Max Kantar and Ahlam Mohsen each face federal assault charges for forcing a pie into U.S. Sen. Carl Levin’s face.
Both individuals face one felony assault charge and one misdemeanor assault charge. Kantar and Mohsen were arraigned Monday in United States District Court in Grand Rapids.
If Kantar, a former Ferris student, and Mohsen are convicted, they could each face up to eight years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Donald A. Davis is pursuing the case. Detroit-based attorney Jerome Goldberg will represent Kantar and Allison Folmar, also based out of Detroit, will represent Mohsen.
Barry Mehler, Director of the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism and professor in the humanities department, said in a Torch letter to the editor he knows Kantar very well, noting he was the finest student he ever taught.
Mehler said in the letter that he finds the charges against Kantar and Mohsen outrageous.
“The complacency of this community in the face of these outrageous charges disturbs me greatly,” Mehler said in the letter.
Mehler also said, “No one has ever died or even been hospitalized or even needed a band aid after taking a pie in the face.”
In addition, he said it’s rude, but should not be a felony assault as it was a political protest.
Reported in the Big Rapids Pioneer, Kantar and Mohsen found support in court from a group of 15 protesters affiliated with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice (MECAWI) – a group of Grand Rapids activists and several Michigan State University students who are Mohsen’s peers.
The group believes prosecuting Kantar and Mohsen is an attempt by the government to silence dissent.
Steven Hoag, a junior in criminal justice, does not believe Kantar and Mohsen should face felony charges.
“It’s a pie,” said Hoag, who added that a serious weapon was not used in the assault.
“You will note that Mohsen’s bond was $50,000 and Kantar’s $10,000 – both completely outrageous considering that murders often are released on lesser bonds and the risk that these two will harm anyone or flee is minimal,” Mehler also said in the letter.
Kris Hamel, an organizer for MECAWI, said, “Our feeling is that they’re being railroaded on ridiculous charges.”
Hamel added, “This is not real violence being perpetrated in society, not a pie being placed in someone’s face.” n