PHILADELPHIA – Two Quakers, Vint Deming (78) and Gail Newbold (62), were found guilty this afternoon of Defiant Trespass and Conspiracy to Commit Trespass following their arrest and trial for a nonviolent religious witness at PNC Bank’s Center City headquarters last December.
“You are both to be admired for the cause you’ve been involved in,” said Judge Dugan before delivering the verdict to a courtroom packed with supporters. “If it was in my power to compel PNC to sit down with you here and have a dialogue, I would.”
Deming and Newbold were arrested during a demonstration led by Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), a Philadelphia based environmental and economic justice organization, in which 30 Quakers built two nine-foot tall windmills inside PNC’s lobby to protest the bank’s investments in a controversial form of coal mining called mountaintop removal. After they were asked to leave, five members elected to stay inside the bank, an act of witness that is consistent with the Quaker tradition in Philadelphia dating back to the time of William Penn.
“PNC has Quaker roots going back over 100 years; if they are going to advertise themselves as a green bank, then their investment policies need to match their stated values. Integrity and Stewardship are Quaker testimonies, and we challenge PNC to uphold them. We are grateful to have this chance to speak about this environmental and human rights issue, and to enter evidence about PNC’s complicity into the public record,” said Ingrid Lakey, Executive Director of Earth Quaker Action Team.
PNC is one of the nation’s leading financiers of mountaintop removal, with over $550 million dollars invested in mining companies that have dynamited 500 mountains and buried over 2000 miles of streams, causing joblessness, poverty, and health risks such as cancer and birth defects for thousands of affected families in the Appalachian region.
“I’m disappointed in the verdict,” said Lawrence Krasner, attorney with Krasner, Hughes and Long. “And I appreciate that the Judge did listen to all the evidence. My sense is that, on appeal, a jury might feel differently about the importance of saving lives as opposed to corporate convenience. The defendants have good reasons to appeal and good reasons not to appeal, and they will have to choose. ”
The two defendants were fined $76 each, plus court costs.