Sugarhouse protesters go on trial this week

    13 anti-casino activists go to trial tomorrow on charges stemming from a September demonstration at the site of the planned Sugarhouse Casino along the Delaware River in Philadelphia.
    The protest was over almost as quickly as it began. Early in the morning of September 29, 13 people associated with Casino-Free Philadelphia sat down in front of the Sugarhouse site.

    13 anti-casino activists go to trial tomorrow on charges stemming from a September demonstration at the site of the planned Sugarhouse Casino along the Delaware River in Philadelphia.

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    The protest was over almost as quickly as it began. Early in the morning of  September 29, the 13 people associated with Casino-Free Philadelphia sat down in front of the Sugarhouse site. The police were there first, and the activists were promptly arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and conspiracy.

    Participants say the action stemmed from a frustration with the failure of legal efforts to halt the construction of the controversial slots parlor.

    Rich Garella is a documentary filmmaker, and one of the protesters on trial.

    Garella: What we want to do is put the casinos on trial. What we want to do is show that our intent is to show what the real objections are to casinos. You know the popular opposition to casinos has already delayed their opening by years.

    Garella and the others say casinos suck money from poor communities to benefit casino operators.

    Proponents say the slots parlors will generate needed revenue at a time when the recession has forced both state and local governments to tighten their belts.

    Sugarhouse declined to comment on the case.

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