Sunday, January 29, 2006

Using their own blood in a peaceful protest...

Conspiracy for Spilling Their Own Blood at a Recruiting Center?
(I urge you to read this to the end... it is quite beautiful)

On St. Patrick’s Day 2003, two days before the US military invasion of Iraq began, four peace activists, all parents and members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker movement, in an act of non-violent civil disobedience, entered their local military recruiting station, knelt, said a prayer for peace and then carefully poured their own blood on recruiting center posters, walls and flag to symbolize the violence of war and the sanctity of life. Peter DeMott, Danny Burns, Clare and Teresa Grady (sisters) have been on trial in Federal Court in Binghamton NY, facing charges of "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States by threat, intimidation and force" and other lesser charges for their actions. They face up to 6 years in federal prison and several fines if convicted. A previous trial in State court on charges of criminal mischief and trespassing resulted in a hung jury, with nine of twelve jurors favoring acquittal. This case is the first Federal conspiracy trial of anti-war protesters since the Vietnam War, and represents a chilling effort by the Administration to repress non-violent civil dissent in this country.

Peter De Mott, Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005
We, all four of us, want to thank you jurors who are the conscience of the community. We trust you to use your heads and also your hearts. We also trust you to read between the lines.
Before we began our testimonies we raised our hands and swore to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." You all know that again and again we have told you in PART of our concerns about our government's actions and behaviors that have moved us to in turn take the lawful actions which we did in December of 2002 and in March of 2003.
The United States went to war influenced by the lies, forgeries and deceptions put forth by the Bush Administration to justify the war. You, the jury, are now being asked by the prosecutor to render a verdict in this case based on half-truths and falsehoods. You also know that our explanations were often interrupted, and I am sorry that we have not been able to tell you the whole truth that prompted us to act as we did. I wish we could have explained more to you about our understanding regarding the constitution and international law and how those beliefs informed, shaped and guided us in the actions that we took.
The prosecution wants to portray us as people who have no regard for law. Meanwhile roughly two thousand of our military personnel have been killed and over a hundred thousand Iraqis. The national treasury has been robbed of billions of our dollars to wage this war, while the infrastructure of our cities continues to erode as we saw so devastatingly in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
I would submit to you that the prosecutor, Mr. Lovric, has failed to prove us guilty. He has failed to show that we used "force, intimidation or threat to impede an officer of the United States in the performance of his duties" or in any other way. We certainly had a specific intent when we went to the recruiting station but it was not, most emphatically not, the government's version.
Our intent in protesting was to warn young recruits, the recruiters themselves and the broader community that the war about to ensue would claim the lives of tens of thousands. We knew that the war could not be waged without a wholesale waste of blood, of human life, of valuable resources. We knew that the war would contaminate the environment with fallout from depleted uranium munitions and would poison our own troops even as it annihilated the Iraqis. We knew that the war on Iraq, just like all modern wars, would murder mothers and their children, the elderly and other noncombatants in the greatest numbers.
Sadly, and you know this, the warning we, and millions of others around the world tried to give did not prevent the war. But the predictions that frightened us, that were described by all codefendants, have come to pass. You do not have to believe what we believe in order to find that the government has not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The government claims that we conspired in one way or another to damage government property and officials. But there is certainly reasonable doubt about whether what the government says we did, was, in fact, WHAT we did.
Protesting rather than conspiring. Causing a mess rather than damaging property. Being friendly, as Sergeant Rachon Montgomery testified to and non-threatening rather than intimidating. These are all reasonable, sensible conclusions compelled by the evidence and consistent with our legal innocence.
In sum and substance, this trial is about the government's attempt to stop peaceful protest against the war on Iraq, to silence dissent and our voices on this issue.
Thank You!
Danny Burns, Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005
Members of the jury,
We have come before you in the last few days and tried to share with you about ourselves and our reasons for going to the recruiting center and pouring our own blood.
There is a lot we wanted to tell you, but we weren’t allowed to.
We are peaceful, nonviolent people who went to the recruiting center because we did not want to see our troops blood spilled for a war that was wrong and based on lies.
As I shared earlier in the trial, one of the things that has brought me here is my recovery from alcohol addiction. I am hopeful that just as I have been able, with the help of community, family and higher power, to recover from addiction, that together we can all help our country recover from addiction to war and violence.
I don’t know you, but I imagine that each of you is working, in the ways that are right for you, for what is right in your communities and in our world. I believe that there are many ways to work for a better world. As you go into deliberations, I am asking you to trust that going to the recruiting center to plead for the lives of our young troops was the right way for me to work for justice in our country.
