After a four day trial which concluded yesterday, eighteen peace activists, including seven veterans, were convicted and sentenced to fines by D.C. Superior Court Judge Canan. We were being tried for our nonviolent action on the White House sidewalk/plaza on March 19, 2011, which marked the beginning on the ninth year of the US invasion of Iraq. The protest, during which 113 people were arrested, called for an end to all US Wars and the release of imprisoned military whistle-blower Private Bradley Manning.
It was an extraordinary trial where the lie of war and crimes of government were confronted and exposed. Also, the selective enforcement of regulations by U.S. Park Police regarding who can be stationary on the White House sidewalk and plaza was also pointedly challenged. However, the court we were before, as is the case with every U.S. court faced by resisters, chose to focus on legal technicalities, rather than address the
criminality of a government and military responsible for murdering people.
Motions submitted regarding the relevance of International humanitarian law, and
having experts testify about US war crimes were denied. Instead of being
exonerated for witnessing to the truth and trying to save lives, we were found
guilty and fined. Hence another deeply held conviction!
It was an honor to be tried with these activists and veterans, some of whom were on trial for the first time. I will always cherish this experience.
Below is a press release sent out by Veterans for Peace which offer a brief summary of the trial. Also please see and article by a lawyer friend regarding her experience of the trial, and which includes my closing statement. Kathleen Kirwin, who was present in court on Thursday, posted her article on the web site: War Is a Crime. Org. (formerly after Downing Street) The link is: http://warisacrime.org/content/never-more-proud-be-courtroom
And finally, please see the excerpt of the moving closing statement by Elliott Adams, president of Veterans for Peace.
Thank you so much for your prayers and heartfelt support for all of us who were on trial. I am deeply grateful. We continue to keep our eyes on the prize and hold on!!!
With love and gratitude, Art Laffin Dorothy Day Catholic Worker