Friday, December 01, 2006

Peace: 42, Giant Evil Weapons Manufacturer : 0

Very short court day yesterday, as all charges were dropped before we even got in front of a judge. But the victory was much larger than that.

As for the background of the story, Alliant Tek Systems, headqurtered inEdina (of course, very little manufacturing actually goes on there, it's just a nice tax-haven location), is the world's leading producer of illegal weaponry. For instance, they were the clever folks who "discovered" how deadly depleted uranium was and began using it in weapons that vaporize the enemy and leave their nation poisoned for the rest of existence (DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years). Up until this, people had been foolishly throwing it away. Silly idiots.

But that's just one of many weapons they produce. But the one great point of consistency in their productions is that every weapon they produce is illegal under international law. Every single one. And we're the criminals...but that's another story.

Anyway, over 13 months ago (so much for a speedy trial), myself and 41 other people who are part of AlliantAction showed up at the corporate headquarters to ask the board of directors to stop breaking the law and to tell the employees that they are all facing conviction under the Geneva code (remember, since the 40s you can't just say you're following orders anymore). Needless to say, they weren't too happy with us being there and removed us from the parking lot (we couldn't actually get inside the building, of course).

Now, in a bit of local history, up until this point, the offense had been an aggravated misdemeanor, which meant you could get a jury trial if you so well pleased. Now the problem with that is that hippies tend to be good orators (it's about all we can do), and juries have a pesky problem of being swayed by "logic" and "compassion for fellow human beings." So Alliant, along with the city council, changed the ordinance to be a simple misdemeanor, meaning we could now only have a bench trial. Judges aren't really as easily swayed, since they're on the payroll of the city, which is on the payroll of Alliant.

Well, since they were playing hardball, so were we. Usually in a situation like this, people such as us will stipulate to the facts, which essentially means we admit we broke the law, but we're arguing that we're justified in doing so. Well, this time we refused and said they'd have to subpoena every employee who saw us tresspass and every officer who made an arrest to come in and identify us. Well, seeing as they would have to pay 20-some officers overtime for what looked like a trial that could stretch several weeks, they cited monetary constraints (although they probably just didn't have a good case) and dropped the charges.

Not ones to give up, we have now set up a page on the group's website where we'll print the testimony we would have given, and the city prosecutor has agreed to take our concerns to Alliant and urge them to come to a city council meeting where we air our greivances.

Now, I know this will change very little, but you can do radical pacifist peace work your entire life and never get the city prosecutor of a wealthy suburb to (begrudgingly) agree to put the screws on the most powerful corporation in town. As far as I'm concerned, this is probably the biggest victory I'll ever see in my lifetime of activism, so I'm feeling pretty damned good right now.

So, hey, cheer up my friends. If we can win this, certainly you can win just as much, if not more.

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