The self-described Granny Peace Brigade, those gray and blue-haired rascals, will not be led to 15 days each in jail. Civil Court Judge Neil E. Ross surely is as happy as any of the 18 women arrested and tried for protesting the Iraq War last October.
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Initial coverage is here. The first court article is here. The verdict report is here. You can check out their organizations here.
Arriving slowly, some with walkers and others with canes, they stood or sat at the entrance to the Times Square military recruiting center. They tried to enlist, to keep young people from being cannon fodder. The armed forces were not interested in their services, but the women stayed to make their point. They range from 59 to 91.
The prosecutors and judge seemed particularly uneasy with the whole case. There was a little, just a little, huffing and puffing by one prosecutor, Artie McConnell. He said this was not First Amendment but simply law breaking. "These defendants do not get a pass for who they are, no matter how noble their cause may be."
In the end, Civil Court Judge Neil E. Ross found a decent way out. Keeping with the tradition of judging protestors by whether they were actually disruptive, he found they had acted within their rights. He did not criticize the NYPD for arresting them, nor did he say their age and infirmities protected them.
However, he ruled that they had left room for people to pass to enter and leave the center. "The defendants are all discharged," he said. Then as the Times put it, "The women, sitting in the jury box at the invitation of the judge, to make it easier for them to see and hear, let out a collective 'Oh!' and burst into applause, rushing forward, as quickly as women their age could rush, to hug and kiss their lawyers..."
Defense lead Norman Siegel told them, "The decision today says the First Amendment protects you to protest peacefully. So -- go do it!"
Let there be cookies and rabble-rousing speeches all around!
Tags: massmarrier, Granny Peace Brigade, protest, Neil Ross, New York, Civil Court