Thirty-three abortion protesters say they will work off their trespassing fines through community service in churches and other court-approved activities.
Jim Anderson, a spokesman for the protesters who pleaded guilty to trespassing for blocking the entrance to the Women's Clinic of North Idaho last May, called the punishment small compared to the cause the group is promoting. The protest at the Coeur d'Alene clinic was necessary to draw public attention to the issue, he maintained."We're willing to face the consequences," Anderson said. "If someone's going to kill a baby, you don't write a letter to a senator."
But Assistant City Attorney Susan Weibe said the issue revolved around the crime of trespass, not freedom of speech.
"There are a lot of different ways to project that message, and you don't have to break the law to do it," she said.
First District Magistrate John Luster fined the 33 protesters $100 each after they pleaded guilty last week to the trespassing charges and then told them they could work off the fines through community service at the rate of $5 an hour as long as the unpaid labor is not used to make a political statement. Additional charges of resisting arrest against some were dropped.
The guilty pleas came after a jury found another protester guilty of trespassing and Magistrate Eugene Marano sentenced her to two days in jail. The two remaining protesters charged in connection with the May 26 demonstration are still awaiting trial.