Prosecutors drop charges against 2 peace activists

May 08, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

Criminal charges against two peace activists arising from a protest at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory near Columbia in October were dropped Friday during a Howard District Court hearing.

County prosecutors dropped trespassing charges against Elizabeth McAlister, 54, of the 1900 block of Park Ave. in Baltimore and Daniel H. Sicken, 52, of Luck, Wis.

Trespassing charges are pending against two other protesters: Richard John Ochs, 55, of the 1400 block of Gorsuch Road in Baltimore, and George Michael Ostensen, 39, of the first block of S. Washington St. in Baltimore. Mr. Ochs is scheduled for trial later this month and Mr. Ostensen in June.

Trespassing charges carry penalties of up to three months in jail and fines up to $500.

The four were among 14 demonstrators blocking the entrance of the laboratory, south of the intersection of U.S 29 and Route 32, on Oct. 26, according to county police.

Police arrived at the lab to disperse the group, and all but four agreed to leave, reports say.

The protesters are members of the Baltimore Emergency Response Network, a group of peace activists who protest against APL's weapons research and development.

Ms. McAlister, a former nun and wife of peace activist Philip F. Berrigan, served 60 days in jail last year after her conviction for trespassing in a December 1991 protest at APL.

In that protest, Ms. McAlister and six other activists climbed atop a building and water tower, carried banners and said prayers, police reports say.

Mr. Berrigan, a former Catholic priest, is to be sentenced in July for vandalizing an Air Force jet during a demonstration Dec. 7 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, N.C. When he is sentenced on his conviction in April for destruction of government property, he could receive up to 10 years in prison.

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