Statement made in Federal Court - Philadelphia, PA
Meenal Raval
25 August 2004

Witness to an Illegitimate War

I did not agree to this war, a year-and-a-half ago or now. If anyone is guilty, it is Mr. Bush, and it is he who needs to spend time alone.

I came to this country almost 30 years ago. For the past 25 years, I have worked hard, paid my taxes, been responsible and ambitious in pursuing the American dream for myself. And for most of that time I've been proud to be an American. Now I am learning the true meaning of being an American: to stand for a government that truly represents us, the people, not the interests of a small group of elite oilmen. When I became a naturalized US citizen in '85, I agreed to bear arms for my new country. Instead, I now find myself bearing witness to a government that has lost its legitimacy.

I never thought I'd be here. While blockading the entrance to the Federal Building at the start of this illegitimate war on Iraq, I was reassured that I could disappear into the crowd at any moment. For some reason, I stayed at the door, arm-in-arm with other patriots. Since then, I was told I could pay the citation and still, disappear into the hubbub of everyday life. For some reason, I didn't. Well, now I'm here and I don't regret any of it. I say NO to war and militarism. I consider blockading the Federal Building to be my most patriotic act.

Mr. Bush's government has tried to sell us a perpetual war on terrorism. I think this is fear-mongering, a ploy to steal our civil liberties and a grab for increased government control of our lives and our privacy. We now live in times when any brown person, dressed a little differently, any of my brothers and sisters, can be locked up and tortured without access to a lawyer, all under the guise of "preventing terrorism". How did we get to this point? More importantly, what will the courts, empowered to check the power of the executive branch, do to restore the legitimacy to our government?

I appeal to your Honor for a not-guilty verdict.