by Melanie Nathan, March 28, 2013
I joined a group U.S. service members, GetEQUAL activists, as well as well known U.K. activist Peter Tatchel at the White House today, for a rally in support of Lt. Dan Choi ,who is being tried by the U.S. Government, after he was arrested in November 2010, together with 13 servicemembers and activists who chained themselves to the White House fence, protesting Don’t Ask Don’t tell.
After re-enacting part of the 2010 events, the group marched and rallied to the federal Court House where Choi is being tried.
All thirteen were arrested, however Lt. Choi was the only one of the group who did not plead guilty at the time of arrest.
Attending and called as Choi’s first witness was Rev C.T. Cordy Tindell Vivian, a close friend and lieutenant of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights Movement. When asked by Lt. Choi what Dr. King would have said about his trial, Rev Vivian noted in court that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been there to support what is now being sought as the next wave of freedom.
The Judge offered Choi an opportunity to request the standard dismissal of the trial under the Court’s procedural rules, noting that he had the right to assert the prosecution had failed to prove its case. An extremely emotional Choi declined and noted that if he did ask for such dismissal, he believed he would be letting his fellow soldiers down.
Lt. Choi said before the trial:
“The federal prosecutor fiercely pushed this case for three years , demanding the maximum punishment: 6 months in federal prison. To date, the government lost 5 of 6 protest cases against me, but they refuse to drop this one. Even after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” this seldom-used criminal charge against me remains: “Failure to Obey.” My applications to re-enlist in the army were denied solely because of this trial. Whether it is to “teach me a lesson,” or prevent my reinstatement, or bully those who practice free speech, the prosecution will not give up.”
Pictures Cathy Kristofferson