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

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.  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.”

   At an April 22 hearing, Randle T. Wilson, assistant attorney general, 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. 
 Then Judge Wendell Gardner, Jr. held a hearing on May 12 after pro se defendant Obuszewski filed a Motion to Compel Additional Discovery.  Through discovery, the government gave the defendants a biased police report which stated they “wanted to be arrested” and a video of the arrests.  At the 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.  Finally, he also asked for a copy of the Intelligence Report for the U.S. Capitol on January 12, 2016.  The judge ordered the government to produce the requested material. 

  Wilson was not present for the May 12 hearing, sending instead a junior prosecutor, who was overwhelmed by defense arguments at the hearing.  Wilson then stopped responding to Obuszewski’s motions.  This seemed to signal that the government recognized it was unlikely to prevail at trial.  However, the government did not have the courtesy to inform the defendants about this inevitable conclusion. So witnesses Nicholas Mottern, an expert on killer drones with, and Sevre-Duszynska were prepared to testify for the defense. And Joy First, a grandmother from Wisconsin, and Joan Nicholson, a Pennsylvania Quaker, came to court along with Kilbride, Obuszewski, Tetaz and Mark Goldstone, attorney adviser.  However, the junior prosecutor informed the court, “The government is not ready.”  Obuszewski and Goldstone made motions for a judgment of acquittal. The motions were granted.

WHEN and WHERE: May 23, 2016 at 10 AM in Courtroom 220, D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

There was absolutely no reason to pursue this case against 13 citizen activists with the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance who were exercising their First Amendment right to petition President Barack Obama for a redress of grievances--income inequality, climate chaos, militarism and the effects of killer drone strikes. Nevertheless, the petitioners were arrested, and the president gave a bland recitation of his accomplishments, ignoring the innumerable problems this country faces.

 So the activists spent six hours in jail. And Goldstone, Kilbride and Obuszewski appeared in court on five different occasions in defense of the First Amendment.  Why did the government continue to pursue this case?  Why did the government waste tax dollars in a case it couldn’t win?  Why did the government waste the court’s and the defendants’ time and energy? How far up the ladder was the decision made to bring nonviolent citizen activists to court? We can only speculate. 

 If the government intended to present obstacles to dissuade the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance from engaging in future direct actions, then such a tactic was doomed to fail.  NCNR will continue to challenge the government and corporations engaged in unconstitutional, immoral or illegal activities.  In fact NCNR activists already are strategizing about future direct actions.  The list of grievances is endless.

 Unfortunately, for example, in the current presidential campaign the issues raised have been severely limited.  Our government is involved in war making in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere without any authorization from Congress. Where are the diplomatic solutions?  What about severely cutting the military budget and then using the money for rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure?  The Obama administration is engaged in killer drone strikes, including against U.S. citizens.  Where is the debate about the morality and constitutionality of this assassination program?  Why are there more terrorists today than when Obama entered the White House? There has been a discussion, chiefly from Bernie Sanders, of what can be done about income inequality. However, what about questioning the candidates about solutions to severely cut the poverty rate and boost economic security?  What can be done to rid control of Congress by the one percent? What can be done to save the planet from climate chaos? 

  Presidential candidates as well as candidates seeking election to the House of Representatives and the Senate must be challenged to provide solutions to the issues raised above. National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance members will continue to be involved in confronting those responsible for the injustices permeating our society. Chances are they will appear back in court in the future.


"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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