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Jail Averted for 12
4 Activists Await Sentencing
by John Riley
(May 12, 2004, Manhattan, NY) Today Judge Stolz sentenced 12 of 16 activists arrested while blocking traffic on 5 th Avenue on March 26 th 2003 just days after an Israeli soldier ran over International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie in the West Bank, to community service and fines. The 16 were convicted of 1 count of misdemeanor Obstruction of Governmental Administration and 2 counts of disorderly conduct. The District Attorney's office had recommended jail time for 8 of the 16 defendants.
The activists who call themselves "M26" or Diamond District 16 (for the location where their protest took place and the number of defendants) were also protesting the continuing occupation of Palestine and the then recent occupation of Iraq.
Two activists received 10 days community service and $500 fines. Ten protestors received 7 days community service and court costs.
"I believe that the main reason we did not get jail time is because of our community of supporters--the people who wrote letters for us, the people who came to court--and also the amount of media this case was generating," said Eric Monse, convicted co-defendant. "I believe the judge did not want to kick up any more dust about this case and give us further platform to speak if he gave us jail time. We are grateful to all the people who came through for us both politically and personally and came together to provide support at this trying time."
Four Defendants Remain to Be Sentenced:
The 4 remaining defendants, Kate Barnhart, Eustacia Smith, Steve Quester and Lysander Puccio, all present or former members of the AIDS activist group ACT UP/NY, await sentencing while a New York Supreme Court judge rules on the legality of the District Attorney's office use of sealed records in a sentencing brief. Much of the brief detailed dismissed arrests relating to previous AIDS and queer activism they were involved in.
The District Attorney's office focused on Steve Quester's arrest at a protest at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta while demanding expansion of the definition of AIDS to include diseases that women and people of color were getting. (The CDC later expanded the definition). Other arrests included the Stop the Church Protest in 1989 protesting the Catholic Church's opposition to safer sex education for students in public schools and the church's homophobia; the 1995 Stop the Pope action where activists unfurled a 6 story banner saying "Condoms Save Lives" directly across from St. Patrick's Cathedral; the 1997.The letter also detailed the arrest of Kate Barnhart and Stacy Smith at the "Crash the Market" action where 7 dozen people were arrested protesting the outrageous price of the then new protease inhibitor drugs outside of the New York Stock Exchange, and the 2001 Glaxo office takeover in protest of the giant pharmaceutical company's attempt to stop the production of life extending AIDS generic drugs in South Africa. The 4 are scheduled for sentence on May 26 and are believed to be at the most risk of jail time because much of the District Attorney's office letter to the judge dealt with their cases and the alleged need for a harsh sentences for these defendants. The community is invited to come to court to support these defendants.
ANOTHER CHANCE TO SUPPORT THE DD16
on the eve of sentencing
Come see Gladshot (from the Knitting Factory Benefit)
This event will raise more $$$ for the DD16!!
Gladshot at Sin-e
Tues May 11th at 8 pm
This is a benefit show for the 16 non-violent activists who were arrested during a protest on March 26, 2003. They were protesting Rachel Corrie's death, violations of Palestinian human rights, and the war on Iraq. They were recently convicted and now face jail time at their May12th sentencing. This is an important case for the activist community, and the defendants need our support.
Sin-e is at 128 Attorney St on the lower east side -
take F train to 2nd Ave, walk east on Houston St appx 4 blocks, go right onto Attorney St
$7 at the doorCome have a drink, sit back and listen to some tunes.
War Protestor Sentencing on May 12th
|Our friends Kate, Staci, Steve, and 13 others have been convicted of protesting the start of the Iraq war, the occupation of Palestine, and the killing of Rachel Corrie. They have been threatened with extended jail time and probation, never before sentenced in New York City for non-violent civil disobedience.
The threatened extreme sentencing, although horrific enough for the Diamond District 16 (as the 16 people are known), is also thought to be a warning against our speaking out against Bush and violence in the Middle East when the Republicans arrive in New York at the end of summer.
With your Constitutional rights in mind and our friends in your heart, please encourage others to join you --
Wednesday, May 12, at 9:00 a.m.
We can make a difference by standing together for justice.
Fabulous Activist Fundraiser
There are three cases of nonviolent direct action activists facing much more stringent penalties than we have been used to receiving. It's very important to support these defendants as the precedents set now may affect protestors that will be arrested at the Republican National Convention or future events.
One case involves New York anti-war activists blocking 5th Avenue to protest the occupation in Iraq and Palestine and the murder of Rachel Corrie, an International Solidarity Activist killed by an Israeli Defence Force soldier when he ran her over while he was in the process of demolishing a Palestinians home. All 16 activists were convicted of misdemeanor level Obstruction of Governmental Administration. The District Attorney may set a terrible precedent, if the judge fulfills the DA's demand for jail time. The DA used sealed records of dismissed cases to make the argument to the judge for harsh sentences. These defendants may be sentenced May 12th and are having a fundraising party this Sunday afternoon. Details about the case and party are below. See www.m26.org for details of the case and the time to show up in court.
