A judge dismissed defiant-trespass charges against 11 anti-war grandmothers who had refused to leave a Center City military recruiting office in June after trying to enlist to replace troops serving in Iraq.
Municipal Court Judge Deborah Griffin said the charge did not apply because the women - including poet Sonia Sanchez and Lillian Willoughby, a 91-year-old wheelchair-bound South Jersey Quaker - were in a public place and did nothing except refuse a request to leave.
About 75 people rallied in support of the 11 Granny Peace Brigade members outside the Community Court at 1401 Arch St. before their appearance.
Defense lawyer Paul Messing argued that the women were engaged in constitutionally protected free speech when they tried to enlist, and he quoted from a Pennsylvania Superior Court decision that quoted Thomas Jefferson saying, "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing."
The women had faced up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $500 if they had been convicted.
Some of the women spent six days in jail after they blocked the Federal Building in Center City shortly after the war started in 2003.