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Charges Dropped: Celebration at the MRS

June 25, 2008
Berkeley, CA
Joyous supporters gathered in front of the Marine Recruiting Station to cheer on and listen to the "Wailing 4" -- Medea Benjamin, local group coordinator Zanne Joi, artist Pamela Bennett and Camp Pelosi organizer Toby Blome. Pink sparkling cider and pink cupcakes were shared, singer-songwriter Betsy Rose led "Chord Pink" in song, and the story of the judge's wise decision to respect the women's rights of free speech was told and re-told. Motorists honked in support -- and one woman handed out a flat of strawberries from her car window!

Background: On Tuesday, June 24, CODEPINK women were scheduled to begin their jury trial for a protest they held inside the Berkeley Recruiting Station commemorating the death of the 4000th US soldier killed in Iraq. During the protest, which occurred on March 24, four women draped in bloody rags entered the station. They began writhing on the floor and wailing in deep despair... The women were ultimately arrested and charged with trespassing and intimidating the Marines. They faced up to 6 months in jail, $1,000 fine, and a 3-year probation, including an order to stay 300 yards away from the Recruiting Station for the entire length of the probation.

Judge Morris Jacobson from the Alameda County Superior Court, ensuring that the women’s right to protest was upheld, reduced the charges to an infraction that will be dismissed in six months time. In addition, he dismissed all other pending charges against the women, including several charges for obstructing the sidewalk, an arrest for public nudity during a Breasts Not Bombs protest, and numerous parking tickets incurred during many months of protests.

“This is a great victory because the CODEPINK women’s right to free speech has been affirmed by the judge and no stay-away order was issued,” remarks CODEPINK lawyer Andy Auer.

"We celebrate the fact that the judge has upheld our right to speak out strongly against recruiting our youth into this immoral and disgraceful occupation,” says defendant Toby Blome, “and we eagerly await the ultimate victory when those responsible for leading us into this illegal war have their day in court."

"Hopefully this ruling for free speech and CODEPINK will allow the Berkeley Chief of Police and the City Attorney to defend the peace-loving citizens of Berkeley rather than putting their energy into curtailing our constitutional rights,” adds defendant Zanne Joi.

The women were delighted to hear the final words of Judge Jacobson, who said “I wish you all the success in your protest activities.”

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