NEWS- Sin the pink: 11 protesters convicted but freed

Eleven protesters who occupied U.S. Representative Virgil Goode's (R-Rocky Mount) office were convicted of trespassing April 6 in Charlottesville General District Court and given 30-day sentences, suspended on condition of two years of good behavior.

Unusual in the sentencing is that the protesters are not barred from Goode's office. "I'm not including the provision that you stay away from the property, because you may be constituents of Virgil Goode, and you can go there, but you must act in a lawful manner," said Judge Bob Downer.

He also warned the Code Pink 11 they could not use his courtroom as a forum for political statement, an injunction many of the defendants tried to skirt. Downer cautioned defendant Patricia Sonne she was looking at a contempt charge when she tried to interject 18th Century British political philosopher Edmund Burke into the proceedings. Organizer Jennifer Connor had better luck quoting Martin Luther King Jr., but she, too, was found guilty of trespassing.

The protesters who pleaded not guilty detailed their frustrations at trying unsuccessfully to meet with Goode and express their concerns about the war. "In a representative democracy, the way to do that is to petition your elected official," said Jeff Winder, who was arrested February 21. "Unfortunately, here in Charlottesville, our votes don't count."

However, Goode says that he talked to one of the Code Pinkers on the telephone when they occupied his Charlottesville office. "I got the feeling they wanted to be arrested," he says. "I've communicated with them and responded to some of their letters. Some I couldn't since I couldn't read their names."

Goode also suggests that if the Code Pinkers want to meet with him, they can call his scheduler, Judy Mattox. "If they want to come to Washington, they can do that next week," he says.

The Code Pinkers organized colorful demonstrations of their opposition to the war in Iraq in front of Goode's office just off the Downtown Mall four Wednesdays in a row. Those arrested are Susan Frankel-Streit, Shelly Stern, and Jeff Winder (February 21); Jennifer Connor, Priscilla Sonne,and Mary Grace (February 28); Brian Buckley, Patricia Lloyd, and Robert Shaw (March 7), and Alexa Barratt and Terry Lilley (March 14).

Jennifer Connor was convicted of trespassing April 6 for her occupation of Congressman Virgil Goode's Charlottesville office.