Charges of “Disorderly Conduct-Blocking Passage” Not Presented in Timely Fashion by Prosecution
WASHINGTON – July 12 – The pro se trial scheduled to begin today for 19 peace activists – including members of Veterans for Peace and one World War II veteran – stemmed from arrests made on March 19, 2011, on the sidewalk near the White House, and has been postponed after the two sides disagreed on the version of the law that should be used in the trial.
DC Superior Court Judge Russell F. Canan continued the trial until 9:30 am, Monday, August 29, 2011 – only after defense attorneys Ann Wilcox and Deborah C. Anderson raised concerns that Assistant Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Tamara Barnett, brought forth new charges just days before the start of the trial date. The judge was concerned that the defendants had not been properly arraigned and notified of these charges.
Judge Canan chastised defense for not checking the filing of the charges even though prosecution did not attempt to deliver these charges until the weekend before today’s trial. Wilcox and Anderson are concerned that the new law will make it easier to convict the defendants, and asked for additional time to investigate which law should be used and to prepare their clients for a pro se trial.
Prosecutors strongly urged Stay Away orders from the White House for all defendants, but Judge Canan did not grant their request.
On March 19, 2011, 113 activists were arrested while demonstrating, and petitioning our government, to end the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to free whistleblower Bradley Manning. The protestors were challenging the U.S. government’s effort to quash their right to “petition for redress” by arresting them while peacefully assembled at the White House fence. Demonstrators included whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, philosopher Chris Hedges, and health care activist Dr. Margaret Flowers, members of Veterans for Peace, and other long-time peace activists.
Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded in 1985. It is structured around a national office in Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the country organized in chapters or as at-large members. The organization includes men and women veterans of all eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.