Monday, May 23, 2016




Contacts: Joy First 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5 at; Malachy Kilbride 301-283-7627 or malachykilbride at;  or Max Obuszewski 727-543-3227 or mobuszewski at

WHO:  On January 12, 2016, after a demonstration near the Supreme Court a group of citizen activists affiliated with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR] marched to the U.S. Capitol, and representatives asked a Capitol Police officer about delivering to the office of the vice-president a petition calling on President Obama to give a Real State of the Union that evening.  The hope was that Joe Biden could get the petition to Barack Obama, and the president would present to the nation all of the problems facing this country.  For example, Obama would admit that the country is plagued by income inequality, maddening militarism, unconstitutional drone strikes and the horrors of climate chaos

   However, the police representative refused to accept the petition, but indicated he would grant a permit to demonstrate in an area away from the Capitol steps.  He was informed that the demonstration had already taken place.  These citizen activists were there to express their First Amendment rights to petition the government for a redress of of grievances.   Because the citizen activists were denied their First Amendment rights, they gathered on the legal portion of the Capitol steps holding a banner which read STOP THE WAR MACHINE EXPORT PEACE and sang “WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED.” Thirteen of us were then arrested and charged with “incommoding and obstructing.”

WHAT:   At an arraignment on February 3 in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, three of the defendants appeared – Malachy Kilbride, a Quaker from Montgomery County, Maryland, Max Obuszewski from Baltimore, and the venerable Eve Tetaz, with a walker, from Washington, D.C. Four defendants had their charges dismissed -- Martin Gugino from Buffalo, Phil Runkel from Wisconsin, Janice Sevre-Duszynska from Kentucky and Trudy Silver from New York City.  The government added another charge against the nine remaining defendants – “failure to obey.” Also the government had the judge issue a stay-away order from the Capitol.
   The defendants argued vociferously against the stay-away order, but Judge Wendell Gardner, Jr. ruled in favor of the government despite the defense arguments that they were pacifists and non-threatening and that it denied them their constitutional right to interact with legislators. Another issue of contention was the defense motion for additional discovery, which was opposed by the government. For example, the government gave the defendants a biased police report which stated they “wanted to be arrested” and a video of the arrests.  At a May 12 status hearing, Obuszewski argued that he did not want to get arrested but was there to deliver a petition and that the government must produce a complete video recording of the petition delivery, not just the arrest portion.  He also requested all Capitol Police communications relating to the “petition delivery.” For example, the defendant had been in email contact with John Gallo, a Capitol Police officer, prior to the petition delivery.  He also asked for a copy of the Intelligence Report for the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2016. 
   The defendants do not understand why they were arrested.  Eight defendants, prior to trial, have had their charges dropped or dismissed through post and forfeit. At an April 22 hearing, the government offered a plea agreement – charges would be dismissed if a defendant paid $50. These defendants accepted the plea agreement:  Carol Gay from New Jersey, Linda LeTendre a Quaker from Saratoga Springs, New York, Alice Sutter from New York City, and Brian Terrell a Catholic Worker from Iowa. 

    Possibly the Intelligence Report will contain exculpatory information alleging that NCNR was considered a threat.  The email sent by John Gallo to Obuszewski was about the petition delivery.  So the Capitol Police were aware that the defendants would be engaged in First Amendment activities. Does the government now recognize the arrests were a mistake?  

   The government has yet to respond to Obuszewski’s Amended Motion for Additional Discovery.  This issue will be decided in a pre-trial hearing.  Regardless of the judge’s ruling, five defendants, including Joy First, a grandmother from Wisconsin, and Joan Nicholson, a Pennsylvania Quaker, will go on trial facing two charges—Blocking Passage at the U.S. Capitol and Failure to Obey a Police Officer. The defendants will defend themselves with the assistance of Mark Goldstone, attorney adviser.

WHEN and WHERE: May 23, 2016 at 9 AM in Courtroom 220, D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

WHY:  Members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance decided to urge President Barack Obama, in his final State of the Union, to be honest while informing the citizenry of all of the innumerable problems facing this country.  The petition is very detailed.  It is unimaginable that President Obama, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, wants to spend $1 trillion on refurbishing the nuclear arsenal. And the former constitutional law professor has authorized the killing of U.S. citizens through killer drone strikes without any pretext of due process.  Unless, our government accentuates  the critical issues, we cannot solve the problems.  Over 50% of the federal government’s discretionary budget goes towards military spending, yet the country’s infrastructure is falling apart.  And the amount of citizens suffering the pangs of poverty is disgraceful.

   NCNR has written several letters to the president, but has never received a response.  So 13 citizen activists tried to deliver a petition to President Obama, but were turned away and arrested. The five remaining defendants will argue in court that their constitutional right to petition the government for a redress of grievances was denied. Judge Gardner has presided in a trial of peace and justices activists in 2008.  Members of Witness Against Torture were arrested that January at the Supreme Court calling for the closing of Guantanamo.  Judge Gardner convicted the defendants, and sent some of them to jail.  The five defendants scheduled for trial on May 23 are facing a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail.  


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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