“I Am Trying to Speak as a Human Being to the Jury”

Shawn Francis Peters

in The Catonsville Nine

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827855
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950140 | DOI:
“I Am Trying to Speak as a Human Being to the Jury”

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Listening to the trial testimony of the Nine, Richard Shaull, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, was struck by the fact that “for several of them, the experience of living and working in...Africa or Latin America had been the most important factor in shaping their decision” to participate in the raid on Local Board 33. Case in point: George Mische, who took the stand after Phil Berrigan. Mische explained why he had acted in Catonsville by relating to the jury his experiences organizing labor, land, and housing programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. The motives of the Catonsville Nine, he stressed, had to be viewed within an expansive historical, political, and socioeconomic context. Furthermore, the defendants had to be afforded the opportunity to address the jury as people. “I am trying to speak as a human being to the jury,” Mische said, “who I hope are human beings and can understand us.” For him, the case—and, in a broader sense, the fate of American society—boiled down to whether ordinary Americans could connect on this level and address the central problems facing the world.

Keywords: trial testimony; Richard Shaull; American society; Latin America; Caribbean; Africa; Catonsville Nine; George Mische

Chapter.  6594 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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