“I do not apologize for my actions that night”

West Point Protesters after Sentencing (Beverly Rice not pictured)
Richie Marini  |  March 20, 2013

Beverly Rice, in her 70's, is currently serving 10 days in the Orange County, N.Y. prison system. She was sentenced by Judge Konstantinos Fatsis of Highland Falls. Her crime? Protesting Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan. In December of 2009, two months after Obama won the Nobel Peace Price, he announced from inside Westpoint military academy in upstate NY that he was escalating and expanding the war in Afghanistan with an additional surge of 30,000 more troops.

Beverly Rice was one of 6 people who engaged in first amendment activities outside the West Point campus to petition her government for redress of grievances. She was arrested and found guilty along with the others for "Disorderly Conduct" and "Blocking Traffic." The verdict was appealed and it was shown through direct testimony of the Chief of Police that NO traffic was blocked -- therefore the block traffic charge was dropped. However, the appeals court decided to uphold the "Disorderly Conduct" charge. Judge Fatsis re-sentenced Beverly Rice to 10 days in Orange County correctional facility in Goshen, N.Y. where is she currently serving her sentence. She was sentenced on March 19th (three and a half years later) -- on the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Beverly is a long time peace and social justice activist who is loved dearly by her friends and family.

I have been employed as a software engineer for the last 15 years after receiving a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the City University of New York. I currently own a home in Staten Island, New York where I've lived for the past 10 years. I'm an active member of my community and various other parts of New York City.

On December 1st, 2009 President Obama, not more then two months after receiving the Nobel peace prize on October 9th announced from inside the West Point campus in front of hundreds of cadets that he would be expanding the illegal war and occupation in Afghanistan that started under the Bush Administration. I, along with approximately 300 other people, most of whom were from the local area, attended a rally organized by local organizers against the illegal war and occupation of Afghanistan which has ragged on for 12 years and is now the longest war in U.S. history.

I attended this rally, and another rally here in Highland falls a few months thereafter, to protest the war crimes that my government is committing in my name.

I'd like to say – I do not apologize for my actions that night.

The United States has an incredibly violent history as we stand here today on land acquired through Genocidal means and can claim title to the only country to ever use an atomic weapon of mass destruction against another. The United States government continues down this trajectory of violence today with it's use of torture, extraordinary rendition and drones that murder innocent civilians every day. It commits these violent acts to sustain itself by creating new markets, obtaining resources and enslaving people into it's system in order to prevent itself from collapsing at the expense of innocent lives abroad.  

As a engineering student I learned about Newtons laws of motion. The first law states an object in motion stays in motion until a force acts upon it. I came to Highland falls to act as a force, a non-violent force, against the continued trajectory of violence and genocide by the United States government. I find my actions that night to have been moral, just, of service to the local community, the country, and humanity as a whole, and necessary in order to stop the torture and murder of innocent civilians abroad.    

This court has found me guilty for those actions. Therefore, I find this court and the district attorneys office guilty of aiding and abetting in the murder and torture of countless Afghans, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, creating millions of refuges and responsible for the now over 7,000 service men and woman who have died, tens of thousands who have been wounded and countless suicides as a direct result of these wars and occupations that this court has shown to support. I find this courts actions to be unjust, unlawful, and without honor and in violation of my constitutional rights and of an immense disservice to the local community, country and humanity as a whole.

Despite the penalties imposed upon me here today I will continue to work effortlessly to organize the citizens of Highland Falls and elsewhere to put stop the crimes of this government. As an Humanitarian, this is the greatest service that I can do for the citizens of Highland Falls, the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.

* * *

West Point Trial Resentencing Statement by Beverly Rice

On December 1, 2009, President Obama arrived at West Point to announce a surge of 30 to 33 thousand US troops to be sent to fight in Afghanistan. The six of us were arrested outside the gates of West Point for nonviolently protesting this decision.

A total of 2177 American soldiers have been killed during the eleven years we have been fighting in Afghanistan.

1230 have been killed since we were arrested three years ago? How many more have been wounded? How many more have been sent home suffering emotional and mental illnesses? Consider, 22 veterans commit suicide each day! Consider also the sorrowful loss for the family and friends of our dead and wounded soldiers. I consider these each and every day.

In good conscience, I cannot pay a court fee, a fine nor do community service to a system that denies me my first amendment right to peacefully assemble, to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

I do community service daily as a peace and justice activist such as joining the demonstration on December 2009 at West Point.

I will pay the surcharge, expecting that this fee will go into the crime victims fund. I view this payment as a charity.

In lieu of a fine, I ask that you consider an option, that I instead donate the same amount to the National Lawyers Guild that represents civil rights cases pro bono.

If you can’t accept this option, I will take jail time and ask to start the sentence tonight.

Footage from the 2009 protest: