Three Washington DC-area peace proponents interrupted a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy last May 21, calling out “No more blood money for wars!” and “End the wars now.”
To scattered applause from spectators, Ellen Barfield of Baltimore and Peter Perry and Eve Tetaz, both of Washington, dropped blood-stained dollar bills on the hearing room floor until they were removed by guards.
On December 14, citing the “biohazard” created by the blood-stained money, Judge Lynne Leibovitz of Washington’s Superior Court sentenced Barfield to 25 days in jail for the action. She sentenced Perry to four days and postponed Tetaz’s sentencing for health reasons.
A U.S. Army veteran, Barfield is a member of the War Resisters League National Committee and of Veterans for Peace. All three defendants are members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, formed to end “aggressive and immoral wars.” In her sentencing statement, Barfield said, “Silence is the voice of complicity, and I cannot be complicit with our government’s war-making.”
The defendants argued that their action was in the tradition of Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Judge Leibovitz and the prosecutor disagreed. In addition to describing the blood money as a “biohazard,” Judge Leibovitz declared that there is a “time and place” for making one’s views heard. The prosecutor, referring to Barfield’s lengthy list of civil disobedience arrests, asked Leibovitz to impose an even longer sentence, in the hope that several months in jail would change Barfield so that she would no longer commit this kind of crime.
Barfield’s husband, Dr. Lawrence D. Egbert, observed that he “and her friends and colleagues know better.” Φ
Matt Daloisio is a member of the National Committee of the War Resisters League, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012. You can reach him at 201.264.4424 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can reach the War Resisters League at 212.228.0450 or email@example.com.