An Act of Conscience
|An Act of Conscience|
|Directed by||Robbie Leppzer|
|Produced by||Robbie Leppzer|
|Written by||Robbie Leppzer and Sara Elinoff|
|Starring||Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner|
|Narrated by||Martin Sheen|
|Music by||Steven Schoenberg|
|Edited by||Robbie Leppzer|
|Distributed by||Cinemax & Turning Tide Productions|
|Running time||90 minutes|
An Act of Conscience is a 1997 documentary film by Robbie Leppzer about the war tax resistance of Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner and years-long struggle that ensues after the IRS seizes their home in Colrain, Massachusetts in 1989, to recover $27,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was shown on Cinemax and the Sundance Channel. It is narrated by Martin Sheen and features cameo appearances by activist-priest Daniel Berrigan and political folksinger Pete Seeger.
After the house is seized, the couple and their daughter refuse to move out and Kehler is arrested on December 3, 1991, by US Marshals and IRS agents. Community supporters move in, helping them to occupy the house. On February 12, 1992, the still-occupied house—but not the land, which belongs to the Valley Community Land Trust—is sold at auction to Danny Franklin and Terry Charnesky for $5400; the IRS had failed to receive any monetary bids at an earlier auction. The sale results in suits and countersuits between the Franklin-Charnesky family and the Land Trust. Despite the sale of the house, the Kehler-Corner occupiers refuse to leave.
However, on April 15, 1992, while Kehler, Corner, and their supporters are away, Franklin, Charnesky, and their supporters move-in and occupy the house. Kehler, Corner, and their supporters begin a lively protest and round-the-clock vigil just outside the house, eventually even building a small wooden structure to shelter the protesters. On May 28, 1993, the Franklin County Superior court issues an injunction against the Kehler-Corner protests and, subsequently, several protesters are arrested and jailed after violating the injunction. Still, the protest continues until September, when they are finally discontinued. The battle over the house is ended on December 31, 1993, when an out-of-court settlement is reached between the Land Trust and the Franklin-Charnesky family, who agree to leave the house and deed it and the land-lease to the land trust in exchange for an undisclosed sum of money.
- Robbie Leppzer (director) (1997). An Act of Conscience (DVD). Wendell, MA: Turning Tide Productions.
- "An Act of Conscience". Turning Tide Productions. Archived from the original on 4 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-16.
- Gross, David M. (2014). 99 Tactics of Successful Tax Resistance Campaigns. Picket Line Press. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-1490572741.
- Randy Kehler (June 1994). "Conscience, Community, and Compromise". Sojourners. Archived from the original on 2007-04-16. Retrieved 16 June 2007.
- An Act of Conscience
- "The Great Anti-War Films: An Act of Conscience." A review by Rick Gee at lewrockwell.com.
- Film description and director profile at the Human Rights Watch film festival site.
- Description of personal, legal, and media papers about the "Colrain Action," archived in the Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.
- "Conscience, Community, and Compromise" by Randy Kehler in Sojourners, April, 1994, (free registration required).