Thursday, April 12, 2007

To Judge King Upon Conviction

March 26, 2007

The Honorable Rufus King III
Superior Court of the District of Columbia
500 Indiana Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Judge King,

I was convicted in your court on March 14, 2007 for crossing a police line on the grounds of the Capitol on September 26, 2006. Enclosed is your order to pay $50.00 in Compensation to the Victims of Violent Crime by April 16, 2007. i am writing to you to notify you that i refuse to pay the assessment and i will briefly explain my position on the matter.

In your judgment against us on March 14th you claimed that your personal viewpoints were irrelevant and your position as a judge means you must stick strictly to the law. You also stated it was not the job of the court to second-guess the police in setting up a police line. As I stated in court (with appropriate references to previous DC appeals court decisions) it is exactly your duty to review the appropriateness of decisions leading to establishing a police line, especially when first amendments rights are at stake, especially on the grounds of the Capitol, the very “seat of our Democracy”. Obviously, whether you adequately considered this is a matter for the Appeals court to determine. Regardless of that outcome, i believe that i have a duty and a moral obligation to bring to Congress my concerns of the immoral and illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Whether this is through the use of a symbolic coffin with the names of the dead scrawled upon it, or numerous letters, phone calls, or visits to congressional offices, the duty remains. i am bound to this duty through my humanity. It is a duty that i cannot abrogate.

During my most recent visit to the Cannon office building, (the day after my conviction), a friend stated, “I used to condemn the citizens of Germany for doing nothing while their government slaughtered millions of their countrymen and woman, and now I see how it can happen.” As a citizen and a human being I cannot allow the killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to continue under the guise of bringing freedom or democracy to Iraq while our Congressional leaders remain insulated and isolated in the halls of Congress.

Dear Judge King, in court you stated (forgive me for paraphrasing) that you appreciated our sincerity, dedication, and non-violent means. This is simply not enough without appropriate, lawful, and just decisions on your behalf.

I have traveled to Iraq, Palestine, and Lebanon in order to better inform American citizens of the effect of our government’s policies on the people of these regions. i have traveled to the Gulf Coast to volunteer (along with the Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace) in the rebuilding efforts that my government has so dismally failed to provide. i have done my best to share with people what I have learned of peace and love, i have done what i could to help. i do not share this with you in an attempt to impress you. i share this with you because it shows change is possible. In fact, your honor, i submit i have committed a crime. i have failed to do enough to stem the bloodshed perpetrated in my name.

The effects of our government’s criminal behavior can be seen not only in the Middle East but right here at home. As billions are poured into the “war on terror”, our fellow citizens do without. They do without adequate food, adequate shelter, adequate medical treatment and adequate education. Everyday people at home and abroad are suffering as a direct result of our government’s policies.

I cannot continue to pay into a system that perpetuates this injustice under the guise of the “rule of law”. i have seen an elder woman made to clean the streets of DC, her “community service” for daring to sit in front of the White House. i have seen Franciscans, rabbis, and priests handcuffed for hours for approaching the Capitol building. i have seen concerned citizens arrested for voicing their anger in hearing rooms across the Capitol. Yet our government officials continue unabated in their criminal enterprise. When our Constitutional rights are abridged by arbitrarily imposed regulations and the result is the continuing enrichment of our government leaders at the expense of our fellow citizens and human beings around the world, i simply must refuse to cooperate. Silence and acquiesce is complicity.

If you deem it necessary to further expend resources on this matter, please feel free to respond, I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Peace to you and yours,

Johnny Barber