THE ABOLITIONIST ACTION COMMITTEE's
'SUPREME COURT 7' ACTION - JANUARY 17, 2002




Photo from the Action
 
This photo was taken by the police officer who gave
us back our shoe laces after we were finally
released. Pictured (from the left), Abe Bonowitz,
Pam Dyer, Rick Halperin, Scott Langley, Peggy
Connally, Ron Kaz (standing) and Dan Giffin.

Photos
Photo Gallery #1 - by Martin Lueders
Photo Gallery #2 - courtesy of Tim Stanton
Photo Gallery #3 - courtesy of Peggy Connally

Reflections
Reflection by Rick Halperin, arrestee
Reflection by Pamela Dyer, arrestee
Reflection by Scott Langley, arrestee
Reflection by Peggy Connally, arrestee
Reflection by Abe Bonowitz coming soon

Field Reports
Report from Tim Stanton (UUADP)
Report from David Elliot (NCADP)
Report from Abe Bonowitz (CUADP)

Feedback - responses from supporters

Seven Arrested on 25th Gilmore Anniversary

On January 17, 1977, 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 newly approved death penalty laws.

January 17th, 2002 marked the the 25th anniversary of that first prisoner-killing, the 752nd prisoner-killing took place the day before the anniversary.

To draw attention to the United States persistent pursuit of this fiscally irresponsible and irreparably flawed public policy seven peaceful demonstrators unfurled a 30 ft banner, identical to the one used in the 1997 action, on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States and were subsequently arrested.

NEW! Click here to see the action as captured by the Supreme Court Video cameras. OR
Click here to see a 60 second segment of the banner unfurling and confiscation. (Right click to download.) (NOTE: File size is around 8 meg.)

Read the press release here

See photos of the confiscation of the banner here

Article in the Washington Post - Feb 15th
Article in the Legal Times - Mar 18th
Second Article in the Legal Times - Jun 10th
Letter in the Washington Post - Jun 15th
July/August Edition of Non-Violent Activist

This event was organized by The Abolitionist Action Committee - an ad-hoc group of individuals committed to highly visible and effective public education for alternatives to the death penalty through nonviolent direct action.

Pleading not guilty after arrest, the "Supreme Court 7" stood trial in Superior Court of the District of Columbia on June 28 for violating laws prohibiting demonstrations on the steps of the Supreme Court and were duly aquitted by Judge Mildred Edwards.
Click here for press coverage and comments
Click here for the official Trial Transcript


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PRESS RELEASE

SEVEN PROTESTERS ARRESTED ON STEPS OF U.S. SUPREME COURT ON 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF EXECUTIONS IN THE U.S.

 
7 protesters were arrested Thursday after unfurling a 30-foot banner on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court on the 25th anniversary of the resumption of executions in the United States.
 
On Jan. 17, 1977, the State of Utah executed Gary Gilmore by firing squad after Gilmore declined to pursue his appeals. Since executions were allowed to resume, 752 people have been executed in the United States, with 6 more executions scheduled by the end of this month alone.
 
Members of the Abolitionist Action Committee Thursday called for a halt to executions. "How many more will be killed before the United States recognizes the death penalty for the fiscally irresponsible and flawed public policy that it is?" said Abe Bonowitz, a Florida resident and one of the 7 individuals arrested.
 
"In the 25 years since Gary Gilmore was executed, numerous countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice," said Pam Dyer, a resident of Canada who lives just outside of Montreal. "America has executed 752 human beings. It is enough."
 
In addition to Bonowitz and Dyer, the other 5 people arrested were Peggy Connally of Paradise, Texas; Daniel Giffin of Boston; Rick Halperin of Dallas, Texas; Scott Langley of Boston; and Ron Kaz of Charleston, South Carolina.
 
Connally, who teaches government, said she tells her students that when all other avenues of protest are closed, civil disobedience is 1 option for airing views that do not reflect majority opinion. "This is an unpopular opinion, but so was opposition to slavery and support for the right to vote," she said. "You never have to protect majority rights. Majority rights are always protected."
 
Langley, a Catholic Worker in Boston, said he is 25 years old "and almost my whole life the country has been executing people. I can no longer sit by passively as the machine of death violates our fundamental rights as human beings. The moral absurdity of the death penalty is great and unendurable. Let us not have such a machine any longer."
 
Giffin, also of Boston, said the death penalty in the United States has "infected our country with violence and degraded our sense of humanity. The death penalty is barbaric and an insult to our country. I can't bear to keep quiet."
 
The protesters were arrested after unfurling a 30-foot-long banner that read "STOP EXECUTIONS." Immediately after the banner was unfurled, Supreme Court police rushed the protesters and ripped the banner from their hands.

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EVENTS UNFOLD

From Tim Stanton
 
The event occured on Thursday morning at about 10:30.
 
The seven (Abe Bonowitz, Daniel Giffen, Rick Halperin, Peggy Connally, Pamela Dyer, Scott Langley and Ron Kaz) unfurled the "Stop Executions" banner. The Capital Police were on them like white on rice, grabbing the banner and crumpling it. I watched the video and timed it at 28 seconds from unfurling to confiscation.
 
They were then cuffed, and taken to the portico on the Maryland St. side of the building, and held there for about 30 minutes. They were photographed, searched several times, then they did the perp walk to the paddy wagon, rolling off to jail at about 11:45.
 
Here is the latest as I know it (this is the last info I had upon leaving DC at 7:30 p.m.): they were transferred late in the afternoon to central booking, which meant that a Thursday arraignment would be unlikely, and they would have to spend the night. This was unexpected - their lawyer thinks that this is the Capital Police playing hardball. Hopefully they will be sprung on Friday morning.
 

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From David Elliot (NCADP)
 
The seven persons arrested Thursday morning for unfurling a banner on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court continue to be held Thursday evening. As of 9 p.m. Thursday evening, it appears evident that these seven individuals might be held overnight.
The seven people have very competent legal representation. It appears that the delay in their release has to do with confusion in the bureaucracy over which U.S. jurisdiction is responsible for their incarceration.
We will keep you posted. A support team and a lawyer is monitoring the events and will be available for the "Supreme Court 7" once they are released!

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WE'RE FREE

From Abe Bonowitz
 
Greetings all!
 
With many thanks to all, just a short message to say that after 32 hours of incarceration, including no food, little water, being chained to the wall and experiencing numerous and various types and conditions of jail cells, we seven were freed at about 6:30pm, Friday evening.
We are charged with assembling on the court grounds -"Where the marble starts, free speech ends." We are banned from being within one city block of the US Supreme Court pending the outcome of our trial (appeal of that order to be filed Tuesday or Weds by our very capable lawyer, Mark Goldstone), but otherwise we were released with only having to promise to show up for trial, which has been scheduled for June 27, conveniently just prior to the 9th annual fast & vigil at the US Supreme Court and the 30th anniversary of the Furman decision. (
click here for details.) We are tired, but well.
 

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Abolitionist Action Comittee (AAC)
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800-973-6548, Fax: 561-743-2500    aac@abolition.org
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