Charges against Peace Grannies dropped

PHILADELPHIA — “It was a magnificent day,” said Peace Granny Marlene Santoyo. On Dec. 1, Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin dismissed the charges against 11 grandmothers arrested June 28 when they refused to leave a military recruiting station after trying to enlist to serve in Iraq.

The grannies had asked a recruiter to take them instead of Philadelphia’s youth. “Let them live their lives,” they entreated. But instead they were arrested and taken to a police station.

The Granny Brigade included poet Sonia Sanchez and 91-year-old wheelchair user Lillian Willoughby. Other grannies on trial for defiant trespass were Marlene Santoyo, Helen Evelev, Ruth Balter, Zandra Moberg, Kathleen Sjogren, Sue Ellen Klein, Nina Huizinga, Sylvia Metzler and Gloria Hoffman.

Their lawyer, Paul Messing, pointed out that the women were engaged in constitutionally protected free speech and had caused no damage. Messing quoted from a Pennsylvania Superior Court decision in another case that quoted Thomas Jefferson’s observation, “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”

After Judge Griffin announced her decision, supporters and Peace Granny Brigade members gathered outside the court building to sing “There’s no business like war business” to the tune of the famous Broadway show-tune. Giant black balloons said, “Troops home now!”

“I feel so empowered,” said Santoyo. “It just shows you what ordinary people can do — 11 grandmothers coming together in an action for peace. We can inspire others.”

Fellow activist Evelev said, “The only way we’ll get out of this terrible war is if people demand it.”

Peace Granny Balter, pointing to the inscription on their T-shirts reading “We will not be silent,” said it referred to the anti-fascist White Rose resistance in Germany in 1943-44. The Granny Peace Brigade is considering visiting the new Congress members in January 2007 and delivering a message of peace with a white rose.

phillyrose623 @ verizon.net