July 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay will face no time and were not charged with a crime for courageously taking part in nonviolent civil disobedience last October 23 to shut down Rikers Island Jail, the hellish torture chamber in the heart of New York City.
Miles Solay, Attorney Kenneth Gilbert. and Clark Kissinger
This important development took place today at the opening of their scheduled trial at Queens Criminal Court in New York. Clark Kissinger, part of the management of Revolution Books New York and a longtime revolutionary, and Miles Solay, the founder of the revolutionary rock band Outernational, had been charged with the criminal misdemeanor of Obstructing Governmental Administration (OGA), along with lesser charges, that carried the possibility of one year in jail. It was obscene, outrageous, and ILLEGITIMATE that Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay even faced these charges—demanding an end to the barbaric crime that is Rikers.
Today, the prosecution totally backed off the criminal charge, which carried potentially serious repercussions for Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay, and offered a plea agreement with community service for a violation, which is not a criminal charge.
When their case was called, Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay stood before a packed courtroom. Moments earlier, 40-50 supporters had solemnly—and impactfully—walked in together and took seats.
After the agreement was announced, Miles Solay stood before the judge and stated: "What we did outside of Rikers, demanding that it be shut down, was righteous. We committed no crime. Rikers stands for the degradation, dehumanization, and torture of tens of thousands of people and is the embodiment of what happens in jails across this country. We hope what we did contributed to the struggle to shut down Rikers, that there will be many more actions like ours, and that Rikers will be shut down!"
The room burst into cheers. Afterward, Clark Kissinger’s and Miles Solay’s supporters stood up and walked out of the room together, then held a spirited rally and speak-out outside the courthouse.
This development comes at a time of intense exposure and struggle against mass incarceration and police murder.
For important background and analysis of the stakes and significance of the battle to force the government to drop charges against Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay, see “Prosecuting Rikers Protesters Is a Crime on Top of a Crime: Rally to the Defense of Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay!”
Supporters rally after prosecution backed off criminal charges against Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay. Photo: Special to revcom.us.