Closing Argument for Newington Five Defense
(1) On October 8, 2002, I, along with my codefendants, participated in a sit-in in Senator Gregg’s office in Newington, demanding that he respond to certain questions about the then proposed war against Iraq. The U.S. Senate was about to vote on the Iraq war resolution, and I understood that Senator Gregg was supporting that resolution. It was also clear to me from the brief statement that he released in response to our protest that he had not answered the fifteen questions we had asked of him about the war and had, thus, not taken into account some vitally important information that was available about that prospective war.
(2) Wars kill people. As Lois Booth, founder of New Hampshire Peace Action, has stated, war is "the organized killing of large numbers of human beings." In a world of competing harms, it is the greatest harm and deserves to be opposed.
(3) (NOT ALLOWED) We have attempted to place several documents in evidence, the most notable being the British Labour Party's "counter-dossier" against the Iraq war. In that document, Alan Simpson, MP, Chair of Labour Against the War and lecturer in politics at Cambridge University effectively refuted the contention that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that threatened the United States or Western Europe, which was the main government justification for war with Iraq given at that time. In addition, the article by Thomas Nagy, "The Secret Behind the Sanctions: How the U.S. Intentionally Destroyed Iraq's Water Supply" (The Progressive, Sept. 22, 2001) shows the inhumanity of the actions the United State government has already taken against Iraq, even though this information is ignored in the mainstream corporate media.
(4) Article 8 of the Bill of Rights of the State Constitution of New Hampshire states, in part that "all magistrates and officials are "accountable" to the people and "Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive" to them. Responding to questions about the justification for a war in which thousands of people would be killed would seem to be the most important application imaginable of the principles of accountability and responsiveness.
(5) Article 10 of the Bill of Rights of the State Constitution of New Hampshire states, in part that "when the ends of government are perverted, the people may and of right ought to reform the old or establish a new government." This article, entitled "The Right to Revolution" established not only a right but an obligation to reform the government when the ends of government are perverted. According to the testimony that Guy Chichester attempted to give (or gave in part), that article was successfully used in his defense in a protest action that has some similarities to ours just twenty years ago and constitutes an important precedent for the law.
(6) The Criminal Trespass Law, RSA 365:2, states that a person is guilty of criminal trespass if he enters or remains in any place "knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so." I submit that an obligation, or, as stated in Article 10, "of right ought to," constitutes the license or privilege to take the action that I and my codefendants did.
(7) According to the "Competing Harms" provision of New Hampshire Law, RSA 627:3, "Conduct which the actor believes to be necessary to avoid harm to himself or another is justifiable if the desirability and urgency of avoiding such harm outweigh, according to ordinary standards of reasonableness, the harm sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense charged." Obviously, the inconvenience of five people staying in an office after closing time is by far outweighed by the harm incurred if an unnecessary war is allowed to occur, along with the deaths and maimings of thousands of individuals, civilians and combatants alike. As John Schuchardt has testified (or would have testified if allowed to do so) there is a long history of civil disobedience in this country in which individuals acting through the lesser harm of ostensibly illegal protest have prevented vastly greater harms, especially those harms caused by wars.
(8) Because of both the legal and humanitarian issues involved in our protest against an unjustified war, in particular one in which a U.S. senator failed to be accountable and responsive to the people, I believe that you must find me and my codefendants not guilty of criminal trespass.
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