Weapons inspector, Betty Schroeder (center) marches with members of the peace group United Neighbors to the Raytheon Missile Systems plant
NORMA JEAN GARGASZ/Tucson Citizen
Feb. 13, 2003
A light drizzle fell from the dark sky as about 50 people clad in yellow hard hats, white lab coats and "U.N." arm bands trudged up a two-lane road yesterday afternoon toward the main gate of a missile facility.
But these arms inspectors were not in Iraq, but in Tucson. And they were not from the United Nations, but from a peace group calling itself "United Neighbors." And the complex they were approaching was not some mustard gas factory in Baghdad, but Raytheon Missile Systems, south of Valencia Road off Old Nogales Highway. And though the group claimed to have come to Raytheon to interview "scientists and inspect documents and production facilities for evidence of illegal weapons production," the truth is they were not weapons inspectors at all, but protesters simply masquerading as such to draw attention from the news media.
Television cameras whirred, newspaper cameras were clicked and reporters scribbled in notebooks made soggy by the sprinkling rain.
Eight of the protesters wanted to be arrested as part of their statement against U.S. foreign policy in Iraq.
They were not disappointed.
Keith McHenry, one of those arrested, was identified as "general secretary" of the group. "We are here to enforce international law," McHenry explained as he led the crew toward Raytheon's main gate. "We want to verify that no weapons of mass destruction are here." Once at the entrance, protesters were told by plant security to leave the property or they would be arrested by Pima County Sheriff's deputies who were on hand for the scheduled protest. "You folks are trespassing and we are asking you to leave," said a plant security guard. "If you folks don't leave now I will ask the sheriff's department to arrest you."
Eight protesters refused to go, insisting they wanted to inspect the facility. They were immediately arrested, given citations for second-degree criminal trespass, placed in a van and driven off Raytheon's property and released. All eight have initial appearances set for March 6 and 7 in Pima County Superior Court.
"It's actually the least serious criminal charge you can be charged with," said Tom Bailey, a Sheriff's Department spokesman.
The other 40 or so members of United Neighbors left without incident. Arrested in the protest were McHenry, 45, of the 30 block of East McIver Place; Dwight Metzger, 37, of the 800 block of North 10th Ave.; Gretchen Nielsen, 70, of the 4300 block of East Blanton; Patricia Birnie, 73, of the 5300 block of Bar X Street; Betty Schroeder, 72, of the 5300 block of Bar X Street; William Moeller, 49, of the 600 block of N. 10th Ave.; Christopher Ford, 32, of the 200 block of West 2nd St.; and Dalton McClelland, 72, of the 1300 N. Santa Rita.
"The police behaved very honorably," said Moeller, a Tucson carpenter who was among those charged. "They did stop us from inspecting the facility." Moeller said that if allowed into the plant, the group was prepared to take photographs of missile production and search documents and send that information to the United Nations. "Frankly, we didn't think we would get in," he said, "but we were prepared to do that if we had been allowed."
Moeller is supportive of the U.N. inspectors looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but said it is hypocritical of the United States "to demand others stop producing weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. is the biggest producer of such weapons in the world."
Sara Hammond, a Raytheon spokeswoman, said the company's plant is "a secure facility" and that the only people allowed in are "employees, contractors and others who have business here." Hammond said Raytheon does not produce weapons of mass destruction. "Our weapons are tactical and precision guided," she said.
2/13/03 KOLD-TV Tucson
Eight Arrested In Raytheon Protest
Eight people were arrested Thursday for trespassing during an anti-war demonstration at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson.
The group "United Neighbors" dressed in white lab coats and yellow hard hats, mimicking United Nations weapons inspectors. They wanted to interview scientists and inspect the facility for illegal weapons.
Those arrested were cited and released.
Raytheon says it does not produce weapons of mass destruction -- only the Tomahawk and precision-guided missiles used in conventional warfare
Visit these websites for more information.
United Neighbors Flyer
E-mail Keith McHenry
Tucson Citizen Story
United Neighbors Flyer
E-mail Keith McHenry