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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2006, 19:37 GMT 20:37 UK
Anti-war grandmothers in US court
Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan was among the grandmothers' supporters
A group of women who call themselves the "Granny Peace Brigade" have gone on trial in New York for their protest against the Iraq war.

The women, aged between 50 and 91, were charged with disorderly conduct after demonstrating outside a military recruitment centre.

Their supporters outside the courthouse included leading anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq.

The 18 women, many of whom are grandmothers, have pleaded not guilty.

"Coming to this damn court is nothing compared to what is happening to people in Iraq," said Marie Runyon, aged 91 and the oldest member of the group.

'Larger purpose'

None of the women has grandchildren serving in the US military.

But Joe Wile, co-founder of the group, said that was beside the point.

We should be praising these grandmothers, not prosecuting them
Norman Siegel,
Defence lawyer

"We're here for a larger purpose," said the 74-year-old.

"We feel extremely heartbroken for all the young kids, American and Iraqi, who are dying in this war."

The women were arrested on 17 October last year after they protested outside a US military recruitment centre in Times Square, New York.

They had wanted to enlist, but found the door locked and sat down in front of the building.

Prosecutors say this prevented people from entering or leaving the centre and obstructed pedestrian traffic. They also say the women refused to disperse as ordered.

The women have been charged on two counts of disorderly conduct.

'Patriotic protest'

Noted civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel is defending the women in court.

"We should be praising these grandmothers, not prosecuting them," Mr Siegel said.

He told the court that the women had not broken any laws and that their protest was "respectful, orderly, justified and patriotic".

Ms Sheehan, who was supporting the woman outside the Manhattan Criminal Court, is famous for setting up camp outside President Bush's Texas ranch to demand a meeting with him.

"When lovely women like these grannies are punished for trying to save lives, our country is in a mess," she said.




SEE ALSO:
Apology for Bush speech activists
02 Feb 06 |  Americas
US and UK peace protesters meet
11 Dec 05 |  London
US anti-war mother receives fine
17 Nov 05 |  Americas


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