A jury found Amy Carter, Abbie Hoffman and 13 other protesters innocent Wednesday of charges stemming from a demonstration last fall against CIA recruiters at the University of Massachusetts.
The six-member jury announced the verdict to a courtroom packed with 130 spectators about three hours after they began deliberations. Hampshire County District Judge Richard Connon cleared the chamber after the reading of the first verdict was greeted with thunderous applause.
“The people of Northampton, a jury of six in Northampton, have found the CIA guilty of a larger crime than trespassing and disorderly conduct and decided we had a legitimate right to protest that,” the daughter of former President Jimmy Carter said as she left the courthouse.
“I don’t know what is in the future, but I am sure I am going to be involved in this sort of thing for the rest of my life,” she said.
Carter called her family from the defendants’ headquarters, where jubilant supporters and defendants doused each other with champagne. She said her father, who had been following the trial in the Atlanta newspapers, was “really excited. He was quoting (Daniel) Ellsberg’s testimony.”
“It feels very good, very good,” Hoffman said afterward. “I am proud of what we did. It’s good for the country. It’s good for democracy.”
Prosecutor Diane Fernald had argued that Carter deliberately blocked buses and that other protesters refused to leave a university building to publicize their demands that the school ban CIA recruiters.
The defense had argued that the protesters broke minor laws in an effort to put a stop to graver lawbreaking by the spy agency.
Carter, 19, was among three defendants accused of disorderly conduct at the Nov. 24 demonstration.