Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Legal Update: The Fight Goes On

Dear Friends & Supporters,

Today's pre-trial conference in Vestal brought some good news but also laid out a tough road ahead: Thankfully, six of the eight remaining defendants from last March's anti-war rally and police riot accepted reduced plea deals of 'disorderly conduct' amounting in 50 hours of community service.

Two other defendants were essentially offered nothing; the State wants them to plead guilty to misdemeanors for crimes they did not commit, resulting in a criminal record and penalties.

Beyond the frightening implications of sanctioning dissent against the brutal policies of this government, at this point, such an offer does not seem even legally acceptable to us. It is, however, unclear what the strategy of the Vestal Police is; they could be focusing their energies on two defendants to "set an example" or merely draw out this process even longer to cover themselves.

What's sure is that we have renewed vigor to see these charges dropped. At a time when the US government is engaged in criminal occupations abroad and "bailing-out" the gangster of wall street while impoverishing and imprisoning working people, they have no legal or moral authority to repress legitimate dissent against their brutal policies. We're nevertheless prepared to mount a winning legal defense - if need be - within their framework.

This process will likely stretch out for more months as we await yet another pre-trial conference, and, potentially, a court date. We're still in tactical discussion with our lawyers to figure out what kind of community solidarity is best to build at this point, and where its energies should be directed.

For now, we're calling off our request to write letters to the District Attorney's office. However, there might well come a time when we'll need even more overwhelming solidarity, including a physical presence in a court room.

If you'd like to stay up-to-date with legal proceedings and how you can support us, please consider joining our google-group/listserv. We promise to send out messages infrequently and only when it's important. You can join by following this link: http://groups.google.com/group/solidarity-with-dissent

You can always donate to our much needed legal funds at our blog, http://solidarityanddissent.blogspot.com

Thanks for all your support.

In solidarity and struggle...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the mutilation of bodily and political integrity

The events on Vestal Parkway on March 18, 2008, mean not only a violation of the sanctity of the protesters’ bodies, but ultimately a mutilation of each citizen’s right to freedom of political expression. The incrimination of the 9 anti-war protesters must moreover be understood as a legal borderline case: as the U.S. government is waging an illegal war overseas, the legal framework within which U.S. judiciary and executive practices operate ‘at home’ becomes itself questionable.

illegitimate war
The latest U.S. war against Iraq is unequivocally illegitimate under international law. The invasion of Iraq violates the United Nations Charter, which is a treaty signed by the U.S. government and as such part of the supreme law of the United States. As part of the U.S. Constitution (Art. 6, clause 2) the UN Charter had become “law of the land,” which the government of the United States is obligated to uphold.

state terrorism
The violation of the UN Charter serves the self-understanding of the U.S. as empire. Claiming the right to world domination, the U.S. government fabricates doctrines of a ‘preemptive war’ and the need to defend its ‘national security.’ For the sake of assuring its geo-political and economic interests, a sovereign nation is thus knowingly violating international law, willingly performing state terrorism, and coolly consenting to the slaughter of millions of people.

legitimate protest
As the government of the United States considers itself to be standing outside the law, can this government really tell us what is right and what is wrong? The U.S. government has created a ‘state of exception’ where law has become the framework that assists in the insult of the bodily and political integrity of its citizens, while civil rights are gradually being taken away.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Help Cover Our Legal Costs, Donate to Our Defense.

After a first pre-trial conference between the nine arrested Binghamton University students (the ‘Binghamton 9’), their lawyers, and the district attorney, only one of the defendants' case is settled after the defendant plead guilty (to a charge of 'disorderly conduct'). The other eight are now facing future pre-trial conferences and possibly even a court hearing and succeeding trial. To help cover the legal costs arising from these proceedings, you can now donate to our defense by clicking on the "donate" button in the right-hand column.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Benefit Show for the Binghamton 9!

With the tough-line the DA seems to be taking at our pre-trial conference this week, it looks like those of us arrested in the police riot on Vestal Parkway in March are in for the long-haul; more hearings, more negotiations, maybe even a trial.

But it's also a time to celebrate! The semester is over, there's a resurgence of political activism in our community, and we're building new friendships & alliances!

In this spirit, 32 North will be hosting a folk show & fundraiser this Saturday night, featuring:

Dawn Michelle (of BPI fame)

Jordaan Mason (amazing canadian)

Whatever Jailer (of Oh! Map Records)

Euphemisms (oberiut publishing collective)

Donations for legal-defense (and musician gas money) is up to you. Cheap beers, good friends. Things will kick off 'round 9pm at 32 North St. E-mail Andrew.Epstein1@gmail.com for details or directions.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


It appears as though the District Attorney will, at least for now, play a bit of hardball.

After meeting with both of our lawyers for about 30 minutes this afternoon, we were informed that most of us were offered a conditional discharge only if we plead guilty to a Class A Misdemeanor (for most it was obstructing a governmental administrator). If we were to accept this offer we would avoid a trial but have a permanent criminal record, a huge fine, an admission of guilt and likely be unable to pursue any legal action against the police department.

Two who were offered Disorderly Conduct charges with 40 hours of community service. Another got an ACD for DisCon and is, barring some community service, pretty much off the hook.

Not much is likely to happen until a second pre-trial conference at sometime during the summer, after our lawyers finally get their hands on our police records, videos and radio transcripts. Any trial probably won't happen until the fall semester.

We'll keep everyone updated. This will be a fight after all....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Articles in Today's 'Pipe Dream' About Protest

Administration says no judicial proceedings for Parkway protesters

"Students arrested in the Vestal Parkway protest will not have to face judicial charges from the University, after a meeting between students, administrators and the Graduate Student Organization last week settled the matter through a discussion." (read more)

Common sense prevails

"In the weeks following the March 18 anti-war protest on Vestal Parkway, the rally began to stand for more than just the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. Professors and graduate students took up the cause and supported the protesters — rightly or wrongly — as emblems of free speech, student power and the return of collegiate activism. But while the nine protesters (eight of them students) faced the law of Broome County, the University’s judicial board was mounting its case against them as well." (read more)

Thoughts on Solidarity @ Pre-Trial Conference

As the pre-trial conference on May 6th is approaching, many of us are questioning whether or not to call out for a show of solidarity at the court house.

One the one hand, it's important to constantly demonstrate to the authorities that folks do have our backs and won't stand for police brutality and the smashing of dissent. However, it's not going to be a public hearing; our lawyer meets privately with the assistant DA, who will presumably make some kind of offer.

What do you think? Call out for solidarity? Or wait for a more important court date?

Post responses!