Many of you at home follow our acts of protest and civil disobedience on Capitol Hill and the streets of Washington, D.C. What follows is my report from the consequences of the action I took last October 24th as I faced judgement in the court of Judge Richard H. Ringell recently.
After initially being charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer and one count of "disorderly conduct" for calling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a "War criminal!" and telling her "The blood of millions of Iraqis is on your hands…"
I was found guilty this past Friday by Judge Richard H. Ringell of only one disorderly conduct charge. (Note that the "government" dropped the assault charges because, according to prosecutor Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, the "victim", Condoleezza Rice would have had to appear in court to testify.)
After the judge presented his reasons for the guilty verdict, I was given the opportunity to make a pre-sentencing statement, which I am including below:
Your honor, the decision to invade Iraq was illegal, and catastrophic, wreaking havoc on our domestic security and world stability. As citizens of the United States of America, I believe we must stand up and speak out against these crimes.
I have phoned, emailed, and written my congressional leaders. I have visited my senators' and congressman's offices at home in Texas and here in Washington, D.C. I have signed and delivered petitions. I have marched, camped out and participated in vigils and nonviolent demonstrations. I have fasted and mourned the loss of life, both American and Iraqi.
Nevertheless your honor, I intended no harm nor did I intend to disrupt the hearing proceedings on October 24th. My intentions were to embody and to reiterate the strong dissent in our country – that Americans continue to speak out for what is morally right and to denounce our government when it does wrong. I believe that anything less is consent to war crimes.
After reading my statement, Judge Ringell made mention of the civil disobedience acts of Thoreau, Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King, as models of resistance. He went on to say that they all understood that they would eventually spend time in jail for their acts. He told me," Some day you'll have to accept the consequences of your acts, but not in this forum [my court]." He could have given me 180 days in jail and up to $1000 fine per the charge and the request of the prosecution, but instead he sentenced me to 5 days suspended sentence, 3 months of unsupervised probation, and $50 for a mandatory victim's fund.
Although I was mentally prepared for the jail time, I was elated to know that I would continue working with my sisters and brothers-in-peace in the streets or on the Hill this summer as we struggle to end the violence in Iraq.
Thank you, Liz, Les & Jes, Gael, Polly, Ellen, Pete Perry, David Barrows and Jack Barringer, for being present at my sentencing and to cheer me on. Special appreciation to my court appointed attorney, Mark Loudon-Brown whose closing statement was so inspiring. Mark tried valiantly to get me acquitted of all charges and presented a clear argument in my favor that my action was political, was intense, but did not breach the peace by actually or potentially incite anyone to violence. Though the Judge did not accept his arguments I feel Lady Justice did prevail!
Thank you to all who called , texted and emailed their support!
Love & Peace,