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Judge refuses to send VT Yankee protesters to jail following jury trial and “guilty” verdict

A Vermont Superior Court judge refused the request of the six members of the “Shut It Down Affinity Group” to send them to jail following a jury’s verdict of “guilty” on charges of criminal trespass.  Instead, Judge John Wesley banned the women from further protest at the Fukushima-style nuclear reactor during a 45-day suspended sentence and fined them $350 each.  The women refused to pay any fines and vowed that they would return to the controversial reactor site. The activists, Mary Kehler, Ellen Graves, Nancy First, Hattie Nestel, Frances Crowe and Paki Wieland, all Massachusetts women ranging in ages from 69 to 93 years old, had freely admitted that they entered, walked onto the property of Vermont Yankee operated by the New Orleans-base nuclear utility Entergy, pad locked the front gate closed and chained themselves to the fence.  The affinity group has carried out 22 nonviolent direct actions at the GE Mark I Boiling Water Reactor since 2006. “This is about shutting Vermont Yankee down. The state should be putting a padlock on the gate,” said Hattie Nestel.  As American historian, Professor Howard Zinn has eloquently pointed out, civil disobedience and democracy are inseparably intertwined in many major policy changes and social movements.