leroymoore

Remembering Ken Gordon: Wins acquittal in court for those resisting Rocky Flats

In Rocky Flats on January 1, 2014 at 2:58 am

On Sunday, December 28, former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, a lawyer who was a Democrat, died at age 63 of an apparent heart attack. The last time I saw him was at a conference last year where I gave a presentation on Iran’s nuclear program.

I met Ken shortly after the civil disobedience arrests made at the East Gate of Rocky Flats on Sunday, August 9, 1987. It was the anniversary of the bombing on Nagasaki. Rocky Flats was at the height of production, working, as I recall, around the clock seven days a week to produce new bombs. There was a big crowd, with about 300 arrests, delayed because many of those opposing Rocky Flats had chained themselves to the fence. Rocky Flats officials had closed the West Gate main entrance to the facility, forcing resistors to go to the more contaminated East Gate area. Soon that day radio announcers were telling Rocky Flats workers not to come to work, to take the day off. It was the only time that activists actually succeeded in closing the plant for a day.

Another memory from this occasion has to do with Ken Gordon. He volunteered to be the lawyer in court for one of the affinity groups of people being arrested. In court he presented the novel idea that the people he was defending (who, like all the others, had been arrested for trespass) had not violated the law but were there charging the operators of the Rocky Flats plant with violating the law. Specifically, they violated Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, wherein the U.S., and other nuclear weapons powers, agreed to work in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Ken was so compelling in his presentation that the judge actually allowed this defense to be made before the jury. The jury, on hearing the case, found the defendants not guilty as charged. To my knowledge, this was the only time a group arrested for opposing Rocky Flats and put on trial was acquitted by a jury and neither paid a fine nor served time in prison.

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