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News :: Organizing
Boston Peace Activists Sheila Stumph and Scott Langley Sentenced to Jail for Non-violent Civil Disobedience
22 Mar 2004
On December 29, 2003 Shiela Stumph and Scott Langley, both members of the Halely House , participated in an action at the Pentagon to call for an end to war-making and military spending. Sheila and Scott pour bottles of their own blood on the Pentagon. Their trial was March 19, 2004.
BostonPeace Activists Sheila Stumph and Scott Langley Sentenced to Jail for Non-violent Civil Disobedience



What Happened

--------------------

On December 29, 2003 Shiela Stumph and Scott Langley, both members of the Halely House , participated in an action at the Pentagon to call for an end to war-making and military spending. Sheila and Scott pour bottles of their own blood on the Pentagon. Their trial was March 19, 2004.

What you can do

----------------

1. To support the actions of Sheila and Scott please consider donating
$50 or more to their work for social justice. Upon release from prison
Sheila and Scott will move to Virginia to found a hospitality house
to work in solidarity with family members of death row inmates. The house
will provide lodging and other support for the families while they are
visiting people on Virginia's notorious Death Row.

You can support by sending your donation to:

Haley House
23 Dartmouth Street
Boston, MA 02116
USA

Please make the check payable to "Haley House"
and write "For Sheila and Scott" in the memo line.

2. Forward this to other people and groups

3. Learn about and consider DIRECT ACTION

----------------------------------------------------



Their words

-----------

“We will not comply with a system that seeks to hide the systematic creation of oppression and suffering!”

“On the morning of December 27 Scott Langley and I walked up to the Pentagon and poured our blood on its pillars and walls. After pouring the blood we knelt in prayer in front of the stained pillars. We prayed for the victims of our country's foreign and domestic policies. We prayed for the victims who have died and those who have killed. Those who have suffered on the streets of Boston and New York City and the streets of Baghdad and Ramallah. We were handcuffed and arrested and after a few re-positionings we were told to once again kneel in front of the pillars. Over the next couple of minutes 15 other demonstrators were arrested for holding banners across the pathways and pleading with the workers streaming into the building to quit the military and refuse to kill. The others who were arrested were brought over to us and we all knelt, handcuffed, in front of blood-stained pillars.”



--Sheila Stumph





“The Pentagon is the center of our nation's killing machine - silencing the voices that strain to cry out: NO MORE!"

"I knew that I wanted to protest against the United States' military system that violates the universal commandment of loving one's neighbor and not seeking war against nation. The United States has long been the perpetrator of suffering and violence for many, many people across the world. Through our military policy, we massacre the holy innocents every day.

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, which is remembered on December 28 each year to mark when King Herod called for all children under two to be killed, inspired Sister Linda Ballard, my friend and mentor at Haley House in Boston, to write the following: ‘Today there are too many families and too many innocents struggling and dying with no voices to cry out for them. Some lie dying on the battlefields and in the cities destroyed by human greed.’”

--Scott Langley


The Details

----------

Haley House Community members arrested, while two pour blood on the Pentagon in an action to commemorate the massacre of the innocents and call for an end to war-making and military spending

At 7:00 am on Monday, December 29, 2003, as hundreds of workers streamed into the Pentagon, 75 protestors vigiled outside calling for an end to war-making. While the protestors appealed to those entering the Pentagon, two Catholic Workers from Boston approached the building and poured human blood on the pillars and doors.

The two blood pourers, along with 15 other people - including Caroline Arpe and Steve Barnes of Haley House - were arrested by Pentagon Police and later released.

That Monday morning, during the annual peace witness, many vigilers held signs and banners, others leafleted with appeals for workers to leave the military.

Sheila Stumph and Scott Langley, both 27 and from Haley House, the Catholic Worker community in the South End of Boston, made their way up to the entrance of the Pentagon from a nearby subway escalator with bottles of their own blood. Sheila and Scott poured the blood on the columns and doors at the entrance to symbolize the blood of the holy innocents. They then knelt in prayer as the sun rose and illuminated the pillars of red.



Within seconds, two Pentagon Police officers noticed what had happened and quickly handcuffed the two protestors, keeping them knelt in front of the bloody pillars. One-by-one, 15 others were arrested and brought over to the scene, creating an arc around the dripping blood.

