Letter: We stand firm: Alliant weapons are illegalOn May 15, David Harris of Red Wing and 11 companions were found guilty of trespass upon the property of Alliant Techsystems, the Minnesota weapons manufacturer headquartered in Eden Prairie until a recent move to the Washington, D.C., area.
To the Editor:
On May 15, we were found guilty of trespass upon the property of Alliant Techsystems, the Minnesota weapons manufacturer headquartered in Eden Prairie until a recent move to the Washington, D.C., area.
On Sept. 28, about 40 protesters, after completing their weekly Wednesday morning vigil outside company property, marched to the entrance where 12 attempted to deliver documents to the company president, including excerpts from Minnesota statutes describing the “Claim of Right” to trespass, the U.S. Constitution Article VI describing the priority of federal laws and treaties over state law, various portions of the Geneva and Hague conventions, the Red Cross charter, and the Nuremberg Trials Treaties which, the protesters maintain, gave them the legal right to be on Alliant Tech property to proclaim their beliefs that indiscriminate weapons made by the company are illegal.
Refused entry by ATK security guards, the 12 were warned to leave, refused, and were then arrested by Eden Prairie police and charged with trespass. Many have purchased a share of stock and attended the annual meeting the month before, where they voiced their opinions.
This group formed years ago after Minneapolis Honeywell Corp. spun off its military production into Alliant Techsystems. The original protest group, the Honeywell Project, evolved into the Alliant Action Vigil.
Many participants, including principal organizer Tom Bottolene, and his partner, Pepperwolf, who live and work in Red Wing and the Twin Cities, and Harris, a retired Red Wing surgeon and veteran of the Vietnam era, have been part of this group for more than 15 years. Among the members are teachers, health workers, religious leaders, environmentalists and other social activists, all committed to nonviolence and united in their opposition to war. Most of them are involved in many other peace-making activities including church work, writing and public speaking, environmental activism, and numerous vigils, including a weekly Friday evening peace vigil in Red Wing’s John Rich Park since 2002.
During the trial, which lasted all day Monday and most of Tuesday, each protester testified. They had no official attorney, but Steve Clemens, who studied international law at a summer seminar in the Hague, Netherlands, was asked by the judge to act as the spokesperson.
No prosecution witnesses – police, guards, Alliant Tech officials – testified, and the prosecuting attorney and the judge generally treated the defendants fairly and with respect. The defendants regret they did not convince the jury they were not guilty, but none of them regret their actions.
At the sentencing, 10 were given small fines and various community work assignments, essentially of their own choosing. Clemens and Harris chose brief jail terms and will report July 26.
The Alliant Action Vigil Twelve
Bill Barnett, Minneapolis
Brigid McDonald, St. Paul
Roger Cuthbertson, Minnetonka
Charlie Bloss, Plymouth
Tom Bottolene, Red Wing
Kate McDonald, St. Paul
Marguerite Corcoran, St. Paul
Rita McDonald, St. Paul
Jeannie Hynes, St. Paul
Steve Clemens, Minneapolis
David Harris, Red Wing
John Schmid, Minneapolis