Statement in Federal Court - Philadelphia, PA
Emily Bogner
14 April 2004

Good morning, Judge Rapoport.  I have never before participated in a form of protest that broke the laws of my country.  I would like to address some of the thoughts that led me to partake in the blocking of the Federal Building over a year ago.  
I recognize that there is a hierarchy of orders and laws that we as civilized human beings must consider as we make decisions on how to live our lives.  
There are the laws of our governments, which have been written down by our legislators over time, and these serve the purpose of maintaining structure and security in our society.

Then there are our religious laws which have been passed down through thousands of years of human civilization, and which influence our sense of what is right or wrong according to our Gods and prophets.

Woven throughout the laws of political bodies and of religions all over the world exist the most universal laws of all, laws that are understood cross-culturally by all human beings.   Love your neighbor as yourself.  This phrase, so simple and yet so powerful, is probably the most common law of the human race, regardless of the fact that it is not so commonly practiced.

When contemplating the injustices of the world and how to react as a member of a community, of a nation, or of a species, all of these orders and laws and codes of living can contradict each other and become quite confusing.  How is it that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, but we are also to accept that it is deemed legal for our country to drop bombs which kill our neighbors?  When presented with this puzzle of laws to abide by and authorities to answer to, we must decide which laws to hold as true to ourselves.  

We are here today because my group felt that our country was breaking laws on every possible level by attacking the people of Iraq with "shock and awe," and our country felt we were breaking a law by standing or sitting in front of their building in protest.  On March 20, 2003, the official start of the War on Iraq, I and 106 others in Philadelphia, decided to show our love for our neighbors in Iraq by making a physical statement of disagreement.  I realized before deciding to take the actions I did that day, that if I did not take a stand against the atrocities of war, I could consider myself just as responsible for the deaths of innocent women, men, and children as is my government.  I refuse to take responsibility for the abominable actions of my nation.  

I cannot in my heart or in my head understand how I could have done anything differently, though I understand that you, Judge Rapoport, will sentence me based solely on the laws of the United States government.  I do hope, however, that you too, as well as the U.S. Marshals who arrested us, consider from time to time the contradictions of our human-made laws and our most universal laws of love and forgiveness.  We all give power to the laws we abide by, whether we believe in them or not.  So is it not better to break one law, especially in a nonviolent way, in order to uphold another?   

I plead guilty to blocking the entrance of the U.S. Federal Building on March 20, 2003.  I am unwilling to pay the assigned fine of $250 to the same government who year after year takes my tax money and disproportionately uses it to build more weapons of war.   I am prepared to take the consequences of not paying the fine.

Thank you.