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LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights : Peace & War : Protest Activity

Palumbo Charges of Criminal Trespass Dismissed

Charges of criminal trespass against Tom Palumbo, arrested while attempting to deliver a petition of signatures against funding for the troop "surge" to Representative Thelma Drake's Virginia Beach office on February 22nd, are dropped after the plaintiff fails to appear in court. Following the dismissal, Palumbo and his supporters respond with successful, second attempt to deliver signatures with media in attendance.
Palumbo being arrested on 2/22
On February 22, 2007, a small, peaceful group of Congresswoman Thelma Drake’s constituents attempted to deliver letters and petitions to her Virginia Beach office, requesting that she vote against the troop surge in Iraq. Thelma Drake’s staff responded by locking the doors and refusing to either meet with them or to accept their letters and petitions. Tom Palumbo, a member of Veterans for Peace who was charged with the delivery of signatures from constituents who were not there, remained on the sidewalk and was subsequently arrested by the police and charged with criminal trespassing.

Supporters gather in front of the courthouse
On March 26, 2007, Tom Palumbo appeared at the Princess Anne Courthouse to present his case for freedom of speech and assembly … two rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the U.S. and upheld by the Supreme Court. Over 30 of Tom’s supporters appeared early that day to rally along Nimmo Parkway, again in front of the courthouse, and then to join Tom in the courtroom to show solidarity and bear witness to the proceedings. The landlord who pressed the charges failed to appear and had, in fact, provided a false or incorrect return address. The case was subsequently dismissed by the judge, a pronouncement that was met with a burst of applause from the packed courtroom.

Local media interview Palumbo following trial
Although supporters and activists were happy to see the charges dismissed, Tom and his lawyer (Jack Ferrebee) had come prepared to have their “day in court?. His case for his First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly and to petition had not yet been made. Furthermore, there remained the issue of Congresswoman Drake’s staff not respecting those of her constituents whose values and perspectives might differ from hers. Reassembling on the steps of the courthouse, Tom and his attorney were able to state their case to supporters and several media outlets that were waiting to cover the outcome of another trial taking place that day.

Signatures being delivered at Rep. Drake's office on 3/26
Afterwards, about a dozen people (along with media outlets WAVY 10 and WRIR) joined Tom as they returned to Congresswoman Drake's office with the unfinished business from Feb 22nd. On this occasion the doors remained open. Approximately 60 personal messages were delivered to Drake’s office manager that day who, in spite of the negative fallout from previously barring access by peaceful, law abiding constituents of Virginia’s 2nd District, still had her confrontational “moments?.

For additional images from March 26th follow the link below.

Garrie Rouse

Palumbo emerges from courthouse in Princess Anne

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