County Court of Common Pleas
letter contains the statements that I would make prior to
sentencing on August 4 in your courtroom. But since some
of what I have to say might influence your deliberations,
it seems appropriate that I get this to you ahead of time.
article I wrote for the Blade's Saturday Essay back in January,
explaining why I painted "Troops Out Now" on the
overpass was included in the official file of my case that
was before you, and I noticed that you asked the potential
jurors if they remembered reading it in the paper. So I
won't repeat the descriptions of the casualties I treated
as a hospital corpsman. As I said on the witness stand in
your courtroom, those images stay with me always. As a fellow
Veteran For Peace member explained to me, "You can't
'unsee' what you've seen."
know that the young men in that Navy hospital 35 years ago,
just like the young American soldiers and the civilians
I met in Iraq were, and are, being killed and maimed for
a preposterous lie.
March 8 of this year, I was arrested by the U.S. Capitol
Police for disrupting a House Appropriations Committee hearing
for reading the names of G.I.s and Iraqis killed in this
war. When the County Prosecutor read of that arrest in the
Blade, he moved for a ruling that I had violated the terms
of my bond. You denied his motion and I am grateful that
was not reported in that story was what I told the Appropriations
Committee as the police led me away.
a voice loud enough for every committee member to hear,
I told them they were making Americans less safe, not more;
that they were violating federal law ,
the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles; waging
a war of aggression; committing crimes against peace and
crimes against humanity.
chill should run through our very soul, Judge Wittenberg,
as we remember when those words were first used to indict
another nation's war making, a nation over which we once
sat in judgment. Indeed, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert
H. Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunals,
acknowledged clearly in his opening statement, "...let
me make clear that while this law is first applied against
German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve
a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other
nations, including those which sit here now in judgment."
Wittenberg, by the very action which brought me before your
court you know that I oppose the war in Iraq. But it is
more than just opposition to this war that motivated my
action. I believe that as a citizen of this nation, I am
complicit in the crimes of this government. Because of that
complicity, I must speak out against this monstrous war
in every nonviolent way possible. I must add my voice to
the thousands of others trying to awaken America's conscience
and bring this war to an end.
Honor, I also believe that every citizen of this country
must look into their heart and decide if they too are complicit
in their government's war making. Those who decide in the
affirmative must take every opportunity to awaken America's
conscience, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them. Our
discomfort is hardly a match for the suffering borne by
the victims of this war. We owe it to them to rise above
our discomfort; to make the most of opportunities presented
to us to speak out.
you have now before you such an opportunity. As D.C. Superior
Court Senior Judge Stephen Milliken ruled on March 28 when
we went before him for disrupting the House Appropriations
Committee hearing: "Sentenced to time served;"
as the jury in the "Pitstop Plowshares" case in
Ireland on July 25 acquitted five activists for nonviolently
disarming a U.S. Navy warplane at Shannon Airport ;
as 20 German judges sat down to blockade a U.S. Air Force
base in Germany , more and
more people at many levels of the world's judicial systems
are taking seriously their opportunities to speak out against
Your Honor, it is important that I inform you of my decision
to not pay further restitution or a fine in this case.
decision to not pay additional restitution is easily explained,
since the judge in the Sylvania Municipal Court has already
ordered my brother to pay the entire US$3,600 ODOT claims
it will cost to repaint the Central Ave. overpass on U.S.
have decided not to pay a fine in this case because by painting
"Troops Out Now!" on the overpass I was in fact
upholding international law - demanding our young men and
women be brought home from what history will certainly judge
to be a war of aggression.
only do I deny my action was criminal, it was done to help
stop a far greater criminal action. If you agree, I respectfully
ask that you sentence me to time served (January 1-2, 2006).
If you do not agree, I respectfully add that you will have
to put me behind bars to compel my cooperation. My mind,
however, will remain free to protest the criminal systems
that allow us to wage a war of aggression on Iraq.
my decisions place you in an uncomfortable position, Judge,
I apologize, just as I told jurors on July 18 after they
convicted me that I regretted any inconvenience or expense
the trial caused them.
you for this opportunity to explain my actions.