Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Iowa Activists Fined $10 for Ash Wednesday Occupation

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Iowa Activists Fined $10 for Ash Wednesday Occupation

Article excerpt

A FEDERAL magistrate fined six Iowa peace and social justice activists $10, plus $25 court costs, following a trial on June 11.

The charges stemmed from an Ash Wednesday occupation of Sen. Tom Harkin's (D-IA) office in protest of the senator's support of Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza in December and January.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, Magistrate Judge Celeste F. Bremer accepted guilty pleas from Ed Bloomer, 61, Frank Cordaro, 58, Renee Espeland, 47, Chester Guinn, 80, and Brian Terrell, 52, for "failure to comply with directions of a federal police officer." The fifth defendant, Elton Davis, 47, was found guilty by Judge Bremer, after pleading "No Contest" to the same charge.

The six activists, along with a seventh, Sherry Hutchison, 90, were arrested on Feb. 25, 2009, for "interference of official acts." Hutchison had pleaded guilty to the original charge and paid her fine earlier. All seven are Des Moines residents except Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa.

Immediately prior to the trial, federal prosecutor John Courter informed the activists that the original charge had been dropped for lack of evidence and they had been charged with "failure to comply. …

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