DRAFT PRESS STATEMENT: TASSC Arrests, White House sidewalk, Sat. June 27, 2009::
Today, five persons of conscience were arrested on the White House sidewalk, in connection with a 24-hour Vigil to End Torture, sponsored by the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC). The group gathered at Lafayette Park, bringing messages of solidarity from organizations and individuals - all calling for an immediate end to torture and support for survivors of torture.
Mid-way through the vigil, at about 1:00 p.m., several hundred vigil participants processed from Lafayette Park to the front of the White House, carrying their mesage of an immediate end to torture. Five persons remained on the White House sidewalk, in violation of federal regulations, and were arrested by US Park Police. The five are: Joy First, of Madison, Wisc.; Malachy Kilbride, Eve Tetaz, Harold Nelson, and David H. Barrows, all of Washington, DC.
Nelson and Barrows were released from police custody, after posting a fine of $100. Kilbride, First and Tetaz opted to seek a trial on the charges, and were held over in custody: they are expected to see a magistrate in DC Superior Court, on Monday, June 29, 2009.
Upon learning he would be held over the weekend in jail, Malachy Kilbride made the following statement: "When I got arrested, people knew where I was going and that I would be treated under the law. I did this for the "disappeared," who are treated outside the law."
The TASSC vigil continues until 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, June 28. It includes remarks by representatives of human rights groups - such as SOA Watch, Witness against Torture, the National Lawyers Guild, and religious groups - as well as statements by survivors of torture in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The 24-hour vigil raises awareness of practices of torture, particularly among the many visitors and tourists visiting the White House and Lafayette Square area.