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12 Protesters Found Guilty Of Trespassing At Pilgrim Nuclear

Three years after Fukushima, and approximately one year after their acts of civil resistance, 12 citizens committed to a safer, less-nuclear future for S.E. Massachusetts, are mounting a vigorous necessity defense against charges of trespass at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station.

Those daring to challenge the threat known as PNPS are: Bill Maurer, Diane Turco, Doug Long, Femke Rosenbaum, Janet Azarovitz, Joyce Johnson, Margaret Rice Moir, Mike Risch, Paul Rifkin, Sarah Thacher, and Susan Carpenter.

Defendants Susan Carpenter of South Dennis, Janet Azarovitz of West Falmouth, Michael Risch of Falmouth and Paul Rifkin of Cotuit in Plymouth Trial Court on Tuesday. Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
Defendants Susan Carpenter of South Dennis, Janet Azarovitz of West Falmouth, Michael Risch of Falmouth and Paul Rifkin of Cotuit in Plymouth Trial Court on Tuesday.
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel

Account of Pilgrim 14 Trial by defendant Margaret Rice Moir

Today was Day 1 of the trial of the Pilgrim 12. It was a glorious, if exhausting day. Because we chose to forego a jury trial, we were able to begin testimony this morning. the commonwealth took about 30 minutes to put forth its case, which was basically that we wanted to be arrested. However, the “necessity defense” turns this around by making the issue why we felt we had to do it. to that end, today Entergy was on trial.

Our 4 attorneys were wonderful, and brought the best passion out of each of us, according to our individual personalities. Diane Turco and Doug Long began with articulate opening statements. The arresting police officers were hard to locate and not much interested in our ideals. It appears that the state’s case is not very exciting. Not like ours.

Our goal has always been to have an opportunity to address the court about why we fear the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, and why all of us should fear it. That and the non-existent “evacuation plan”. That we did today. We are all so gratified that the trial has begun, and that the press was there.

Those of us who testified today have nothing more to worry about and can just sit back and follow the great testimony to come. I am proud to have walked this path with my courageous and funny and smart fellow Cape Downwinders. Even if we don’t win the case, we have prevailed. We have focused much attention on the dangers posed by the nuclear plant, the excessive power of the giant Entergy Corporation, the failure of MEMA to assure our safety in the event of a catastrophe, and the increasingly urgent need to shut the plant down.

All are welcome to attend. Let’s see what tomorrow has in store.

From left, defendant, Bill Maurer of Falmouth, Femke Rosenbaum of Wellfleet and Sarah Thacher of Dennis laugh when a witness describes the defendents as "older." Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
From left, defendant, Bill Maurer of Falmouth, Femke Rosenbaum of Wellfleet and Sarah Thacher of Dennis laugh when a witness describes the defendents as “older.”
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel

Day 2:

My heart is so full of the day’s events. If this were a movie (Erin Brocovitch) it would win the academy award. Only in this one, all the actors are great.

We heard from the young woman who was the arresting officer on may 20th. She is young, with small children, and I think we all worry about her wee ones. in the unfolding of her testimony it appears that she (and the police unit dispatched to the site where we were demonstrating) was on a “special unit”, basically dispatched by the plymouth police department at the direction of the Entergy Corporation. this “special unit” was set up in advance of the protest by Entergy. How’s that for corporate personhood?

She was followed by Dr. Richard Clapp, epidemiologist and author of studies linking high rates of cancer and leukemia to the proximity of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant. Even knowing all we know about the plant and it’s dangers, I think it would be fair to say that his testimony was completely chilling to everyone in that courtroom. I found myself wondering “what kind of a people are we?” Who wouldn’t close a plant that has been proven to cause cancer and other illnesses? Well, perhaps that begs the question, which is really “who profits? and how much?”

That testimony was followed by 4 more defendants, one of whom (Doug Long) was “pro se” and, as such, told his story in greater detail and with more elastic boundaries. He made us proud.

