Dan Choi Hub

Dan Choi Trial Halted After Judge Allows Defense Argument That Govt Singled Choi Out for 'Vindictive Prosecution'

Dan Choi's trial yesterday was halted for a 10-day delay yesterday after U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola said he would allow Choi's lawyers to argue that the government singled Choi out for "vindictive prosecution." The government will now ask a higher court to quash that order.

Wh_choi MetroWeekly has been following the case closely:

Facciola said this morning that he had found there was prima facie evidence for "vindictive prosecution," meaning enough evidence was presented to allow Choi's lawyers to pursue such a claim. As a result, Choi's lawyers would be able to ask for more documents and evidence from the government in order to investigate if higher-level officials advised their subordinates to try Choi in federal court rather than D.C. court and, if so, why.

2_choi Some additional fascinating coverage by John Riley here:

Under oath, Beck testified that immediately prior to Choi's March 2010 arrest, he had instructed Choi and former Capt. James Pietrangelo to leave the White House sidewalk. Under cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George, Beck said he believes the ledge on which the White House fence rests -- and where the two men were standing -- can be considered part of the sidewalk. He also said that since the men were not moving when they chained themselves to the fence, they were violating the regulation that allows protesters to demonstrate in front of the White House as long as they keep moving.

However, Beck also said he had spoken with someone from the D.C. Attorney General's Office who had told him the Attorney General did not consider the fence ledge to be part of the White House sidewalk. In July 2010, the D.C. Attorney General's Office dismissed charges against Choi and Pietrangelo for that reason.

When Beck was on the stand, he said he refrains from using "slanderous" terms such as "gay" or "homosexual," a statement that Choi's lawyers jumped on as soon as the court dismissed for a short mid-morning break.

"I believe that because Lt. Dan Choi is a homosexual war veteran dressed in full military regalia, he was unfortunately selected or singled out to be arrested and prosecuted," lead defense attorney Robert Feldman told reporters at the break. "To this day, the prosecution had to be literally forced to notice Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo's rank. Today, Capt. Phil Beck refused to acknowledge their rank. This fact, with his revelation that he believes 'gay' and 'homosexual' to be slanderous terms, shows, in my view, that this public servant is a homophobe, and, in my view, the record bears this out."

Choi lawyer Norman Kent offered a take to MW following what went down: "The government is throwing a fourth quarter 'Hail Mary' pass that God is going to knock down," Kent said. "It's the most remarkable act of desperation that I've ever seen in 35 years of practice."

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.

Federal Trial Begins for Lt. Dan Choi, Over 'DADT' Arrest at White House: VIDEO


Lt. Dan Choi's trial began in federal court yesterday for protesting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with 12 other activists on November 14, 2010. Choi and the others chained themselves to the White House fence while chanting "I am somebody," "We do this for you" and "President Obama, Silent Homophobia." Choi faces 6 months in prison or a $5,000 fine for an obscure infraction of Parks and Wildlife federal regulations.

The 12 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.

2_choi Brad Luna of Luna Media Group sent out the following on behalf of Choi's team:

Verbal orders by ranking US Park Police Lieutenant Robert LaChance cited a regulation often used to move protestors away from the White House sidewalk. LaChance and other police officers have been subpoenaed by Choi's legal team.

The defense legal plan will include a recounting of major demonstrations at the White House that won rights for many stigmatized minorities. Judge John M. Facciola remarked from the bench that the case bears resemblance to "a famous Birmingham Alabama case involving Martin Luther King" on March 18, 2010 during arraignment. The judge has also admitted video evidence of another iconic demonstration on May 1, 2011 celebrating the killing of Osama Bin Laden: a non-permitted spontaneous rally at which MSNBC news anchor Rachel Maddow was an eye witness. No demonstrators were arrested according to the evidence. Choi remarked: "Selective enforcement of regulations based on political or electoral profitability turns our honorable Park Police officers into nothing more than the armed political henchmen in third world countries. I believe a high ranking politician decided to ignore one gathering and federally prosecute another. Unlike Russia, China or Syria, free speech restrictions in America must be content neutral, regardless of who is trying to stay in power. America can be better than this: Yes We Can."

As late as Friday evening, Choi was offered a deal by prosecution but again refused. "It is crystal clear this prosecution lacks a solid case against Lt. Choi, and prefers not to be publicly embarrassed by having to justify this unlawful arrest. They prefer to impose fear tactics behind closeted doors " Feldman said.