The action symbolized the bloodiness that is already on the Pentagon. "The Pentagon works in the business of war and bloodshed everyday. Today we offer our blood to remember the victims of war, and to also offer hope - since blood is also a symbol of life," said Sheila and Scott. "The pouring of blood is not with malicious intent and not with angry vengeance, but instead it is in order to give life to those whose blood has been spilled by the commands of the Pentagon," they said.

Sheila and Scott are being charged with two federal misdemeanors: violation of a "preservation of property" law (the pouring of blood) and "admission to property" (failing to disperse and without a permit to protest). The other fifteen other people were arrested for refusing to disperse after handing out flyers and disrupting foot traffic with banners and their own bodies.

The action was part of a community "Faith and Resistance Retreat," which has been held in Washington, D.C., three times a year for the past thirty years. The December retreat is an annual gathering of faith-based resisters to commemorate the "feast of the holy innocents", the biblical King Herod's mass murder of children to eliminate the threat of rival power that he feared.

The Catholic Worker and resistance communities in Washington and Baltimore, who organize the retreat each year, have made a particular effort to witness at the Pentagon regarding the issues of war and militarism. Since August of 1987 members have vigiled at the Pentagon each Monday morning in protest of militarism, war-making and nuclear weapons. The actions often involve symbolic acts including throwing blood and ashes, digging graves, chaining doors shut, painting shadows of the dead on roads, and blocking entrances.

Of the 17 arrested, the charges against 15 have been dropped. The remaining two, Sheila and Scott, will go to trial on March 19 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va. and face up to six months in jail for the use of blood.


The Trial

------------

On Friday, March 19, 2004, Scott Langley and Sheila Stumph appeared at the Eastern District Court of Virginia to go on trial for their December 29, 2003 act of protest at the Pentagon.

Scott and Sheila were charged on two counts:

1. Illegally damaging private property

2. Willfully creating a hazardous and offensive condition at the Pentagon.

Each count had the possibility of a sentence of 6 months incarceration (12 months total, each). The prosecuting DA immediately informed the court that he would be seeking incarceration with a conviction, prefacing the statement with, “I’m not the bad guy; I’m just doing my job,” and advising Scott and Sheila to secure an attorney. The two responded by “knowingly and voluntarily” waiving their right to an attorney, firmly believing their witness of truth would be heard and justice would champion.

Both Scott and Sheila pleaded not guilty.

The government’s first witness, Officer Green (Greene?) of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, was called forth and questioned by the DA.

Officer Green stated that he did not see either Sheila or Scott “do anything.” He was stationed at the metro stop checking bags and persons entering the Pentagon when he heard someone say: “look what they did.” He says he turned and saw Scott and Sheila kneeling in front of the red substance dripping from the walls, each within arms distance of a bottle containing red substance. He says he heard Scott and Sheila say: “it’s the blood of the holy innocents.”

Officer Green approached Scott and Sheila and proceeded to take Scott into custody. When asked if Scott was read his Miranda rights at the time of arrest (at this time, they were still at the Pentagon in front of the blood-dripping wall), he said he was not because it was “too chaotic,” because of the rousing of other protesters. He denied asking Scott any questions at the scene, claiming only to have executed the arrest.

Officer Green claimed that he did not question Scott until he was taken to FOB 2 (Federal Office Building) to be photographed and fingerprinted. Green said it was at that time, after being photographed and printed, that he pulled Scott aside, and read him his rights.

Scott then cross-examined Green.

He asked: “Was I cooperative, peaceful, respectful?” to which Green answered, “Yes,” with no hesitation.


Scott also pointed out that the area was not immediately closed off and asked “so it was not enough of a hazard or not enough damage was present to close off the area immediately?”

Scott also questioned the officer of the chronology of the events regarding questioning and Miranda rights. He asked the officer “there were no questions asked at the Pentagon?” Green replied, “No, there were not.” Scott asked, “There were no questions asked in the fingerprint/photograph room?” to which Green replied that he only asked questions after Miranda rights were issued.

