Moment of fear
Back in 2010, I had just finished defending myself in a court case for trespassing at the information center for the North Anna Nuclear Power plant. The county prosecutor had suggested I be sentenced to as long as half a year in prison for this misdemeanor offense. I had requested a much shorter sentence. We did not disagree on the facts of the case. We did have a disagreement about whether MLK broke laws to make political change. The county prosecutor was quite sure King had not been involved in breaking the law.
Almost two years before my trial, a dozen activists (including myself) had taken over the public tours which were being given at the Nuclear Information Center and started giving our own tours. The center management had called the police from the moment we arrived. The police were very polite and gentle with us, perhaps because there was lots of media around. Perhaps because it was clear we were not a real danger to the safety of the plant. Likely some of both was at play.
At the suggestion i spend half a year in jail, i started to think about Willow and how he had come to rescue me the night a got arrested last time. I worried about missing my time with him, i was fearful of wasting time while in jail. And i had know that it might go terribly wrong when i decided to do this action.
Virginia is an unusual state in that it gives sentencing power to the jury of a trial rather then a single judge. I was quite scared. The jury was out for perhaps 15 minutes when a question came back from them caused me to breath a bit easier. ”Can the jury sentence someone to a suspended sentence?” The judge informed them they could not (though under jury nullification they could effectively do this).
Ultimately, i would be sentenced to only 5 days in jail. Having already served one of them when we were arrested the sentence was really only 4 additional days. With time off for good behavior for a misdemeanor i would be out after just two days and three nights.