Charges against ‘postal defenders’ dropped

Ten “postal defenders” won a reprieve when Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Karin Immergut dismissed criminal charges in a two-year-old civil disobedience protest case, saying the defendants’ constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated.

The postal defenders immediately turned from celebrating their victory to organizing for a Veteran’s Day action Nov. 11 to call on the postmaster general to halt the scheduled closure of half the nation’s remaining mail processing plants and to retain existing mail delivery standards. The rally, which will also honor veterans’ involvement with the postal service, is slated for noon at Portland’s Waterfront Park.

Ten postal defenders — Rev. John Schwiebert, Jamie Partridge, Jack Herbert, Trudy Cooper, Rev. Michael Colvin, Tim Flanagan, Ann Huntwork, Dave King, Sarah Hobbs, and Jordan McIntyre — were arrested May 24, 2012, on criminal trespass charges inside the now-closed University Station Post Office in downtown Portland. The group was peacefully holding banners that called for “No Closures, No Cuts” and “Occupy the Post Office.”

The 10 —members of labor unions, faith groups, neighborhood organizations,  small business owners, a disabled vet, retirees and the Occupy movement — refused to leave until postal management agreed to keep postal facilities open and full service.

Of the 10, King and Hobbs pled guilty and did community service. McIntyre missed a court date and was fined $200.

More than two years later, after a legal fight that went to the Oregon Supreme Court, the remaining seven postal defenders hoped to get their day in court before a jury.  The activists would have argued that they had tried every other means available — letter writing, phone calls, Congressional visits, rallies, marches, petitions, community hearings, city council resolutions — but had been unable to stop the dismantling of the postal service by the postmaster general.

The postal defenders planned to argue that, in refusing to leave, they were attempting to stop the closure of one-half the nation’s mail processing plants, the gutting of service at half the country’s post offices and the delay of mail.

The postal defenders say they will continue to argue that the real criminal is the postmaster general, who is violating the Constitution (Article 1, sec. 8), Title 39 and Title 18, sec. 1701 & 1708 of the US Code by willfully obstructing and delaying the mail.

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