21 December 2003
Charges dropped against protester
Santa Barbara News Press

Los Olivos peace activist Bud Boothe plans to join other demonstrators outside Vandenberg Air Force Base on Jan. 6 for a monthly vigil to protest military operations.

The effort comes as the 78-year-old breathes a sigh of relief.

Mr. Boothe was scheduled to stand trial Friday at the federal Bankruptcy Court in Santa Barbara. But officials on Dec. 4 dropped a trespassing charge against him in connection with a demonstration that took place Dec. 3, 2002.

Mr. Boothe said on Friday from his home that attorneys at the Department of Justice office in Los Angeles could not make a case against him. Federal prosecutor Sharon McCaslin could not be reached for comment.

"I never was on the property," Mr. Boothe said.

The military had previously dropped other trespassing charges against Mr. Boothe and attorney Richard Solomon, president of the Santa Barbara chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Officials had contended the two men trespassed at Vandenberg on Dec. 2, when they gathered information for a lawsuit.

Mr. Boothe's additional charge came a day later when, he said, he returned to the base perimeter despite a "barment" order.

"I was very, very careful not to set foot on the property," he said. "They accused me of trespassing because of the day before. It was just a case of dragging it on and on for harassment."

Mr. Boothe said he and fellow demonstrators oppose missile tests, ballistic missile shield programs and satellite coordination of overseas military bombing runs, all of which have Vandenberg components.

The World War II veteran, retired engineer and former civil servant with the Federal Communications Commission regularly opens his home and yard to demonstrators who need a place to stay or camp.

He has been arrested several times.

"They just don't want us out there," he said of military officials. "They keep fighting us every way they can."

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