Scott and others who were present on the day of the protest knew then that Green had clearly perjured himself with regards to his statement concerning the chronology of events with questioning and Miranda rights. Scott was in fact questioned before having his rights read to him: he was questioned at the scene, in the fingerprinting room, and in a hallway at FOB 2.

The next witness, Officer Robert Haynes of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, was called forth and questioned by the DA.

Haynes says like Green he was checking bags and persons entering the Pentagon and did not see either Scott or Sheila commit the act in question of pouring blood on the Pentagon.

Haynes heard someone say, “Look what they did,” turned his attention to Scott and Sheila and saw Of. Green putting Scott under arrest. He approached the scene and saw Sheila kneeling in arms reach of the bottle.

Haynes proceed to place Sheila under arrest. Haynes claimed Sheila was Miranda-ized but did not answer any questions.

Sheila then cross-examined Haynes.

She asked: “was I cooperative, peaceful?” Haynes replied “yes.”

She asked: “you said in your statement you saw me praying?” Haynes replied “yes.”

She asked if the doors were immediately shut off; Haynes replied no. She then asked if any individuals coming through the doors where the blood appeared made any comments or expressed any sort of concern regarding a “hazardous or dangerous situation.” Haynes replied “no.”

The next witness, Sergeant Hillard of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, was called forth and questioned by the DA.

Hillard fingerprinted and photographed Sheila and Scott. During the procedure of taking Sheila’s fingerprints, he examined her hands and claims he noticed red flecks on her hands.

Officer Neal, a Pentagon Evidence Custodian (handles incoming evidence), was then called to the stand.

She was given two bottles found at the scene and four posters bearing messages. She took the bottles to the Pentagon Forensics department and confirmed they contained human blood.

When Sheila cross-examined Neal, she asked if Neal could remember the messages written on the placards. Neal responded she could not remember.

Sheila reminded her: “Is it possible they had messages such as ‘refuse to fight, refuse to kill’ and ‘god is watching,’ written on them?”

Neal replied she could not recall.

Finally, Charlie McCormick, of the Pentagon Building Management Office, was called to the stand and questioned by the DA.

He testified that on the morning of Dec. 29, 2003, a unit was sent to clean up the substance that appeared on the walls. Because they did not know what the substance was, standard procedure was to treat the substance with the caution demanded by a hazardous spill. The clean-up crew wore hazardous suits and brought with them gear for hazardous waste clean-ups.

He testified that the clean-up demanded the work of 3 employees, at 18 hours total (6 each) and $833 in labor, $116 in materials.

At this point, the DA made the statement that “the government believes it has proved with sufficient evidence that the two individuals threw the blood.”

Scott and Sheila argued that sufficient evidence had not been offered to prove this.

Furthermore, at this point in the case, there was discussion of amending the first count because of the use of the word “private” in the phrase “private property.” The judge said he would take it into consideration.

Next, Sheila Stumph went to the stand to offer her testimony. Unfortunately, I do not have a word-for-word transcript of her testimony, but have done my best to paraphrase it as follows:

“On the morning of December 29th, Scott and I went to the Pentagon with a clear message as Christians who believe that all killing is wrong. We cannot be complicit when there is killing is taking place. The blood that appeared there on that morning was already there. No one seemed physically offended by the blood; people went in an out of the Pentagon.”

She went on to say that just as none seem to be offended by the killing and suffering that is systematically organized at the Pentagon, no one was offended by the blatant display of this symbolized by the blood dripping on the walls of the Pentagon that day.

When asked by the DA “was there blood on the Pentagon?” Sheila replied “there was blood on the building, of the holy innocents, yes.” The DA continued to ask questions “did you throw blood on the wall? Did you put your blood there?” Sheila continued to respond by saying, “blood appeared that day, yes.”

Scott then took the stand to offer his testimony. Unfortunately, I do not have a word-for-word transcript of his testimony, but have done my best to paraphrase it as follows:

“On December 29th, I went to the Pentagon because it is a bloody building and I went to bear witness to the blood. I went there out of a spiritual practice of grief and love. The real damage was not that blood on the walls but a US society that is suffering emotionally, spiritually, and economically and the deaths of innocent civilians and military. The damage had already been done, had started, years ago when the Pentagon began its work. That is when the blood was shed. The major crimes are loss of life and violence.”

