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Thursday, 29 September 2005
Call for solidarity
Topic: antiwar
A public servant in the best sense, Harry Murray stepped up to the plate a few years back when County Executive Jack Doyle, along with lickspittles and superiors, imposed "finger imaging" identity technology on welfare recipients. Specifically, Harry and a colleague from the Rochester Catholic Worker did a form of moral performance art, dabbing their own fingerprints on the walls of the Westfall Road welfare office. I was there as a journalist, and I objectively took down information for a City Newspaper report, though I wanted to shout Hallelujah and take up my own ink pad.

Now Harry and Sister Grace Miller, another local hero (I don't use the term lightly), face prosecution for bearing witness against George Bush's war and for freedom of expression. Below are selections from Harry's court filings, in his own voice; they give some context to his most recent challenge to violence and illegitimate power. They also argue for the whole community to stand with him and Sr. Grace:

"On May 24, 2005, I attempted to enlarge the Zone of Free Speech in America by a couple of feet. President George Bush’s motorcade had just arrived at Greece Athena High School. Sister Grace Miller and I walked across Long Pond Road from the area to which protestors had been directed to the side of the road closest to the high school (about a football field distance from where the motorcade stopped). I held a sign which stated “The Occupation of Iraq is a Sin” and was trying to walk across the exit road from the high school, which had been blocked off by police barricades, to the sidewalk. I was stopped by an officer and told to go back across the street. I replied that I felt that all of America should be a free speech zone and I felt called to be here. I knelt down, displaying my sign. After further discussion, my arms were seized by two officers and I was dragged toward Long Pond Road. After being dragged several feet, my sign was taken away and I was dropped on the pavement by the police. I heard someone say “You want to lie down, lie down.” I was then handcuffed and made aware that I was under arrest. I got to my feet and walked with an officer to a police car. I would estimate that I was outside the zone of free speech for perhaps five minutes...

"No one was prevented from leaving the high school by our presence since the exit was already blocked off by police. We had no intention of blocking the exit – since the police already had it barricaded, that would have been pointless – and, in fact, no traffic was impeded by our presence...

"I have a history of arrests for nonviolent civil disobedience dating back to the early 1980’s, including arrests at the Pentagon, Griffiss Air Force Base, Seneca Army Depot, the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, and the Monroe County Department of Social Services as well as an apprehension at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. I have served a fifteen day sentence in Albany County Jail for protesting aid to the Contras in Nicaragua in the mid-1980’s and ninety days in the Salvation Army Community Correction Center in Rochester for protesting the preparation for the First Gulf War. In terms of character, I try to live a nonviolent lifestyle according to the principles of Jesus, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day. I wish I could say I was successful in that attempt – I often fail; however, that is the ideal for which I strive...

"A dismissal of the charges would enhance the welfare of the community because it would send a signal to the Bush Administration and to the American people that the courts are concerned about the erosion of free speech by policies of this administration. Freedom of speech is not just an individual right – it is necessary for the proper functioning of a democratic society and, hence, necessary for the welfare of the community." ?

Posted by jackbradiganspula at 17:56 EDT
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