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October 24, 2003
Dissent up the River

Yesterday, antiwar protester Larry Purcell started serving a 45-day jail term as punishment for his role in a non-violent protest outside Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale last April. Along with 51 others, the 59-year-old former priest had formed a human blockade in front of the weapons manufacturers' parking lot.

Purcell had been give other sentencing options (a fine, community service, or shorter jail term), but those all included two years probation as well. When a judge asked Purcell if he could fulfill probation successfully - i.e., not break any laws over the next two years - he replied, "Because of what I consider the horrific decisions of our government in the last couple years...I can't guarantee that I won't feel compelled to demonstrate in the next two years."

On a related note, Lockheed Martin had demanded $41,000 from the protesters to pay for private security forces it said it hired to deal with the protest, even though 200 police officers were there too, the protesters were non-violent and characterized as very cooperative, and they never moved onto Lockheed territory.

Eventually, a judge threw out part of that claim in June, and more recently, Lockheed dropped the rest of it. But clearly Lockheed is hoping to make civil disobedience as costly as possible, so it can keep arming the world, not to mention overcharging the Air Force, without fear of protest.

Posted by Greg Beato at 08:58 AM