An aspiring "ukulele superstar" was sentenced this morning to three years of probation and a $3,300 fine on charges of assaulting an officer and resisting arrest.
Emily Yates, 31, had been invited to perform at a pro-marijuana rally Aug. 31, 2013 at Independence National Historical Park.
Yates, a multi-instrumentalist and self-proclaimed "eventual ukulele superstar," was playing a banjo in a section of the park that had been cordoned off by park police. She said she had been waiting in the shade for her turn to play to the crowd when she was approached by park rangers.
"I had never been in town for one of the [Smokedown Prohibition] rallies before," she said. "If I had known the rangers had aggressively arrested people at the events, I would have been on my guard."
In a cellphone video of the incident posted to YouTube, park rangers ask her to move to another part of the park. Yates repeatedly refuses. After several appeals for her relocate, the rangers seize her and cuff her. Doubled over a park bench, Yates kicks, squeals and swears at them.
"I had simply asked why they wanted me to leave," she said. "They wouldn't tell me."
Yates, who said she served two tours in Iraq as a journalist for the U.S. Army, said that after her arrest, she was held for three nights in solitary confinement.
She had originally come to Philadelphia that weekend to perform at an anti-war rally.
"It is a sad day in America when a person who has gone to war to defend our freedoms to speak and assemble, is next to the Liberty Bell and assaulted by rangers for trying to exercise those freedoms," she said.
Yates was also found guilty of failure to obey a lawful order and disorderly conduct in a bench trial presided by U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Rueter. Yates, who has launched a "Try Not to Be a Dick" movement, will be allowed to serve her probation in California, where she lives.
Yates is also prohibited from returning to Independence National Historical Park for three years, she said.
On Saturday, she will be playing a "pop-up" house concert in West Philadelphia to help pay her fine and court costs.