LANL Protester Trial Put On Hold

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Majority of defendants take plea deals

By Carol A. Clark

The Feb. 8 trial has been placed on hold for six of the eight people arrested and charged with state misdemeanor trespassing after staging a sit-in at Los Alamos National Laboratory Aug. 6.

The eight protesters were arrested after sitting on the ground with their arms and hands locked together blocking the door to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) building. They volunteered to be arrested, were cited and released that same day. Two later pled no contest and were sentenced to fines and probation.

The national youth-led network for nuclear abolition called, “Think Outside the Bomb,” began the five-hour event with a vigil at Ashley Pond.

The group of about 120 then filed on to Trinity Drive marching west toward LANL. As traffic bogged down, police arrived in patrol cars and provided an escort of sorts in front, behind and next to the marchers.

The agreement reached with authorities before the protest established that the protestors would not block traffic and would gather at a designated location near the LANL sign.

The group disrupted traffic on Trinity Drive, Diamond Drive and the intersection near the LANL sign before moving to the CMR access building.

“Our intention was to draw a line to prevent LANL from upgrading to the new CMR building and you can’t do that walking on the sidewalk,” said protester spokesman Jono Kinkade at the time. “The fact that we’re pushing the boundaries and walking in the street is nothing compared to building nuclear weapons that decimate communities.”

The remaining six defendants are scattered around the country so a series of conference calls discussing possible plea deals have taken place in recent weeks, which has led to Magistrate Judge Pat Casados placing Tuesday’s scheduled trial on hold.

“If all the defendants accept a plea then we’ll do that – otherwise we’ll set a trial for a later date,” Casados said.

Los Alamos County contracted with attorney Charles Rennick to handle the case.

“In a pretrial motion hearing last week, Judge Casados put the trial in abeyance to give the defense until Feb. 8 to determine whether they want to accept a plea agreement,” Rennick said.

Attorney Mary Lou Boelcke is representing seven of the eight defendants.

“I believe most of the defendants are going to enter a plea – there are just a couple who remain uncertain,” Boelcke said. “They all want it known that even though they enter a plea they still believe what’s happening at Los Alamos should be stopped.”

Boelcke said each plea agreement includes $73 court costs, 10 hours of community service in their respective towns, two months probation and a $100 fine, which will be waived upon successful completion of the agreement. She also said their charge will be dismissed upon the successful completion of the agreement.

Los Alamos Deputy Police Chief Kevin Purtymun said it’s too early for his department to comment until he knows whether there will be a trial.

“Because this is such a sweet deal it frees them (defendants) up to work even harder for nuclear abolition,” said Nuclear Abolitionist member Marcus Page-Collonge.

Defendants include Bryan Martin, 24, from Boise, Idaho; Lisa Fithian, 49, from Austin, Texas and Catholic nun Sr. Megan Rice, 80, from Las Vegas, Nev. Defendant Jack Cohen-Joppa, 54, from Tucson, Ariz., opted to represent himself.

The abolition group plans to hold their 42nd consecutive monthly prayer vigil near the lab Tuesday and defendants Jason Ahmadi, 25, and Jeff Freitas, 26, from California intend to participate, Page-Collonge said.  
“The same group that protested last summer, ‘Think Outside The Bomb,’ are organizing for next Aug. 6,” he said. “We’re calling it ‘Summer Part 2.'”

Nuclear Disarmament

If we in this country want to regain the trust of the whole world, all of us together are responsible to act with integrity and see that the people in government do the same.START 2 negotiations are taking place between the state Departments of Russia and the US - the two largest stockpilers of nuclear weapons.Most US Citizens are unaware of the huge appropriations by the defense budget , $170 Billions over the next decade to enlarge/rebuild/ "enhance" three nuclear weapons facilities, including the birthplace of the original bombs, LANL, making it possible to design, develop, test and use more nuclear weapons, while the Start 2 Treaty calls for reduction in its arsenals by both Russia and the US. How can this country encourage other nations, plan to attack them for attempting to create nuclear weapons while engaged in such plans here? The number of existing stockpiles and deployed weapons is far beyond what can destroy the entire sacred Planet, our only home, now and for future generations for life forms as we treasure them. There are many bright and creative enough to devise alternative, life-enhancing, positive projects on which to spend this money.We need you!