In late May ’09 the ‘Heeding Twelve’, faith leaders who had been arrested at Colosimo’s Gun Center in January, were tried and acquitted – to much public and media attention and acclaim.

On May 26 the Heeding 12 faced trial in Philadelphia Municipal Court for the various trespassing and conspiracy charges resulting from their acts of civil disobedience at Colosimo’s in January. The trial was preceded by a well-attended prayer service at Arch Street United Methodist Church and a solemn procession led by denominational leaders to the courthouse. The trial had to be moved to a larger courtroom than assigned, due to the nearly 300 supporters who attended during the day. During the trial Heeding also organized a support rally at City Hall Plaza, which included a display of T-shirts representing the hundreds of gun violence victims from Philadelphia, Chester and Camden who lost their lives during the preceding year.

Each of the Heeding defendants gave impassioned witness from the stand, in an arrangement worked out with the District Attorney. To the surprise and great joy of the defendants and their supporters, the judge found the Twelve not guilty. As the verdict was read, the audience gasped and broke out into spontaneous applause, grateful prayer and hugging all around. The trial of the Heeding Twelve was particularly notable for significant media coverage and strong editorial support for acquittal of the Twelve and Heeding’s campaign to get gun dealers to adopt the Code. Inquirer columnist Monica Yant Kinney encapsulated the spirit of the day in her piece: ‘Appeal to conscience carries the day.’

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