BIC peace advocate acquitted of misdemeanor charge

GRANTHAM, Pa. (May 29, 2009)—Mimi Copp, a member of Circle of Hope Broad & Washington (Philadelphia), was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of defiant trespassing on May 27 by Philadelphia Municipal Court.

Mimi was arrested and charged along with four others on January 14 during a peaceful direct action outside Colosimo’s Gun Center in north Philadelphia.

“It does feel good,” said Mimi of the acquittal, which came after a full day of testimonies in Philadelphia Municipal Court.

“I feel the not-guilty verdict was fair and just, considering the crisis our city is in and the need to take bold steps to respond to it,” she added. “People and communities of faith spoke out loudly by being on trial and through the presence of hundreds in the courtroom and hallways that the violence that plagues our city is not acceptable, that we are paying attention, and that we are doing something about it.”

Mimi and four other advocates entered Colosimo’s store in January to ask the owner, James Colosimo, to sign a code of conduct that would require the store to employ more stringent measures for tracking gun purchases.

Nine percent of all guns used in violent crimes in Philadelphia in 2003 were traced back to Colosimo’s, according to data from non-profit group Ceasefire New Jersey.

When the advocates refused to leave the store after repeated warnings by employees and police, they were arrested.

The direct action was taken as part of Heeding God’s Call: A Gathering on Peace, a multi-denominational conference for Anabaptists held in Philadelphia from January 13–17 that sought “to strengthen [the] witness and work for peace in the world by inspiring hope, raising voices, [and] taking action.”

Members of the Historic Peace Churches—an ecumenical group including the Mennonite Church USA, the Church of the Brethren, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Brethren in Christ, among others—united for the event. Sixteen BIC delegates, including Mimi, attended the conference.

Read more about Mimi Copp and the Heeding God’s Call Conference at In Part Online.