Centre County Courthouse picketers protest corruption

John Adams blows a whistle during a protest in front of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Wednesday.
John Adams blows a whistle during a protest in front of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Wednesday. CDT photo

Whistles, chants and the occasional car horn were audible Wednesday afternoon in downtown Bellefonte as some citizens demonstrated against corruption in Centre County.

Three people gathered in front of the war memorial at noon and were joined by two others about 45 minutes later. Each held a sign, one asking drivers to honk if they support cleaning up local corruption, which got quite a few replies. It’s a measure that organizer John Adams, of Bellefonte, says he thinks most locally support but don’t feel comfortable expressing.

“I think people are afraid of ridicule and I want to smash that by standing out here,” he said.

Adams, 24, and others were up until the early morning painting the signs before they met in front of the courthouse at noon. The five also blew whistles and chanted slogans demanding “freedom.” He said he and the others plan to return to the area again next Wednesday for a similar demonstration.

A name that appeared on signs and in conversation was that of Judge Bradley P. Lunsford, who was barred from hearing criminal cases except for DUI cases in a December court order. One called for his resignation.

Lunsford said in an email that as a judge, he fully supports the First Amendment rights of citizens to speak freely, misinformed or otherwise.

“In our marketplace of thoughts and ideas, the truth will always prevail,” he said.

The same group also demonstrated in front of the courthouse last month to raise awareness of veterans issues. Dorie Adams, 63, of Port Matilda, held both an American flag and a “Don’t tread on me” banner. He was a serviceman during the Vietnam era and said that while that issue is very close to home for him, the focus Wednesday was on the law and what he sees as corruption that needs to be fixed at the state, local and federal levels.

The courthouse was a logical place for a protest because of what it symbolizes, Dorie Adams said.

“That’s where it needs to start, in the courts, because laws mean nothing if they aren’t enforced properly,” he said.