The Granny Peace Brigade trial kicked off this week, and the 18 women who were arrested for staging a sit-in outside a Manhattan armed forces recruiting center last October cruised into the courtroom on Thursday hoping to talk about the war in Iraq. "We are at a very important point in the history of our country," 87-year-old Molly Klopot told the New York Times (subscription required). "It is our responsibility as patriots not to be silent." The Associated Press notes that many of the defendants sported canes, walkers and buttons saying "Love the Troops, Hate the War." I mean, "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple" is cool and all, but check out the civil disobedience on these broads! I think I'm in love.
The Times reports that "the district attorney pursued a criminal case" against the women, each of whom is charged with two counts of disorderly conduct and faces up to 15 days in jail. To which the grannies say, bring it on. "A number of us have made a decision that we will not accept fines or community service," said 61-year-old Jenny Hines. (Man, the movie version of this case -- preferably starring Cloris Leachman -- is going to be so great. It'll be like "Calendar Girls" in the clink!)
Of course, the fact that the defendants are grandmothers does help build sympathy for their cause, and could result in lighter sentencing. But Times columnist Clyde Haberman rather overplays this point, writing, "Sure, there were denunciations of the war. But there were also photos of grandchildren and great-grandchildren hanging from strings around the women's necks. The mood was a contrast to much of the political dialogue these days ... The grannies are 'positive, upbeat, respectful, loving America,' said their lawyer."
I don't see why carrying pictures of one's grandchildren -- the ones who will inherit the political, environmental and economic consequences of the current administration's actions -- undercuts these women's antiwar message. Being a grandmother means having a great store of life experience and a connection to future generations; that the women call themselves the Granny Peace Brigade isn't just cute, it's conscientious. Whether the judge finds that the brigade's protest was legal or the grannies go to jail, I'm hoping their peace-loving antics keep getting America's attention.