Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Iraq War Protestors On Trial

Iraq war protesters go on trial in upstate N.Y.
ITHACA, N.Y. : Four activists go on trial in federal court in Binghamton today on charges stemming from a protest on St. Patrick's Day 2003 in which they poured blood inside a military recruiting center.
It appears to be the first federal felony prosecution in the country related to protests against the Iraq war.
Penalties include up to eight years in prison and $360,000 in fines if the activists are convicted on four charges, the most serious of which is a felony charge of conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States. The activists -- Daniel Burns, Teresa Grady, Clare Grady and Peer De Mott of Ithaca, who have dubbed themselves the St. Patrick's Four -- are followers of the Catholic Worker Movement. They were tried in local court last year on less serious charges; that trial ended with a hung jury.
Now, federal prosecutors are pursuing the case.
It's likely the nation's first prosecution of civilians on conspiracy charges stemming from a protest against the Iraq war, according to Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who is advising the St. Patrick's Four."This is the first federal felony criminal conspiracy trial that has been brought against non-violent, anti-war protesters as far as we can tell," Quigley said. "This is the first one certainly in a decade and maybe in several decades. It may go back to Dr. Spock in the Vietnam War era."
Benjamin Spock, the pediatrician and author, was convicted in 1968 of conspiring to encourage draft resisters.He was sentenced to two years in prison but his conviction was later overturned.The four Ithacans will defend themselves. But various lawyers, including Quigley, who is the director of the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola, are helping them.


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