Byron Baer was no stranger to run-ins with the law, although his experiences were no exactly typical of many politicians he met during a career in politics and civil rights that spanned nearly half a century. While Baer is best known for spending time in a Mississippi jail in 1961, when he and other Freedom Fighters were arrested for protesting the treatment of African Americans in the deep south, he was actually arrested again thirteen years later, while serving his second term in the New Jersey State Assembly.
The sponsor of legislation to improve working conditions for migrant workers, Baer was charged with tresspassing after he made a surprise visit to a migrant labor camp in Gloucester County — and his arm was broken when the crew chief, Marcos Portolatin, hit the legislator with a five-foot board while chasing the group off the property. Alex Moriarty, the the director of the Farmworkers Cooperative of New Jersey, claimed he was beaten by Portolatin and ten workers. The windows of Baer's 1970 chevrolet station wagon were also smashed.
Portolatin was found guilty of assault, but was aquitted on more serious charges of involuntary servitude.
Baer, along with Star-Ledger reporter Charles Finley and Star-Ledger photographer Thomas Herde, were aquitted on tresspassing charges in municipal court.