June 9, 2010 Update
from Cindy Sheehan
On the 7th anniversary of the illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, eight people were arrested in front of the White House protesting the continuing crimes-you know that place! It’s a big White House-as a matter of fact it’s a HUGE White House in the middle of a park-like estate where heavily armed thugs protecting war criminals roam. It’s okay to stop and gawk and take pictures if you are decked out in Hawaiian shirts or sundresses, but exercising fundamental rights to free speech or to peaceable assemble is not.
On March 20th, about 8000 people attended a permitted and almost lethargically tame protest in Lafayette Park, which is next to the HUGE White House. Then there was a march around in circles that landed the protest right back in front of the White House. Four people decided to lie down on the sidewalk in protest (four out of 8000), and four of us decided to cross the police line (a metal barrier on the sidewalk between the street and the high iron-barred, sniper guarded fence that surrounds the HUGE White House), to try and join the measly four that were lying there begging people to join them.
I was one of the ones arrested for crossing the police line. I did not push the barrier down, but when it fell, I crossed-I was immediately body slammed and arrested. That was at approximately 2:44pm. An amended police report misleadingly lied and said that I was given three warnings to leave-I was not and subsequent evidence shows that the warnings to disperse over the bullhorn didn’t even begin until after I had been arrested. Once anyone in authority is caught in a lie-from president to the police-everything that is claimed from thereafter is immediately open for suspicion.
So, after our arrests for infractions, we were processed at the Park Police Station in Anacostia, and six of us were transferred to lock-up where we spent the next approximately 45 hours (we already spent about eight hours at Anacostia). Why were six of us held and two released? The police said because the two that were released “lived in DC” and us out-of-towners couldn’t leave until we saw a judge.
WE WERE ARRESTED FOR INFRACTIONS! Why isn’t the DC lockup constantly filled to bursting with out-of-towners who commit infractions: jaywalking, running a stop sign, speeding, littering, etc? Because as one officer “kindly” pointed out to me a few years back when I was protesting in front of the Lincoln Memorial one night: I am not “normal” because I am a “protester.” It’s a sad commentary that “protesters” are not considered “normal” in a society that was built on the foundation of a Bill of Rights.
We “Peace Criminals” were to be back in DC tomorrow, June 10th (two from Pennsylvania; one from DC; three from NY State, and me from California), at great inconvenience, and sometimes at great expense, for our trial. When we were arraigned on Monday, March 22nd, the prosecution gave all of my co-defendants the opportunity to “pay and forfeit” with “time served.” Except me–I was forced to return to DC for trial, even though one of the other detainees, Elaine Brower, has far more arrests in DC than I do. All of the other defendants rejected that offer in order to stand up for our rights and for what IS right.
All together with the judge, defendants, prosecutor, and defense lawyer, we picked the date of June 10th. We didn’t just pull that rabbit out of a hat–EVERYONE agreed on that date. We arranged a legal team; and I raised money for my travel expenses and legal fees for the Peace of the Action defendants (three of us). As of Monday of this week, our lawyer had been in touch with the judge and everything was hunky-dory and the trial was on.
I had an early flight out of Sacramento this morning and on my way to the airport at 6am, I got a message from one of our lawyers that the trial was going to be continued because a judge couldn’t be found due to some “judge’s conference.” So, from Monday to Wednesday, a Judge Convention (golf games?) arose which necessitated the postponement of our trial? I would like to believe that’s true, but with all of the other harassment and outright lies put together, I logically doubt the integrity of the court system. Not to mention the officer at the Park Police station who practically admitted that I was being singled out for harassment when he said, “If you would stop protesting this stuff would stop happening to you.”
Not only all of the above, but I am calling for more protests in DC from July 4th to July 17th and I have a “stay away order” from the perimeter of the White House which includes the sidewalk in Lafayette Park that borders Pennsylvania Avenue. The order is in place until our trial-whenever that is going to be. This stay away order will seriously hamper and limit my right to free speech.
I call “Shenanigans” on the entire episode-the system knows that we are correct about the wars and they know that our civil rights have been violated. The system should be on trial-not we anti-war activists.
A nation built on lies seldom, if ever, wants to hear the truth.
UPDATE: THE “LEGAL” SYSTEM IN DC IS SAYING THAT WE PROBABLY CAN’T RESCHEDULE THE TRIAL (FOR AN INFRACTION) UNTIL AUGUST, SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER. THIS IS TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE FINANCIALLY AND CONSTITUTIONALLY. SINCE I HAVE ALREADY LOST HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS ON AIR-FARE AND DAYS OUT OF MY LIFE THAT I WILL NEVER GET BACK, ETC FOR THIS TRIAL, I AM DEMANDING MY SIXTH AMENDMENT RIGHT TO A SPEEDY TRIAL TO BE HELD WHEN I AM IN DC FOR SIZZLIN’ SUMMER PROTESTS IN JULY.
THEY WANT TO BREAK ME, BUT I WASN’T BROKEN WHEN THEY KILLED MY SON–WHAT DO THEY THINK THEY CAN DO TO ME NOW?
