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  TODAY'S BUZZ

Gay Activist Lt. Dan Choi faces prison for protest
From a Luna Media Group news release
2011-08-29

This article shared 1590 times since Mon Aug 29, 2011
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On Monday August 29th at 9 am gay rights activist, Lt. Dan Choi will face federal charges for protesting "Don't Ask Don't Tell" at the White House. He faces 6 months in prison or a $5,000 fine for an obscure infraction of Parks and Wildlife federal regulations.

On November 14, 2010 Choi and 12 others including prominent activists from the LGBT community and combat veterans handcuffed themselves to the White House fence while loudly chanting "I am somebody," "We do this for you" and "President Obama, Silent Homophobia." Verbal orders by ranking US Park Police Lieutenant Robert LaChance cited a regulation often used to move protestors away from the White House sidewalk. LaChance and other police officers have been subpoenaed by Choi's legal team.

Mr. Robert J. Feldman, an experienced criminal defense attorney from New York City, serves as lead counsel for Choi, and is joined by Mr. Norm Kent of South Florida and Mr. Christopher Lynn, a former New York City Traffic Commissioner. All lawyers on the team are gay, and several law school students have volunteered their time with this case to gain critical legal experience and mentorship from the team.

Kent remarked: "Not only was the order unlawful and unconstitutional, it was impossible for Dan to obey the order, as he did not have the key to unlock himself. The police made a big boo-boo in arresting Dan."

Former Army Captain James E. Pietrangelo II will be called as a defense witness. Pietrangelo was a major force in the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, challenging his own discharge until President Obama pressed the Supreme Court to ignore the case in the summer of 2009. Pietrangelo was arrested with Choi twice and participated in a 7-day hunger strike to protest military discrimination. Pietrangelo remarked: "As we dedicate the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial, I am honored to stand with Dan as he goes to trial, defending the right to peacefully protest LGBT discrimination. To prosecute a patriotic veteran who time and again risks his life for others is a moral injustice that brings immeasurable shame upon this federal government. "

The defense legal plan will include a recounting of major demonstrations at the White House that won rights for many stigmatized minorities. Judge John M. Facciola remarked from the bench that the case bears resemblance to "a famous Birmingham Alabama case involving Martin Luther King" on March 18, 2010 during arraignment. The judge has also admitted video evidence of another iconic demonstration on May 1, 2011 celebrating the killing of Osama Bin Laden: a non-permitted spontaneous rally at which MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow was an eye witness. No demonstrators were arrested according to the evidence. Choi remarked: "Selective enforcement of regulations based on political or electoral profitability turns our honorable Park Police officers into nothing more than the armed political henchmen in third world countries. I believe a high ranking politician decided to ignore one gathering and federally prosecute another. Unlike Russia, China or Syria, free speech restrictions in America must be content neutral, regardless of who is trying to stay in power. America can be better than this: Yes We Can."

As late as Friday evening, Choi was offered a deal by prosecution but again refused. "It is crystal clear this prosecution lacks a solid case against Lt. Choi, and prefers not to be publicly embarrassed by having to justify this unlawful arrest. They prefer to impose fear tactics behind closeted doors " Feldman said.


This article shared 1590 times since Mon Aug 29, 2011
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