Nation's nuclear weapons center penetrated


MERCURY, Nev. -- Twenty-eight anti-nuclear demonstrators were arrested Sunday, including 10 women who penetrated the nation's nuclear weapons testing center wearing white suits and surgical face masks.

'They were well inside Mercury and most of them were picked up near the bowling alley,' U.S. Department of Energy spokesman Chris West said. 'They were far away from any high-security areas.'


West said the 10 women arrested were jailed at Beatty, Nev., a small community about 100 miles north of Las Vegas. They are scheduled to appear before a justice of the peace Monday.

Mercury, base camp for the nation's Rhode Island-size nuclear weapons testing center, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, provides living, eating and recreational facilities for test site employees.

Two anti-nuclear protesters were arrested and released early Sunday on charges of misdemeanor trespassing and a 15-year-old was picked up near the demonstrators' makeshift 'peace camp' on charges of possessing a controlled substance, West said.

Shortly before sunset, about 100 protesters marched toward the test site gates where 15 people deliberately walked onto test site property and were arrested on charges of simple trespassing. They were cited and released.

Thousands of anti-nuclear protestors began gathering last week at a 'peace camp' set up on Bureau of Land Management property in preparation for a 10-day nonviolent action organized by American Peace Test, one of 30 peace groups from across the country participating in the demostrations.


Protesters conducted mock youth civil disobedience exercises at the peace camp early Sunday and later staged a musical rally.

More than 1,200 demonstrators were arrested Saturday when 5,000 protesters chanted, sang, carried anti-nuclear banners and then marched arm-in-arm to deliberately step onto test site property, only to be handcuffed by 300 waiting Nye County sheriff's deputies, highway patrolmen and private security guards.

It was the largest demostration in test site history. The largest previous protest occurred last Mother's Day and involved an estimated 3,000 people.

A fleet of two dozen government buses transported Saturday's arrested protesters to the Tonopah, Nev., jail 300 miles north of Las Vegas. The demostrators were released, but had no transportation out of the small central Nevada town located in Nye Couty. A caravan of more than 100 private cars raced back and forth between Tonopah and the peace camp throughout the night and pre-dawn hours to get demonstrators back to camp.

Among the demonstrators arrested Saturday were activist-author Daniel Ellsberg, actress Teri Garr, actress Shirley Knight, actor Robert Blake, radio personality Casey Kasem and the Rev. William Sloan Coffin, president of the SANE-Freeze peace organization. They were cited for misdemeanor trespassing.

The government has constructed a 28,800-square-foot chain-link fence compound near the test site gates. Demostrators arrested for simple trespassing are confined in the cage-like compound until they can be transported to jail and then ultimately released.


The Nye County district attorney adopted a policy more than a year ago of not spending money or time prosecuting the hundreds of test site demonstrators cited for simple trespassing.

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