Trial Support Fund for DC 18 - Stop Executions Now!

For: 18 Death Penalty Abolitionists arrested Jan 17, 2017
Washington, DC
Organizer: Abraham Bonowitz
Trial Support Fund for DC 18 - Stop Executions Now! (18 Death Penalty Abolitionists arrested Jan 17, 2017)
$5,131
of $7,500 goal.
Raised by 76 donors
68% Complete
This fundraiser is closed. Thank you for your support!

The Story

DC 18 Trial Scheduled for June 28th!

January 17th, 2017, forty years after the first execution under contemporary laws and the day before another execution was to be carried out, 18 death penalty abolitionists were arrested at the U.S. Supreme Court. The group unfurled a 30-foot-long banner that read “STOP EXECUTIONS!” on the steps of the Court. They also carried roses in two colors, a reminder that they are remembering both families of the murdered and families of the executed as they stand together saying, as one banner did, “We Remember the Victims, But Not With More Killing.”

Those arrested include:
Peter Armstrong (Washington, DC)
Leroy Barber (Portland, OR)
Abraham J. Bonowitz (Columbus, OH)
SueZann Bosler (Miami, FL)
Shawn Casselberry (Chicago, IL)
Shane Claiborne (Philadelphia, PA)
John Dear (Santa Fe, NM)
Randy Gardner (Taylorsville, UT)
Lisa Sharon Harper (Washington, DC)
Derrick Jamison (Cincinnati, OH)
Art Laffin (Washington, DC)
Scott Langley (Ghent, NY)
Michael McBride (Oakland, CA)
Tom Muther Jr. (Topeka, KS)
Doug Pagitt (Minneapolis, MN)
Jack Payden-Travers (Lynchburg, VA)
Sam R. Sheppard (Oakland, CA)
Kelton Tupper (Cheverly, MD).

12 of these defendants will stand trial in DC Superior Court starting June 28, 2017. They intend to prove to the Court that this action was lawful free speech in a public forum under the First Amendment  Also, defendants will present evidence that non violent actions are necessary as a moral imperative to save human lives by stopping executions, including the execution of Rick Gray in Virginia on January 18, whose case was pending before the US Supreme Court at that time. 

This fund raising effort will support travel, logistical coordination, lodging, food and publicity-related costs associated with the upcoming trial. It will also assist defendants in paying any fines, court costs and other fees assessed by the Court, should they be convicted. This is NOT a legal support fund and none of the funds raised will be used for legal fees or legal representation, which is being otherwise provided.

Similar actions took place in 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2012, with convictions occurring in 3 of the four cases. In 2002, the judge acquitted the defendants due to inconsistent testimony by prosecution witnesses.

Get the full story at www.Abolition.org. Thank you for your support!

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on August 2, 2017

UpdateImage

Posted on August 2, 2017

We will APPEAL!

Greetings Friends,

On Friday last week (July 28, 2017), we filed 11 notices of appeal, just ahead of the deadline. Now we hurry up and wait. We expect to receive our trial transcript in a month or so. From there we will carve out our arguments and take the next steps on our journey for justice! Meanwhile, thanks to each and every one of your for your support!

--abe

Abraham J. Bonowitz
Co-Director/Co-Founder
Death Penalty Action
[email protected]
561-371-5204
@abrahambonowitz
@DeathPenaltyAct

Posted on July 2, 2017

UpdateImage

Posted on July 2, 2017

July 1, 2017

Friends -- a quick update!

It's been an amazing few days....

Teach-in and prayer vigil hosted by Sojourners - watch that here, and read the article published simultaneously here.

The Progressive published a terrific piece covering how we put the death penalty on trial!  Read about that here.

Sojourners & Red Letter Christians both published Art Laffin's Closing Argument - a powerful indictment of state sponsored killing!

We're into the final 24 hours of the 24th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the US Supreme Court. We're telling our stories each evening, broadcasting the event live via Facebook - watch the full event from Friday night, here.

And of course, we're more than half way to our goal with the the Trial Support Fund. We really appreciate your contribution. Please help us hit the goal by sharing the effort with others. Here is a tweet you can share:

Please join me in chip in to the DC-18 Trial Support Fund to cover fees & expenses - thanks!  https://www.youcaring.com/DC18TrialSupport

Thank you. We could not do this without your help!

