CHICAGO (CBS) — Seven of the eight protesters who were arrested outside President Barack Obama’s campaign headquarters on Monday were released from jail Tuesday.
Those seven have agreed to plead guilty to trespassing, and will get six months of court supervision.
CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports only one of the arrested protesters pleaded not guilty, it’s clear none of these people believe they committed a real crime.
Although they may have violated the letter of the law, they don’t believe they violated the spirit of the law when they refused to leave the Prudential Building on Monday after trying to take their anti-NATO protest directly to Obama campaign headquarters.
The seven protesters who were released from jail Tuesday were cheered by members of the Catholic Worker Movement, which organized Monday’s protest rally.
They’d been held since they were arrested for refusing to leave the Prudential building when police arrived at the scene, after the protesters sneaked past security.
In all, eight people were busted. Seven have been released, except for Chicagoan Chris Spicer, who refused to plead guilty as a matter of conscience.
“In this country, if you plead innocent, you’re likely to do more jail time than if you plead guilty, and only those who have been through this system know what I’m talking about,” said protester Frank Cordaro, who was among those who pleaded guilty to trespassing.
Friar Louis Vitale said he knows that better than just about anyone. Although he wasn’t arrested Monday, the Franciscan priest has spent about two of his 80 years behind bars, after being arrested hundreds of times during more than 50 years of non-violent protest.
“I’m free in prison, too. I’m free because I follow my conscience,” he said.
The young Catholic Workers who staged Monday’s protest are following in his footsteps. They knew they might be arrested when they tried to deliver an invitation to their alternative summit to the president, but they did it anyway.
“Delivering that invitation was a tremendous and important goal,” Ross Martinie-Eiler said. “I’m glad that we got as far as we got.”
And they said what they did wasn’t civil disobedience, but obedience to their higher power.
“If Jesus were here today, he would be inside this building, under arrest, for not leaving that building yesterday,” Sam Yergler said outside the Chicago Police lockup on Belmont Avenue.
Most of the protesters said they plan to continue to march all week against NATO, which they believe is a tool used to wage wars that benefit the richest one percent, at the expense of the rest of the world.