New York, NY – June Brashares, the San Francisco activist who unfurled a banner reading “Bush Lies, People Die” inside the Madison Square Garden hall during George Bush’s speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC), was found not guilty yesterday of all charges. "I'm delighted that the jury upheld my right to free speech, especially at a time when our constitutional rights are under attack. I hope that others who hear about this case will be encouraged to speak out against the war," Brashares said.
Brashares had been peacefully exercising her constitutional free speech rights when she was tackled to the ground and dragged out of the convention hall during the RNC. In the process of tackling and dragging Brashares, one of the accosting parties claimed to have sustained an injury to his leg. Brashares was found not guilty of all charges, including assault, disorderly conduct, harassment and attempted assault.
Brashares was one of two individuals who managed to protest Bush inside Madison Square Garden on the final night of the RNC; the other was another woman with the women’s peace group CodePink -- CodePink’s Co-Founder Jodie Evans.
During Bush’s speech, Brashares took off her shoes, stood up on a chair and held up her banner among the California delegation on the Convention floor less than a dozen rows from the front stage. The chair she stood on was apparently offered to her by an unwitting former Governor of California, Pete Wilson. Several TV cameras’ live coverage showed the banner and Bush was forced to pause uncomfortably during his speech while delegates shouted “four more years” to drown the commotion and Brashares’ chants of “Bush Lies, People Die.”
She does not regret her protest at the RNC and has maintained all along that the court would exonerate her. Brashares states, “what we in the anti-war movement were saying in September of 2004 has stood the test of time and in the wake of recent discoveries such as the Downing Street Memo has been shown to be even more profoundly tragically true. Now over 2,000 U.S. men and women have been killed in Iraq since March 2003. That’s the loss of life for over 1,700 soldiers plus hundreds of contractors and other civilians, including my dear friend Marla Ruzicka who was in Iraq to help civilian victims. Conservative estimates are that 22,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed and the British Journal “Lancet” has estimated over 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the US led invasion. In addition well over 12,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded. Many of those injuries are profound and life-changing injuries like lost limbs and brain damage. There is no way to fully know the psychological damage.”
Brashares says, “the courts shouldn’t be going after people for expressing their opinions at political events, we need justice in regards to the U.S. Administration that has lied and is lying about its actions that have resulted in the unnecessary death of thousands upon thousands of people.”
Brashares will be returning to San Francisco tonight, Friday, June 23. She is available for comment at the cell phone number above today and over the weekend.
Banner-Bearing Protester at Convention Is Acquitted
By ANDREW JACOBS, The New York Times, June 24, 2005