Preliminary hearings were held yesterday for the five members of the Penn community who were arrested in the Occupy Philadelphia protests on Nov. 30.
College sophomore Emma Johnson, College junior Moshe Bitterman, College senior Ellie Dugan and former Penn student Will Darwall were arrested along with School of Social Policy & Practice assistant professor Toorjo Ghose and 48 other protesters.
Johnson and Bitterman accepted an offer to enroll in the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program, which stipulates that those convicted complete community service and pay court fees. Johnson and Bitterman were each ordered to complete 12 hours of community service and pay court fees of $199.50 for charges of conspiracy, failure to disperse upon official order and obstruction of a highway, according to court documents.
Their next court date is set for Jan. 10.
Darwall, Dugan and Ghose, however, rejected the AMP offer. They still face charges of conspiracy, failure to disperse upon official order and obstruction of a highway.
“I would like to go to trial with this and prove that I was well within my rights as an ethical being and social worker and activist to oppose 1000 armed cops with a nonviolent show of nonviolent protest,” Ghose said.
Their next court appearance is set for Jan. 12.
Darwall, Dugan and Johnson declined to comment. Bitterman did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.
Philadelphia Mayor and 1979 Wharton graduate Michael Nutter had set a 5 p.m. deadline on Nov. 27 for all occupiers to clear Dilworth Plaza in front of City Hall.
On Nov. 30, police took action and evicted all those remaining, but made no arrests at that time. However, the protesters continued to march around Philadelphia for their cause.
Darwall, Dugan, Bitterman and Johnson were arrested at 15th and Hamilton streets at about 5 a.m. The four did not expect to be arrested, they wrote in a statement that day.
They were standing on the sidewalk when police announced they would arrest anyone standing on the street. Although they complied with orders, police began arresting those standing on the sidewalk anyway, they wrote.
Ghose was arrested at 15th and Market streets a few hours prior, as he linked arms with six other protesters on the street.
“We needed to get arrested,” he said the day after his arrest, in order to express “the fact that we were legal, we were nonviolent, we were occupying.”
All five were released without bail later that same day.
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