Robbery Charges Dropped Against "Nature Dave"
District Attorney withdraws attempted robbery charges against man accused of bringing "You're being robbed" signs into banks. Other charges still stand.
Northampton County's chief proseuctor has withdrawn robbery charges against a man accused of bringing a "You're being robbed" sign into two Easton banks earlier this week.
But John Morganelli said Wednesday another set of charges -- terroristic threats and disorderly conduct -- still stand against David Gorczynski, otherwise known as "Nature Dave."
And although Gorczynski, his attorney and his supporters have called his signs a form of political protest, Morganelli said a sign in a bank reading "You're being robbed" is the equivalent of yelling "fire" in a crowded theater.
While his message might have been "This bank is robbing you, the customer," no one in the bank -- where workers and customers face the threat of actual robberies -- could have known that, Morganelli told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
"His choice of words were designed to bring terror," he said. "Bank employees had no way of getting into Mr. Gorczynski's mind."
Meanwhile, Gorczynski, at a separate press conference Wednesday with his attorney, said he regularly protests outside the city's banks and is known by people working there.
Gorczynski, 22, of Easton was arrested Monday while protesting both inside and outside the Wells Fargo and Bank of America branches in downtown Easton. According to police, he wore a bandanna -- at times allowing it to cover his face, Morganelli said -- and carried two signs.
One read "You're being robbed;" the other said "Give a man a gun, he'll rob a bank. Give a man a bank, he'll rob a country."
He was arrested outside the Bank of America -- after he'd left after being asked to do so by the manager -- and charged with two counts each of attempted robbery, terroristic threats and disorderly conduct.
According to Morganelli, Gorczynski told police he had chosen his attire -- all black clothing and a bandanna -- as a way to get people's attention.
Morganelli said he's found there is no evidence to show that Gorczynski planned to rob either bank, and thus withdrew those charges.
He made it clear that his office doesn't plan to seek jail time for Gorczynski if he's convicted or pleads guilty.
Morganelli said that he's dropped charges in previous free speech cases, such as the one involving a group of protesters arrested outside a post office on tax day, and one involving a man who flew an American flag upside down.
But in those cases, he said, the public didn't feel threatened. He argued that even if Gorczynski posed no danger, he might have gotten himself hurt.
"'You're being robbed' is not a political statement," Morganelli said, asking what might have happened if someone with a gun had been in the bank. "If somebody comes in yelling 'You're being robbed,' they might shoot the guy."
Attorney Phil Lauer, representng Gorczynski, said this is still a case of a man with "an artistic, unusual, maybe annoying way" of protesting.
"It does not appear to be a criminal act of any kind," Lauer told reporters at a news conference at his office Wednesday. What Gorczynski was doing was "not only lawful, it's something we hope people would do to let the world know what's wrong with society."
Sitting with Lauer in a meeting room, Gorczynski -- who has been free on bail since Monday night -- told reporters that he regularly protests outside the city's banks and is known by people working there. He normally protests outside, he said, and declined to say why he chose to bring his signs into the banks on Monday.
Lauer said they would not rule out the possibility of a plea deal in the case.
Before meeting with Lauer, Gorczynski -- wearing an Occupy Wall Street T-shirt, cargo shorts and sandals -- stood along Washington Street outside the Northampton County Government Center.
He held a sign: "Banks got bailed out. We got sold out!"
A number of people honked and yelled "Nature Dave!" as they drove by.
One man stopped. "Hey man, how's it going?" he called.
"Decent!" Gorczynski said. "They dropped the bank robbery charge!"
After the man drove away, Gorczynski explained: "Everybody knows me."