Land mine protesters will not be prosecuted

Hopkins attorneys announced Tuesday they will not file charges against 59 protesters arrested May 7 for trespassing on Alliant Techsystems Inc. property.
The trespassers, who were voluntarily arrested at the company’s Hopkins, Minn., plant to bring attention to their anti-land mine agenda, included three University students. Wynn Curtiss, assistant city attorney, said the cost, time and money it would have taken to prosecute the protesters — two of which were juveniles — would not deter them from returning.
Curtiss said the city attorney’s office and the police department made the decision.
“It is a good sign,” said Drew Hempel, a graduate student arrested at the protest. “They are realizing how obvious the production of land mines is a disgrace. It is a victory.”
In what has become a biannual tradition, about 200 protesters rallied outside of the Alliant munitions factory last week to preach anti-land mine and anti-war campaigns. The group included several University students, some of whom were members of the Progressive Student Organization.
“Our principle objective was two-fold,” said Rod Bitz, director of corporate communications at Alliant. “We wanted to recognize the right to free speech, but to make sure the protests didn’t prevent our employees from entering the workplace.”
In April 1997, Hopkins attorneys prosecuted 79 protesters arrested on similar charges to those the newest batch of trespassers faced. Only eight were found guilty and none served jail time.
— Andrew Donohue