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Burlington Peace Activists Decry bin Laden Killing

by Matt Ryan

BURLINGTON, Vermont -- A small group in Burlington spoke out against the killing by U.S. forces of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, saying Friday they would have rather seen him stand trial.

Robin Lloyd and Anna Guyton denounce the killing of Osama bin Laden from the CCTV studio in Burlington on Friday. (Matt Ryan/Free Press) Robin Lloyd of Burlington said she presumes bin Laden innocent until proven guilty of masterminding the attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center in 2001.

Unfortunately, said Lloyd and the other panelists speaking at a Burlington television studio Friday, the Navy SEAL team that stormed bin Laden’s compound Sunday ensured that he would never stand trial.

The United States should have made a more concerted effort to take bin Laden alive, said Sandy Baird, Burlington attorney and former city councilor.

“Obviously, our government didn’t want him to be put on trial,” Baird said.

Lloyd and Baird made up half of a panel that went on local access television Friday to denounce the killing of bin Laden. Lloyd said the group wanted to provide an alternative perspective to what they characterized as distorted media coverage of bin Laden’s demise, including footage of jubilation in Times Square.

From the CCTV studio, the four panelists characterized bin Laden’s death as an immoral and unlawful assassination.

“This was a calculated murder,” Baird said.

The American forces should have instead detained bin Laden, argued Anna Guyton, the Peace and Justice Center’s manager of mission and programs. Even though one individual fired on the Americans, and even though bin Laden had weapons in his room, that should have been possible, she said. She pointed out that local police forces are able to detain dangerous suspects without killing them.

Through detention, the United States could have learned what bin Laden has been up to for the past several years and whether he remained al-Qaida’s hands-on leader, said Lloyd, a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Nothing good will come of his death, said Baird, adding she expects the event to incite people in the Middle East.

The fourth panelist, Mel Duncan, founding director of Nonviolent Peaceforce in Minnesota, credited the uprisings of people against their governments throughout the Middle East as doing more to disrupt al-Qaida than the killing of bin Laden.

A possible “silver lining” to the killing, said Lloyd, would be the United States’ pulling its military out of Afghanistan.

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