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News ::
05 Oct 2000
Peace and environmental activist arrested at missile plant, expects to be held for 60 days
THURSDAY OCT. 5 -- Peace and environmental activist Alyosha Witness of Amherst, MA was arrested twice today for acts of nonviolent resistance at the Raytheon plant in Andover, MA. Early this morning he was arrested when he walke through the plant gate and attempted to pass out leaflets asking workers to consider leaving Raytheon. He was arraigned in Lawrence District Court and released with a warning that if he was arrested again he would be held for 60 days without bail. Later in the day he returned to the plant, climbed over a fence, and walked into a high scecurity building where he passed out leaflets to workers making electronic weapons components. He was arrested and is being held at the Essex County House of Correction in Middleton, MA. He will be arraigned at 8:30 am in Lawrence District Court.

Witness has another pending charge in Lawrence District Court stemming from an April 15 demonstration at the Raytheon plant organized by the Lawrence-based Bread and Roses Affinity Group. On Oct. 17 Witness and co-defendant Sean Donahue will be tried on criminal trespass charges in Lawrence District Court. Last year the same court sentenced six activists to 30 days in jail on trespassing charges stemming from an action at Raytheon. A group of Catholic peace activists from Worcester an Lawrence is facing trial on October 30 for an April 18 action at the Andover weapons plant.

Raytheon is the third largest weapons maker in the world. Its Tomahawk missile is the US military's weapon of choice because it can be fired from great distances and cause tremendous damage. In recent years the US has used the weapons in attacks on Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and the Sudan where they have killed civilians and destroyed civilian infrasturcture. Tomahawk attacks on chemical plants along the Danube river in Serbia caused tremendous environmental damage by releasing toxic chemicals.

For more information on Raytheon, its weapons, and resistance to its lethal commerce call Sean Donahue at 603-228-0559 or e-mail breadandroses_wrl (at)
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06 Oct 2000
here is a more complete update from Alyosha's main support person, Alyson Ewald on yesterday's actions:

Today alyosha witness returned to Raytheon Corporation and trespassed twice,
attempting to engage workers in friendly dialogue and to urge them to work
for a less violent employer.  He now remains in custody pending his
arraignment tomorrow.

As far as we know this is the first time anyone has returned to act again at
Raytheon while awaiting trial for a previous action, and the first time
anyone has ever gone in over a fence.

In an individual follow-up to the April 15th Death & Taxes resistance action
(at which he had been arrested with five other members of the Bread & Roses
affinity group), alyosha went at 10:00 this morning with three friends to
the main Raytheon entrance.  While we stood with a banner near the road, he
walked in alone as far as the guard booth at the edge of the trees.  There
he was stopped by a guard who warned him that he was trespassing.  Alyosha
handed him a copy of a letter he had written to all Raytheon employees.  A
second guard appeared, and when alyosha gave him the letter he read it and
said it was "very nice."

The text of alyosha's letter reads: "dear raytheon worker, i respect you
deeply as a person, and respect many of the reasons you may have for working
for raytheon, such as concern for your family or your community. 
nevertheless -- even *because* of some of those reasons -- i urge you to
consider working for a less violent cause.  i believe that the violence and
oppression that raytheon perpetuates, *as a corporation,* is wrong; and i
believe that there are better ways to resolve conflicts, organize society
and honor the earth.  i'm here to talk with you about it, if you want.  or
you can write me at alyoshaw (at)  love from [signed] alyosha
witness.  there is no way to peace, peace is the way."

(The workers at Raytheon had been on strike recently, an issue that alyosha
had been discussing with other activists.  He felt that it was right to
support workers in labor disputes but that it was also important to raise
the possibility of their choosing to work somewhere else.  He hoped to
create a bridge-building action today, in order to discuss this possibility
with employees.  As we learned upon arriving in Lawrence, the strike had
ended the previous day, although the workers had not had their demands met
adequately.  But alyosha felt it was still important to try to reach and
talk with some of them.)

Alyosha and the guards had a very respectful conversation about what alyosha
wanted to do and what they would and would not allow him to do.   When he
insisted he wanted to meet with more Raytheon workers to give them his
letter, the guards called the police.  On their way out the driveway after
arresting alyosha for trespassing, the squad car was briefly blocked by a
small flock of nonviolent but noisy Canada geese.

We called in the story to three local newspapers and went to court to wait.

At alyosha's arraignment a few hours later, the judge (Allen Giorsitis
(sp?)) discovered that the record of the Death & Taxes arraignment contained
no notice of any 60-day warning.  Alyosha told the judge that they had
indeed been warned not to trespass again or they would be held until the
trial.  But the defendants had not signed anything promising not to trespass
again, nor, as it turned out, had the warning been noted in the record.  So
the judge released alyosha on his own recognizance with a clear warning
(noted in the record this time) not to go back to Raytheon "or you'll be my
guest for 60 days!"

After talking it over with friends and supporters, alyosha decided to go
right back.  He felt that he was doing the right thing, and he didn't want
to let the court intimidate him.  And he really wanted to give his letter to
some Raytheon workers.

He decided to go in a different way the second time.  We drove through the
parking lot of another corporation near the back of the Raytheon compound
and found the Raytheon fence accessible there, with one of the buildings
visible through some trees.  Alyosha threw a scrap of carpet over the barbed
wire above the fence, climbed over, and approached the building.  It was
about 3:15 p.m.

The building turned out to be called something like the "Super Security"
building.  He walked in the door, gave a copy of his letter to the guard,
and walked past him down the hall.  There he found a room where a number of
employees were working on electronic equipment.  He walked around the room
handing out copies of his letter.  When he was finishing with that room, the
by-now-upset guard confronted him.  Soon after that the police were called
and he was arrested a second time.  As I drove by the main entrance I was
passed by four squad cars speeding toward the entrance with their lights

Since the court was not taking on any more cases today, the police planned
to take him for the night to Middleton House of Correction.  He will be seen
by a judge tomorrow morning.  We expect that he will be given 60 days for
disregarding the judge's warning.  I don't know what additional charge he
may have gotten for his dramatic entrance.

Alyosha Witness and Sean Donahue will be on trial for their April 15th
Raytheon action at Lawrence District Court on October 17th at 9:00 a.m.  
All support on that day will be warmly welcomed.  There will also be a
pre-trial "Festival of Hope" and potluck dinner at the Bernstein Bookstore
on Monday, October 16th at 6 p.m.