Grandmother sentenced to sweeping street in subfreezing weather as punishment for protesting




                                                                                                                                                      Photo: Emily J. Reynolds, COX WASHINGTON BUREAU Diane Baker, a 60-year old hospice chaplain at United Church of Christ in Dallas, was one of 71 people arrested four months ago for crossing a police line to sit on the steps of a Senate office building during a protest in Washington. As punishment, she was sentenced to eight hours of street sweeping on Tuesday — in 20 degree weather.

Baker suffers from myoclonic epilepsy, a degenerative muscle condition that causes her voice to quiver and hands to shake.

“I’m a rather fragile, small woman,” said Baker.  “Being a minister, I offered to do counseling, but this is what they gave me.”

She wore 10 multicolored T-shirts with messages ranging from “End the War in Iraq” to “Shut Down Guantanamo” and “Save Darfur.” She also wore her clerical stole with a dove carrying an olive branch sewn into the fabric.

But on top of her layers of pacifism, Baker donned a fluorescent red vest with bold letters to remind her of why she was holding a dust bin and broom: “DC Superior Court Community Service.”

As Baker slowly dragged her trash can down the streets of downtown Washington, she acknowledged that she had learned a lesson, albeit one on the “stupidity” of the justice system in “a country built on freedom of speech.”

“They like to use this as a system of shame,” she said, crouching down to pick up a cigarette butt lodged in a crack in the sidewalk. “But I’m not ashamed to be an American.”‘

via the Austin American Statesman, registration required


One Response

  1. Love this lady’s spirit. How shameful of the judge.

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