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Granny Verdict: Not Guilty! A Victory for Free Speech

Portland, Oregon. A Multnomah County jury found five grandparents charged with "unlawfully and intentionally causing substantial inconvenience to the United States" not guilty of Criminal Mischief in the 3rd degree on Thursday, December 13. Judge Richard Baldwin heard the case which stems from a silent vigil held by the Surge Protection Brigade, also know as the Seriously Pissed Off Grannies, on Good Friday, April 6, at the US Army and Marine recruiting center on NE Broadway. The jury began deliberations Thursday morning at 9:50 and deliberated for about a half an hour. After the decision, one of the jurors referred to the defendants as "heroes."
Grannies, Grandpa and Attorneys with the First Amendment
Grannies, Grandpa and Attorneys with the First Amendment
Waiting for the verdict
Waiting for the verdict
DeEtte Beghtol reacts to “Not Guilty!” verdict
DeEtte Beghtol reacts to “Not Guilty!” verdict
A second, lesser charge, a violation involving "applying graffiti," fell under Judge Baldwin's jurisdiction after the jury was dismissed. Despite the jury's "not guilty" verdict on the more serious charge, the judge found all defendants guilty of "applying graffiti" and imposed a fine of $100 each, ignoring defense pleas that the defendants' high level of community service be taken into account. The defendants plan to appeal the violation conviction and do not intent to pay any fines imposed. It did not dampen their jubilation in defeating the more serious charges.

One of the jurors met with press and defendants after the verdict. He said the verdict came down to "tempera paint." Although the decision does not indicate the jury's reasoning, Judge Baldwin also allowed the jury to consider a "lesser of evils" defense. The defense was allowed because defendants testified that they felt compelled to take action to stop the imminent danger of death to Iraqi civilians and American soldiers. Between the time of the Good Friday vigil on April 6 and December 12 an additional 621 US Service members died in Iraq.

The grandparents who are defendants used tempera paint to send a symbolic message protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as claimed by Defense Attorney Lisa Ludwig, or if the powerful paint caused substantial inconvenience to the United States, and possibly worse as described by the District Attorney, Seth Steward. Steward called upon the jury to render a guilty verdict to "protect our troops." He warned the jury of the danger of a not guilty verdict: "Think of some evils that could happen," he said, "and why it is important for the line to be drawn here. On September 11 some people drove planes into a building to prove a point. The defendants say their conduct is necessary to avoid imminent danger because people dying in Iraq. That is the same thing suicide bombers say."

In his closing argument for defendant Clyde Chamberlain, Attorney Robert Callahan, told the jury that the District Attorney was trying to turn a simple bottle of red tempera paint into "a weapon of mass inconvenience." The water soluble poster paint was used to place red handprints on the window of the Army/Marine Recruiting office at 1371 NE Broadway on April 6, 2007. Chamberlain and the other defendants, Sara Graham, Ann Huntwork, Martha Odom and DeEtte Beghtol all testified that they were motivated by deep convictions and a sense that there was no other way to try to stop the war. "It is not to inconvenience the recruiters," said Martha Odom, "it's a way to stand witness to folks who may not be thinking about this war"

The Oregonian, OPB, KBOO and the Portland Alliance covered the trial. Fox News (12) and KXL came for the verdict. KATU (2), KBOO, The Portland Alliance and Joe Anybody covered the press conference held in the afternoon. The Portland Mercury ran a story in the December 13 edition.

Grannies on Public Access 14.Dec.2007 14:12

Jim Lockhart jglockhart@comcast.net

For those of you who have access to cable tv, 3 of the grannies have confirmed to appear on the Public Access television program, "A Growing Concern." This program, a live call-in, which has been airing weekly since October of 1998, will be on channel 11 from 7:00 - 8:00 pm.

We'll open the phones sometime after 7:30 for those who wish to comment or ask questions of them.

Portland Community Media has two lines for this purpose:
503-288-4442 and 503-288-4448

Waste of tax payer's money. 02.Nov.2009 11:30

DA should focus on real criminals

I served in the US Army during 1989-1995 but I am also against a war in Iraq. It's not our war and we have no reason to be there. I support a war in Afganistan because terroists are still being trained in there. I joined for the GI bills but also wanted to serve the country to defend against foreign threats. I think DA should focus more to real criminals and stop picking on old retired people who just want to express their free speech. Lisa Ludwig is great trial attorney in this town. She is one tough lady.