December 18, 2009

Ellen Barfield Found Guilty and Sentenced to 25 DAYS in JAIL

I met Ellen down in Georgia last month. She was at a Veterans for Peace meeting during the SOAW gathering outside of Fort Benning. She was concerned about the sentencing. If she was in jail she wouldn't be able to go to the Gaza Freedom March at the end of December. Here is a woman whose entire life is dedicated to peacemaking. Although she doesn't belong in prison, I know she'll will be an inspiration to others while she is there.

WRL: Three capital-area peace proponents interrupted a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy last May 21, calling out “No more blood money for wars!” and “End the wars now.” To scattered applause from spectators, Ellen Barfield of Baltimore and Peter Perry and Eve Tetaz, both of Washington, dropped blood-stained dollar bills on the hearing room floor until they were removed by guards.

On December 14, citing the “biohazard” created by the blood-stained money, Judge Lynne Leibovitz of Washington’s Superior Court sentenced Barfield to 25 days in jail for the action. She sentenced Perry to four days and postponed Tetaz’s sentencing for health reasons.

VFP: Ellen was sentenced to 18 months of probation, 75 days in jail, all but 25 suspended. This means she began serving her 25 days today. Should she be arrested within the next 18 months, or violate terms of her probation (which includes a stay away from the entire Capitol complex), she will be hauled before Judge Liebovitz who pledged to give her the other 50 days. > Read the original action story

Write to Ellen while she serves her sentence:
Ellen Barfield, DCDC #325-704
DC Jail/Correctional Treatment Facility
1901 E Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
This is Ellen's statement to Judge Liebovitz:
Good morning, your Honor.
It is a part of nonviolence training to calmly face whatever the system feels it needs to do to the nonviolent activist who has challenged injustice. Nonviolence training is an important part of being a peace and justice activist, and in my over 20 years of activism I have participated in many trainings and group discussions on how to resist violence, both in society and in oneself. I do not believe in violence of any kind, a conviction, ironically enough, I began forming when I was serving as an armed potential purveyor of violence as a soldier in the Army.

The subject of the hearing where my colleagues and I briefly spoke out was the possible diversion of just a little bit of the enormous sums being spent on killing and destruction to the human needs of the Afghan people. We doubted that would happen, and we are now saddened to hear about nothing but troop escalation and drone bombings killing Afghan and Pakistani families. Just a few days ago the director of Care International's Afghan effort decried the militarization of the small amount of humanitarian aid available, less than 10% of that spent on the military. Aid is being distributed for military counterinsurgency purposes. When soldiers and aid workers together visit a village, the aid workers are distrusted and the village becomes less safe because soldiers were seen there.

I have loved ones caught up in combat overseas right now. I must speak out in opposition to the immoral, unjust, anti-social wars our nation has been waging for so many years. I must urge my loved ones and my neighbors to refuse the command to hate and kill Afghans and Iraqis. I refuse to hate the enemies our government has designated, and I refuse to hate people with whom I disagree. But silence is the voice of complicity, and I cannot be complicit with our government's warmaking.
Listen HERE to Ellen's radio interview last spring where she explains her reasons for doing the action.

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