--abe

Abraham J. Bonowitz
www.DeathPenaltyAction.org

Posted on June 30, 2017

UpdateImage

Posted on June 30, 2017

PRESS RELEASE
from the ABOLITIONIST ACTION COMMITTEE
For Immediate Release
June 29, 2017

CONTACTS:
Abraham Bonowitz (text/call): 561-371-5204
Washington, DC:  Death Penalty Abolitionists arrested at the United States Supreme Court in January were found guilty of the charges against them in the DC Superior Court of Judge Robert Salerno and were immediately sentenced to time served. Government prosecutors had requested various sentences including jail time based on prior records of the defendants and could have sought up to $5,000 in fines and 60 days in jail for each. The 12 were also ordered to pay a mandatory fee to the DC Courts Crime Victims Restitution Fund.

"It is a strange thing to live in a country where it is legal to execute people but illegal to hold a banner in front of our highest court," said Shane Claiborne, one of the 12 defendants. "We argued strongly that the plaza of the U.S. Supreme Court is a public space where the First Amendment protects free speech, and more important, we successfully put the death penalty on trial as part of our defense."

Powerful testimony was elicited by pro-se defendants who called as witnesses fellow defendants who have personal experience with capital punishment. These included SueZann Bosler, a South Florida woman whose father was murdered and who herself was stabbed and left to die; Derrick Wayne Jamison, who survived 20 years on Ohio's death row for a crime he did not commit; Randy Gardner, a Salt Lake City man whose brother was executed; and Sam Reese Sheppard, whose mother was murdered and whose father faced the death penalty in an unfair trial in which he was wrongly convicted. Each offered evidence as to how the death penalty harms society and damages all who encounter it.

"I participated in this protest to stop executions because I don't want other families to go through what my family is still dealing with," said Gardner, whose younger brother Ronnie was the most recent person executed by firing squad in the United States. Gardner stunned the courtroom when he held up a photograph of his brother's corpse on an autopsy table as the image was introduced into evidence.

The defendants were arrested for unfurling a banner reading "STOP EXECUTIONS!" on the steps above the plaza at the United States Supreme Court on January 17th, 2017, the 40th anniversary of the first execution under contemporary capital punishment laws, and the day before Virginia executed Ricky Gray. Gray's case was pending before SCOTUS at the time of the protest. He was executed just hours after the defendants were released, late in the day on January 18th.

Interviews with defendants can be arranged by contacting [email protected] or by texting 561-371-5204. Many of the defendants are present at the 24th Annual Fast & Vigil to Abolish the Death Penalty at the U.S. Supreme Court, going on now through midnight on July 2nd. Details are at www.Abolition.org  

Those convicted were:

Abraham J. Bonowitz (Columbus, OH)
SueZann Bosler (Miami, FL)
Shane Claiborne (Philadelphia, PA)
Randy Gardner (Taylorsville, UT)
Lisa Sharon Harper (Washington, DC)
Derrick Jamison (Cincinnati, OH)
Art Laffin (Washington, DC)
Scott Langley (Ghent, NY)
Tom Muther Jr. (Topeka, KS)
Doug Pagitt (Minneapolis, MN)
Jack Payden-Travers (Lynchburg, VA)
Sam R. Sheppard (Oakland, CA)

Six others who were arrested on January 17th had previously taken plea offers offered by the U.S. Attorney.

Peter Armstrong (Washington, DC)
Leroy Barber (Portland, OR)
Shawn Casselberry (Chicago, IL)
John Dear (Santa Fe, NM)
Michael McBride (Oakland, CA)
Kelton Tupper (Cheverly, MD)


RESOURCES
Pro-Se Defense Closing Argument by Art Laffin and MJOA by Jack Payden-Travers available by contacting [email protected]
Images from the Jan 17 Action: https://goo.gl/fzfT0P
Defendant list with statements from each: http://www.abolition.org/jan17/2017/ToolkitDiscussionGuide.pdf
Background & additional details: http://www.abolition.org/jan17/index.html
A fund has been established to cover expenses related to the action and the trial: https://www.youcaring.com/DC18TrialSupport
NOTE: Sam Reese Sheppard, son of Dr. Samuel Holmes Sheppard and Marilyn Reese Sheppard (Sheppard v. Maxell - 1966) will take the stand. See historic Associated Press image of Sam Reese Sheppard on the grounds of the US Supreme Court in 1966 following arguments in that historic case, here:  https://goo.gl/images/S3BSND
SENT BY:
Abraham J. Bonowitz
For the Abolitionist Action Committee
[email protected]
561-371-5204
@abrahambonowitz

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