Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Trial of Declaration of Peace Activists


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 13, 2007
CONTACT: Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund (301) 565-4050, ext. 307 (office), (301) 537-8244 (mobile)

Iraq War to be put on trial in Washington, DC along with
Non-violent Peace Activists on Valentine’s Day

WHO: Over 50 religious and secular peace activists arrested on Capitol Hill last September for acts of non-violent civil resistance to the war in Iraq

WHAT: Trial on charges of Unlawful Assembly and Crossing a Police Line

WHERE: District of Columbia Superior Court, 500 Indiana Ave., NW, Washington, DC

WHEN: Valentine’s Day – Wednesday, February 14, 9:00 a.m.

BACKGROUND: On September 26 and 27, 2006, hundreds of non-violent protesters converged on Capitol Hill to bear witness to their opposition to the US occupation of Iraq. The protests were organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance as part of a nationally coordinated campaign called the Declaration of Peace, in which thousands of people around the country participated in dozens of non-violent actions against the war. The defendants in Wednesday’s trial are being tried by the government on charges of unlawful assembly in the Hart Senate Office Building and crossing a police line in several other actions on Capitol Hill over the two days of actions targeting Congress, and face possible jail time and fines if convicted.

It is significant that the government had chosen a mass trial of so many defendants, with at least two different legal charges and at least four different arrest scenarios, though just yesterday, a prosecutor disclosed that the plan is to try each defendant individually. The pro se defendants will move for dismissal of the government’s charges.

While coincidental, the timing of the trial is also noteworthy, in that the new Congress is debating legislation on Iraq this week, and activists around the country are conducting and planning sit-ins in congressional offices to demand that Congress stop funding the war and occupation of Iraq. This new initiative, dubbed the Occupation Project, kicked off last week with a sit-in at Sen. John McCain’s Capitol Hill office and in congressional offices around the country. Maryland activists plan a sit-in at Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office (503 Hart Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave. and 2nd St., NE) this Thursday, February 15 at 10:30 am.

For more information, including a photo gallery of the actions in DC where the arrests occurred last September, please see http://declarationofpeace.org/, and also http://iraqpledge.org/

For more information on the Occupation Project, including photos and video footage of sit-ins at congressional offices, please see http://vcnv.org/

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