A second case is the arrest of Homeland Resistance protestors who were doing a very traditional sit-in style civil disobedience(CD) outside of Manhattan Federal Building a year ago May 5, 6 and 7th. The Homeland Resistance action opposed the war abroad and at home and pointed out the disproportionately negative impact of the war on people of color. Some of the ways it manifests is the cost of war is paid for in part by cuts to AIDS funding domestically and abroad , this comes at a time when more people than ever are living with the virus. The CD was a multiracial action led by people of color. Most defendants were offered a plea bargain, but several long-time white AIDS activists were not, if convicted of Obstruction of Governmental Administration they too may face up to a year in jail. The first trial of 3 of the remaining 5 defendants may begin this Monday May 3rd. We need people in court during the trial. We may also ask you to write letters in support of these courageous defendants.To get more information send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The third case involves radical people of color who were arrested at a fundraising party last summer for no good reason.
Many of us in the nonviolent direct action activist community see these cases as being critical. Please join us in court, a large respectful turn out can have a very positive affect on juries and judges.
Another world is possible and is being born out of our actions. Help us support the resistors.
WHAT: Benefit concert
WHO: Queer and feminist activist Jennie Jeddry's band "The Syndicate",
WHERE: Knitting Factory, 74 Leonard Street, NYC (Directions at
WHEN: Sunday, May 2nd, 2pm
HOW MUCH: $15
WHY? This is a benefit show for the 16 non-violent activists who were
You can also help by donating funds now:
For immediate release
Date: April 19, 2004
Contact: Jack Cohen (917) 596-2476
CITING DA‚S POSSIBLE FAILURE TO TURN OVER EVIDENCE, ACTIVISTS MOVE TO SET ASIDE VERDICT
Sixteen political protesters still face jail for criminal conviction on non-violent civil disobedience.
New York ˆ In a closely watched case which will set precedent for New York City‚s treatment of protesters at the Republican National Convention, 16 non-violent demonstrators postponed their sentencing today with a motion to set aside their guilty verdict.
The sixteen, who were to be sentenced this morning in Manhattan Criminal Court, face possible jail time on the recommendation of the District Attorney‚s office.
Sentencing was delayed until May 12th in Manhattan Criminal Court, pending review of new exculpatory evidence, and evaluation of the defendants‚ claim that the District Attorney improperly relied on dismissed or unsubstantiated charges in his recommendation of jail time.
Defendants are seeking to learn the reason that the NY State Supreme Court granted the DA‚s request to unseal some defendants‚ sealed records. The DA made his sentencing recommendation based on the existence of the sealed cases, most of which were dismissed, and almost none of which involved criminal charges. In spite of ethical questions raised about the recommendation, the DA made no adjustment to his request today.
„The DA‚s use of secret hearings, and the dredging up of dismissed cases as bases to impose a jail sentence, are designed to deter activists from demonstrating at the Republican National Convention this summer. The overcharging and criminalization of non-violent protest is an unlawful attempt to deter future protest. It tells RNC protesters: ŒWelcome to NY, now leave with a criminal record‚‰ said civil liberties attorney Ron Kuby.
The defendants also stated that the DA failed to turn over video evidence to the defense. They asserted additionally that the DA failed to notify defendants or even explain his petition to NYS Supreme Court to open the sealed records.
„We live in a nation that at this moment is sending young men and women to fight and die, saying we‚re protect basic freedoms around the world. But here in this country, the minute you exercise this freedom, you‚re arrested, convicted and possibly sent to jail,‰ said Councilmember Annabel Palma of the Bronx.
Jail time is still on the table for the activists when they return to court on May 12th.
Information and previous statements on the case are available at <http://www.m26.org/>www.m26.org
Rachael Corrie Protestors to Be Sentenced
Activists convicted of blocking 5th Avenue March 26th 2003 in protest of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Iraq will be sentenced April 19th. The activist group, which is largely gay, lesbian and bisexual as well as Jewish and Palestinian, is asking supporters to fill the courtroom on Monday April 19th at 9:30am at 100 Center Street on the 5th floor. Go to www.m26.org for more details. Click HERE to listen to a report about the action.
Long-time AIDS activists Steve Quester, Kate Barnhart, Staci Smith, and 13 others protested Rachel Corrie's death (the peace activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Palestine) and the U.S. occupation of Iraq by blocking traffic at 47th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan a year ago.
They have been convicted of disorderly conduct and obstructing government administration (a Class A misdemeanor). Now the DA has asked for them to be sentenced to jail time plus years of probation, a punishment far beyond the norm for this type of "crime."
Besides being a major horror for the defendants, it would set a dangerous precedent for anyone who protests in New York City. We are being warned not to speak up when the Republicans come to town nor about the current death and violence in the Middle East.
1. Please show up for sentencing on Monday, April 19, at 9:00 a.m. (to get through the metal detectors in time), Manhattan Criminal Court, 100 Centre Street, Jury Part 5, fourth floor. (Do not bring sharps, cameras, food, etc.) We need to PACK the courtroom so that the judge knows the world is watching!
2. Distribute this message widely.
For more information, please call me. Elizabeth Meixell, 212-995-8963 (no e-mail on the weekends)
Manhattan Criminal Court, Jury Part 5, 4th floor
Subways (check the schedule)