Five members of the “Redbud Eight” are scheduled to stand trial beginning Tuesday in Ithaca City Court for their involvement in the occupation of the office of President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77 in April. They were protesting the parking lot now under construction at Redbud Woods.
Kjirsten Alexander ’07, Sun columnist Danny Pearlstein ’05, Daisy Torres ’05, Jordan Wells ’07 and Patrick Young ’06 will be tried for trespassing and resisting arrest.
Resisting arrest is a class A misdemeanor for which they can be jailed up to one year if convicted.
Amelia Apfel ’08, Laura McIntyre ’08 and Ethan Middlebrooks ’08 were also charged with trespassing but are not scheduled to stand trial next week.
Pearlstein and Torres still have not received their diplomas.
Young told The Sun that the group was offered a plea bargain yesterday, adding that the deal included jail time. They have not decided whether they will accept the deal.
“We are not sure how we feel about it or what exactly it will involve,” Young said.
He said that the group’s lawyers will be meeting with the Tompkins County District Attorney George Dentes ’76 today.
“We signed an agreement on July 18 that implied that the charges would be forgiven. This puts everything in a whole new perspective,” Young said.
In the agreement, Cornell administrators agreed to “speak with appropriate authorities about the charges pending related to the incidents of the sit-in in 300 Day Hall in April 2005 and their disposition.”
Interim President Hunter R. Rawlings III said at a Faculty Senate meeting on Sept. 14 that “the University has so far been unsuccessful at diminishing the charges [against the protesting students] downtown.”
Speaking to the College Republicans on Sept. 20, Dentes told Pearlstein that “you have committed a crime and you will be punished. A criminal charge is the people of the state of New York versus John Q. … I decide what charges are pressed and what charges are dropped,” adding that the charges were never a subject of negotiation.
According to Tommy Bruce, vice president of University communications, “the administration has been in communication with [Dentes] from the get go.”
He said that Susan Murphy ’74, vice president of student and academic services, “had a sit down at the end of August in which we recommended to the D.A. that the eight students involved in the April sit-in be treated as if they were signatories of the Redbud agreement, meaning that they would get six months [adjournment in contemplation of dismissal].”
“[Dentes] indicated that he was not going to accept our recommendation,” Bruce said. He added that Murphy has sent subsequent e-mails to Dentes and that conversations are ongoing.
Pearlstein said that Alexander, Torres and Young had hired attorneys and that he and Wells planned to represent themselves.
“We’re getting ourselves together,” Pearlstein said.
He said that he expected Cornell administrators, including Murphy, to be called to testify, as well as several police officers.
Dentes, a Republican, is running for re-election in November against Democrat Gwen Wilkinson.
Archived article by Eric Finkelstein
Sun Managing Editor