Actor Martin Sheen arrested in nuke protest

By KRISTIN MILLER  |  Nov. 18, 1986
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MERCURY, Nev. -- Seventy protesters, including actor Martin Sheen, were arrested on misdemeanor public nuisance charges during an anti-nuclear demonstration at the entrance of the Nevada Test Site, officials said.

Sheen, who starred in such films as 'Apocalypse Now' and 'Gandhi,' was one of 70 people who walked across a white painted line marking the perimeter of the Department of Energy nuclear testing facility and taken into custody Monday by Nye County sheriff's deputies.

Sheen and the others were bound with plastic handcuffs and bused 60 miles to Beatty, where they were processed at a makeshift jail in the town's community center.

The protest coincided with the arrests of about 60 anti-nuclear demonstrators attempting to prevent government employees from reporting to work at the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington.

The Nevada demonstration was held just three days after the latest underground nuclear test at Yucca Flat, about 22 miles to the northwest. It was the 12th announced U.S. underground nuclear test of 1986 and the 23rd since the Soviet Union declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons experiments in August 1985.

Sheriff's Lt. Bill Sullivan said all 70 Nevada demonstrators were cited for being a public nuisance for obstructing traffic on a public highway. Conviction carries a fine of up to $250 and up to six months in jail.

About 100 people took part in the demonstration organized by the American Peace Test.

Those arrested were released on their own recognizance and ordered to appear in Justice Court in December. Sheen pleaded innocent and was ordered to appear Dec. 10.

'I love my country enough to risk its wrath to tell the truth,' said Sheen after entering his plea.

Asked if he was guilty of trespassing, Sheen said, 'The only thing I'm guilty of is 46 years of silence, contributing to a national religion: nuclearism.'

The demonstrators attempted to block traffic on the road leading to the desert research facility to prevent government workers from going to their jobs. Traffic was slowed but not stopped.

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