The AP reports:

Choi's attorney Robert Feldman said Monday at the start of his trial in federal court in Washington that people arrested for protesting at the White House are usually charged in local court where the penalty for disobeying a police order is a fine of between $100 and $1,000. But Choi was charged in federal court, where he faces both a fine and jail time of up to six months.

"They want him to go away," Feldman said, suggesting that bringing more serious charges is a move to get Choi to be silent. "He is the gay man who is finally attracting the attention."

MetroWeekly has a thorough report on the trial:

After being dismissed for the day, Choi and Feldman held a news conference outlining their major arguments against the charges. First, they suggested that by bringing federal charges against Choi, the government was treating him differently from other people who have protested in front of the White House in previous years. Feldman referred to the testimony of one witness, a 22-year veteran of the Park police, who said Choi’s case was the first time he had been to federal court, rather than D.C. Superior Court, to testify against a protestor he had arrested.

Choi has been arrested three other times for similar actions, most recently during an environmental protest on Aug. 20. After that arrest, as well as one in March, he was charged in D.C. Superior Court.

Watch a clip of Choi and the other activists' arrests, as documented by the Washington Blade, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Federal Trial Begins for Lt. Dan Choi, Over 'DADT' Arrest at White House: VIDEO" »

Dan Choi Reports on His Participation in the First Sanctioned Military Contingent in Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade



Guestblogger This weekend, in front of half a million Dutch families and revelers, the Amsterdam Gay Pride parade showcased a truly historic statement: 85 gay (including 2 transgender) servicemembers in full dress uniform with Dutch Defense Ministry officials in the first ever sanctioned military gay pride contingent. Three active duty gay generals were with us on the uber-gay float. We were literally floating, too: the canals that line the city of Amsterdam, built in the 17th century, were our parade route. Lots of saluting, lots of cheering, lots of dancing... lots of "IN THE NAVY" blasted over and over and over again.

Watch video of the float, AFTER THE JUMP...

Amsterdam-2-ribbon-PinkPaper.com British Lieutenant Commander Mandy MacBain, Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer for the Royal Naval Service joined me in officially opening "Canal Pride 2011" with an appropriate theme: "All Together Now."  In spirit of cooperation we held the scissors together while cutting the pink boa held by leaders of PRO-GAY, the group organizing the parade. Her partner Joanna joined us on the boat, and the three of us comprised the foreign contingent. They set up flags for us near the back of the boat but by the time the parade kicked off, the soldiers pushed us to the front, to stand with their generals. This was quite an unexpected honor. (Photo: Ribbon cutting with (L-R) Dutch LTC Sandra Keijer, British LCDR MacBain, PRO-GAY Chair Irene Hemelaar) credit: PinkPaper.com)

Amsterdam-3-police-Gerard-Rijkers The spirit of solidarity and inclusion was palpable, as the day prior, dozens of gay police officers from INTERPOL countries joined the Dutch LGBT Military Foundation (SHX: Stichting Homosexualiteit & Kriejgsmacht) in a tour including notable sites such as the city zoo, Rembrandt's tomb, and the world renowned "red light district." At the reception afterwards, Dutch Education and Cultural Ministry officials noted the historic nature of this pride parade, and I offered brief remarks about the Stonewall Riots and the success of community police liaisons in our shared duty to protect and serve. The irony was well received, that the only American representative in our group should invoke a violent uprising at a time when LGBT-Police relations were not strong, to put it mildly. On a personal level, the laughter allowed me to exhale a bit, knowing that these police officers were generally supportive of the confrontational activism that has always pushed American LGBT issues forward. (Photo: INTERPOL officers reception, credit: Gerard Rijkers, SHX)

Amsterdam-5-Newspaper I was surprised to hear reports on the progress of LGBT-Police relations all around Europe, particularly as reported hate-crimes have doubled in gay-friendly Amsterdam. Some point the finger at Muslim refugees while others laud the confidence LGBT Dutch have to report assaults and harassment. Either way, our work must focus on eradicating the source of bigotry while bridging gaps between oppressed communities. Returning violence for violence will solve nothing in our common struggle for justice.

