Disturbing for peace

The U.S. Attorney will look bad if they blow this one.

Ten anti-war protesters pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court last week to violating a federal code regarding “disturbance.” Their trial, which is being handled by the U.S. Attorney, will be heard by a magistrate judge on January 9.

McGeorge School of Law professor John Sims said it sounds like a “big bore” case with “small bore” defendants for a “non-event.” He added that any unlucky prosecutor assigned to the case would have “a hard day at the office.”

In a “die-in” protest in September, the members of the Sacramento Coalition to End the War sat and lied down in a hallway inside Rep. Doris Matsui’s office, which is housed in the federal courthouse on I Street. They refused to move to the waiting room or leave until the Sacramento Democrat signed a “declaration of peace,” which included a promise to vote no on further Iraq war funding.

After about an hour, Federal Protective Service officers arrested the protesters, who were mostly over 50. The group—which included four veterans and the mother of a soldier who at the time was serving in Iraq—was cited and immediately released.

According to an SCEW press release, punishment for the alleged violation could be a fine of up to $5,000 and/or 30 days in jail. They are calling themselves the “Matsui 10.”

“Maybe the reason they’re going forward is that there is a pattern of similar actions,” Sims said. “[It’s] very common to drop a case like this. Prosecutors have better things to do.”