St. Patrick's Four not guilty of federal charges

Last month I blogged about a federal trial against anti-war protesters happening in my hometown, Binghamton, NY. The four defendants have been found not guilty of the federal charges of conspiracy, but guilty of the lesser misdemeanor charges.

This was the first federal trial against people protesting the Iraq War, and I find it fascinating that the judge wouldn't allow them to refer to the war in any way, calling it "irrelevant" to the trial. Um, hello? I don't think they'd be walking into a recruiting station in Ithaca for just any old reason.

The protesters were invoking international law, a part of the UN Charter (which the US signed after WWII) that says individual citizens can be held responsible for the crimes of their government. Deeming the invasion of Iraq to be illegal, they acted as citizens attempting to prevent a crime from being committed. Call it pre-emptive crime prevention.

It reminds me of our responsibility, not just of conscience, but of international law, to hold ourselves accountable for what our government does. In the words of Pete Seeger in his song, "My Name is Lisa Kavelage:"
The seed planted there at Nuremberg in 1947
Started to sprout and to grow
Gradually I understood what that verdict meant to me
When there are crimes that I can see and I can know
And now I also know what it is to be charged with mass guilt
Once in a lifetime is enough for me
No, I could not take it for a second time
And that is why I am here today.

The events of May 25th, the day of our protest,
Put a small balance weight on the other side
Hopefully, someday my contribution to peace
Will help just a bit to turn the tide

The Nation has a full article with more details.

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