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NOT GUILTY: Stein, Honkala, Fannie Mae protesters

jill-stein-cheri-honkala-fannie-mae.pngBREAKING -- Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala were found not guilty by a Philadelphia judge earlier today on charges stemming from their participation in a housing rights protest at Fannie Mae’s regional offices. The two women were the Green Party's 2012 presidential and vice presidential nominees.

On August 1st of last year, Stein and Honkala, along with 50 other protesters, attempted to escort foreclosed families into Fannie Mae to demand policies that, according to Honkala, would, "keep families in their homes." The two women were arrested during the protest, along with three others, and spent nearly 24 hours in jail. Today, Stein said that:

"Justice prevailed in the Philadelphia courtroom. After a three hour hearing in a room full of supporters threatened with the theft of their homes, a small victory was won. Now we need to build on that victory, and keep a million families facing foreclosure this year in their homes. And we need to bring the real disrupters into the courtroom: the bankers who created this predatory mortgage scandal in the first place, and who have profited enormously at the tragic losses they continue to cause for millions of families."

Fannie Mae is a federal government-sponsored enterprise that is one of the largest holders of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities in the United States. The protest was originally organized by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign on behalf of two Philadelphia families whose homes were threatened by foreclosure.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, foreclosure rates rose 28% in Pennsylvania last year. Meanwhile, mortgage lenders have managed to enter settlement agreements with the federal government, avoiding criminal liability despite charges of “robo-signing” and other abuses of the foreclosure process.

Said defense Attorney Lloyd Long III of the judge's decision:

"Today's victory is an affirmation that the First Amendment is alive and well in this country in spite of attempts to curtail free speech with arrests and criminal charges. I am thrilled that my clients were completely exonerated of any wrongdoing and wish that they had not been charged in the first place for trying to air their grievances with a federal agency. I hope that their message against predatory lending is widely heard."
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