Berrigan, 6 other peace activists arrested at Applied Physics Laboratory

February 25, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

Police arrested seven peace activists, including Philip F. Berrigan, at the Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory yesterday during a demonstration in which ashes were spread on the grounds to symbolize destruction from nuclear weapons.

The protesters, all members of the Baltimore Emergency Response Network (BERN), were arrested about 8 a.m. yesterday when 15 members blocked an employee gate at the 365-acre site in Columbia, police said. Besides trespassing to spread ashes on the sidewalks and grounds, police said, the protesters distributed and posted leaflets. When asked to leave, seven demonstrators remained. They were arrested without incident.

BERN is a decade-old group with about 24 active members who seek peaceful solutions to world conflicts. The group, which has staged several demonstrations at APL wants the lab to end nuclear weapons research and direct the money to social programs, said a BERN spokesman, Richard Ochs.

"We don't think we need Star Wars; the Cold War is over," he said. "This is all a big waste of money."

John Wilhelm, a spokesman for APL, said protesters came into one lobby and threw ashes, too. "We really don't have a comment on today's events. It's a periodic occurrence," he said. APL is the county's largest private employer.

In addition to Mr. Berrigan, BERN members arrested yesterday were: Brian F. Barrett, 43; Gregory Irwin Boertje, 37; Maureen K. Ostensen, 33; Michele A. Naar, 36; Max J. Obuszewski, 46; and John Dyer Oliver, 45. Those arrested, all from Baltimore, were charged with trespassing. Ms. Naar, Mr. Berrigan and Mr. Boertje were jailed in lieu of $500 bond, a court commissioner said. The rest were released on their own recognizance.

BERN has protested APL for years, Mr. Ochs said. On Feb. 5, Mr. Berrigan's wife and fellow BERN member, Elizabeth McAlister, 53, was sentenced to 60 days in jail for criminal trespassing at APL in December 1991.

Mr. Berrigan, 69, a former Josephite priest, was sentenced to five years in prison in March 1992 for contempt of court after making political statements during the trial of his wife and other BERN members.

The sentence was reduced last year to one night in jail.

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