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Eye On Boise

Mon., July 21, 2014, 2:58 p.m.

Sentencing hearing: ‘These are moral individuals’

After the break this afternoon, attorney Phillip Gordon – one of 20 lawyers who volunteered to represent the “Add the 4 Words” protesters for free after their arrests – told the court on behalf of his three clients, Salem Djembe, Deborah Graham and Dan Fink, that it’s the first time in his career he’d rather be in court as a defendant than as defense counsel. He said he was “proud, privileged, and very humble” to stand in their presence. “Two of my clients are clerics, and they are acting from the depths of their spiritual traditions,” Gordon said. “These are moral individuals, these are people committed to justice.”

Djembe told the court he was a foster child, and was diagnosed with severe PTSD and depression resulting from his experiences being a transgender person. Now, he’s a foster parent himself, and works to help children at risk including LGBT youth. “There was no one to step up for me at the age of 16 and 17, so it’s my job to do this now,” Djembe said. “I’ve done my part, and I am not ashamed one little bit. … I did that for those kids that are coming.” He received 20 hours of community service and court costs as his sentence.

Graham, an Episcopal priest, received 30 hours of public service and court costs. “It is my duty not just as a Christian but also as a citizen to work peacefully to change laws that harm others,” she told the court. “With my whole heart, mind and soul, I do not want to see more Idahoans suffer discrimination because of who they fall in love with, or suffer severe depression, as I have, because they gave up hope that they could live openly as the person they were created to be, without fear of discrimination.”

Dan Fink, rabbi of Boise’s Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, pleaded guilty to a single charge of trespassing; he’d been arrested three times in the protests. He received 30 hours of community service and court costs. “Quite a few of the members of my congregational family have indeed suffered harm,” Fink told the court. “My work with ‘Add the 4 Words’ was the least that I could do.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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