‘Pilgrim 14’ protesters have charges dismissed at 1, arrested again at 2
After 10 months of hearings 2012 trespassing case is dismissed by Judge Kathryn Hand at Plymouth District Court
PLYMOUTH — They wanted the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant shut down but, instead, they got arrested. They wanted their day in court but, instead, they got to make a statement and then charges were dismissed. They wanted to get arrested again and, no surprise, it happened.
The Pilgrim 14, who were first arrested for trespassing when they tried to deliver a letter addressed to the head of Entergy last May, celebrated the dismissal of the charges at Plymouth District Court Wednesday by immediately driving back to the plant and, when their chants and protests at the gates went apparently unnoticed, walked down almost to the doors of the plant itself where several members of the original 14 were arrested again.
At this time which of the original 14 was arrested again is not clear, though Cotuit resident Paul Rifkin, a member of the group Cape Downwinders, was definitely one of those detained by Plymouth Police.
The Plymouth Police responded with four or five units within ten minutes of the protesters security breach, followed a few minutes later by a prisoner transport van.
Rifkin made it clear before the court dismissed the earlier charges that he intended to be arrested that day, again.
Many of the 14 and their lawyers were angered by the Commonwealth’s last minute decision to deny them their day in court by issuing a motion to dismiss the previous charges, and in that motion citing the defendant’s “intention to use the Honorable Court as an instrument to further a specific political agenda.”
When the pre-trial hearing got underway however, Judge Kathryn E. Hand allowed any defendant who wished, to make a personal statement.
Many did, including a brief emotional statement by Rifkin.
“Abigail, Jack, Laney and Hayden,” Rifkin said, holding up a photograph of his grandchildren, “these are the reasons why we need to shut Pilgrim down.”
Judge Hand then dismissed the charges, with prejudice, and the defendants and their supporters filed out of the courtroom. But less than 30 minutes later they were parking on the access road that connects Route 3A with the plant’s main gate and, judging by the signs and banners that came out of the cars, their gathering was planned well in advance.
The group took up position on the plant side of Rocky Hill Road, adjacent to the main gate and, a few minutes later, moved past the entrance and toward the plant.
They were surprised that they were not immediately impeded by plant security, which was not seen until the group had moved several hundred yards down the entrance road.
At that point security appeared, and made it clear that anyone who did not leave would be arrested.
Rifkin also made his intentions clear at that time, walking up to a security vehicle and then turning and facing back, holding a protest sign.