Peter Demott of Ithaca is part of a group that was arrested last month for a non-violent protest at the headquarters of Blackwater USA, the military contractors, against killings by Blackwater in Iraq.
The protestors plan to use their trial to subpoena Erik Prince, Blackwater's owner, for testimony about Blackwater killings and subsequent cover-ups using U.S. taxpayer money.
A news article in the New York Times reports, "Employees of Blackwater USA have engaged in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005, in a vast majority of cases firing their weapons from moving vehicles without stopping to count the dead or assist the wounded."
Last Christmas Eve, a drunken Blackwater employee shot and killed a bodyguard of one of Iraq's two vice presidents. He was clandestinely removed from Iraq by Blackwater within 36 hours. A State Department official suggested paying the slain bodyguard's family $250,000, but another said that such a high payment "could cause incidents of people trying to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their family's future." Blackwater paid $15,000 to the dead man's family.
The State Department has paid Blackwater over a billion dollars for its activities.
On September 16, Blackwater employees in a moving convoy fired on a public square, killing 8 civilians. Outraged Iraqi officials called the shootings "cold-blooded murder" and called for the expulsion of Blackwater from the country.
Demott's group hopes to engage Blackwater in the company's first legal proceeding.
In the face of increasing public scrutiny, Blackwater has hired a bi-partisan collection of highly-placed Washington lawyers, lobbyists, and public relations specialists.
In the past, Blackwater has retained Fred Fielding, the present White House counsel, to help handle lawsuits filed by families of slain Blackwater employees.
Demott's trial is scheduled to begin on December 5.
for Ithaca Blog