Antiwar vet protesters beat charges
Photo by Jefferson Siegel
The dozen defendants listened as the judge dismissed the charges.
BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL | Last month, a dozen people, most of them veterans, had their week in court after being arrested last fall.
The Band of Brothers (and Sisters), members of Veterans For Peace, had gathered in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial last Oct. 7 to mark the start of the 12th year of the war in Afghanistan. More than 100 had gathered to read the names of fallen comrades from the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghan wars. When their honorable roll call extended past the park’s 10 p.m. closing time, police moved in, arresting 25.
By the time their case went to trial last month, a defiant dozen remained.
In his decision on July 12, Criminal Court Judge Robert Mandelbaum convicted the 12 of trespassing. He then dismissed the charges, noting that convicting the vets would serve no purpose.
“A dismissal here can in no way be taken as a license for anyone here to return to the plaza after 10 p.m.,” Mandelbaum advised.
Afterward, the vets were all smiles, as was their lead defense attorney, Martin Stolar.
Stolar expressed regret that the vets’ challenge of First Amendment issues failed. However, he said, “I’m grateful that the judge saw the wisdom of dismissing the case in the interest of justice”