CHS Pics | Chase 5 trials begins — Protests planned

Jury selection was underway at the Seattle Municipal Courthouse Tuesday morning as final motions were hammered out in the trial proceedings for the Broadway Chase 5.

Danielle Simmons, Sarah Svobodny, Douglas Van, Michael Stevens, and Hudson Williams-Eynon face charges of criminal trespass in the case stemming from a November protest inside Broadway at Thomas’s oft-targeted Chase outlet that came five days into Occupy Seattle’s stay on Capitol Hill and at the height of the movements early efforts in Seattle. The five entered the bank and chained themselves together as a march of supporters arrived outside the bank. As the group was arrested and taken into custody, one of last fall’s more violent melees between SPD and Occupy protesters broke out.

Judge Edward McKenna heard motions on key elements as the defense and prosecution sought to establish ground rules for how the jury trial would proceed. Law school nerds may be especially interested to note that McKenna denied a motion to allow a “necessity defense” argument from lawyers for the 5, ruling that grounds for such a defense require that there be no legal alternatives to a defendant’s actions.

“This isn’t a trial of Chase Bank,” defense attorney Braden Pence told the courtroom. But Pence said Chase’s actions had left the group with no choice but to employ civil disobedience. McKenna disagreed but will allow the defendants to mount part of their defense on a free speech argument. As part of that, defense lawyers said Chase’s Broadway location should be considered public property because of the “billions in subsidies” it has received and that the Broadway outlet, especially, is known as a center for speech after multiple protests and acts of vandalism at the location over the years. It seems unlikely that Chase would agree on that point.

Supporters sign cards for the 5 during motions (Image: CHS)

Also at issue will be exactly why the Chase outlet shut down that day. Was it the act of five people chaining themselves together inside the bank or concerns about the protest march that arrived outside the building? Meanwhile, the defense said it will present evidence that shows the defendants planned “intentional actions” that were as safe as possible.

The misdemeanor charges could results in sentences of up to one year and fines up to $5,000. But the trial has added weight as Occupy Seattle continues its protest efforts. A rally for the defendants is planned for the lunch recess and a march and protests at Chase banks across the Seattle are being planned, organizers say.

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9 thoughts on “CHS Pics | Chase 5 trials begins — Protests planned

  1. … while Chase continues to robo-sign foreclosure forms, leave people homeless, and make huge profits off the displacement of working class communities. That’s all while rewarding its CEO with a $20 million bonus and receiving zero accountability, regardless of how much people protest them through standard means.

    “Banking somewhere else” sounds like a great solution to all those problems.

    What about Chase’s guilt?

  2. They chained themselves together, blocked the entire teller line and ATM, disrupted business on private property, were asked to leave, were asked by the Seattle Police if they were prepared to get arrested to which they all replied “Yes.”, and stayed. What a joke. Sorry I don’t care how much you hate Chase but you will never be right on this one. They are just another business. In fact they are the 3rd largest Corporate Palanthropist in cash donations in the Puget Sound area to the tune of $10.2 million in 2010. But if you’re still that unhappy, take your business elsewhere.

  3. I agree completely, but of course it’s not the American way of leading your life….which is to borrow money, use credit cards, run up personal debt, and then declare bankruptcy to get out of your obligations. Pathetic.

  4. Yeah ocelot your an idiot.. Most Americans bought more home than what they could afford…even American homeowners were “greedy” in my opinion. Just because your approved for a 300,000 loan does that mean you take all that out? No!!! It’s called living within your means! If you can’t do that, then that’s your own damned fault, not the banks…live within your means, don’t spend more than you make and SAVE!!!!