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Nonviolent SOA Watch Protester Gets 3 Days PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 June 2001 00:00
Eric Robison, 21, of Spokane, Washington pled not guilty today to charges of "disobeying a lawful order" and "interfering with government function" for his role in the protest at the Pentagon during the Spring Days of Resistance against the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) this April. After powerfully and eloquently defending himself, Eric was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to three days in prison. Eric was also recently found guilty in Columbus, Georgia as part of the SOA-26. He will begin serving six months in federal prison for that action later this summer.

Lisa Guido, Nathan Gray and Ally Styan also appeared in court today for nonviolent actions taken at the Pentagon during SOA Watch’s April protest against the SOA, recently renamed the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). The four were part of an original group of 10 who were arrested on April 2nd at the Pentagon. The 6 others had their charges dropped.

On arrival, the prosecutor informed the four that he would be requesting jail time if they were found guilty. Lisa Guido and Ally Styan were arrested as part of an action where they peacefully poured their own blood in front of the turnstiles at the Metro entrance to the Pentagon. The act symbolized the blood that the Pentagon and the SOA/WHISC shed daily in Latin America. Nathan Gray was arrested as part of the blockade and street theatre at the River entrance to the Pentagon. He participated in the die-in and massacre re-enactment by pouring water-soluble red paint on the walkway leading up to the Pentagon.

Nathan and Ally requested continuance in order to further prepare their cases. Nathan will now be going on trial July 6th, and Ally on July 20th. Lisa moved for dismissal after her arresting officer failed to show up. The judge gave her "dismissal without prejudice", which means that the prosecutor could bring her to court again in the next 90 days if he so chooses. Eric Robison decided to go ahead with his trial, and represented himself.

Eric’s justification defense began with the action itself. On April 2, 2001, activists participating in the Tunnel entrance die-in were still lying silently amid the red paint when Pentagon employees began vigorously hosing down the walkway under and around them, and splashing bleach (unnecessary for removal of the water-soluble paint) as close as four inches away from their faces. They were soaked to the bone, and many were coughing and weeping as a result of the fumes from the bleach. Witnessing the harmful effects of the "clean-up" on his fellow activists and friends, Eric felt compelled to do something to defend them. He peacefully approached the hose being used on the demonstrators in an attempt to shut it off, was ordered to halt, and was subsequently tackled and arrested for failing to leave the area.

In spite of conflicting testimony from the prosecution’s two key witnesses, and a compelling justification argument from Eric, he was found guilty. "I have no opinion as to whether your actions were right or wrong. That is irrelevant. All that matters in this case is whether you are guilty as charged," the magistrate told him. The prosecutor recommended one to two days imprisonment for each charge. The judge sentenced him to three days for each charge, to run concurrently. Eric was immediately taken into the custody of US marshals, and should be released on Monday.

During Eric's trial he quoted Henry David Thoreau: "Why does it [the government] always crucify Christ, and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest".

His last words before the judge sentenced him were: "We’ll be back."
 

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