June 7, 2010
The trial for Cindy Sheehan and six others for their arrest in front of the White
House on March 20th is this Thursday, June 10th at DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana,
NW in room 120.
There will be a short pro-peace/pro-1st Amendment Rally and press conference
at 8:15am in front of the Court.
Some statements from the “Peace Criminals” and their attorneys:
Cindy Sheehan: (Gold Star Mother and National Director of Peace of the Action,
arrested for crossing a police line):
When I was picking up my property the day after I got out of jail-a Park
Police officer told me: ‘If you would quit protesting, this stuff would quit
happening to you.’ Unfortunately, even though many people have ‘quit protesting’
since the Democrats and Obama have risen to the top of the dung heap in DC,
the wars continue and people continue to die. We cannot stop until the wars
stop. My grandbabies WILL NOT live in a world where war for profit is the
norm and where basic civil rights are ignored or regularly violated by authorities.
It’s draining in so many ways to continue, but continue we must.
Elaine Brower: (MFSO and WCW, arrested for disorderly conduct)
My son served 3 combat tours as a US Marine. My family suffered tremendous
strain and stress with each re-deployment, and we were lucky to see him come
home alive, but broken in a way that no one understands except the small percentage
of families who are asked to make sacrifices for the illegal, illegitimate
and immoral wars and occupations that this government refuses to end. I was
participating in a peaceful protest allegedly safeguarded under the first
amendment against furthering the deaths of millions of people. It is an outrage
that we have no redress of our grievances, and spent 52 hours in jail because
Jon Gold: (Core Team Member of Peace of the Action and 911 Truth Activist arrested
for crossing a police line)
In response to our Government lying about, and covering up the 9/11 attacks,
I began fighting for truth, accountability, and justice for what happened
that day. My efforts, for the past eight years, have been on behalf of the
people that lost someone that day, and for the 9/11 first responders that
needed health care because of the toxic dust down at Ground Zero. The United
States Government has used the 9/11 attacks as an excuse to launch illegal,
preemptive wars and to take away our civil liberties. The resulting bankrupting
of this country is unacceptable to me, and I felt it was my duty as a citizen
to help to expose the cover-up. Ultimately, that fight led me to be in Washington
D.C. on March 20th. It greatly saddens me that I was arrested, and will have
to stand trial for such a trivial crime. I was under the impression that Americans
have the right to peaceably assemble. Paradoxically crossing a police line
is treated as a crime, but our leaders are not held accountable for their
much more serious crimes of murder and genocide. It is also quite tragic to
me that Cindy Sheehan, a mother of a lost soldier, has to stand trial because
she believes in ending the illegal and unjust occupations that led to her
Kathleen Kirwin: (Lawyer for “Peace Criminals”)
I am honored to stand in solidarity as legal counsel for seven courageous
activists who have the guts, integrity and justified anger and outrage to
stand up to the government of this country which continues to engage in wars
of aggression around the world at the cost of millions of lives. In order
for the government to continue waging its unlawful wars with impunity, it
willfully and proactively violates the First Amendment to the United State
Constitution, which specifically PROHIBITS the government from interfering
with any citizen’s RIGHT to peaceably assemble, petition for government redress
of grievances and engage in freedom of speech. As such, and as a matter of
law, it should be the government who faces trial for violating the constitution,
not those who seek to defend it.
Mark Goldstone: (Lawyer for “Peace Criminals”)
On Thursday, June 10, Cindy Sheehan, Iraq Veteran Matthis Chiroux and
5 other activists will go on trial before a Judge of the DC Superior Court.
They face relatively minor charges, but their trial raises the public outrage
that the war in Iraq still goes on after 7 years — and the US invasion of
Afghanistan is approaching its 9th year. A broad range of citizens and activists
gathered in Lafayette Park on Saturday, March 20, to protest the US Government’s
continuing wars in the Middle East — which only continue to destabilize the
region, and to use America’s precious economic resources.
The “Peace Criminals”
Cindy Sheehan: Gold Star Mother and National Director of Peace of the Action.
Elaine Brower: Mother of US Marine and member of Military Families Speak Out
and World Can’t Wait. From New York.
Matthis Chiroux: Veteran and member of Iraq Vets Against the War. From New
Jon Gold: Core Team Member of Peace of the Action and 911 Truth Activist. From
Jim Veeder: Peace Activist. From New York and Costa Rica.
Alex MacDonald: Peace Activist. From Pennsylvania.
LaFlora Cunningham: Peace Activist from DC.
The Legal Team
Ann Wilcox: DC-based lawyer and current chair of the Demonstration Support
Committee for the DC chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. In the past year,
she has advised and represented activists on issues ranging from climate change,
single-payer health, peace and opposition to US torture policies.
Mark Goldstone: Has been defending non-violent activists for more than 25 years
and was on the defense team for Cindy Sheehan’s first Washington, DC arrest
in 2005. Mark is the former head of the Demonstration Support Committee of DC
Chapter of National Lawyers Guild.
Kathleen Kirwin: Bas been a national and international criminal defense and
human rights lawyer for 25 years. Ms. Kirwin has spoken at the United Nations
on the issue of international peace-making and peace-building and she has
been an anti-war activist for the past 40 years.