Code Pink Women Claim Court Victory

By Judith Scherr
Friday June 27, 2008 - 09:06:00 PM

A superior court judge Tuesday reaffirmed the rights of four Code Pink women to demonstrate at the downtown Berkeley Marine Recruiting Station, according to Zanne Joi of Code Pink. 

Four “wailing mothers,” Joi, Medea Benjamin, Toby Blome and Pamela Bennett protested the 4,000th person dead in Iraq on March 25 by entering the MRS, sitting down and refusing to leave until they were carted away by police. They were charged with misdemeanor counts of trespassing. 

Pamela Bennett had also been charged with indecency when she bared her breasts at the MRS as part of a protest where demonstrators tried to make the point that war is indecent, but mothers’ breasts are life sustaining. (See http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2008-06-19/.) 

In Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday, Judge Morris Jacobson reduced all the charges to infractions, according to the quartet's attorney Judy Browne. The infraction charge will be dropped Jan. 5 if the four do not violate three conditions: they can protest in front of the MRS, but not more than four feet from the curb; they may not enter the MRS and they may not enter the alcove next to the MRS.  

If the women violate these conditions they will be charged with an infraction and face fines of $400, Browne said. If they abide by the conditions, all charges will be dropped. 

“It was a total victory,” Joi told the Planet Thursday. “It protected all of our rights to freedom of speech.” 

Joi said the four women would abide by the judge’s ruling. As for committing civil disobedience at the MRS by entering the storefront or affixing anti-war banners to the MRS windows, “There are plenty of other Code Pink women and activists who can do that,” Joi said. 

A further change against Joi—battery on a police officer who had said Joi spit at her—was dropped, Browne said. 

Joi, who claimed she had not spit on the officer, said she was considering filing a complaint charges against Berkeley police for false arrest in the case and may bring a civil lawsuit as well. (See http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2008-05-29.) 

Berkeley police did not return a call for comment.