LANL Protesters Plead 'Not Guilty' and Hunger Strike Continues
By Greg Kendall
Los Alamos County Municipal Court Judge Alan Kirk presided over this morning's arraignment of six demonstrators arrested Monday for blocking traffic during a protest at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Protesters Janet Greenwald, Barbara Grothus, Pam Gilchrist, Benjamin (Summer) Abbott, Catherine Euler and Cathie Sullivan each entered a written plea of "not guilty" to charges of trespass, refusing to obey an officer and obstructing movement.
Each charge carries a potential fine of $500 and/or 90 days in jail.
Santa Fe attorney Jeffery Haas entered a motion on behalf of the protesters to excuse Kirk from the case. Haas indicated that believes Kirk's impartiality is in question as a result of his prior role as Los Alamos police chief.
Kirk served as Los Alamos County police chief from 1988 to 1998.
Haas stated in a written Notice of Excusal that, "this case will involve the credibility of Los Alamos County police officers with whom the judge is likely to know personally and he may well have a personal bias against the defendant[s] and in favor of the complaining witness."
After today's arraignment, Haas said that he felt that it was likely that Kirk would deny the excusal motion and a date for trial would be set within 60 days.
Hunger Strike Continues
Following the court hearing, Alaric Balibrera ended his 25 day hunger strike by breaking bread with other protesters under the cooling shade of an Ashley Pond cottonwood tree.
"I would like to call upon one of the great spiritual laws, 'as above so below,' and to say that in order to change Los Alamos, what we need is a consciousness revolution inside our own hearts because no one else ever changed because we hated them," Balibrera said. "They changed because we loved them. What I would like to do now is take a few moments and create that love for Los Alamos in our hearts and send it to Los Alamos to create light, to light up this dark corner of the world."
Haas thanked Balibrera for bringing light to the Lab and went on to say, "we (must) realize that the security threat is not going to be resolved with nuclear weapons. The security threats to the world are climate change and the deprivation of the water, air and arable land. If the Lab used its resources to solve those problems, it would do a lot more toward the security of all of us."
Although Balibrera has ended his 25 day fast, the hunger strike continues. The loosely organized group plans to continue the strike until next year's Hiroshima day protest returns to Los Alamos.
Members of the group plan to fast in succession for a short period of days and then pass the strike on to another member of the group, unbroken over the next year.
The group envisions volunteers from across the globe fasting for a day or two or a week and then passing the strike on to other strikers in order to draw attention to their anti-nuclear message.