Protester Gets Up To Year For Trespass

October 28, 1990|By Maria Archangelo | Maria Archangelo,Staff writer

TANEYTOWN - Yvonne Small won't spend this Saturday night like she spent last night.

Yesterday, the Baltimore Street resident celebrated her son Joe's wedding in Pittsburgh.

First thing tomorrow morning, she'll be in jail.

That is the decision of Adams County, Pa., Court of Common Pleas Judge Oscar F. Spicer, who sentenced Small on Thursday to serve six to 12 months in jail for trespassing at a top-secret military installation during a peace vigil last Aug. 8. Spicer gave her a furlough until tomorrow so she could attend the wedding.

Small, her husband, James, and Baltimore resident Richard Ochs were arrested after they blocked the entrance to Site R, an alternate military command center nestled in Raven Rock Mountain near the Mason-Dixon Line.

In case of a nuclear disaster, Site R would be used to direct military forces. Peace protesters have conducted vigils there for several years to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The men pleaded guilty to trespassing; each was fined $100.

"I was reeling from the judge's decision; I never thought (the sentence) would be that harsh." said Small, 45, director of the Peace Resource Center in Frederick.

The Smalls and five others first were arrested at Site R in August 1989, also during a peace protest. Dubbed the "Site R Seven," they were convicted of defiant trespass.

Last Sept. 19, Spicer sentenced the Smalls and another protester -- Wayne Cogswell of Taneytown -- to one year of probation, 40 hours of community service and a $700 fine for the 1989 trespass.

When she was sentenced, Small told Spicer, "In good conscience, I could not pay a fine," and asked to perform extra community service or serve time in jail.

The seven have one year to pay their fines. If they don't, they could be charged with contempt and sent to jail for up to a year.

Last Thursday, Small again told the court she would not pay a fine for the 1990 offense but would pay a set amount to a non-profit agency in Adams County.

Spicer rejected the offer.

Small's job at the Peace Resource Center will be held for her while she is in the Adams County Detention Center.

"In a sense, I feel badly that the focus will be on the severity of the sentence rather than on the existence of Site R," said Small. "I hope people don't lose heart, and realize they have to protest it."

By law, Small could write Spicer within 10 days of her imprisonment and ask him to reconsider the sentence. He would have 30 days to make a decision.

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