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US v. Handy: Aimee's Quick Take

by Aimee Murphy

When Herb began working as an intern for us back in 2016, it was clear to me how passionate and how dedicated he was to ending violence and promoting human dignity. Since then, he has grown as a leader and developed as an activist, even stepping up to fill the role of Executive Director for our team at Rehumanize International in early 2021, when I needed to step back from work to take care of my health. He’s been involved with other organizations in various social justice and human dignity spaces since as long as I’ve known him, and I always have appreciated the way that his advocacy challenges me. I am proud to call him one of my dearest friends.

For the past few weeks, I’ve spent many days in Washington, D.C., attending the long, arduous and often painful days of Herb’s trial (okay but it was seriously painful, those benches for court observers are not comfortable). I’ve been doing work on breaks, evenings, and weekends to make it work. My husband, Kyle, and I felt we needed to show up to be a kind presence of love and support for our friend (and Kaine, his fiancée) during what will likely be one of the most difficult times of his life. After sitting in that courtroom for days on end, I was baffled when Herb’s life’s work at RI was not admitted into evidence (supposedly because it might be “too prejudicial”). But through watching the same video and photo evidence as the jury, I was optimistic, honestly. I was hopeful that the jury would find Herb “not guilty,” because what I’d seen in evidence during testimony seemed to me to clearly demonstrate that Herb participated in no such conspiracy or violations of FACE—particularly not using force or physical obstruction.

So yesterday afternoon, I was honestly shocked when I heard the verdict: all defendants guilty on all counts, including the special findings on use of force and physical obstruction. I tried to keep my composure. Then, the judge made a ruling—it seemed that because the crimes were “violent felonies,” she said she had no jurisdiction to prevent their incarceration before sentencing, if the government pushed for it. They did. I believe what I heard her then say was that they had to be “stepped back.” Suddenly, without warning, a crowd of court marshals stood and began cuffing the defendants, with no time for them to say goodbye. The tough face I’d try to put on slipped instantly into a wave of tears as Herb got whisked away. It was traumatic. It felt unreal.

Honestly, I can tell you, our team thought we’d have more time to adjust to any changes that might need to be made on the off chance Herb was convicted. I already had very little trust in our justice system (have you read the portion of my book on torture in the justice system? On the death penalty? On police brutality?), and yet, I find myself blown away by the travesty of injustice I feel I’ve witnessed. It feels inhumane that those who would peacefully try to save lives of children doomed to death could be locked up for 11 years for those actions; and yet those who participate in the killing don’t have their violence at all subject to such judicial scrutiny. It feels unjust. It feels cruel. It is so clear to me that we still have a long way to go to build a culture of peace and life, that there’s so much work to do to change our culture and rehumanize this system.

Finally, it must be mentioned that until Herb is free, the board has moved to appoint me as Interim Executive Director. I’m sad that it is necessary, but I’m happy to take up the mantle again as the need arises. However, I’m not going to lie: it’s going to be hard. I still have chronic pain, and there’s (good!) changes happening in our family that require extra time and energy on my part. So please bear with me, and consider making a donation to support

our work, so that we can together build a world beyond violence. And if you want to send kind words on to Herb, feel free to send me an email at, and I’ll do my best to pass them on. Thank you, and may we be the change we wish to see in the world. May we be the peace, the kindness, the love, and the hope we wish to see, too.


Disclaimer: The views presented in the Rehumanize Blog do not necessarily represent the views of all members, contributors, or donors. We exist to present a forum for discussion within the Consistent Life Ethic, to promote discourse and present an opportunity for peer review and dialogue.

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