Obstructing Traffic or Exercising Free Assembly?
Both in court and later in prison, suffragists arrested on criminal charges of obstructing traffic demanded to be treated as political prisoners. They asserted that silent picketing and peaceful assembly were protected First Amendment rights, and that their arrests were politically motivated, as Mary Winsor’s sign suggests. Winsor was arrested twice, the first time on September 4, 1917, during Draft Day festivities holding a banner questioning why women had no voice in a government that was conscripting their sons. Recently released from Occoquan Workhouse after serving a lengthy sentence for picketing on Draft Day, Baltimorean Lucy Branham unfavorably compared the U.S. government to Tsarist Russia, which had earlier imprisoned historian and liberal statesman Pavel Milyukov.