May 29, 2006

About 70 anti-nuclear activists arrested outside Nevada Test Site

[Celebrating is now a crime I guess?]
About 300 anti-nuclear demonstrators gathered at the Nevada Test Site to celebrate the indefinite postponement of a massive explosion that they feared would spread radioactivity across the West.

About 70 people were cited for trespassing during Sunday's gathering, said Peggy Maze Johnson, executive director of the Nevada environmental group Citizen Alert, which co-sponsored the event.

Efforts to reach Nye County sheriff's deputies at the remote site were unsuccessful, and Sheriff Tony DeMeo did not immediately return a phone call.

The gathering was held two days after the federal government announced it was delaying the non-nuclear explosion dubbed "Divine Strake."

"Initially, it was going to be a protest," Johnson said. "But we had the win, and we decided it was important we be there and celebrate that win.

"It isn't often that we the people win against the behemoth called the United States government but it happened," she added.

Among those arrested was Carrie Dann, a key figure with her late sister, Mary, in the Shoshone Nation's effort to reclaim millions of acres they claimed as their ancestral land.

Also arrested was Roman Catholic priest Louis Vitale of San Francisco, who recently completed a six-month prison term for trespassing onto Fort Benning in Georgia during a protest of a school there that has been blamed for human rights abuses in Latin America.

Federal officials said delaying "Divine Strake" would allow time to answer legal and scientific questions about whether it would kick up radioactive fallout left from tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site, about 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Anti-nuclear activists, an Indian tribe and Utah and Nevada congressional lawmakers have pressed the government to address safety concerns.

The government sought to detonate 700 tons of explosives in an experiment designed to study ground motion and shock waves.


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