Saturday, May 29, 2004
America deserves better # 15A
Good news. This anti-environment, pro-big business smuggler,
anti-civil liberties, quasi-fascist administration just suffered
another defeat. Thank heavens for a sensible judiciary and for
confirmation of how misguided the administration is! Now let's
defeat them at the polls. America deserves better. Murray.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 19, 2004
GREENPEACE ACQUITTED: JUDGE FINDS GREENPEACE NOT
GUILTY IN LANDMARK FREE SPEECH CASE
Miami, FL -- The Bush administration's attempt to use an obsolete
"sailormongering" law to prosecute Greenpeace failed today when
Judge Adalberto Jordan dismissed the charges in the midst of the
trial. Shortly after the Justice Department rested its case, the judge
granted Greenpeace's motion for acquittal, ruling that there was
insufficient evidence to send the case to the jury. Greenpeace was
the first organization to be prosecuted for the free speech activities
of its supporters.
"America's tradition of free speech won a victory today but our
liberties are still not safe," said Greenpeace Executive Director John
Passacantando. "The Bush administration and its allies seem bent
on stifling our tradition of civil protest, a tradition that has made this
country stronger throughout its history. Greenpeace is grateful to
everyone who stood with us -- from former vice president Al Gore
and NAACP Chair Julian Bond to the citizens of Miami and people
around the world. We will never give up the struggle to protect our
forests, our air, and our water and to build a green and peaceful
The case stems from a protest that took place several miles off the
coast of Florida in April 2002. Two Greenpeace activists peacefully
boarded a ship that was carrying illegal mahogany wood from the
Brazilian Amazon into the Port of Miami. The activists, who clearly
identified themselves as Greenpeace, intended to hang a banner
that read "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging." The individuals
involved in this nonviolent protest were arrested, and misdemeanor
charges against them were settled later that year.
However, instead of intercepting the illegal mahogany and
prosecuting the smugglers, the Justice Department filed criminal
charges against Greenpeace on July 18, 2003. Greenpeace was
charged under an obscure 1872 law against "sailormongering,"
aimed not at protestors but at unscrupulous 19th-century innkeepers
who would attempt to lure sailors to their establishments.
Numerous leaders, legal scholars and groups publicly criticized the
prosecution, including Al Gore, Senator Patrick Leahy, the NAACP,
the ACLU of Florida, People for the American Way, the Sierra Club,
the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Miami Herald, the San
Francisco Chronicle and the Denver Post.