Activists Face Six Months for Anti-War Posters
Activists Face Six Months in Prison for Putting Up Anti-War Poster
by David Swanson
Washington, D.C.-- Three activists who were arrested at a press conference near Lafayette Park appeared in Washington D.C. Superior Court yesterday where they were given a trial date of January 3, 2008, and face a six-month prison sentence.
Adam Kokesh of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Tina Richards of Grassroots America, and Ian Thompson of the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition where arrested during a press conference near Lafayette Park where the National Park Service deployed mounted police and a SWAT team to disrupt it. (See URL for video below.) The press conference was called to display the lawful way to apply posters in response to almost $40,000 in postering fines levied against the ANSWER Coalition.
The posters advertised the September 15 March on Washington and Die-In led by Iraq War Veterans that was attended by 100,000 people. Police arrested 200 people at the Die-In on the steps of the Capitol.
"The Constitution gives me the right to freedom of speech," said Tina Richards. "We lawfully applied the posters and we have the right to freedom of speech."
Adam Kokesh stated, "That the government has chosen to pursue these charges is indicative of at least the consent if not co-conspiracy of the Justice Department to the brutal actions taken by the police to silence war critics."
"This prosecution is not only a waste of time, but also of taxpayer dollars," said Ian Thompson. "It is part of the Bush administration's plan to criminalize dissent and curtail the constitutional rights of people who speak out against the illegal war on Iraq."
The video can be viewed at: http://youtube.com/watch?v=5EAfPgX7gs0
Adam Kokesh joined the Marine Corps at age 17 while still a high school student in New Mexico. He served in the reserves while attending Claremont McKenna College in California, then deployed voluntarily as a Sergeant on a Marine Corps Civil Affairs Team in the Fallujah area from February to September of 2004. He is currently attending the Graduate School of Political Management at GWU and is Co-Chair of the board of Iraq Veterans Against the War, an organization he joined this February.
"That the government has chosen to pursue these charges is indicative of at least the consent if not co-conspiracy of the Justice Department to the brutal actions taken by the police to silence war critics. It is clear that under the guidance of this administration, the entire executive has become subject to corruption and oblivious to concepts of democratic justice as enshrined in the Constitution. Given that even our Congress last week spent more time silencing war critics (with the non-binding censure of MoveOn.org) than giving us at least a new direction in Iraq, this should come as no surprise."
Tina Richards is the founder of Grassroots America, a civic-minded organization for Peace and Social Justice. She is the mother of a Marine and a member of Military Families Speak Out. Her son served two tours in Iraq. She left southern Missouri and went to DC in January to stop her son's third deployment as he suffered from PTSD and undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury, but has stayed to advocate on veteran's behalf with the priority of "No More Wounded Warriors".
"Their response to our press conference was to assault innocent bystanders with mounted police and SWAT units. Now we face six months in prison. When injustices like what has happened in Jena, LA are occurring, the Justice Department is wasting their time and our tax dollars to prosecute and possibly imprison three people that were acting within the law while they should be in Jena investigating the D.A. and judge down there."
Ian Thompson is an attorney and co-coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) in Los Angeles, California. Thompson has been a key organizer of numerous anti-war actions in L.A. since 2002. He served as the logistics coordinator of the "Die-In" led by Iraq war veterans at the September 15, 2007 March on Washington, D.C. Thompson is a graduate of Northwestern University and obtained his law degree from Pepperdine University School of Law. He practices union-side labor law and civil rights law.
"As an attorney and anti-war activist, I am outraged that the government arrested and charged me and my co-defendants with crimes when we were simply exercising our free speech rights under the First Amendment. I am being charged with 'assaulting a police officer' for merely picking up a bucket of wheat paste. This prosecution is not only a waste of time, but also of taxpayer dollars. It is part of the Bush administration's plan to criminalize dissent and curtail the constitutional rights of people who speak out against the illegal war on Iraq."