Norm was arrested at a protest at a military recruitment office on August 1, 2011. Lancaster County Judge Louis Farina told Norman Edgar Lowry, Jr. that unless he would forswear his nonviolent protest, the court would be obliged to impose the maximum sentence (7 years) for Lowry’s third consecutive arrest at an Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Lancaster.
If only he would make such a promise, the judge implied, his sentence would be much lighter. Did he understand?, the court asked. Yes, Lowry answered. Will you make the pledge? No.
Asked if he had anything more to say before being sentenced, Lowry presented a written statement and was invited to read it. Lowry told the court that he utterly rejected the “obvious tyranny of unconstitutional wars, fought on the public credit card,” and explained that to cease his “seemingly small ‘no’ to our society’s love of extreme violence, racism, bigotry and poverty-production … would be to dishonor our creator and all of mankind. I have not and will not change my mind!”
He went on to talk about the eight and one-half months he’d spent in the Lancaster County Prison since his arrest last August.
“Often, including by the court,” he explained, “I have been told that I could achieve so much more on the outside of prison. Yet I have nothing to prove! ‘To say no to evil is perfect revolution.’ (Gandhi) Investing my life in prison, with those who are enslaved there (among the many more we enslave worldwide), makes more sense to me than investing my life with the slave-making/owning society outside of prison.”
Norm, a grandfather who has worked as a chaplain in urban ministry to the homeless and destitute, was first arrested at the station one day in February, 2009, when he began calmly breaking windows on the recruiters’ vehicles. He refused bail and served seven months in jail, then returned to the office in January, 2010 to try and talk the soldiers out of their jobs collecting human fodder. When he refused to leave, he was arrested. Lowry again refused to post bail, was convicted of trespass and violating probation, and served nearly 18 months in jail. Last August 1, he visited the recruiter’s office again, blocked the door, and was arrested there for the third time.
Farina imposed a one-to-seven year sentence, with the condition of parole being Lowry’s promise not to block the entrance of any armed forces recruiting station. Norm has been unwilling to agree to this condition so will likely serve the full sentence.
Norm was released on August 1, 2018.