Prosecution of Nuclear Protesters Halted

May 05, 1987|Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — More anti-nuclear protests are planned at the Nevada Test Site this week, and organizers say they expect the numbers to grow because of a new Nye County policy dropping prosecution of protesters.

Nye County Dist. Atty. Phil Dunleavy, citing the high cost of prosecuting the demonstrators, has announced that his office will no longer bring cases against activists who commit civil disobedience at the test site 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Nye County officials have said the cost of prosecuting hundreds of demonstrators was becoming too much of a burden on the sparsely populated county.

Members of the Catholic peace group Pax Christi USA plan to gather at the test site gates this morning. Some Catholic bishops have indicated they will commit civil disobedience at the desert site and be arrested.

Protest on Sunday

A Mother's Day protest is planned Sunday, with backers saying as many as 2,000 people from around the country will participate. If that number shows up, it would be the largest demonstration at the site where the nation's nuclear weapons are tested.

A February protest drew more than 1,500 people, with 438 arrested on public nuisance charges after they crossed a line leading to the test site gates.

The new Nye County policy means demonstrators who trespass on the test site will continue to be arrested and booked at the Beatty, Nev., jail, 55 miles from the test site. But the demonstrators will no longer face criminal charges.

The only penalty the protesters now face is the misdemeanor record and the inconvenience of the ride to Beatty.

Activists say they expect more arrests now that protesters no longer will have to return to Nye County for trials.

Tuesday's demonstration is timed to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the Catholic bishops' Pastoral Letter on War and Peace--a declaration against nuclear war.

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