The final “expert witness” of this day was Kevin Nord, Duxbury Fire Chief (among other titles and responsibilities). He was mesmerizing, keeping us all on the edge of our seats, while he compared his experience at Ground Zero, after 9/11 to what might be expected, should the Pilgrim Plant “blow”. He specifically described his serious concerns about the “woefully inadequate” evacuation plan set for Cape Cod residents. Detailed descriptions of how long and to what extent we could expect to stay safe in the car or in our homes after an “event” at the plant left me somewhat nauseous. defendants and defense lawyers stood when he exited, because we all are so appreciative of his courage in being willing to speak out. After all, who could be more knowledgeable about what to do in an emergency? Apparently Entergy has not taken any of his concerns seriously. He said “it’s very difficult to affect change with Entergy.” sound familiar?

Tomorrow Mary Lampert will be one of two people providing “expert testimony”. It has been amazingly stimulating hearing the testimony of these well-known specialists and their words have inspired us all to feel more committed and energized for what is ahead of us.

The day usually ends by 3 o’clock or so. But it feels so much later, because the emotional energy all day is so high and it leaves me wiped. I’ll bet I’m not alone in that.

Friday should be the last day of the trial, and Senator Wolf will be one of the “expert witnesses.” It is likely that he will be testifying around 11 am. As always, we expect his testimony to be rivetting. Ee have such a creative group of attorneys, who practice law with integrity at their core. They believe in what they’re doing, as we do. It’s an honor.

Defendant Diane Turco of Harwich, who is also representing herself, gives an opening statement. Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
Defendant Diane Turco of Harwich, who is also representing herself, gives an opening statement.
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel

Day 3:

Another amazing day! I was particularly blessed by the presence of my brother and sister-in-law who travelled from sunderland to support our efforts to close Pilgrim. Thank you, Will & El.

The Occupy Movement, in their wisdom, used this chant: “Show me what democracy looks like!” and the people respond, “This is what democracy looks like!” Dear friends and loved ones, in Judge Cannone’s courtroom, “this is what democracy looks like.” And it is a wonderful thing to experience. It might have been what our forefathers and foremothers envisioned, but which has gone so sadly awry.

This morning, after a late start (due to a defendant’s having overslept) the defense introduced it’s first “expert witness” of the day: Dr. Gordon Thompson, executive director, Institute for Research and Security Studies (Cambridge, MA.) who addressed the voluminous research as to the catastrophic impact of a Fukushima type “event” at Pilgrim. In fact, were such an event to occur at Pilgrim it would be 4 times worse than Fukushima due to the additional spent fuel rods. He is an academic and his voice was always modulated, but the impact on us all was devastating. He provided us with a picture of the unthinkable. hard to hear… but still necessary. I believe with all my heart that the dinner table conversation at the judge’s house and the district attorney’s house has been serious and thoughtful with all that they’ve heard during this trial. That, in itself, is a victory of sorts. Everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who knows someone… that’s how movements take off.

Mary Lampert, of Duxbury, followed Dr. Thompson. She is the founder/director of Pilgrim Watch. She spoke of her 30 year struggle to move the powers that be on the dangers of Pilgrim. Her concerns include: the placement of the spent fuel rods, the design of the reactor, inadequate emergency planning, health concerns and the impact on Cape Cod bay.

After a brief break, the two remaining defendants, Joyce Johnson and Paul Rifkin, were called to testify. their testimony was both passionate and articulate, though very different in delivery. Joyce quoted Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We are that group of people, and we are getting larger by the day. Paul was Paul, creative, strong-willed, charming and committed. it was a perfect way to end defendant testimony.

Diane Turco (pro se) closed the morning with a meticulous explanation of the startling incoherence, lack of concern, stupidity and arrogance on the part of the very institutions designed to protect us. She clearly demonstrated how Entergy greed trumps the people’s needs.

Tomorrow our trial will conclude with the testimony of Senator Dan Wolf (at aproximately 10:30) and another “expert witness” who will speak to the issue of social change agents. it is likely we will complete the trial by 1 pm on friday……to await the judge’s decision. Shall we be judged guilty? not guilty? or perhaps somewhere in between. What do you think? Please come and see what happens.

