Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kantar, Mohsen Pleaded Not Guilty to Federal Assault Charges


Kantar, Mohsen pleaded not guilty to federal assault charges

MECAWI protestors support pair in courtroom

By Whitney Gronski-Buffa
Pioneer Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 8:33 AM EST

GRAND RAPIDS — Max Kantar and Ahlam Mohsen pleaded not guilty to federal assault charges for smashing a pie in the face of U.S. Sen. Carl Levin.

Kantar, 23, of Big Rapids, and Mohsen, 23, of Coldwater, each face one felony assault charge and one misdemeanor assault charge following their arraignment Monday in United States District Court in Grand Rapids.

The felony assault charge — forcible assault, an aiding and abetting one another in assaulting, a federal officer while he was performing his duties — carries a sentence of up to eight years in prison if they are convicted.

U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis is pursuing the case. Detroit-based attorney Jerome Goldberg will represent Kantar and Allison Folmar, also based in Detroit, will represent Mohsen.

Neither Goldberg or Folmar could be reached for comment on Monday.

Kantar and Mohsen found support in the courtroom from a group of about 15 protesters affiliated with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, or MECAWI, a couple of Grand Rapids activists and a few Michigan State University students who are peers of Mohsen.

Mohsen is a senior anthropology at MSU. Kantar is a 2010 graduate of Ferris State University.

MECAWI held a rally of support for Mohsen in Detroit in August and, while she was being held in Mecosta County Jail, repeatedly called the jail to request that Mohsen be fed vegan diet.

Kris Hamel, an organizer for MECAWI, which is based in Detroit, said the group came in when Kantar and Mohsen entered and left as soon as their hearing was complete. The group believes prosecuting Kantar and Mohsen is an attempt by the government to silence dissent, she said.

“I’m sure it was noticed by the court that we were there to support them,” Hamel said. “Our feeling is that they’re being railroaded on ridiculous charges. When you consider what took place in Arizona with the attempted assassination on Congresswoman Giffords and the murder of several others ... this is the real violence being perpetrated in society, not a pie being placed in someone’s face. This is what our tax dollars are going toward, prosecuting these kids.”

In December, Davis made a statement about the case, saying, “My office will vigorously enforce the laws that ensure the leaders we freely choose in open election can meet with their constituents to exchange views without fear or assault and physical reprisal.”

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