Citing the “biohazard” created by blood-stained money, Judge Lynne Leibovitz of Washington’s Superior Court has sentenced Ellen Barfield, a member of the national committee of the War Resisters League to 25 days in jail for a protest at a Senate hearing on US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Three capital-area peace proponents interrupted a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 21, calling out “No more blood money for wars!” and “End the wars now.” To scattered applause from spectators, Barfield, of Baltimore, and Peter Perry and Eve Tetaz, both of Washington, dropped blood-stained dollar bills on the hearing room floor until they were removed by guards.
On Dec. 14, citing the “biohazard” created by the blood-stained money, Judge Lynne Leibovitz of Washington’s Superior Court sentenced Barfield to 25 days in jail for the action. She sentenced Perry to four days and postponed Tetaz’s sentencing for health reasons.
A US Army veteran, Barfield is a member of both the War Resisters League national committee and of Veterans for Peace. All three defendants are members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, formed to end “aggressive and immoral wars.” In her sentencing statement, Barfield said, “Silence is the voice of complicity, and I cannot be complicit with our government’s war-making.”
The defendants argued that their action was in the tradition of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Judge Leibovitz and the prosecutor disagreed. In addition to describing the blood money as a “biohazard,” Judge Leibovitz declared that there is a “time and place” for making one’s views heard. The prosecutor, referring to Barfield’s lengthy list of civil disobedience arrests, asked Leibovitz to impose an even longer sentence, in the hope that several months in jail would dissuade her from further actions. Barfield’s husband, Dr. Lawrence D. Egbert, said that he “and her friends and colleagues know better.”
Barfield’s lawyer, Ann Wilcox, expressed the defendants’ gratitude for the presence of supporters in the courtroom during the sentencing. Barring an appeal or unforeseen circumstances, Barfield should be released on or about Jan. 8. Messages supporting her can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. (War Resisters League press release, Dec. 16)