Two South Bend women to appear in D.C. court
They’re charged with blocking entrance to Sudanese Embassy.

By SARA TOTH
Tribune Staff Writer
May 24, 2005

Two South Bend women are among seven people scheduled to appear in a Washington, D.C., court today and Thursday on charges of unlawful assembly in connection with blocking the entrance of the Sudanese Embassy during a demonstration against the genocide in the Darfur region.

If convicted, Brenna Cussen and Elizabeth Fallon, both graduates of the University of Notre Dame who live in the St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker Community, in the 1100 block of West Washington Street, could face penalties ranging from $250 fines to 90 days in jail.

Cussen and Fallon could have paid fines after their arrests on Feb. 2 and avoided going to trial, Cussen said. But they chose to go to trial to raise awareness of the at least 70,000 people who have died and at least 2 million who have been displaced by violence in Darfur since 2003, she said.

Fallon and Cussen plan to plead not guilty.

“We will argue at the trial that our nonviolent civil disobedience was justified as an effective means to stop a far greater harm being perpetrated by the Sudanese government in Darfur,” Cussen wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune.

Several experts also will testify that the women’s actions were justified, Cussen said.

Cussen and Fallon gathered with other Catholic Workers at the embassy in Washington, D.C., in February after Cussen visited Sudan in 2004. When Sudanese Embassy officials declined to meet with them, they knelt in prayer to block the entrance of the embassy, Cussen and Fallon said. They also displayed photographs Cussen had taken in Sudan.

They were arrested and spent a night in jail before being released on their own recognizance.

Some of the mostly Arab victims of attacks by ethnically African rebels and government military told Cussen while she was in Sudan that protests by Americans at the Sudanese Embassy may help the situation.

For more information about Catholic Workers’ involvement in Sudan, see www.pieandcoffee.org/category/darfur.

Staff writer Sara Toth:

stoth@sbtinfo.com

(574) 235-6442

on May 25th, 2005 | No Comments »