Dan Choi | Don't Ask, Don't Tell | Military | News

Dan Choi Testifies for More Than Three Hours in 'DADT' Trial

Lt. Dan Choi testified for three hours yesterday in the trial over his arrest at the White House after protesting the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, MetroWeekly reports:

2_choi On the stand, Choi said the First Amendment provides for the right of people to petition the government for a redress of grievances, which also, he said, is a moral responsibility of patriotic Americans. Choi responded under questioning by Feldman that he believed his actions were a form of speech, and that the government did not have a right to censor them by arresting him.

At times, Choi raised his voice and spoke in such a tone that he almost seemed close to shouting, especially when asked about his arrest. Under cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George, he compared the various protests against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the 1960 sit-in by students in Greensboro, N.C., at a Woolworth’s department store and said he was “insulted” by his prosecution on federal charges.

“The November 15th arrest is surprising in my mind,” Choi said, comparing the tactics used by police officers to remove him from the fence and transport him to the police wagon to procedures taught to soldiers in war. Choi said his left arm had been twisted and he could not feel his index finger for two weeks afterward, statements he said were reinforced by videos showing his arrest.

The AP adds:

"The right to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves is more than a privilege," said Choi, his voice rising with emotion during a cross-examination that turned confrontational at times. "It's a moral responsibility and I take that seriously."

Choi said he could not recall details of his arrest, but likened the scene to a "combat zone" and recalled being struck by what he considered to be aggressive and demeaning tactics by the U.S. Park Police officers who showed up.

Choi's trial began on Monday. Choi faces 6 months in prison or a $5,000 fine for an obscure infraction of Parks and Wildlife federal regulations. Twelve other activists accepted a plea deal, agreeing to a guilty plea in federal court for which they would serve no jail time if not re-arrested within four months. Choi would not accept the deal.

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  1. @David: "I think that this case is being pursued against him with malice. I have never heard of any nonviolent sidewalk obstruction case being prosecuted to this degree probably since the 1960s. That there is a trial over this is strange enough."

    But the reason you never hear of these sorts of things going to trial is because most people committing acts of civil disobedience do so knowing they might get arrested, perhaps even hoping to get arrested to bring further attention to their cause, but then accept a plea bargain after their arrest. Twelve of the people arrested that day accepted a plea bargain, but Daniel Choi did not. At that point, what were prosecutors supposed to do? Drop the charges? That would make a mockery of the plea bargain the dozen other people accepted. It would make plea bargains meaningless.

    Posted by: Kevin_BGFH | Aug 31, 2011 7:14:52 PM

  2. @ Kevin_BGFH,

    I gave the Obama credit where it was due in the DADT repeal effort (see my earlier comment in this thread). However, the administration painted itself into a corner by allowing federal charges against the 13 defendants in the first place. If the administration had done the sensible thing and made sure this case was only prosecuted at the local level (District of Columbia), you wouldn't have to worry about making plea bargains meaningless. This was a serious mistake on the part of the Obama administration, and Choi has every right to ask why that mistake was made.

    Posted by: Artie Rimbaud | Aug 31, 2011 7:55:35 PM

  3. I think all the bitchy little twinks here ought to sign up for four years (maybe more), get a little combat experience, and maybe, even, make a career out of doing something you love doing. Which is what Lt. Choi was doing until he was bounced for DADT. Amazing how twinks are the first to, um, throw stones but have very little courage to actually stick their prissy little necks out and DO something. Whether one likes Dan Choi or not is beside the point. He's out there and he's doing something. Might not be every twink's cup of tea but if you're going to protest, better to chain yourself to the White House fence and get arrested for your principles than to wear some colourful T-shirt with cute lettering as you dance your drugged-up night away.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Sep 1, 2011 10:23:07 AM

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