'Granny Peace Brigade' Appears in Court

Eighteen anti-war activists who call themselves the "Granny Peace Brigade" appeared in court Thursday for trial on charges of disorderly conduct stemming from a protest outside a military recruiting station.

The defendants, some supporting themselves with canes and walkers, are being tried as a group before Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross. If convicted, each could face up to 15 days in prison.

"This case is simple and straightforward," Assistant District Attorney Amy Miller said in her opening statement. "It's not about the war; it's about disorderly conduct."

She said the defendants sat in front of the Times Square recruiting station on Oct. 17, obstructed pedestrian traffic and refused to disperse as ordered. Miller said this prevented others from going in or out of the center.

Defense attorney Norman Siegel said the women went to the recruiting station to try to enlist but the door was locked, so they sat and started chanting, "We insist! We want to enlist!"

Siegel said the defendants had a right to protest the war in Iraq and to sit in front of the recruiting center.

"They did not break any laws," he said. "They were respectful, orderly, justified and patriotic."

Earlier Thursday, the women rejected a plea deal that would have dismissed the charges in six months if the women had no further violations of law. The women vowed to keep up the protests.

The small courtroom was packed with about 75 supporters. The women — several in their 80s and 90s and most of them grandmothers, with three boasting to be great grandmothers — wore buttons that read: "Granny Peace Brigade" and "Love the Troops, Hate the War." Some wore T-shirts emblazoned with the words: "We will not be silent."