Friday, September 23, 2005

Binghamton Indymedia covering the St. Patrick Four

Binghamton IMC is the place to go for continuous coverage of the St. Patrick Four.

Tarik Abdelazim and others at Binghamton Indymedia have covered this story from the start and they deserve huge praise for not letting it go and continuing to spotlight it. Not just this week, but constantly.

Here are excerpt from some of the articles at Binghamton IMC.

Abdelazim's "Judge Censors Testimony, Charges St. Patrick's Four Members with Contempt:"

The federal government flexed it's muscles on this first day of testimony by peace activists, charging two defendants with contempt of court, and interpreting the charges in the indictment to make it easier for the prosecution to attain a conviction.Senior U.S. District Judge Hon. Thomas J. McAvoy charged Peter DeMott and Teresa Grady with contempt of court for testifying about the fact that there was a previous trial.
McAvoy previously informed the defendants they were forbidden from testifying on a laundry list of topics including: the illegality of the Iraq war, international law and its relevance to their actions, the mandates in the Geneva Convention, the Doctrine of Necessity, facts or statistics about the Iraq war, descriptions of the damages or deaths caused by war, descriptions of what defendants had seen when they traveled to Iraq, and more. They were also prohibited from testifying about their previous State court trial, which ended in a mistrial, with nine of twelve jurors favoring acquittal.Following a round of questioning by U.S. Assistant Attorney Miroslav Lovric that one observer called "McCarthy-like," DeMott was charged with an additional count of contempt when he refused to name possible other co-conspirators.Finally, on a technical matter of tremendous significance concerning a difference in wording in the Grand Jury indictment, versus the wording in the code of law on which the indictment is based, McAvoy ruled in a way that makes it much easier for the government to obtain a conviction.

Lucia Dialey's "Civil Resistance and Federal Intimidation: Day 1 of the SP4 Trial:"

Mary Anne Grady the sister of two of the St. Patrick's Four defendants on trial this week in Binghamton, NY asked me to write some impressions of events surrounding the trial of her sisters Clare and Teresa Grady and two others charged with conspiracy by the federal government.
On March 17, 2003 Teresa Grady, Clare Grady, Daniel Burns and Peter De Mott performed a non-violent act of protest against the impending invasion of Iraq. They poured a small amount of their own blood in the vestibule of an army recruiting center, read a statement, then knelt and prayed and no way obstructed access to the office its exits or its officials. Arrested bylocal authorities, charged with felony "criminal mischief," they eloquently defended themselves in court and explained they believed their actions were justified in light of the US Constitution, international law, and moral imperatives while expressing their shared revulsion and outrage at the killing of innocents by the US in an illegal, unjust, unprovoked war against Iraq. The trial in Tompkins County, NY resulted in a hung jury, nine of the twelve jurors voted for acquittal and the District Attorney chose not to retry the case.This second trial, demanded by federal officials, was not completely unexpected by the defendants and their families. Marie De Mott Grady said her family was not entirely surprised when four FBI agents came to her parents' home to serve papers with new charges, the most serious being "conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States." After the first trial they didn't think "the matter was going to be dropped." Although not entirely unexpected, she said it still came "like a stroke out of the blue." The new charges carry extremely harsh penalties of up to six years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines for each defendant. Several lesser charges were filed also against the Four. The trial venue was moved from Ithaca to Binghamton, NY where Judge Thomas McAvoy has forbidden mention of the Iraq war in the proceedings thus scuttling the defense the Four used with success in their first trial and preventing them from explaining why they protested as they had on March 17, 2003. "This court offers no opinionon the war in Iraq as it is entirely irrelevant to the matter," the judge said.When I turned a corner and found the treeless, shadeless, federal courthouse on an unseasonably hot afternoon, I first saw a crowd of about one hundred standing in the street surrounded by a police presence including county sheriffs in black cowboy hats, state and local policemen, federal marshals. Three plainclothes men stationed on a parking garage roof stood across the street intently watching us, a few local news stations were there and an array of colorful banners and signs.The street was blocked with wooden sawhorse barricades painted day-glow orange with DPW printed on them. An additional set of orange barricades bisected the block. As I walked behind the barricades looking for a way in I came upon a small group of about 8-10 men standing to the side of the main group. They were older men all wearing veteran's hats. One of them was bent over wiping off his shiny black shoe. He looked up and smiled at me as I passed. A man in black with a clergyman's collar was with the veterans. He said he was a Presbyterian minister when I asked his affiliation. I asked why the barricades were there and why the street was divided into two spheres. His answer: "to keep the two groups apart." Nodding toward the supporters of the Four he said, "they are morale busting."

Christina Zawerucha's "Voices of Justice:"

As Judge McAvoy silences and holds the St Patrick's Four defendents in contempt of court for discussing the legality of the Iraq war, Center for Constitutional Rights Lawyer Gita Gutierrez, Columbia University International Law Professor Scott Horton, and constitutional lawyer Jon Bonifaz spoke openly, informatively, and passionately about the illegality and immorality of the Iraq War in the realm of domestic law, and the legal obligations the defendants had met by committing civil disobedience against the illegal acts of the Bush administration.
Peter Orville, legal advisor to the four, who are representing themselves, shared an update on the trial with the audience as well as a history of Conspiracy charges. Loyola University Law professor Bill Quigly, a chief legal to the four, was sorely missed but applauded for his sound legal advice and courage in providing relief during Hurricane Katrina.Gita Gutierrez, a lawyer for the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative and a key member of a legal team for Rasul v. Bush , which secured the rights of Guantanamo detainees to access Federal courts, outlined the illegality of the war on Iraq and US indefinite detentions. Jon Bonifaz, a founder of, discussed the unconstitutionality of the US invasion of Iraq, and how Bush's defrauding of the US congress and people “constitutes high crimes, for which he should be removed from office and impeached.” According to the War Powers clause of the the US constitution, the US congress has the sole power to declare war. The language of the Congressional authorization for the Iraq invasion in fact gave President Bush the right “to decide when or when not to invade Iraq in the interest of national security.”Senator Robert C. Byrd, among those who debated against the authorization, described the act as “a dagger poised at the throat of Congress” that would dissolve the authority of congress to declare war and would monarchically put that power entirely in the hands of a single person sitting in the executive branch.

There are many other articles available so please check out Binghamton Indymedia.

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