It was also very enlightening to find there were 4 chaplains celebrating Pride with us, although they did not refer to their branch as The Chaplaincy. Calling themselves Moral Counselors, the Dutch military focuses more on the wartime need of soldiers to meet with a kind ear and warm heart in moments of despair. They still recognize denominations, but the Humanist variety was new to me. Indeed, when the majority of religious denominations expel and stigmatize their LGBT congregants, the state must find a way to provide equal dignity and counseling for those who would never return to a chapel. Especially if the chaplains are allowed to denounce minorities by way of religious protections, as they will in the US even after Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal. 

My presence at the festivities was poignant to many in The Netherlands who followed the Don't Ask Don't Tell debate closely this past year. One activist American general in particular drew the ire and ridicule of many when he contended last year before the US Senate that openly gay Dutch soldiers caused the massacre at Srebrenica (Kosovo). I am happy that our presence could serve as some repudiation of some American individuals who happily stir international uproar to satisfy their own selfish political motives. His bogus testimony and our first White House arrests were highlighted in the same news story along with the legacy of Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich on Dutch national TV. 

Amsterdam-5-Obama-Cake In my off time, I spoke at a meeting of the "Democrats Abroad" and met the Ambassador and some expatriates. Not surprisingly, many of these American-Dutch are gay and eagerly await immigration equality legislation and presidential action. While they live abroad, their influence does not end at the border or the absentee ballot: the perspective they provide Americans struggling for equality is critical. I learned that even I am complacent and too eager to celebrate partial equality as if it were the real thing. Seeing America from abroad usually makes us grateful to be American; it was certainly the feeling I got when returning home from Russia earlier this summer. But coming home from Amsterdam made the reality bitter: we have a long way to go before we can truly celebrate like the Dutch. The Democrats event was topped off with a Barack Obama birthday cake, topped with a dramatic Obama figurine. When I saw it I told myself "This has to be a practical joke." Well, I broke two gay activist rules: early celebration and dessert. I tried to resist, but my new friends decreed "let him eat cake."

While the weekend was a well-needed break for me, I also learned that the Dutch, even with their advances that put America to shame, are not satisfied with their equality struggle. Pink and Purple buttons carrying the new platforms: Gay History Education in Schools, and Everyone Officiate Gay Marriages (including religious bigots). The two slogans were prominently displayed on just about every bridge and in the sky-messaging carried by four "Pride airplanes." The Amsterdam Mayor and Justice Minister reminded me that they are not happy with political speeches alone, and their work reflects a true desire for justice. As their national government was unveiling a first-of-its-kind coalition platform for LGBT Equality with full cooperation from every ministry and government sector, I knew they were putting their money where their mouth was. The budgets for every state project and government ministry took a cut this year: all except one. The LGBT education project, intended to help international progress on LGBT equality actually received a budget increase. I know we can expect great things from this country for years to come.


Overall, I did not expect the kind of welcome we received. For whatever reason, I'm always looking for the one opponent in the crowd nowadays. Only one was visible, flipping us the middle finger from his stoop. It wasn't that we was anti-gay though. He carried a peace flag and shouted something about war, according to the soldiers I asked. Among the hundreds of thousands, not bad to have only one detractor. I suppose it is safe then to say this country loves its soldiers and its gays.  [Photos: Dutch National Paper 8/5, Amsterdam Pride credit: AP]

Watch a video of the float Choi rode on, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Dan Choi Reports on His Participation in the First Sanctioned Military Contingent in Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade " »

Dan Choi Airs Unhappiness with Obama Over 'DADT', Says He'd Look for a Republican to Support: VIDEO


Lt. Dan Choi made an appearance on CNN's In the Arena on Friday to discuss the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and aired his unhappiness with Obama's process in repealing the measure, going so far as to say he'd look for a Republican to support in the next election.

Said Choi:

"Why should I endorse President Obama? Listen, I'm not vindictive. I'm not vengeful. If I was vindictive, then I would say, President Obama if you want my endorsement, then I'll just have a study about that. We'll have a comprehensive review working group. And then we'll get you fired. And then we'll start to talk to other people and I'll have a platform for everybody else to hate on you."


In related news, the Obama administration is still trying to get Choi to pay for his own 'DADT' discharge.

Continue reading "Dan Choi Airs Unhappiness with Obama Over 'DADT', Says He'd Look for a Republican to Support: VIDEO" »

Alan Colmes Catches Up with Lt. Dan Choi: VIDEO


Radio host Alan Colmes interviewed Lt. Dan Choi today about the Obama administration's "double talk" on 'DADT', and his upcoming trial.


Continue reading "Alan Colmes Catches Up with Lt. Dan Choi: VIDEO" »


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