No Charges Against Activists Arrested at White House

CHARGES WILL NOT BE FILED AGAINST 15 CITIZEN ACTIVISTS ARRESTED AT WHITE HOUSE IN SEPTEMBER

WHO: Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) have been speaking out against the illegal actions of the United States government since 2003.  They have organized numerous actions across the country involving nonviolent civil resistance as they call attention to the crimes of our government.

WHAT:  NCNR organized a day of action for September 22nd “Sowing Seeds of Hope: From Congress to the White House”.  The day began with visits to Congressional offices.  Later, during a rally in front of the White House, a small group went to the guard gate and attempted to deliver a letter to Obama calling for policy changes that would bring an end to war, poverty, and the climate crisis.  In attempting to deliver the letter, which should be our right as citizens, the following individuals were arrested:  Joe Byrne, Baltimore’s Jonah House, Don Cunning, Carol Gay, Mary Ellen Marino and Manijeh Saba, all from New Jersey, Joy First and Phil Runkel, from Wisconsin, Kathy Kelly, Art Laffin, Malachy Kilbride, a Maryland Quaker, Joan Nicholson, a Pennsylvania Quaker, Max Obuszewski, Baltimore, D.C.’s Ellen Taylor, Brian Terrell, Iowa, and the venerable Eve Tetaz in a walker, Washington, D.C. 

They were handcuffed, taken into custody, processed, and released with an initial court date of October 15. 

However, as they were preparing to go to court this week they received word from Attorney Mark Goldstone that papers were not filed and the case was dismissed.

WHY:  The NCNR action at the White House on September 22nd was one of over 360 events taking place nationwide under the banner of Campaign Nonviolence from September 20-27.  Campaign Nonviolence promotes taking a public stand against all violence in a movement for a culture of peace and nonviolence free from war, poverty and the climate crisis.  

For the NCNR action, there was a call put out and people responded from across the country and came to deliver a letter to Obama signed by thousands.  The letter demanded that Obama make specific policy changes that will save our Mother Earth, end wars, end poverty, and end structural violence.  There is growing concern and unrest about the way our country is moving and over a hundred people joined the NCNR action that day speaking out and taking action for change. 

There are a number of important questions to consider following the unjustified arrests and subsequent decision by the government not to file papers to bring the matter to court. 

·         This is the second year in a row that we have written to the president and not received any kind of response.  Why does Obama think he can ignore our request for dialogue on issues that are a matter of life and death?

·         Citizen activists were peacefully attempting to share their concerns about serious issues, attempting to dialogue with the government.  They were ignored and eventually arrested.  Why are we, as concerned citizens, arrested for trying to peacefully deliver a letter to the White House?  It should be our right and our responsibility to bring these concerns to the government.

·         Though it is good news to hear that the charges were dismissed, we never should have been arrested in the first place.  Why did the government decide not to move forward in filing charges?  Did they realize that the arrests were not justified and that they could not prosecute a case against us?

·         What is really important following the dismissal of charges?  This was a small victory in court, but we still have a long road ahead of us.  We must look at what is going on in the world around us, educate ourselves, and act responsibly in speaking out.  We must continue this work of resistance to the illegal and immoral actions of our government.

Contacts: Joy First 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5 at gmail.com, Malachy Kilbride 301-283-7627or malachykilbride at yahoo.com,  or Max Obuszewski 727-543-3227 or mobuszewski at verizon.net