As some of you already know, I was in court yesterday facing a charge of criminal damage, as a result of protests and actions at Lakenheath (an American controlled air force base in Suffolk, which holds 30 B61 free-fall nuclear bombs*). Nine of us were arrested inside the base.
The case has been postponed for four weeks, to prepare documentation and evidence, and we are back in court on 6 November for our pre-trial. Because we are involved in court proceedings, I can’t give too much information about things at the moment, but here’s the most recent press release.
10 October 2003
Five local peace activists appeared at the Bury St. Edmunds Magistrates Court yesterday, following Monday’s action at USAF Lakenheath. Four women were jointly charged with criminal damage, for cutting the perimeter fence of the base. They have indicated that they will be pleading not guilty, and the case has been postponed until 6 November when they will appear before the court in Mildenhall. The fifth woman, from the Lakenheath Action Group, was arrested outside the fence, and will be representing herself in court on the same day.
Mel Harrison, one of the locals who entered the base, a youth worker from Bungay, said: "We feel that it is not us breaking the law, but the US at Lakenheath, for holding these illegal weapons of mass destruction with a stated first strike policy against non-nuclear states. Nuclear weapons and their aftermath are indiscriminate and illegal under international law. This base should be reclaimed for peaceful purposes"
Katie Cooke, from Botesdale, explained that “We took this action to observe the operations of USAF Lakenheath (a base which contains nuclear weapons in contravention of international laws and treaty agreements) because we believe that it is our right and our duty to insist that Britain holds itself to the standards it expects from other nations, namely the removal of all weapons of mass destruction.”
When inside the base, the group planted wildflowers as a symbol of reclaiming the base for peaceful purposes, and used flour to demonstrate to base personnel the indiscriminate nature of fall out, one of the reasons nuclear weapons are illegal.
A second group were also arrested inside the base--a team of five Citizen’s Weapons Inspectors from across Europe. These non-violent actions followed a day of protest by over 100 peace activists, which included a silent march outside the base.
In court yesterday, the group of four agreed that they would comply with their bail conditions--remaining at least six feet from any MoD property in the United Kingdom, if they were provided with a complete list of properties so that they did not accidentally violate their terms. Unsurprisingly, the terms were changed. Under their new bail conditions, they are prohibited from going within six feet of, or obstructing the entrances of the bases at Lakenheath or Mildenhall.
* The Ministry of Defence has stated that they can “neither confirm nor deny” that the weapons are there.