Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

40th Anniversary of the Camden 28

On the Democracy Now program today, host Amy Goodman mentioned the 45th anniversary of the antiwar protests of the Catonsville Nine. On 17 May 1968 the nine, including Father Dan Berrigan of Cornell, burned records at a draft office in Catonsville, Maryland in protest of the war in Vietnam.

This month also marks the 40th anniversary of the trial of the Camden 28, who raided a draft office in Camden, New Jersey to confiscate draft registrations. That group included Dan Berrigan and John Grady, Sr. of Ithaca.

John was a professor at Ithaca College and the father of five children. Among the children are MaryAnne, Clare, and Ellen Grady, who are active in various peace and justice movements today. John passed away in 2002.

The Camden group had been infiltrated by the FBI, which had 40 agents hidden at the scene of the raid. Upon arrest, each protestor faced over 40 years in prison on felony charges.

Members declined a plea bargain and went to trial. They invoked the responsibility of citizens to act against governments engaged in "crimes against peace," as articulated in the Nuremberg Principles after World War II. Their defense focused on the legal principal of "jury nullification" of a law deemed wrongly formed or applied.

On 20 May 1973, the jury found the 28 defendants not guilty on all charges. The trial was an historic affirmation of jury nullification and civil disobedience.

On its 40th anniversary, we remember Dan Berrigan, of Cornell United Religious Work, and our friend John Grady, a man whose courage shook the earth, and laughter shook the skies.

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