New England Courts Jail Civil Disobedients - Raytheon
Massachusetts jurors found six members of the Bread and Roses affinity group guilty of trespassing last May 27 at the Andover headquarters of international missile merchant Raytheon Corporation. Judge William Melahn took a hard line against the third group to be arrested recently under the Raytheon Peacemakers banner.
Trial began October 13, as the defendants were threatened to be found in contempt of court if they did not stand for the judge when he entered the courtroom, despite their Quaker faith objection to the deferential practice. He refused to hear testimony about international law or conditions witnessed by one defendant in Iraq, or in Yugoslavia; both places where Raytheon weapons target civilian populations.
"Max" Melahn trumped the prosecutor's recommended 7-day jail sentences by imposing the maximum 30 days for all, and 45 days for Jonathan Leavitt because he still declined to stand for the judge. He refused to stay sentencing until an appeal could be made, and ordered officers to jail Leavitt and Eddy Dyer, Sean Donahue, Lauren Cannon, Kenji Warren, and Kateri McCarthy immediately. Leavitt's sentence was later reduced to the maximum 30 days.
Some were surprised by the harsh swiftness of the court's action. Community support for the group included an Amherst radio station matching the first $1,000 contributed to the six while behind bars. The men served 25 days each, three of them on home detention for two weeks. The women served 29 days in a maximum security jail.
Even before this trial, arrests at Raytheon continued. On October 4, "the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, near the celebrations of Saints Therese of Lisieux, Vincent de Paul and Mahatma Gandhi," four men knelt at the entrance to Raytheon's headquarters "to pray that these, and all the saints, will intercede to soften hearts so that there will be disarmament." The men were cited for disorderly conduct and released pending trial.
Prosecutors later dropped the disorderly conduct charges for both the October 4 and the August 9 actions at Raytheon. The Bread and Roses group also had an initial disorderly conduct charge dismissed, but because they had entered farther onto Raytheon's property, they were also charged with trespass.
For more information, contact Raytheon Peacemakers c/o P.O.Box 248, Athol, MA 01331, (978)249-9400.