Closing Argument at ATK 4 trial

Closing Argument
ATK Trial Dec. 10, 2004

Every Wednesday morning one of the vigilers, usually one of the nuns sitting in the back of this courtroom, holds up a sign at the ATK vigil. It reads, “Who Profits? Who Dies?” We have choices to make: Do we want to be a rogue nation or be part of the “community of nations”? Do we want to choose corporate wealth or commonwealth? Do we value Private Profit over Corporate Accountability?

We stipulated the facts in this case so we didn’t waste the time of the Edina Police by having to testify here at this trial.

In the opening arguments from both the Prosecution and the Defense you were told that this case comes down to one issue:
Did the Defendants have a Claim of Right when we came to the entrance of ATK headquarters to deliver the notebook of documents and refused to leave until we could at least get an appointment with one of the corporate officers?

In a few minutes, the Judge will give you her Jury Instructions for your deliberation. In it she defines Claim of Right as: “A good faith claim by the defendants that permission was given to them to be upon the premises by a statute, rule, regulation or other law.”

Judge Chu gives two conditions under which you, the jury, should determine if this is a bona fide (or good and truthful) claim of right:
1. If we, the defendants, believed we had a right to enter and remain on the premises; AND
2. If there were reasonable grounds for this belief, based on our knowledge of a statue, rule, regulation or other law of a federal or state agency.

Let’s focus in on some of these words:
Good Faith

I trust after hearing our testimony that you have found us to be sincere. I hope after hearing some of our own stories that you can tell that we honestly believe that International Law gives us the claim of right to be at Alliant Techsystems headquarters. We did not discover this “defense” after the fact to use it to justify or excuse our actions. We went to ATK’s entrance with the knowledge of this provision in the law and with conviction that our actions were justifiable under International Law. The question remaining is – is this belief reasonable?

Even though we readily admit we are not EXPERTS on all the nuances of International Law, it is our hope that we have demonstrated to you in our testimony our personal knowledge of both the letter and the spirit of these applicable International Laws. We have studied the wording. We have read the rulings of the United Nations regarding these illegal weapons. We have striven to educate ourselves about these issues. And we have asked ourselves this question: What do we wish the German people would have done when War Crimes were being committed by their governmental, military, and corporate leaders before and during WW II?

Another important word to focus on is INTENT.

We have testified that our intent was to deliver the notebook of documents to corporate officers of ATK, not to seek arrest. We did not have criminal intent; our intent was to take action to help prevent the targeting of civilians by indiscriminate weapons.

Mr. Wood couldn’t argue against the US Constitution when it states that these International Treaties signed by our government are the SUPREME law of the land. Supreme does not mean that it takes a back seat to a private property or a trespass law.

Mr. Wood did not contest that the weapons we have identified are indiscriminate. We have testified how these weapons fail to meet the restrictions placed on weapons allowable during war. They are not limited to the field of battle. The do not stop killing and injuring after the war has ended. The cancers, birth defects, and other dramatic consequences to human health show that these weapons fail the “humanness test”. And the long-term damage to the environment caused by the radioactive waste or unexploded cluster bombs will discourage or prevent citizens from being able to farm in these areas without severe risks.

We testified that these indiscriminate weapons are manufactured and sold by ATK. This company is seeking to make a profit off these weapons that the world community has denounced. We testified that the Nuremberg Principles remind us that we cannot hide behind local or national laws as an excuse to overlook the commission of what they call “War Crimes” and “Crimes against Humanity”. We dare not be “complicit” when these crimes are being committed. Until or unless local or national prosecutors are willing to enforce “the Supreme law of the land”, it is incumbent on those of us with knowledge of International Law to take nonviolent action to help bring this to public attention about the principles and value of these laws. The Red Cross calls on “national courts and public opinion” to help with the implementation of the laws of war.

Property rights should not override the right of the international community to be protected from these indiscriminate weapons. Property rights are not more important than stopping war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Nuremberg Tribunals. The United States helped develop these rules, we cannot exempt ourselves from them when they are not convenient. Would we really argue about property rights if citizens “trespassed” at Auschwitz and tried to prevent the crimes committed there? To remain silent in the face of these crimes would be negligence.

Point nine of the stipulation, the agreement between the state and the defendants states: “The defendants remained nonviolent and courteous throughout this encounter with Alliant representatives and the Edina Police. To compare our actions to annoying and intrusive phone or door-to-door solicitors is both degrading and insulting to the deeply held moral convictions of these defendants. To compare concern about weapons which cause thousands of deaths and countless injuries and diseases to someone attempting to sell another consumer product or service debases the genuine concern we have expressed for the victims of these weapons. Mr. Wood told John Braun his “claim of right” was just an excuse for criminal conduct”, he is the one who is trivializing this case. This case is about very serious concerns.

We, the defendants, are a hope-filled people. We hope that the goodness of the American people can overcome our fears and help us re-join the world community.

Please, take some time. Read the exhibits presented. Read the judge’s instructions. We trust you to make the right decision. We have spoken. Now it is your turn to add your voices on behalf of the voiceless civilian victims of war and corporate greed. We can’t hide behind “Minnesota nice.” We can’t afford to act like “good Germans” and say we didn’t know what they were doing.

There are no “winners” in this case until all of us can work together to eliminate indiscriminate weapons from our world. We can start in our own back yard, in Edina, MN.

-Steve Clemens, Defendant

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