities and see people protesting every day.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well, Dave could take this to trial and demand the DA to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. That's his right. But even he has since expressed some regret. If he goes to trial, and is convicted, a 22 year-old man with no record would suddenly find he has two felony convictions. That would make him virtually unemployable. A better decision would be to apply for participation in the first offender program, which is called ARD. If he successfully completes it, the charges will be dismissed and his record expunged.

His lawyer, Phil Lauer, is among the best criminal defense attorneys in the state. I'm sure he'll be giving him better advice than any of us.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Karen Samuels' blog is listed on my left sidebar. Its accounts of local history are always captivating.

Anonymous said...

Where they were camping was actually private property that they had permission to use

Uncle Remus said...

lanni and long hair are obviously bleeding heart unemployed liberals that have nothing better to do with their pitiful little lives.

probably the same types that want a bi-county health bureau so useless people like gooks, ass-ians, porkchops, slant heads, blacks, and rag heads can get benefits they have not earned and prey on white folks hard work.

do they want catholiker perverts to go free also?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Uncle Remus, In three sentences, you insulted just about everyone. I'm impressed.

Uncle Remus said...

Thank you Bernie. You are alright - I don't care what JM says.

Proud Hippie said...

Uncle Annus...er Remus....Your are exactly what is wrong with the progression...or lack of progression of this country. Your racist hate fueled comments only solidfy the people who believe that change is necessary and will happen! Maybe the coutry can carve out a space somewhere so you and your brethren can live! Peace

Uncle Remus said...

poor aged hippie - u can insult all u want but the truth is u just don't get it - never have - never will

Bernie O'Hare said...

Proud Hippie, Uncle Remus is playin' you, dude. He is actually pointing out the absurdity of hatred by pretending to hate everyone.

UR said...

B- I - N- -G - O

Anonymous said...

FALSE!! He was guilty of criminal trespass last year! He is a previously convicted criminal.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Please provide a link to your source, and whether it is a summary offense.

Carey F. said...

Uncle Remus, I work in human services and the most clientele I have is actual Caucasians...so get your facts right before you spread hate!

Anonymous said...

Carey F,

You should get your grammar right before you make a fool of yourself by posting your lack of education. No wonder you work in a no where low paying job.

What does the F stand for? Flunked out?

Anonymous said...

Fior the person who said that Occupy camped on private property in Easton. Wrong. That is Cody owned and maintained public property across from the ET. Get ur facts

Bernie O'Hare said...

Be nice or be deleted.

Anonymous said...

The property is owned by the Redevelopment Authority. The City itself says that is not the City. Try requesting and documents from the Redevelopment Authority under the Right to Know law and you'll be told it's not the City.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I just remembered, I have dreadlocks and am Black. I don't have any pitbulls though, but 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

And to my FB friend Laini, 'RIGHT ON, Little Sister, RIGHT ON!"

It's very unpopular to speak against the status quo and the "powers that be" but someone has to do it.

Be well,

Alfonso Todd

www.alfonsotodd36@msn.com

www.alfonsotodd.com