Thursday, September 13, 2012

Greg Boertje-Obed released

Wed, Sep 12, 2012 at 7:39 AM

Greg Boertje-Obed was released from Blount County Detention Center at
8:30pm on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 to await trial, currently
scheduled for February 26, 2013.

Greg’s release came as a result of his request for a detention hearing
following the reset of the trial date from October to February. He had
originally declined to seek release, but told the judge he was now
prompted by the difficulty of trying to consult with co-defendants in
preparing for trial and by family concerns.

At the detention hearing, Assistant District Attorney Melissa Kirby
rehearsed her well-worn reasons why Greg should be locked up, adding
that he had warned the court earlier he would not accept or comply
with conditions of release. Then the judge asked her if Greg, with his
lengthy record, had in any instance not shown up for court. She
admitted she had no evidence of that. “He was convicted numerous times
in the past, so I assume he was in court,” she said. “However, in this
case he said he would not appear.” “I don’t believe he said that,” the
judge said.

Greg told the judge he had a 100% record of appearance in prior cases

for “anything I have been arrested for, all of which, in my opinion,

were ‘good deeds.’”

The judge subjected Greg to a lengthy interrogation—an apparent

payback for Greg’s earlier refusal to accept release unless the judge

declared nuclear weapons to be a war crime. In the end, after Greg

attempted to explain his living situation at the Catholic Worker in

Duluth (“Is it a part of the Catholic Church?” “No.” Is it affiliated

with any church?” “No, but many churches contribute to our work.” “How

did it get the name, then?” “In 1933, the name Catholic Worker was

chosen by the founders.” “Huh.”) The judge then asked Greg what he did

in Duluth and Greg said he found work painting houses, landscaping,

and volunteering hospitality to homeless and others in need.

Finally indicating that he might accede to Greg’s request, the judge

asked about what he would do if he were released. “Do you have a place

to stay locally until you can get a bus to Duluth?” Erik Johnson rose

from the audience. “My wife Libby and I would be honored to provide

hospitality to Greg.”

The judge took a recess. When he returned, he walked the court through

all the guidance provided to judges in making detention

determinations. “His record of appearance is good,” said the judge,

“by his own word, one hundred percent.” Responding to the

prosecution’s assertion that Greg posed a danger to the community, the

judge said, “He poses little danger. In fact, it may be that some

people in Duluth will benefit if he returns to his normal activities.”

Finally, the judge said, “Taking in the totality of factors, Mr. Obed

appears to be an appropriate case to release.”

Then the judge offered an aside, “In my experience in these kinds of

cases, and I’ve had several (actually two), in the cases of these Y12

protesters, and I think we may have some in the audience, I see Sister

Lentsch there…in my experience these protesters actually want to

attend trial. Candidly, I don’t think I could keep them from it. Part

of the express purpose of their action is to publicize the production

of nuclear weapons, and they view their arrest and trial as part of

the publicity. So right or wrong, he’s likely to appear.”

Turning to Greg, the judge said, “Mr. Obed, I think you’re a man of

your word. Before, you told me you would not agree to conditions or

agree not to break any laws if you were released, and I think you

meant it. Now you say you will, and I think you mean it. If you do,

you will remain out and will be able to do good while you are out.”

With that, the judge declared that Greg would be released that
evening, and five hours later he walked out of Blount County Jail. He
will leave for Duluth on the Megabus at 11:30am, Wednesday, September
12. His departure coincides with the opening of Congressional hearings
in Washington, DC, on the Transform Now Plowshares security breach at
the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex.

For more info contact:

Ralph Hutchison


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