Skip to main content

First Amendment on Trial: Our Democracy Spring

Contact: For Immediate Release
Pete Perry, 202-704-3963 July 12, 2016


Democracy Spring Activists Conclude Their First Amendment
Trial, Await Judgement


Washington, DC -- Four activists who took part in Democracy Spring’s week of peaceful protests at the Capitol Building calling for corporate money to be removed from the American political process are waiting a decision in their trial before D.C. Magistrate Judge Diane Lepley.

On Monday, the government prosecutor and the defendants concluded their closing arguments. Lepley scheduled the decision in the case for 9:00 a.m. Friday, July 15, in D.C. Superior Court, Room 116. Defendants Peter Perry of Philadelphia, Manijeh Saba of New Jersey, and Helen Schietinger of Washington, D.C. are defending themselves in court. Defendant Alexander Park of Virginia is being represented by Attorney Mark Goldstone.

The four activists participated in Democracy Spring’s week-long protests on Capitol Hill, resulting in more than 1,400 arrests. This included the largest single protest arrest on the Capitol grounds since the Vietnam War.

“We came to the Capitol Grounds to peacefully petition our government to ban vast amounts of unaccountable corporate dark money flooding our political process,” said pro-se defendant Perry in the defense’s closing argument. “Our intention was never to block or impede anyone, or incommode any entranceway, and we did not. Our intention, as we all testified, was to exercise our First Amendment rights.”

The defendants are being charged with Crowding, Blocking and Incommoding on the Capitol Grounds and Failure to Obey a Lawful Order.

“Too much power is being handed over to the police, we must defend our rights. These rights are enshrined in the Constitution, which I took an oath to protect and uphold when I was granted citizenship 40 years ago,” said pro-se defendant Saba. “I already lived through two dictatorships in Iran, and would not wish that on anyone else. I am committed to defending and protecting our democracy.”

In her opening statement, Schietinger asserted that "the rule prohibiting protests in this traditional public space is an unreasonable and arbitrary violation of our Constitutional right of free speech.” She compared the Democracy Spring sit-ins at the steps of the U.S. Capitol — the People’s House — to the June sit-in by members of Congress in the House of Representatives demanding a vote on gun control. "They actually stopped the business of Congress. They were not arrested. They should not have been arrested. But neither should we.”

Democracy Spring is an organization formed this year from a coalition of citizen groups deeply concerned about the influence of big money in American politics, and committed to making voting more accessible for all citizens. It plans to participate in the protests during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, July 25-29.

Democracy Spring’s current campaign is the Equal Voice for All Declaration, which calls on current members of Congress and candidates for public office at any level of government — from President to City Council — to commit to fight for reform to save our democracy and ensure political equality. The Declaration is a tool to establish public commitments from elected officials or candidates that can be used to demonstrate the breadth of support for reform, educate voters about what candidates to support, and hold candidates-elect accountable to honor their commitment by fighting to pass reform.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Steve Mihalis, a great friend and man of peace

May we all take up the cause as Steve did, and perhaps more importantly in the *manner* that he did.

I spoke with Steve by phone a week before he passed. He was in a whole lot of pain and the drugs were not helping. I forced back tears, as I was talking with him. The conversation was too brief, as was the time I knew this great guy. As I ended the conversation, I said "Steve, you know what? There's a whole lot of us in D.C. who love you." He just responded that he loved all of us, as well.

I had been arrested with Steve a handful of times, as we resisted the empire's wars and its unjust detaining and mistreatment fellow human beings. He always arrived in DC with a smile and open arms for a hug and a kind word, or two, or three.

Steve never had an unkind word for anyone. He became very involved with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance over the last four years, and that's how I got to know him better.He always provided this wonderful source of positive ene…

A Proposal for We The People to Institute Positive Change

Hello sisters and brothers, subjects of the United States Empire, it has become clear the elected representatives on Capitol Hill no longer truly represent us and our best interests, but rather are serving their elite major campaign contributors. They serve the interests of the extreme rich and large corporations, certainly not the average American worker, student, or retired individual.

In order to improve our government, we, a collective of dedicated social justice activists, propose three demands to those who have power to legislate within the Federal Government. We list those demands here, and will then discuss how to make sure they pass into the law of the land:

1) Universal single payer health care, something that nearly all other developed nations of the world already possess for their citizens. We, as human beings, have a right to good health and to never be financially crippled in this pursuit of our own well-being. We demand that Congress pass House Resolution 676 and a Sen…

Civil resistance intensifies to evil policies so far this year

In honor of Independence Day, I was originally going to write a piece talking about the loss of our republic to the military-corporate empire we live in now, but I thought I would just save myself the additional frustration and post Max from Baltimore's report on civil resistance actions and trials thus far this year! Thanks Max...

Thanks to all of you who were able to risk arrest or to support such protests against the Iraq War. Let us continue to take the risks of peace. This list of appeals, arrests and legal cases is not all-inclusive. Please send additions, corrections and updates to mobuszewski at verizon.net. Included are arrests and pending cases in 2008.

JULY

20—[WDC] The government was to file a brief in response to the one filed on Dec. 29, 2007 by Mark Goldstone on behalf of Beth Adams, Ellen Barfield, Michelle Grise, Sherrill Hogen, Kathryn McClanen, Joan Nicholson, Max Obuszewski & Eve Tetaz with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. They are appealing co…