We admit that the four of us met together and planned to go the recruiting center and pour our own blood. We don’t deny that there was a mess, that some posters had to be replaced. We don’t deny that Sgt. Montgomery was inconvenienced.
We submit that causing a mess and inconvenience to try to prevent a war that is wrong and has taken the lives of one thousand eight hundred and ninety five US service people and one hundred thousand Iraqi people, is justified.
We live in a great nation. There are many people in our history we can be very proud of: like local juries who refused to convict people for aiding escaping slaves, like Susan B Anthony who was arrested in Rochester for voting when women were not allowed to vote, working people who risked their lives so that we could have weekends and a forty hour work week. Ours is a country with a government "for the people, of the people, by the people". That is a great gift to us, but it is also a great responsibility that you and I and all citizens have.
For our troops who have been killed in Iraq
For our country’s future
For our young children who we hope and pray will never be called to fight in an illegal, unjust and unnecessary war such as this one
I ask you to use your conscience, your heart, and the law to return a verdict of not guilty on all four counts.
Teresa Grady, Closing Statement, Friday, September 23, 2005:
Men and Women of the jury,
We don’t feel that the Prosecution has proven the violent overtone to our actions.
The charges do not embody our philosophy – which has a long history in the country and in the world – of nonviolence.
Our government, on the other hand, has a long history of violence and of suppressing non-violent dissent.
You have a very difficult task in front of you today.
And I am full of hope.
I was reminded this morning of Peter’s gentleness – Whenever our family gets together – and you can see how we can talk - and its always Peter who brings us back to center, back to the gospel and our focus – to love one another. And that love is in every one of our hearts, and that is what gives me hope.
Our nation has been censoring news and information about the war – they haven’t allowed us to see pictures of the injured or of the damage the war has caused or even the flag draped coffins of the beautiful soldiers who have lost their lives.
This same government has been censoring the information we’ve been able to discuss with you in this courtroom. They have limited the information we can tell you on our understanding of international law that is the justification for our actions. In this courtroom, they have censored the images and information about this war. They have censored images of the victims. They have even censored information on Law!
What kind of a government are we living under?
Our government spends 200 billion dollars on a war based on lies while claiming the lives of the innocent.
You tell me – what recourse do we have to stop it, to stop this perversity before another life is claimed or another penny spent!
We know the economic cost of war while our cities, towns, and nations crumble. People are over-worked in order to pay their taxes; the war tax. Our children and their children are bound to pay back the debt of this war.
New Orleans is our taste of what it must be like in Baghdad.
We are hopeful because in spite of this great evil that seems to cover or shadow us, I believe in the spirit of goodness in all human beings.
When truth is spoken, goodness resonates in the human heart.
We have not been allowed to speak the truth, the whole truth, but our spirits are buoyed in that this censorship is an example of the fear our government has to hide the truth, and how they are desperately clinging to keep a footing. But the fact that they are censoring the truth of the face of the victims of war, including our beautiful young service people; that they are censoring international law, suggests to me that they too believe in goodness resonating in the in the human heart.
This admonition or confession gives me great hope that we’re not off the mark, but rather we must be more steadfast in speaking truth so as to compel the goodness in others.
Miraslov [the prosecutor] would like you to believe that we are alone, or part of a small cult. If this were true, then why has he objected to the use of international law? Our government is censoring the people. Why were we allowed to show you the pictures of the bloodied cutouts of soldiers from the recruiting center, but not the pictures of the Iraqi children buried in the rubble of their own home? Both of which were there the day of the alleged offense. What are they afraid of?
I would like to preface that while I speak about the prosecution, and the representative here is Miraslav, know that his office represents a government that has repeatedly lied to its people, stolen money from our children, grandchildren, from the generations to come, in order to brutally maim, torture and kill our brothers and sisters in another land for their oil. Know that deceit is the name of the game.
We have overdrawn on our national budget. Any farmer could tell you that this is bad planning.
While they threatened us with contempt, we are joyous, because we know we have spoken the truth. They cannot dismantle our integrity.
Miraslov would like you to think that we are arrogant and that we somehow feel that we are above the law. Our first law that we abide by is: To love one another, as He loved us!!
Thou shalt not kill. And then the laws which may not be named that give us our legal ground, justifications, have been stripped from us once again to censor, for they don’t want you, the conscience of our community to resonate with the truth in order for goodness to take place.
I invite you to be the conscience of our community.
To read more about this protest and the four's protests at Guantanamo Bay please visit:

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