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Antiwar Grandmothers Receive Trial Date

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Today, in lower Manhattan, 17 grandmothers, represented by civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, appeared in criminal court on charges of disorderly conduct, stemming from a protest at the armed forces recruitment station in Times Square on October 17, 2005. The 18th antiwar activist was not present. She's recovering from surgery.

During the grandmothers' arraignment in January, the women were offered 'adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.' This means the charges would be dropped if the women weren't arrested again for six months. They refused. The grandmothers will not stop their protests until there is peace. At that time, Justice Alexander Jeong asked the prosecution to produce a video that was possibly filmed by undercover police officers the day of the protest. The police maintain they were not present in a capacity of surveillance.

This video could prove if the grandmothers were or were not blocking the entrance to the recruitment station but is a controversial item since its existence would also prove that police officers were present to spy on the protesters. Also, there's another hot potato. Today, it was revealed that a photograph may have been taken""by a policeman""a picture that was in a glossy, police magazine. If either the video or the photograph is produced, that means police were there to (gasp) spy on the grandmothers. Spying on ordinary citizens is big in the news these days. Spying on extraordinary grandmothers would be huge.

But there's another interesting development: While in jail for nearly four hours after their arrest in front of the recruitment station in October, four of the defendants made anti-Bush, antiwar statements. These were overheard and reported by police officers. The women were not Mirandized for this. But they have been charged.

As in January, a motion presented to dismiss in the interest of justice was not granted by the judge today. "There are grounds to sustain disorderly conduct," he said.

The grannies are going to trial, a date tentatively set for April 20, 2006. This, actually, is an opportunity. Eighteen grandmothers on trial for protesting the unconstitutional war and occupation of Iraq may be an occasion to put the war itself on trial. In the words of Norman Siegel, "Make my day."
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Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She's written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she's a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a (more...)
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