Anti-Nuke Protesters Given Maximum Sentence
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Five anti-nuclear protesters who damaged Trident submarine missile tubes with hammers, paint and blood were sentenced Friday to one year in prison by a judge who said their act was a ″first cousin″ to terrorism.
Superior Court Judge John P. Bourcier imposed the maximum sentence, including $500 fines, on all five despite a prosecutor’s plea to give a suspended sentence to a Massachusetts grandmother who must care for her late daughter’s two infants.
″Unfortunately, there has been a coddling″ of protesters that may be encouraging such civil disobedience, the judge said.
He called the Oct. 1, 1984, damage of six missile tubes at the Electric Boat plant at Quonset Point ″conduct that is nothing more than the first cousin of the bomb-throwers ... and airplane hijackers.″
Officials said the raid caused $19,000 worth of damage.
The Plowshares readily admitted to committing the offense, but maintained they did not break the law because their actions were a justifiable attempt to prevent nuclear war.
Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Pine asked Bourcier to give four of the defendants the maximum sentence for the misdemeanor charge of malicious damage. But he asked for a suspended sentence for Jean Holladay of Dorchester, Mass., who cares for her late daughter’s children. Ms. Holladay made a similar plea.
But Bourcier, while saying he sympathized because he is a grandfather, cited her past convictions on similar charges in explaining his sentencing.
The other defendants were Leo Schiff, 24, of Brattleboro, Vt., William Boston, 26, of New Haven, Conn., John Pendleton, of Worcester, Mass., and Frank Panopoulos, 27, of New York. Panopoulos was sentenced an additional 60 days for refusing to say who drove the group to the shipyard.
″It’s still ... the most important thing we could have done with our lives to help protect the planet,″ said Schiff.
Bourcier’s sentences and comments brought jeers from about 50 tear-filled supporters of the Trident II Plowshares. Five were removed from the courtroom after they stood and turned their back on the judge. He later sentenced each to 10 days in prison for contempt.
As the defendants were led away in handcuffs, the supporters sang a protest song and some later scuffled with sheriffs after they refused to leave the corridor.