On May 7, six student protesters went to trial on trespassing charges in connection with a February demonstration in U.S. Rep. David Price's office. The self-proclaimed "David Price Six"—Laura Bickford, Ben Carroll, Alisan Fathalizadeh, Sara Joseph, Dante Strobino and Tamara Tal—demanded a meeting with Price to ask that he vote to defund the Iraq war. "After about 15 minutes it was pretty apparent we weren't going to talk to him so we sat down and refused to leave," Bickford says. A legislative aide called police and the students were handcuffed and taken to jail. They were released on their own recognizance. Chapel Hill attorney Al McSurely, who represented the students, filed a motion for necessity defense, which argued that the trespassing violation was a necessary action for the greater good. A judge dismissed the charges.
The N.C. Conference of District Attorneys is pushing a bill in the General Assembly that would weaken the 2004 open discovery law, which requires prosecutors to turn over more information to defense attorneys. The 2004 law was passed after several prosecutors were found to have withheld evidence that could have exonerated innocent convicts. The district attorneys pushing new legislation complain that the old requirements are too onerous. But those requirements have surely prevented the conviction of innocent people, most recently the three Duke lacrosse players who were accused of rape.
The N.C. Center for Nonprofits and ncyt, a network of young nonprofit professionals, honored six young people and organizations in its first annual Spark Awards for outstanding contributions to the community. An overall award went to Lori Fernald-Khamala, the former organizing director of the National Farm Worker Ministry's Durham office, recognizing Fernald-Khamala's efforts to develop young leaders in her organization and the networks she built to advocate for farm workers. Other honorees were Deana Joy, Annie Molly Shatley, Mary Margaret Burdett, Melinda Wiggins and the Student Action with Farmworkers.
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