DC Statehood Green Party
Friday, September 22, 2000
Wayne Turner, (202) 547-9404
Scott McLarty (Party Spokesperson), (202) 518-5624
Democracy 7 Trial to begin with a RALLY FOR STATEHOOD
at D.C. Superior Court; 5 DC Statehood Green Party
activists, including Shadow Rep candidate, among the
*** Rally for D.C. Democracy and Statehood at 8 a.m., in front of D.C. Superior Court, Friday, September 29, 2000, 500 Indiana Avenue, near the Judiciary Square Metro Station (Red Line)
*** Democracy 7 Trial at 9 a.m., D.C. Superior Court,
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The trial of the “D.C. Democracy 7” on the charge of “Disruption of Congress” will begin on Friday, September 29, 2000 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroon 112 of D.C. Superior Court (500 Indiana Avenue NW).
The seven defendents were arrested on July 26, 2000 in the U.S. House of Representatives Visitors’ Gallery after they spoke out on the District of Columbia Appropriations Bill, which includes several riders that overturn locally passed legislation. The riders:
*** Prohibit D.C. from enacting Initiative 59, passed overwhelmingly by D.C. voters in 1998, which would allow use of medical marijuana by patients with serious and terminal illnesses.
*** Gut D.C.’s locally funded needle exchange program designed to control the spread of HIV.
*** Restrict the use of local money to fund family planning for low income women.
*** Prohibit the use of city funds to sue Congress for D.C. voting rights.
Before the trial begins, an 8 a.m. rally for D.C. democracy and statehood will take place in front of D.C. Superior Court. Local citizens and public officials will speak at the rally and call for an end to the persecution of democracy activists and immediate implementation of full citizenship rights for all D.C. residents.
The seven defendants—Martin Thomas, Karen Szulgit, Debby Hanrahan, Bette Hoover, Tanya Snyder, Queen Mother ShemaYah, and Steve Donkin – reacted to the House floor debate by first addressing the Speaker of the House, objecting to the “blatantly anti-democratic” nature of the process which prevents D.C. residents from voicing their opinions.
Then they cast their “votes” by chanting “D.C. votes NO! Free D.C.!”, after which they were arrested by Capitol Police.
“We refuse to sit by and watch Congress hijack democracy,” Martin Thomas, D.C. Statehood Green Party candidate for “Shadow” U.S. Representative later said.
A written statement later released by the group stated, “The U.S. Congress is once again trampling on the democratic rights of D.C.’s people.... Why is this criminal activity being perpetrated by the very institution that is sworn to uphold the democratic rights of free people to govern themselves as they see fit?”
The prosecuting U.S. attorney has filed a motion with the court to restrict from testimony all reference to D.C. self-determination and other arguments related to the political motivation behind the defendants’ actions.
The Democracy 7 will be represented by attorneys Carl Cannon, Reggie Williamson, and Veta Carney; some of the defendants will represent themselves pro se. If convicted, all seven face a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
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