To the Editors:
The following are the text of our indictment and a response which we have made to it.
In the District Court of the United States for the District of Rhode Island
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW and ANTHONY TOWNE
INDICTMENT NO. 7709
Vio. Title 18, U.S.C. Sections 1071 and 3
The Grand Jury charges:
That from on or about August 7, 1970, the exact date being unknown to the Grand Jury, up to and including on or about August 11, 1970, at New Shoreham, commonly known as Block Island, in the District of Rhode Island, WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW and ANTHONY TOWNE did unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly harbor and conceal Daniel Berrigan so as to prevent the discovery and arrest of the said Daniel Berrigan, for whose arrest a warrant had been issued under the provisions of a law of the United States by the United States District Court for the District of Maryland on April 9, 1970, after his conviction in that Court of destruction of government property and wilful interference with the administration of the Military Selective Service Act (18 U.S.C. 1361 and 2071 and 50 Appx. U.S.C. 462(a)), and who had failed to surrender himself at the direction of the Court to commence service of the sentence imposed upon him, the said WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW and ANTHONY TOWNE well knowing that the said warrant and process had been issued for the apprehension of the said Daniel Berrigan, as aforesaid; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1071.
The Grand Jury further charges:
That from on or about August 7, 1970, the exact date being unknown to the Grand Jury, up to and including on or about August 11, 1970, at New Shoreham, commonly known as Block Island, in the District of Rhode Island, WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW and ANTHONY TOWNE, knowing that Daniel Berrigan had committed offenses against the United States, that is, destruction of government property and wilful interference with the administration of the Military Selective Service Act (18 U.S.C. 1361 and 2071 and 50 Appx. U.S.C. 462(a)), in the District of Maryland, did unlawfully, wilfully, and knowingly relieve, receive, comfort and assist the said Daniel Berrigan in order to prevent and hinder his punishment, that is to say, the said WILLIAM STRINGFELLOW and ANTHONY TOWNE, well knowing the facts as aforesaid, did receive Daniel Berrigan in their residence on New Shoreham, commonly called Block Island, and there did offer and give sustenance and lodging to him; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 3.
A TRUE BILL:
/s/ Albert E. Mitchell
/s/ Lincoln C. Almond
United States Attorney
A Statement by Anthony Towne and William Stringfellow of Block Island, Rhode Island, concerning Indictment No. 7709 in the United States District Court for Rhode Island:
Grave charges have been made against us by the public authorities and we have pleaded innocent to those charges because we are innocent. In due course, a jury of our fellow citizens will have opportunity to uphold our innocence and we await their verdict with cheerful expectations.
Daniel Berrigan is our friend. We rejoice in that fact and strive to be worthy of it. Our hospitality to Daniel Berrigan is no crime. At a certain time and in a certain place we did “relieve, receive, comfort and assist” him and we did “offer and give sustenance and lodging” to him. We did not “harbor” or “conceal” him. We did not “hinder” the authorities.
Father Berrigan has and had no need to be concealed. By his own extraordinary vocation, and by the grace of God, he has become one of the conspicuous Christians of these wretched times. We have done what we could do to affirm him in this regard. We categorically deny that we have done anything to conceal him.
We are not disposed to hide what light there is under a bushel.
Our indictment has not happened in a void. We cannot ignore the scene in which such a remarkable event takes place: the manifold and multiplying violence of this society, the alienation between races and generations, the moral fatigue of Americans, the debilitating atmosphere in which citizens become so suspicious and fearful of their own government that they suppose silence is the only safety and conformity the only way to survive.
Because we are innocent, we believe that we would not have been indicted but for the pervasiveness of the spirit of repression which has lately overtaken the nation.
In that respect, we consider that whatever happens to us will in truth be happening to all Americans.
And so, to our fellow citizens, we say:
The violence must end.
All violence must stop.
The vainglorious war in Asia must now cease, but, more than that, the war enterprise must be dismantled and the military predominance in our society must be reversed.
And the violence of political terrorists must end now. Arson, kidnapping, bombing in fact sabotage the social change the nation so pathetically needs, and such tactics are just as wrong and just as futile as the violence of war and racism and repression.
The psychological violence, sometimes officially condoned, by which citizens are accused and impugned without opportunity for appropriate reply and are otherwise harassed, spied upon, frightened or intimidated must be stopped now.
These are all works of death. Only when our country is free of them will it be a society in which men can rejoice as human beings.
We make this statement as our Christmas greeting—especially to Daniel and Philip Berrigan, to all prisoners of conscience, and to all Americans who wish to be free.
Block Island, Rhode Island
February 11, 1971