Scott also discussed his work at Haley House, the guests – many of them veterans and (in this way) victims of war – as part of his call to visit the Pentagon and bear witness on Dec. 29th.

During his testimony, the DA called and objection, claiming that “Mr. Langley is straying from the issue at hand.” The judge overruled it and allowed Scott to continue making his statement.

Scott addressed and challenged Officer Green’s testimony. Scott testified that Green arrested him in front of the wall and when taken to FOB 2 was questioned in
the hallway and in the processing room without having been read Miranda rights. Scott testified that he waived his right at 10AM, well after the time of arrest; well after Officer Green had questioned him on several occasions.

The DA then asked Scott “was there blood on the building that day?” Scott replied “there is blood on it everyday, it is a bloody building.”

“But did you put your blood on the building that morning?” Scott replied again “there is blood on the walls everyday.”

The DA then said “If we went there today, could we see blood on the walls?” To which Scott replied:

“If we look close enough, I believe we can see it. My blood was on the building that day…the blood of innocents is on the building.”

When asked if the events took place as described in Green’s testimony, Scott replied, “Those events never happened.”

At this point, the DA and Scott and Sheila offered closing arguments.

In his closing argument the DA made the following statement:

“I ask that Mr. Langley and Ms. Stumph receive the maximum penalty of 6 months incarceration. It is the same group of people that come each year to the Pentagon and has been shown that incarceration does not deter them from repeatedly performing this action. They will not consent to supervised probation or pay fines, leaving a prison sentence as the only option.

Mr. Langley and Ms. Stumph preach that they are all about saving people. If so, they would have been better off going to the Red Cross and donating blood that morning. They threw blood on the 1st Amendment that day.”

Scott than reiterated much of his testimony and pointed out that there were no eyewitnesses to the act, that the evidence was indirect, and that he believes it is clear there was faulty police behavior.

Sheila too reiterated her testimony and said “I came to the Pentagon to bear witness to the truth and I am here in this courtroom today to do the same. I hope that you will offer a just verdict.”

The judge decided to grant the motion to dismiss the first count (illegally damaging private property).

On count two, the judge felt he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt and that their action caused a hazardous situation. He voiced understanding for Scott’s issue with the reading (or lack there of) of his Miranda rights. The judge felt that regardless of that issue, he was satisfied with the evidence brought forth by the DA that the two did in fact throw the blood and create a hazardous situation.

Both were found guilty on the second count. The DA asked that the judge issue a “sentence that will respect the seriousness of the offense.”

The judge stated he would not sentence the $5000 fine (each) that was in his power to issue. He recognized that Scott and Sheila neither “have the will or ability to pay fine or restitution.”

The DA repeated his request for 6 months incarceration to show “justice to the law.”

The judge offered Scott and Sheila to get off on probation with no incarceration to which Scott replied, “I’m not one to show respect for a system which seeks to hide that which we tried to expose that day. I am unwilling to abide by probation.”


The Sentence

------------

The judge sentenced Scott and Sheila to 10 days in jail (each) and a restitution fine (approximately $1170 – it is unclear whether that is for each or split between the two).

It seems clear that the judge did feel sympathetic to Scott and Sheila’s protest. In moments where he could have sustained their testimonies, which did stray from the actual events into a more philosophical/ideological testimony of what happened, he permitted them in full to make their statements. He did not “want to have to” sentence Scott and Sheila to any time of incarceration; several times, he offered the two to get off on probation. For the aforementioned reasons the two would not agree to this. While the judge was “challenging the system” and “sympathetic” it is clear that he himself still feels some sort of allegiance to the system and was therefore unwilling to acquit them, which would optimistically have been the ultimate victory.

It is unclear what the two will choose to do with regards to their restitution fine. They began their sentence immediately…and parted with a little kiss and big smiles for their 10-days vacation with the US Department of Correctional Facilities.



For more Information

---------------------

To read Scott and Sheila’s own words, check out www.haleyhouse.org/resist

You can contact Haley House at 617-262-2940 or resist (at) haleyhouse.org
See also:
http://www.haleyhouse.org/resist

This work is in the public domain
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