69-Year-Old DNC Fence Jumper Says She Didn’t Think She’d Be Arrested

The California grandmother thought she'd only get a code violation. She got one of those as well.

Anna Marie Sternberg displays her code violation citation in front of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia. (Photo by Brian Thomas)

Anna Marie Sternberg displays her code violation citation in front of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia. | Photo by Brian Thomas

Almost all of the protesters committing infractions at the Democratic National Convention are being handed city code violation citations, which come with a $50 penalty. But one 69-year-old grandmother from California says she’s very surprised that she was arrested and is now facing federal charges.

Anna Marie Sternberg was one of four people arrested by the United States Secret Service after they climbed over the fence around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, some requiring help by officers on the other side on the way down. Sternberg and the others were charged on Wednesday afternoon with one count each of entering a restricted area, a federal offense with a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a possible fine.

Sternberg was originally just given a city code violation citation by police and thought that it would end there. A $50 fine and call it a day.

“They told us, after they gave us this citation, that it would be a couple more hours and then we would be released,” Sternberg said on Wednesday afternoon in front of the federal courthouse at 6th and Market streets. “You know, just some paperwork.”

But, she says, her legal predicament suddenly changed.

“All of a sudden, we were put in the paddywagon and taken to federal jail,” she claims. “All of a sudden. I mean, nobody really told us until after we got there.

Sternberg’s attorney, Paul Hetznecker, says he hopes that the charges will be dismissed and that the powers-that-be will settle for the citation, as is the case with all of the other protesters who have committed infractions thus far.

“I’m 69 years old,” says Sternberg, a Northern California resident. “I’m a mother, I’m a grandmother. I see, like so many of us see, the death throes of our democracy. I see the students, the young people fighting, and I came here to support them, to stand up for our democracy. We need to get it back, and one of the main ways we can do it is exercise our First Amendment rights. And that’s what I was doing.”

When she arrived in Philadelphia, Sternberg was a Bernie Sanders supporter.

“Now I’m supporting Jill Stein,” she says.

Court dates for Sternberg and the others have not been set.

With reporting by Brian Thomas.

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