Emma Kaplan is the National Youth and Student Coordinator of World Can't Wait
[The following is an update to Emma Kaplan's blog, 'Stop Military Spying, Support Port Protesters!']
I want to thank everyone for their statements of support and donations to our trial over the past couple of weeks. The Port Military Protest trial ended January 27th with the judge declaring a mistrial due to juror misconduct. The misconduct? A juror in the case had contact with a witness for the prosecution outside of the courtroom after being instructed by the judge not to do so. The juror? A corrections officer for the Tacoma jail. The witness? A Tacoma police officer who had just testified about arresting the protesters. This was outrageous, and the judge was forced to call a mistrial.
So the trial has been re-scheduled for April 20th (readiness hearing is on April 16th). The judge has agreed to allow the “necessity defense”. The rationale behind the necessity defense is that sometimes, in a particular situation, a technical breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law. The defense is often used successfully in cases that involve a Trespass on property to save a person’s life or property. It also has been used, with varying degrees of success, in cases involving anti-nuclear or anti-war protests. During the 1980s, for example, the Necessity Defense was used by protesters who blocked trains (called “White Trains” because they were painted white to keep their radioactive contents cool) carrying nuclear warheads to military bases in the U.S. The rationale was that the danger of nuclear war far outweighed any trespassing or blocking of the trains. One infamous example of a ‘White Train” action was in the 1980s, when anti-war activist and Vietnam veteran Brian Wilson was hit by a “white train” during an action at the Concord Munitions Depot in California.
(For more on Brian’s story, go to: http://www.fatherjohndear.org/articles/road_to_transformation.htm)
I would like to share some of things that people have said about our choice and moral decision to resist an illegal illegitmate war through putting our bodies on the line.
"These protesters ought to be treated as heroes, and not prosecuted for their courageous and moral war resistance." Berd Whitlock
"My old unit is actually heading over to Afghanistan next month to be the leading edge of Obama's surge and while feeling so much heartache for my brothers who are being put in this utterly shitty situation, I want more then anything for them to come home and for the Afghan people not to see another day of bloodshed. Your actions have done so much for me and others that I am eternally greatful." - an Iraq Vet
Me and My co-defendant, Patti and my attorney Larry Hildes Professor Michael Honey were on a panel speaking about the need for MORE civil resistance to the wars of aggression waged by the U.S. government in our names and the significance of the necessity defense. We spoke to about 20-30 students and about 15 other people. This panel was called together very quickly, in a matter of a couple days and it was good to see young people show up on short notice. I wanted to share some thoughts and experience with you all on this panel. On my bus ride to the panel I was reading an article in Revolution Newspaper by Lenny Wolfe entitled A Thought on Intellectual Courage.
This article gets into how there are three types of intellectual courage.
-The courage to tell the truth in the face of conventional wisdom and going up against social norms.
-The courage to stand up in and stick to your principles in the face of threats and repression.
-The courage to look at a problem or a daunting situation, and search to find the way out even if it makes you uncomfortable
I felt that this analysis was very important to bring out on this panel. This is important because lets be honest, the campuses are not the lightning bolts of resistance that they have been, that they could be and that they need to be. As I looked at the faces of young and old in the audience, you could see people nodding and listening intently to this. People want to see this, people want to stand up for what is right and they are silently begging for leaders who will help them do this.
In the time of Obama, the paralysis and frusteration in palpable. It is going to be even more difficult to stand up for what is right when wars of aggression, killing of civilians, indefinite detention, and bombing wedding parties have become the social norm. It has become even more difficult now that over the past 8 years, people have the incorrect verdict that protest does not work. Some of the students raised some very important questions. Was it correct to compare what happened in Nazi Germany to the crimes being committed by the U.S. government? Why are we using the Nuremburg trials as an argument in our defense? Is civil resistance better than protest? Why can't the left organize like the right?
After the panel, students approached us around coming to their campus to speak. We got contact information from some of the students and we are thinking about touring some of the local campuses along with Iraq vets.
I said it on this panel and I will say it again, I don't regret what I did in blockading the strykers, I'm not sorry and I would do it again!
There are many ways to participate in resistance, I along with others are heading up the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour, a national tour around the country to bring the truth to high school and college students about military recruiters and the wars they are recruiting for. This is not your typical counter recruiting presentation, we are aiming to unleash a whole movement of young people in determined uncompromising movement to drive military recruiters out of our towns and communities.
You should take a break from blogging about how mad you are and join us. Not just once a year, or when the democrats make you mad, but everyday! That is what it means to resist!
I am deeply saddened by the death of Howard Zinn. He is an example of somebody who consistently demonstrated intellectual courage. There are too few like him in the world and we need more. We should all ask ourselves, Do I have intellectual courage?
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