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'LANL 6' plans to bring friends to hearing

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By Tris DeRoma

Two hundred to 300 people showed up at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Santa Fe Sunday in support of the self-proclaimed “LANL 6,” the name protesters gave themselves shortly after being arrested Aug. 6, for allegedly blocking traffic to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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Arrested on that day were: Pam Gilchrist and Cathie Sullivan of Santa Fe; Benjamin “Summer” Abbott, Janet Greenwald and Barbara Grothus of Albuquerque; and Wind Euler of Tucson, Ariz. 

Aug. 6 is the first time a nuclear weapon was ever used in war and anti-nuclear organizations pick that day to protest at the lab every year.

“We are thrilled to see so many people showing up here today,” said Michelle Victoria, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event, which was billed as a rally and a fundraiser to support the six protesters. “I know it means so much to the LANL 6 to see so much support from the community.”

The protesters are due in Los Alamos Municipal Court at 9 a.m. Wednesday. If convicted on the pending charges, each faces 179 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. The protesters have been charged with trespass, obstructing movement and refusal to obey an officer. The officer in question was former Deputy Chief Kevin Purtymun, who has since retired. However he may make an appearance as a witness for the prosecution Wednesday.

“If everyone that is here today can make the trek up the Hill to Los Alamos, I know it would mean a lot to the people that are on trial and hopefully it will mean a lot to the judge that there is an active citizenry that really cares what happens and that we’re here to show our support,” Victoria said.

Former Los Alamos Police Chief and Municipal Court Judge Alan Kirk will preside over the trial. Attorney Jeffrey Haas will defend the LANL 6. 

Sunday’s event included live music, as well as poetry from local artist and poet Richard Sober. The six protesters also took the opportunity to speak. 

Grothus told the crowd that the reason she went was to honor her father as well as react somehow against what she perceived as wrongs and injustices committed by LANL as well as other industrial and financial institutions around the country. 

“... So I went and took my stand and now we will be pretty much at the mercy of the courts,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see you all here and hopefully we will be able to amplify our actions a little bit as a result of our trial.”

Gilchrist told the audience that she stood out in the road that August day to protest climate change.

“Climate destruction is clearly our greatest global threat,” Gilchrist said. “It is this fact that compelled me to protest my tax dollars being used to build and maintain illegal and immoral weapons.” She then urged everyone there to commit “civil disobedience” at the Aug. 6, 2013 protest.

Last to speak was Haas, who also represented the LANL 6 in their initial appearance three days after being arrested.

“It has been my pleasure and honor to represent the LANL 6,” Haas said. “I have never met a more principled, dedicated group of people than the people you just heard from.”

Haas also told the crowd of supporters about the penalties the six are facing as a possible result of the charges against them. He also made much of the fact that Kirk was a former Los Alamos police chief.

 “That is the situation the Los Alamos six are facing,” he said. “I think the only thing that could balance that is your presence in courtroom and outside showing your support Wednesday.”