Right to Dissent Inside Senate Office Building Upheld
WASHINGTON - JULY 13 - Seven peace activists were acquitted today by a jury of their peers in a criminal case stemming from an anti-war protest inside a Senate office building.
The group of activists from three different states and the District of Columbia were arrested on March 29, the same hour the U.S. Senate voted to spend $95 billion more on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were charged with unlawful conduct.
"Today was a victory for justice and the people of this nation," said Gordon Clark one of the seven defendants pro se, and the coordinator of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance.
The jury deliberated for four and a half hours Thursday before returning a unanimous not guilty verdict. The defense successfully argued their group was not any more disruptive than a comparable sized group of tourists, school groups or others.
The protest was organized by organizers of the National Campaign of Nonviolent resistance and a couple local peace activists.
"It wasn't just us who won today," said Eve Tetaz, 75, a retired D.C. public school teacher. "A jury of our peers decided that we had a right to dissent and to petition our government for a redress of grievances."
Tetaz faces several other charges for nonviolently protesting the war including contempt of court since she has violated two stay away orders from the Capitol area.
"I will not remain silent as long as people are being killed in this illegal and immoral war," she said.
The other defendants pro se in this trial were David Barrows, Gordon Clark, Joy First, Ellen Barfield, Samuel Crook and Malachy Kilbride. The seven had faced a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison and a $500 fine.