Jim Warren, NC WARN's director (above), and two members of his organization's board, Raleigh lawyer Lewis Pitts and the Rev. Carrie Bolton, a Chatham County activist, have a date in Wake County District Court Dec. 1 on a charge of second-degree trespass for their sit-in at CP&L's doorstep in October. They plan to plead not guilty, according to their lawyer, Stewart Fisher of Durham.
Fisher says the three will offer a "necessity defense"--an argument that the importance of the waste-storage issue, and CP&L's fight to avoid public hearings on the matter, imposed on them a "higher duty" than simply obeying the law and leaving quietly when the police ordered them to do so. The three refused to go without delivering a contract for CP&L CEO William Cavanaugh to sign that would commit the company to hearings.
Why civil disobedience? Warren says the reason goes beyond the specific issue of nuclear-waste storage to the general question of whether big corporations must be accountable to the public for what they do. "We've gotta change the paradigm of industry and government working together for the industry and reassert our right to participate in and be part of the decision-making loop."
Warren's never been arrested before, he says. "I don't consider myself an angry person. I am disgusted." For two years, he says, activists and most of the local governments in the Triangle have been calling on CP&L to conduct hearings. "We've played by the rules, we've gone by the book, and still we're being denied justice," he says.