(NEWS ADVISORY) DC Democracy 7 trial resumes; Prosecutors try to censor political
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 2000 19:07:27 -0700 (PDT)
From: DC Statehood Green News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The DC Statehood Green Party
For immediate release
Friday, October 13, 2000
Martin Thomas, (202) 332-6558
Prosecutors Seek to Censor Political Speech During
Trial of D.C. Democracy 7
Trial Resumes Monday, October 16
*** What: Trial of D.C. Democracy 7
*** When: Monday October 16, 2000 at 9:15 a.m.
*** Where: D.C. Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue NW, Courtroom 116
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The trial of seven District
residents accused of disruption on Congress during a
demonstration for D.C. democracy in the U.S. Capitol
House visitors gallery resumes Monday, October 16
after a two week delay. On Monday, Judge Anne
Blackburne-Rigsby will hear arguments on a motion
filed by the U.S. Attorney s to prohibit any mention
of D.C. Statehood or voting representation during
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) will testify as a
fact witness and Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Rep. Ernest
Istook (R-OK) may be subpoenaed during the trial.
Suspicions that the trial would be politically charged
were confirmed at an early morning rally outside of
the courthouse on September 29. Chanting Free D.C.!
and No Democracy, No Peace, about 75 people
demonstrated in support of the defendants and for
their rights to democratic government.
The rally was held before the scheduled opening of the
trial, which was delayed until October 16 so that the
defendants could respond to the prosecutors motion to
prohibit political speech.
The seven defendants 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. The bill includes many riders
that overturn locally passed legislation, including:
*** Prohibiting 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.
*** Gutting D.C. s locally funded needle exchange
program to control the spread of HIV.
*** Prohibiting the use of city funds to sue Congress
for D.C. voting rights.
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
This motion to ban political speech during the trial
is another attempt to deny D.C. residents their
rights, Martin Thomas, D.C. Statehood Green Party
candidate for Shadow U.S. Representative said. The
real crime here is the disruption of democracy by
Congress , said co-defendant Tanya Snyder.
The Democracy 7 will be represented by attorneys Carl
Cannon, Veta Carney, Kenny Page, and Reggie
Williamson; two 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
*** The D.C. Statehood Green Party: