“You Hide Behind Words”

Shawn Francis Peters

in The Catonsville Nine

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827855
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950140 | DOI:
“You Hide Behind Words”

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On the day that the federal grand jury indicted the Nine, Judge Edward Northrop sentenced two of them, Lewis and Phil Berrigan, for their roles in the Baltimore Four protest. When the two men entered the courtroom, a crowd of two hundred supporters greeted them with a thunderous ovation. After the gallery quieted down, Northrop allowed Lewis and Berrigan to make statements to the court. Berrigan was unrepentant. Lewis got the sense that Sachs and Northrop were willing to pin most of the blame for the Custom House protest on Phil Berrigan. Lewis had not planned to make any comments at the sentencing, but the judge repeatedly hinted to him that he might be treated more leniently if he claimed that the charismatic priest had influenced him to break the law. Vexed by Northrop's questioning, he finally turned to humor, making light of the judge's hints by quoting a line from comedian Stan Laurel: “You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be lead.” Northrop wasn't amused by Lewis's wordplay. It upset him that Lewis and Phil Berrigan had flouted the law in Catonsville just weeks after they had been convicted in his courtroom. Sternly addressing them from the bench, he said that they were guilty of “using violent means to create dissent that would destroy our society.” He added that in their comments at the hearing, the two men “showed no remorse but rather a determination to bend society to their viewpoint....You will not tolerate the view of others; you hide behind words.” He then backed up his tough talk by sentencing both men to six years in federal prison.

Keywords: protests; Baltimore; Tom Lewis; Phil Berrigan; Edward Northrop

Chapter.  6789 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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