GUERNSEY HISTORY 

13th August 2001
Guernsey protestor in court for delaying missile test

Three Britons were among fifteen Greenpeace activists who found themselves in court after protesting a US missile test. John Wills, from Guernsey, was one of them.

The group, which had been at Vandenberg air force base in California, had delayed the test by two minutes. That doesn’t sound long, but it was the principle of the disruption that mattered.

Wills, who was 27 at the time of his arrest, had graduated in marine geography from the University of Wales and sailed on the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior. He told The Guardian that he wanted to live in a world free of nuclear weapons. The Vandenberg tests would therefore have been of particular interest, as they were part of the United States’ Son of Star Wars programme to develop a missile shield.

In the case of this particular test, scientists launched a disarmed $100m Minuteman 2 missile from Vandenberg and, 21 minutes later, an interceptor rocket from the Marshall Islands. Ten minutes after its launch, the interceptor destroyed the Minuteman, 144 miles above Earth.

Small-scale invasion

The protestors, plus two photographers, had used dinghies to access the test site. Once there, some of them swam to shore. As a result, they were facing felony charges, rather than the usual, less serious, misdemeanour charges.

Greenpeace, which itself was surprised at the severity of the sentences the protestors were facing, organised protests outside US embassies in London, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Helsinki and Moscow.

In January the following year, the nine non-US members of the protest group pleaded guilty to misdemeanor conspiracy to enter a military base and were sentenced to probation. As a result, they were not required to serve any additional jail time beyond what they had already spent in custody between their arrest and being allowed out on bail.

Had they been unable to strike a deal with prosecutors, the protestors would have faced six years in prison.

Category: Guernsey History | Other events tagged

Check out The Sarnian’s email newsletter for Guernsey history, features, puzzles and pictures. It’s also the first place where you’ll find out about the Sarnian series of books, including sneak previews and discounts.

We will never sell your data to third parties, and there’s an unsubscribe link in every email, so you can leave whenever you like.

What else happened in Guernsey in August?

Guernsey history newsletter

Check out The Sarnian’s email newsletter for Guernsey history, features, puzzles and pictures. It’s also the first place where you’ll find out about the Sarnian series of books, including sneak previews and discounts.

We will never sell your data to third parties, and there’s an unsubscribe link in every email, so you can leave whenever you like.

* indicates required

The Sarnian

The Sarnian Book 1: Dead in the Water

A body on a beach, an impossible alibi and an unstoppable race against time!

Check out the first book in The Sarnian series, set on the Channel Island of Guernsey.

Click here to get your copy today…

October in Guernsey through the years…

The first lighthouses are built on the Casquets

30th October 1724

Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £40,000

23rd October 1971

Hitler orders Channel Islands' fortification

20th October 1941

Channel Television sees off rival broadcasters

16th October 1992

Commercial radio station Island FM launches

15th October 1992

Sarnian secrets

Sign up to The Sarnian's occasional newsletter for updates on your favourite characters and locations, to go behind the scenes on the writing process, and for early-bird discounts on every new book. We promise not to share your details with anyone else, and you can easily unsubscribe whenever you choose.
* indicates required

Search the archiveWarning