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Thursday, November 16, 2000

"Students Attend Amnesty International Conference"

SALISBURY, MD---Three members from Salisbury State University's chapter of Amnesty International (AI) recently attended the Amnesty International Annual Mid-Atlantic Conference, held at the Crown Plaza in Richmond, VA. Approximately 200 attendees gathered to listen to various speakers and learn more about AI’s quest for justice.

SSU student attendee and AI chapter president, Brent Riley (New Market, MD), participated in several workshops at the conference. In one of these sessions, activists discussed the organization’s "Urgent Actions," which are designed to inform the public of cases of torture and injustice. Representatives explained that, in order for AI to maintain credibility, a lot of detailed research is necessary for cases to become Urgent Actions, Riley said.

Riley also said that, "While AI does not condone illegal immigration, the organization believes immigrants should be placed in homes while awaiting trial rather than be stripped of their belongings and thrown in prison.

SSU AI member Ben Merrion (Salisbury, MD) also attended the conference. The most memorable workshop for Merrion focused on the death penalty. Three speakers, including former Attorney General of Virginia, William Broaddus, Bill Jenkins, whose son was a victim of murder and Kirk Bloodsworth, a Cambridge, MD resident who was absolved of his death penalty sentence due to new DNA evidence, all spoke in favor of abolishing the death penalty.

"It was really enlightening to hear three different perspectives," said Merrion. "I knew a lot about the death penalty, but I heard a lot of things I hadn’t thought about before."

Both Riley and Merrion participated in a media workshop, which focused on action outreach dates including the "Torture Campaign: Child Action Launch" in December and International Women’s Day on March 8.

The conference activities ended with a march to the governor of Virginia’s mansion in Richmond to protest the use of the death penalty and state’s 21-day law, which gives all persons accused of murder only 21 days to gather evidence proving their innocence.

SSU conference attendee Megan Schutte (Clarence Center, NY) said, "I come from a very conservative town, so most of my friends don’t share the same beliefs that I do. It was really nice to be around people who are concerned about this and are doing something about it."

  SSU Public Relations - 410-543-6030

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