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A Letter From the Armory

By Geoffrey Wisner

The author of this letter, a freshman at Harvard, has been held in custody since he took part in the demonstration against the construction of a nuclear power plant in Seabrook, N.H.

To the Editors of The Crimson:

This letter comes to you from the Manchester Armory in New Hampshire, where around 500 people, charged with criminal trespass for occupying the construction site of the Seabrook nuclear power plant, have been incarcerated since Monday morning, May 2. The Manchester group is the largest currently being held; other prisoners are at the Dover, Concord and Somersworth armories.

In addition to myself, about a dozen Harvard students and faculty have been held here. Several have been compelled to post bail ($100 for most) and have returned to Harvard.

Those of us detained here are living on the concrete floor of a large hall, within a rope boundary. Members of the National Guard patrol the perimeter, guard doors, and serve our meals. We sleep in sleeping bags on folding cots. The packs which we carried on our march to the Seabrook site we have with us; they hold our clothing, raingear, flashlights, water bottles, and all the paraphenalia with which we, and other members of the Clamshell Alliance, had begun to set up a new community at the nuclear construction site before being arrested, a process which began at 3:30 on the afternoon of May 1, and lasted until 4:30 the following morning.

Food here has been inadequate and conditions crowded, but spirits are generally high. Even after announcements that class-action suits for bail reduction have failed, and that 15-day jail sentences were imposed on the first defendants in court, residents of "New Freebrook" are hanging together well. According to one estimate, 220 prisoners are committed to staying here "forever," until charges are dropped, releases on personal recognizance are gained, or the state of New Hampshire realizes the futility of feeding, housing and guarding a persistent nonviolent colony of nuclear protesters.

And so to end: We at the armony are disturbed that we have not seen lawyers, that unreasonable sentences have been imposed, that Gov. Thomson and the assistant attorney general have twisted the court system to make life difficult for us. Our central concern, however, continues to be nuclear power. The insanity of a national energy economy based on an incredibly toxic carcinogen, plutonium; the public's blindness to the incredible costs of the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to fuel fabrication to power reactors to reprocessing plants to waste storage; the deliberate suppression of alternate energy sources like wind and solar; a technology that even government sources admit is capable of accidents killing up to 45,000 people--these are our concerns. These are the issues that we feel are worth the strongest possible opposition, that are worth imprisonment. Until the threats of meltdown disasters, low-level radiation, perpetual waste storage, and nuclear terrorism are rid from our lives, none of us is safe. And we will not be rid of them until nuclear plants like Seabrook are defeated throughout the country, and existing plants are shut down.

Thoreau once wrote, "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence." Those held here at the Manchester Armory have cast their whole vote.

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