This morning Sara Suman appeared in court along with fellow JVC community members, co-workers, and the LACW community in court for sentencing. Although she expected to receive three months of probation, her defense lawyer, and LACW friend, Ron Kay succesfully argued that she should be given time served or in other words no additional penalties. Initially the judge made an offer of community service, however Sara stated that service is an honor and not a punishment. Sara then made a personal statement of her convictions that lead her to take part in the action on March 16 marking two years of war in Iraq. After a brief recess the judge released her on time served. Below is the statement she read in court.
On Wednesday, March 16, 2005 I joined the Catholic Worker at the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles to commemorate the United States’ second full year in Iraq, to recall, in prayer, the names of U.S. soldiers, and to remember all of the people throughout the world who have died so needlessly in this war. Three of us, David, Catherine and I intended to construct an altar at the top of the steps and strew 1500 beautiful peace cranes, each crane representing a fallen U.S. soldier. As we proceeded up the steps we immediately encountered federal officers who told us to stay on the sidewalk. We continued walking up the steps and at that point we were placed under arrest.
We commemorate, recall and remember in order to resist the government and the media’s orchestrated efforts to make us forget that a horrific and costly war is being waged against the people of Iraq. The United States continues to spend billions per month in Iraq. Simultaneously Congress is now deciding on deep cuts, in the tens of billions, to effective and essential human needs programs like Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the Veterans Association, and the Section 8 affordable housing program–evidence of a domestic war against the poor. The government isn’t even willing to take care of the very people we send to fight our wars. Veterans from this war are already ending up on our streets with untreated PTSD. The war has made the entire world increasingly unstable considering the increase in international violence and there is also a corresponding increase in domestic social problems, particularly that of homelessness. It is a lesson we’ve already learned from history; a disproportionate amount of the homeless population in the U.S. are veterans from our 20th century wars. The Iraq war will continue to feed homelessness in the United States. The consequences of United States’ intervention in Iraq are clear and the benefits are uncertain if none at all. As a person of faith, a person of conscience, as a case manager, community organizer, a young woman simply hoping to live in a world that values peace over profit, I could not and I will not stand by while my country wages a senseless war against innocent people, the poor of our country and the citizens of Iraq.