MEDIA ADVISORY CONTACTS:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE RACHEL LAWLER 203-228-2610
25 June 2007 JACK PAYDEN-TRAVERS 434-960-4673
8 Activists Go To Trial for Anti-Death Penalty Protest
at U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC
WASHINGTON – On Thursday, the eight death penalty abolionists who were arrested this past January at the U.S. Supreme Court will appear in District Court to face two federal misdemeanor charges for their displaying of a banner and for chanting protests and reading prayers.
The eight are scheduled to appear Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Room 321 (room subject to change) of the District Court, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, to make their case before a judge. If found guilty of the two charges, they could face up to 60 days imprisonment and/or a fine of $5,000 for each charge.
Thirty years after the first execution under contemporary laws of Gary Gilmore, concerned citizens associated with the Abolitionist Action Committee were arrested at the U.S. Supreme Court on January 17, 2007. The group unfurled a 30-foot banner that read “STOP EXECUTIONS!” on the stairs of the Court. All participants were arrested and jailed for more than 30 hours before being released by a Superior Court judge late the following day.
Participants from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas and Vermont were there to peacefully and visibly call for an immediate cessation of all executions in the United States through civil disobedience and the risk of arrest. They will continue their message of abolition in the courtroom.
“The eight of us stand wholeheartedly behind our nonviolent, peaceful action in January. We intend to see this through to the trial stage because of our unequivocal opposition to the death penalty. It is only a matter of time before The United States aligns itself with the rest of the civilized world and abolishes the barbaric practice,” said Rachel Lawler, founding member of Vermonters Against the Death Penalty who was arrested outside the Court.
The January 17 protest was to commemorate the day in 1977 when the State of Utah shot to death Gary Gilmore, who "volunteered" to be killed in revenge for his murder of Ben Bushnell and Max Jenson. This state-assisted suicide was the first execution under the Supreme Court’s upholding of the death penalty in 1976.
In 1997 and 2002, on the 20th and 25th anniversaries of that first state-sponsored killing, a total of 25 arrests were made of death penalty abolitionists for unfurling banners at the top of the stairs leading to the front doors of the U.S. Supreme Court. The number is now up to 34 arrests in 10 years.
The Abolitionist Action Committee is an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.
(see attached biography sheet on the participants)
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