Updated at 8:28 p.m.
A District of Columbia Superior Court jury convicted four protesters of disorderly conduct for demonstrating against funding for the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay while inside the U.S. House of Representatives gallery.
Although 14 people were arrested during the June 23 demonstration, only five went to trial. The jury was picked on Tuesday and the jury returned a guilty verdict for three of the protesters yesterday and one today. The fifth protester had her case dismissed by the government after the defense rested.
One of the convicted protesters, Mike Levinson of New Rochelle, NY, was sentenced to two days in jail, which was then suspended; unsupervised probation with the understanding that he could return to the U.S. Capitol grounds but not engage in any illegal protest activity there; and a choice of a $150 fine or 15 hours of community service.
Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher accepted Levinson’s offer to pay the $150 to a charity, instead. He will also pay $50 to the crime victims' fund.
The other three protesters are scheduled for sentencing Jan. 12. Brian Hynes of the Bronx, NY, one of the convicted protesters, said in a phone interview today that despite the guilty verdict, he was glad the group had a chance to bring their cause to a wider audience. Hynes went by the alias Shakir Ami at trial, a reference to a current Guantanamo Bay detainee.
“We are delighted that my legal name in the District is Shakir Ami, and that was the name of the trial. In a small way, he has crept into U.S. courts system,” Hynes said. The defendants were not allowed to present detailed testimony about Guantanamo Bay, but they were allowed to reference their opposition as the reason for the June protest.
The five protesters represented themselves at trial. Their attorney advisers were First Amendment lawyers Ann Wilcox and Mark Goldstone, both solo practitioners.
The demonstrators were charged with one count of disorderly and disruptive conduct on Capitol grounds. According to charging documents, the protesters stood up during the middle of a House session and began yelling “No relief for Guantanamo Bay” and other statements.
The defendants are all members of Witness Against Torture, a national grassroots organization. They viewed the trial as a chance to bring their cause to the public; before Friday’s hearing began, a group of demonstrators stood outside of Superior Court wearing the orange jumpsuit and black hood associated with uniforms worn by Guantanamo Bay detainees.
A previous version of this article misstated the number of protesters arrested, the sentencing date and the terms of Levinson's sentence.