A peace activist and three Catholic Workers were found guilty of failure to leave Nov. 12 in connection with a “die-in” protesting the militarization of space at an annual gathering of military leaders and defense contractors in Omaha, Neb. Catholic News Service first reported Oct. 10 on the faith-inspired witness during Keep Space for Peace Week.
Among those convicted was 90-year-old Peg Gallagher, a longtime peace activist and member of St. Cecilia Cathedral Parish in Omaha. She was sentenced to 20 hours of community service.
Gallagher and about 20 others had gathered outside the Qwest Center, site of the Strategic Space and Defense 2008 conference, a major event where new weapons systems are introduced and strategies to deploy them are discussed.
Also found guilty in the 4th Judicial District Court of Nebraska in Douglas County were Omaha Catholic Workers Kathy Peterson, 54; Mark Kenney, 51; and Jerry Ebner, 58. Peterson was fined $100 plus court costs; Kenney was fined $150 plus court costs; and Ebner was fined $500 plus court costs and given probation. Kenney and Ebner pledged not to pay their fines and may be subject to future jail sentences.
A fifth person, Michael Walli, 60, a Catholic Worker from Duluth, Minn., entered a not guilty plea days after his arrest and went to trial Nov. 14. The charge against him was dismissed after a Qwest Center employee and arresting officers testified that Walli was not told individually to leave the facility. He had been held in the Douglas County Jail for 38 days after failing to post a $15,000 bail.
Walli told CNS shortly after leaving the courthouse that he plans to gradually make his way back to Duluth.
Three others arrested at the protest have served jail time for their involvement after being found guilty during court hearings in October.