Former Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate, Cheri Honkala Guilty for HUD Protest

Posted by Kevin Zeese

Above Cheri Honkala (center) outside of the DC Superior Court in Washington, DC after being found guilty on June 10, 2019. Cheri is with Kaylen Phillips, Alison Hawver McDowell, Tanya Curry, Gregory Copeland, Meg Olkiewicz and Pastor Keith Collins.

DC Court finds Cheri Honkala Guilty

WASHINGTON D.C., June 10, 2019: Former Green Party vice presidential candidate, Cheri Honkala was found guilty in the DC  Superior Court for going into the building of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) seeking to speak to a HUD official about their policies toward the poor.

In the case of United States v. Honkala, defendant Cheri Honkala, an international anti-poverty, and housing activist, was found guilty of unlawful entry of HUD. The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), of which Honkala is the founder, condemns this attack on free speech and the right to petition our government, and the silencing of dissent.

On June 11, 2018, Cheri Honkala led over 100 people from across the country on a march from Philadelphia to D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s March. The 2018 “March for Our Lives” was an effort to redress grievances regarding Hurricane Maria and the resulting housing crisis that followed and continue within Puerto Rico and the mainland United States.

Honkala was arrested and later charged with unlawful entry after attempting to speak with Housing and Urban Development authority in a public building with the intention of preventing greater harm and humanitarian crisis.

After a 3-day jury trial, Honkala was convicted of this misdemeanor 1 offense, and the judge sentenced Honkala to “time served.” The verdict sets a dangerous precedent for people attempting to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” as is clearly protected by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

“Any time the judge says that ‘you don’t have the right to say the 1st amendment in your closing,’ the irony to that is amazing,” said Cheri’s attorney, Gregory Copeland. “I cannot say how embarrassed I am in the nation’s capital that we convicted a homeless advocate for standing up for the rights of the homeless and the poor.”

Honkala spoke to PPEHRC members outside the courthouse, her tears mixing with the rain falling. “My tears are mostly because I’m sad that we live in a country where we can find people guilty of just trying to address our government, for the deaths that happened in Puerto Rico and the taking away of housing and the basic necessities of life for people in our country.” She continued, “This also needs to be a serious warning for anyone that is fighting for human rights in this country.”

“The only thing that Cheri is guilty of is having a heart, having compassion, guilty of telling the truth, guilty of being a fighter for those that are disenfranchised,” said Pastor Keith Collins, of Church of the Overcomer. “We need more soldiers in this fight because this is the state of the country right now. It’s time to get into the street and put our funds where our mouth is.”

Honkala will appeal the case. PPEHRC and other organizers will be meeting to discuss how to organize a response to this injustice. The meeting will be held at PPEHRC’s office on Wednesday, June 12, from 5-7pm, at 1505 W. Allegheny Ave in Philadelphia, PA, all are welcome.

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About Kevin Zeese

Kevin Zeese is a public interest attorney who has worked for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980. He co-directs which works to build the independent movement for transformational change. Zeese co-hosts, Clearing the FOG a radio podcast which airs on We Act Radio, Progressive Radio Network, and other outlets.  He is recognized as a leading activist in the United States in the series Americans Who Tell the Truth. Zeese was an organizer of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC in 2011.  He serves as president of Common Sense for Drug Policy and is a co-founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, now known as Drug Policy Alliance as well as a former director of NORML. He is a co-founder of Health Over Profit for Everyone which seeks to put in place National Improved Medicare for All. Zeese is an advocate of Internet Freedom and is a leader of the campaign for Title II Net Neutrality to ensure equal access and treatment for everyone on the Internet.  Zeese served on the steering committees of the Chelsea Manning Support Network which advocated for the Wikileaks whistleblower and is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation which supports Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and other whistleblowers. Zeese is an election integrity advocate who a co-founded TrueVote Maryland which led a successful campaign to end the use of paperless voting machines in the state.  He has been active in independent and third party political campaigns including Peter Camejo for governor of California served as press secretary and spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2004 and as a senior advisor to Jill Stein in 2016.  He ran for the US Senate in 2006; the only person ever nominated by the Green, Libertarian and Populist Parties of Maryland and the only person ever nominated by the Green and Libertarian Parties for a statewide office. Zeese served as Attorney General in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

One thought on “Former Green Party Vice Presidential Candidate, Cheri Honkala Guilty for HUD Protest

  1. Jan Lightfoot

    Remember the Crooks are in control. They do not respect human or constitutional Rights of others. We need to stop respecting millionaires, and go back to loving each other. The dollar should not be honored above the value of Human rights. In America Human Right are not enforceable by the 1% crooks, and other powerful. We the rampant poor give them this power.

    This is a Blatant misuse of justice. Help me fight such.

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