Photograph of a group of people at the downtown Federal Building awaiting the release of prisoners who were jailed for violating the Smith Act. Ben Margolis, a civil rights attorney, is in the crowd; he is second from the left, facing the man with a moustache in the center of the photograph. The Civil Rights Congress and other civil libertarians organized protests calling for the release of the prisoners on bail. The Smith Act made it illegal to advocate the overthrow of any United States government by force or violence. In 1951, 15 members of the Communist Party in California were indicted for violating the Smith Act and arrested in Los Angeles. After a lengthy legal battle, 12 prisoners were released in December 1951.
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