Five of Seven Activists Acquitted!
from No Compromise Issue 6

By Pamelyn Ferdin

WATERFORD, CT -- Last September about fourteen protesters were "rounded up" and arrested inside a large mall for protesting fur and Macy's role in the cruel fur trade. Three of the fourteen were doing C.D. (wearing fur coats with traps attached, fresh red paint and squirming on the floor toward Macy's crying out like wounded animals.) The rest of us were chanting, handing out leaflets, and I was documenting the whole thing on video tape.

When the Waterford police arrived, they were so completely unaccustomed and totally ignorant about protests like this, they just started grabbing people and arresting us, without giving us warnings, etc. To make a long story short, seven out of the fourteen either plead out or payed the fine in order to have the charges dropped. The rest of us went all the way to trial in front of a judge. The prosecution called about eight witnesses to take the stand against us, and we subpoenaed five witnesses (including the manager of the Macy's store, the head of mall security and two protesters.)

We finally went to trial in January, and for the entire two day trial, we conducted our own defense without an attorney representing us. We all represented our selves (pro se) and were allowed to cross examine all the prosecution's witnesses and examine our own. We questioned the witnesses and educated the court in depth about the cruel fur trade, animal suffering, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. It was great! I wore a fur jacket covered in red paint without anything underneath (this was done to make absolutely sure the judge would not force me to take the jacket off because it was offensive to the court or something like that.)

After two days of testimony, examination, cross examination and our closing arguments, five of us were acquitted and the two who engaged in civil disobedience were found guilty of disturbing the peace. The judge asked that the two guilty parties pay seventy five dollars in fines, but of course both refused and told the judge they would go to jail before they would pay a fine. The judge said he wouldn't hear of it! He said that he knew going to jail was part of the protest and therefore did not want them to go to jail. So, he gave them both thirty hours of community service at the non-profit of their choice. All in all, it was a very successful trial and proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt, that trials like these can be done without an attorney. We used an attorney only for some of the paper work which we did not know how to complete ie. discovery, subpoenas, etc.

Post Script: I am suing the Waterford police for false and unlawful arrest and my civil rights attorney thinks I will win now that I have been acquitted. If I receive any type of monetary reward, I will put it right back into animal rights-hey, this strategy could be a money maker for our ADL group! Now, that's sweet revenge!