One hundred dollars in court fees was all the district attorney asked of seven anti-war protesters arrested at Raytheon last month.
Pay the money and charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing would be dismissed, he said.
Seven anti-war protesters arrested at Raytheon last month held a vigil outside the Lawrence courthouse before a pre-trial hearing yesterday. Shown here are (from left) former North Andover resident Sean Donahue of Durham, N.H., and Marcia Gagliardi and Harriet Nestel, both of Athol, talking to Shannon O'Connor of Maine. But all seven self-described "Raytheon Peacemakers" rejected the offer in favor of a jury trial - all the while admitting they did cross a boundary line established by police.
"We feel we are innocent of the charges as presented, although we do not dispute the facts of the case," said co-defendant Marcia Gagliardi, 50, of Athol. "We were there. We did what we did, but there was an overriding need."
Or as fellow protester Sean Donahue, 23, of Durham, N.H., and formerly of North Andover, explained it, "It was a crime that was necessary to prevent a greater crime."
The seven were arrested at Raytheon Co.'s plant in Andover on March 3 after they threw human blood on the company's sign and attempted to walk on Raytheon property.
The group was protesting military build-up in the Persian Gulf and economic sanctions against Iraq. They chose the Raytheon plant because the company manufactures Patriot and Hawk missiles. Raytheon also owns Hughes Aircraft and the defense division of Texas Instruments - companies that make weapons commonly used in U.S. military strikes.
It is the third-largest weapons manufacturer in the United States.
Three of the seven protesters threw their own blood on Raytheon's sign to symbolize the blood shed by Iraqi bombing victims, they said.
"As far as I'm concerned, blood on that sign is a case of honesty in advertising," said co-defendant Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, 39, of Worcester.
Charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing were Ms. Gagliardi, Mr. Donahue, Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy, Frances Crowe, 79, of Northampton, Justin Kennaway, 19, of New York, Harriet Nestel, 59, of Athol, and Ken Hannaford-Ricardi, 51, of Worcester.
The co-defendants will represent themselves and intend to mount a "necessity" defense in front of a jury, arguing that they broke the law to prevent what they perceived to be a more serious crime - bombing Iraqi civilians.
"We expect really to not be on trial but to put on trial the Gulf War, the sanctions, and most recent mobilizations against Iraq," Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said.
A jury trial will help the group bring its message to a wider audience, they said.
The protesters insist they are well-prepared for trial and intend to call expert witnesses to testify in support of their case.
An hour before their pre-trial hearing yesterday morning, the seven co-defendants and a handful of other protesters staged a vigil outside Lawrence District Court.
They carried banners with anti-war slogans, one of which read, "If Raytheon's missiles are so smart why do they kill children?" Several protesters chanted and pounded "Buddhist peace drums."
People walking by on their way into the courthouse looked on in curiosity.
"Why does he (Saddam Hussein) kill his own people?" one passerby asked.
"We don't support that, either," Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said. "But we don't pay taxes to Saddam Hussein."
Some eyed the protesters with derisive smirks, while others voiced support for their actions.
The protesters said they simply oppose violence and the use of their tax money to fund a military strike.
"I'm opposed to the sale of these weapons Raytheon makes," said co-defendant Frances Crowe. The 79-year-old from Northampton has participated in scores of peace protests since 1972. She has been arrested 26 times for engaging in civil disobedience.
"I think war is a crazy thing. It's about time we gave it up," she said.
Standing next to Ms. Crowe was fellow protester Paul Brailsford, 82, of Ipswich. Mr. Brailsford is a World War II "Veteran for Peace." He was present at the Raytheon protest but was not arrested because he did not trespass on the company's property.
Mr. Brailsford said he is a longtime advocate of non-violence and opposes "the extension of American corporate power in the Gulf."
"Our democracy has been bought by corporations with their PAC money," he said.
The seven co-defendants will return to Lawrence District Court on June 9 for a pre-trial conference before eventually arguing a case in front of a jury.
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