[JURIST] A Washington DC Superior Court found 34 members of anti-war activism group Witness Against Torture [advocacy website] guilty Thursday on misdemeanor charges of illegal protesting. Police arrested 71 group members at a protest [JURIST report] in front of the US Supreme Court in January, where they were demonstrating for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison [JURIST news archive]. They were indicted on charges of violating an ordinance barring demonstrations on court grounds. Officials charged 35 protesters, and the Superior Court judge dismissed charges against one for lack of evidence. The defendants, who represented themselves, argued that they were exercising their right to free speech [advocacy press release], but the judge found that they had continued to violate the ordinance despite police warnings. They were scheduled to be sentenced Friday. The Washington Post has more.
At their court appearance [JURIST report], protesters wore orange jumpsuits similar to the ones worn by Guantanamo detainees and some identified themselves using the names of detainees as a way to "symbolically grant the Guantanamo prisoners their day in court" [advocacy press release]. During the trial, one defendant turned his back to the judge and, when arrested for contempt of court, yelled that the judge had committed a crime against justice. The January 11 protest took place on the sixth anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay teror detention facility in Cuba.