By EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH
Two members of DivestUMW and one member of the Fredericksburg community were found not guilty on charges of trespassing in a court case on Tuesday, Aug. 4.
The case began at 9:30 a.m., and Judge Robert Eric Reibach of the Fredericksburg General District Court reached the decision to clear the members of misdemeanor trespassing charges.
Reibach determined that the evidence that was submitted by Virginia State Police was insufficient to charge rising junior Adam Wander, rising sophomore Noah Goodwin, and Fredericksburg community member Nina Angelini as guilty.
Wander, Goodwin and Angelini were arrested in April after DivestUMW held a sit-in at George Washington Hall. The sit-in was organized after the University decided against forming a subcommittee that would explore divesting from companies or shareholders that profit from fossil fuels.
The 21-day sit-in ended after the administration presented a written warning to clear the building, and Virginia State police arrested the three members who were still inside.
The members potentially faced up to a year in prison if found guilty with the charges.
DivestUMW issued a press release on the results of the court case that can be read on the group’s Facebook page.
DivestUMW’s Official Press Release: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YU1lGQKYsw7lYKmS005X1Yk0IgswwyCT_Ega8eKlEDY/pub
According to Rabib Hasan, senior psychology major and DivestUMW co-chair, the court’s decision was a vote of confidence for the group, who felt the case and the charges were not proportional to their actions.
“[It was] very reaffirming,” Hasan said.
Hasan also hopes that the court’s decision will encourage other students to not be afraid to stand up for what they believe in, and help form a “culture of students who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.”
Hasan believed last semester’s events led students to learn more about divestment and become more educated on the issue, and for some, to become involved in DivestUMW’s cause.
“What we found from students is that they have a deep understanding and took [DivestUMW’s] cause to heart,” Hasan said.
Wander, Goodwin and Angelini were represented by three attorneys: Andy Cornick, Robert Hyman and Jonathan Oates, according to The Free Lance-Star.