Inauguration Bleachers

From the Archive

Witness Against Torture (WAT) on Trial


Anti-Torture Activists Stand Trial for Alleged Disruption in US Capitol;
Condemn Lack of Accountability for Torture and Racist Police Violence

Media Contacts: Tom Casey,, 716-491-9172; Matt Daloisio,, 201-264-4424

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 25, members of Witness Against Torture (WAT) will defend themselves in Washington, D.C. Superior Court against charges stemming from their demand of accountability for torture and domestic police violence.

On January 12, 2015, ten people were arrested in the US Capitol Visitor Center after unfurling banners reading, “We Demand Accountability for Torture and Police Murder!” and “From Ferguson to Guantanamo: White Silence = State Violence.”

The trial will take place at DC Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue, Washington, D.C., NW at 2:30 pm.

The protests followed the release of the Senate’s report on the CIA’s use of torture, including waterboarding and “rectal feeding.” They also took place against the backdrop of grand juries’ refusal to indict police officers who killed young black men. The defendants will argue that the government itself is guilty of crimes and of failing to enforce its own laws.

In the Capitol, the protestors drew parallels between the abuse of detainees overseas and state violence against people of color here at home. “The CIA, US military, and political leaders get away with the torture of Muslim men, just like police get away with the killing of African American men,” says Beth Brockman, a WAT member from North Carolina arrested in the Visitor Center. “Both reflect the racism of our system and must stop.”

The trial comes in the wake of terrorist violence in South Carolina and the same week that human rights organizations called on Attorney General Lynch to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate CIA conduct in its interrogation program, as detailed in the Senate report.

“The United States has a race problem and a violence problem, and an unwillingness to confront either of them,” says Tom Casey, from Buffalo, New York. “The government itself must stand up for equality under the law, which means defending the rights of all people, no matter who violates them.”

On Monday, June 22, the case of 11 members of Witness Against Torture, who had allegedly disrupted a session of the US Senate in January, was dismissed when the government conceded that it was “not ready” to prosecute the defendants. “It’s sad and pathetic,” says Bob Cooke of Maryland. “The government can’t get its act together to prosecute US citizens, and drops the case. But it holds foreign, Muslim men at Guantanamo for more than a decade with any charge whatsoever. Something is terribly wrong here.”

*you can read more on this blog post by our friend Aliya from CCR — You Will Never Guess Who Is on Trial Due to the CIA Torture Report

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