David Swanson: 'Free Speech' Navy Veteran Jailed
U.S. Military Veteran Jailed for Exercising Free Speech
Mike Ferner was found guilty today in District of Columbia Superior Court. He has just been sentenced.
Ferner was originally sentenced to 5 days incarceration suspended and 6 months unsupervised probation including a $100 fine and $50 to the victims compensation fund.
He told the judge that he would not pay the fine and that his highest civic duty was to protest as the Germans should have done against Hitler. "Today we must speak out against the crimes of our government," Ferner said, according to Joy First who was in court in solidarity with Ferner.
Ferner has been taken away by US Marshals to jail.
The judge vacated the
sentence and gave him a new sentence of one night in DC
jail, First said.
Ferner is a national officer of Veterans For Peace.
Ferner, who served as a Navy Hospital
Corpsman during the Viet Nam war, was arrested September 20,
in the the visitors' gallery of the U.S. House of
Representatives when he and another activist stood up and
loudly addressed the members of Congress, saying: "Funding
the War is Killing Our Troops!"
Ferner was arrested by Capitol Police and charged with disorderly disturbing Congress, a charge that carries a maximum 6 months jail sentence.
"The government says I was disturbing Congress, but that is not the case," said Ferner, a freelance writer from Toledo, Ohio. "I stood up in the House Gallery to sound an alarm, and you don't knock quietly on the door when your neighbor's house is on fire. You pound and raise your voice as if lives depend on it--and that is exactly what's happening in Iraq. Thousands of lives are being lost, the war is causing untold suffering, and Congress keeps throwing gasoline on the flames."
"We have politely petitioned, called and written Congress to demonstrate we want this war ended, and they keep voting more billions for the war. Clearly we need to ring an alarm to get the point across to these people so far removed from the consequences of their votes," Ferner concluded.
David Swanson is an organizer of the www.AfterDowningStreet.org coalition.