Vieques activists go to trial

NEW YORK – The case against 42 activists who were arrested outside the United Nations while protesting the bombing of the island municipality of Vieques, Puerto Rico, by the U.S. Navy started June 3 in the Manhattan Criminal Court before Judge Robert M. Stolz.

The protestors demonstrated peacefully in front of the U.N. on May 15 and 31, and on August 2 of last year to demand that this international organization “fulfill its stated mission and respond to the serious human rights violations.”

Vicente Alba, coordinator of the David Sanes Rodiguez Brigade, named for the civilian security guard who was killed by an errant bomb, said, “These peaceful acts of civil disobedience were performed to heighten the consciousness of the American people that the presence of the U.S. Navy on the island produced an extraordinarily high cancer rate and has destroyed the island’s resources.”

Judge Stolz ruled that the defense cannot bring up the issue of Vieques in the trial to explain its acts of civil disobedience.

The prosecution is trying to introduce the treaty between the United Nations and the United States as host country. They claim the treaty is relevant because it gives the U.N. the right to call in local law enforcement to assist with “distubances” on U.N. grounds.

The defense is arguing that the treaty has nothing to do with the case because the activists were arrested on the public sidewalk outside and not on U.N. grounds.