Defense attorney Bruce Taub speaks with defendant Diane Turco of Harwich, who is also representing herself. Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
Defense attorney Bruce Taub speaks with defendant Diane Turco of Harwich, who is also representing herself.
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel

Day 4:

Guilty. We are judged guilty.

Today was the final day of the trial. it was a glorious and fitting conclusion to an emotionally charged, deeply personal act of conscience by each of the 12 defendants. (two other defendants had also “stepped over the line”, but for various personal reasons could not afford the time to attend court appearances. They were both with us on this momentous occasion.) It was a moment in the course of one’s life never to be forgotten. It was a glimpse of the divine that resides in us all.

How to describe the day? ‘Expert witness’ Dr. Steven Nathanson, professor of philosophy at Northeastern University since 1972, addressed the question of non-violent civil disobedience in the context of history; in the context of the moral/political implications for creating social change. Who becomes the 100th monkey? It could be any one of us, or all of us, at some particular time. The idea of “moral necessity” driving acts of law-breaking conveys urgency. It did during all previous periods of social change.

Then there was a hush as our great Senator Dan Wolf took the stand. His testimony was compelling, concise, thoughtful and demonstrated his authenticity in caring for the needs of his constituency. It was hard not to be moved by his unique character, harder still to imagine the clowns that hold similar and loftier positions in the government who aren’t fit to shine his shoes. If all our legislators were like Dan Wolf what a bright future our children could look forward to (and there are others, too, like him, but surely not enough). Among all of his comments, perhaps the most shocking was that “we don’t need the electricity” from the Pilgrim plant.

Finally, it was time for the summations. our lawyers were splendid. Each attorney brought something valuable to the table. I loved the line (based on the challenge of Citizens United) that “we don’t have wallets. We have shoes.” We used our shoes.

Doug and Diane presented summations, too, as “pro se” defendants. Both were well prepared. Diane recapped information from all the expert witnesses, adding “we have the right to seek and obtain our health and safety” as laid out in the Massachusetts Constitution. Diane’s summation was powerful and eloquent and we all were so proud of her efforts.

Bruce’s summation cloned Clarence Darrow. I had chills listening to his methodical exploration of the components of the necessity defense: is the danger immediate? Can the defendant reasonably expect her action to be effective? Are there any legal alternatives?

I am certain that I saw tears in the eyes of Judge Cannone. We may not have had a jury, but there is no doubt we changed the lives of the people of that court.

In the end, we are found guilty. We are guilty of stepping over the line.

I prefer to say that we are guilty of believing that change is possible, that goodness is worth working for, and that money may equal power in this country, but it doesn’t equal humanity. That quality has no place in the corporate soul. In fact, there can be no corporate soul, as long as profit continues to be the bottom line.

In any event, the week was a long and intense one. We accomplished what we set out to do:

To put the dangers of the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant more squarely before the people of Cape Cod and the South Shore.

Finally, I’d like to comment on the multi-year prison sentences recently received by an elderly nun and other peace activists for their part in trespassing on a nuclear weapons plant property. Granted they are mostly in their 80′s, but how serendipitous is it that we get off so lightly and they are so punished? I dedicate our victory to them; to their incredible courage.

In solidarity, Margaret Rice Moir

Judge Beverly Cannone listens to testimony during the Downwinders trespassing trial on Tuesday. Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel
Judge Beverly Cannone listens to testimony during the Downwinders trespassing trial on Tuesday.
Photo By: Cape Cod Times/Christine Hochkeppel

News of the Trial

Account of the final day of the trial by Lee Roscoe

From the Cape Cod Times:

Photos
Pilgrim nuclear plant protesters to have their day in court (pre-trial, March 17, 2014)
Pilgrim trespass suspects cite moral duty Trial begins, March 18
Expert: Cancer rates are high near Pilgrim nuke plant Trial, Day 2
Scientist testifies about danger of Pilgrim’s spent fuel rods Trial, Day 3
Downwinders convicted, say they made point Trial, Day 4

From WBUR:

12 Protesters Found Guilty Of Trespassing At Pilgrim Nuclear Day 4 (March 21st)

From Truthout:

Boston Endangered: Time To Close the Pilgrim Reactor (March 22nd)

Pilgrim nuclear protest

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