Charges against coalition at anti-apartheid demonstration dismissed
It is important to note that 20 of the 26 students arrested for the anti-apartheid demonstrations had their cases dismissed upon payment of court costs, even though Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin claims there is no difference between a dismissal and a continuance. She was quoted ["Students accept court offer," May 1] as saying that students were faced with the "exact same choice again, only the judge has lessened the court costs and community service."
The last paragraph in the Tech Talk article ["Gray, ANC's Mabuza Speak Today," May 2] mentions the outcome of the pretrial conference hearing, but nowhere is "dismiss" used. Glavin either needs a refresher course in basic law, is uninformed, or deliberately misled the Tech reporter who interviewed her.
The misinformation by the MIT administration can only be viewed as an attempt to lessen their potential embarassment and negative publicity.
At the first court hearing, the students were offered a deal that involved payment of $200 or 50 hours of community service, and a continuance with no finding until Dec. 27. An arrest during the continuance period would result in a trial for that arrest as well as the one for which the continuance was originally given.
The recommendation by the district attorney to the judge on Monday was a $100 court cost and a continuance of a year. Accepting the continuance would imply there were sufficient facts for a guilty verdict.
The 20 students whose cases were dismissed were not willing to admit sufficient facts because they felt they were not guilty and were ready to submit to a jury trial if necessary. Our lawyer asked the judge for a dismissal with minimal court costs. Initially, the judge insisted on a continuance, but the DA changed his recommendation to dismissal after hearing our lawyer explain that we were ready to stand trial and receiving a hand-signal from Campus Police Officer Edward McNulty, who was observing the proceedings.
Our only conclusion is that MIT was unwilling to proceed with a trial by jury. They feared that we would not be found guilty and that there would be bad publicity for a school that tries to prosecute students for trespassing on school property. The dismissal was a victory for both the students and the right to free speech and peaceful protest.
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