April 07, 2020

Ex-student charged in White House protest > Suspect attended COA last semester

BAR HARBOR — A former College of the Atlantic student was arrested last Friday night in Bar Harbor on a federal warrant for demonstrating outside the White House without a permit in December.

Steven D. Cohen, 20, of Yarmouth appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston, alongside co-defendent Jessica Stewart, who was arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Portland over the weekend. The pair are in custody and on their way back to Washington, D.C.

According to the criminal complaint, Cohen, Stewart and about 50 others gathered outside the White House on the morning of Dec. 30. The demonstration was organized by the Atlantic Life Community, a Baltimore-based pacifist group that includes Phil Berrigan and uses civil disobedience to oppose nuclear weapons and military actions. A spokesperson for the group told The Washington Post that the group had gathered to protest the inhumane treatment of people around the world.

The federal complaint says the demonstrators poured a bloodlike liquid on the sidewalk at 11 a.m. Park police then asked them to move off the sidewalk, and after 10 minutes they arrested 20 who refused to leave — including Cohen and Stewart. All were taken to the park service’s Anacostia station and charged with demonstrating without a permit, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine or six months in jail. Two also were charged with destruction of federal property — the sidewalk.

John Cooper, chief deputy at the U.S. Marshal’s Office in Portland, said his office received the federal warrants last week after Cohen and Stewart did not show up for their scheduled appearance in U.S. District Court in Washington on Jan.15. Their next court date, along with that of several other demonstrators, is set for Friday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anjali Chaturvedi, who is prosecuting the case, said she wasn’t sure if they would arrive from Boston in time for that hearing. She also said she didn’t know yet what penalty she will seek from the court.

Officer James Pinkham of the Bar Harbor Police Department arrested Cohen at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the College of the Atlantic.

Cohen tranferred to the school last fall but is not enrolled this semester. He was taken to Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth, where officers from the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department collected him on behalf of the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

Activists from the Atlantic Life Community, which was founded in 1976, also have spilled blood on Navy destroyers at the Bath Iron Works shipyard. Law enforcement officers said they believe Cohen also was involved in the protests at BIW last year. The College of the Atlantic, despite its small student population of 265 and remote location, ranked number one on the list of most politically active campuses in the Princeton Review’s Guide to the Top 311 Colleges.

Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

comments for this post are closed

You may also like