Activists Trash Derry Arms Plant, Acquitted With Necessity Defense

Anti-war activists in Derry, Northern Ireland, have been harassing a local plant of the U.S. arms manufacturer Raytheon for several years. In one action, nine people from the Derry Anti-War Coalition occupied the offices and destroyed over £350,000 of equipment.

The saboteurs were charged with burglary and criminal damage, but the court permitted them to argue that they were acting to prevent war crimes, and after presenting evidence to support this argument, the defendants were acquitted of all charges by a unanimous jury. Raytheon’s U.S.-side managers concluded that “the legal system in Northern Ireland does not offer the degree of protection to their business that could be expected in other parts of the world,” and the company has decided to abandon their Derry plant!

Congratulations to the Raytheon 9 and to the Derry Anti-War Coalition.

Those of you with a copy of that war tax resister’s bible, War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military, will be interested to know that NWTRCC has published a supplement that brings the guide up-to-date, including important updates on such topics as:

  • the repeal of the federal excise tax on long-distance telephone calls
  • the increase of the frivolous-filing penalty
  • expanded use of levies and liens by the IRS
  • new guidelines on how to regulate paycheck withholding
  • more information on evolving IRS enforcement priorities

Utopía: Revista de Cristianos de Base has published an interview with Spanish war tax resister Joan Surroca about ecology, the global economic crisis, and related topics. “From my point of view,” Surroca says, “there is no way out other than a profound transformation of values. Tolstoy made it very clear: ‘We all want to change the world, but nobody thinks of changing himself.’ ” The interview briefly touched on his tax resistance:

Utopía: Few people know that you are one the few or perhaps the only person who has won a court case over your tax resistance claims. What do you think that meant, and what do you think today?

Surroca: That the Superior Court of Justice for Catalonia for the first time overturned my guilty verdict and exempted me from paying the fines for my resistance to my money going to the military, is a small step that should encourage many, but tax resistance is something political; because ethics cannot restrict itself to particular cases and to my little world. Certainly I don’t want that the Spanish government should continue to direct these immoral sums in their budgets to support the arms race, but clearly we will not achieve significant progress without a stronger movement of the citizens.

From the edition of The Village Voice:

War Tax Resistance

by Mary Breasted

A number of spring harbingers in Manhattan are much more reliable than the weather on Groundhog Day (which was sunny this year, by the way). We have stickball players and nodding junkies out in droves to tell us the fair season is coming. We have some big gathering or other in Central Park, and, like as not, a report in the social columns that Jackie O. was recently seen taking the air on horseback. And now, just as seasonal, we have the re-awakening of the Peace Movement.

It began last week with a news conference in Washington Square Methodist Church that was as passionless as it was repetitive. The news release announcing the event had said: “Leading Intellectuals to Explain Why they Refuse to Pay War Taxes.” And there they all were, seated at a long row of tables Thursday morning, squinting into TV lights, Paul Goodman, Grace Paley, David McReynolds, Dwight MacDonald, familiar faces offering familiar moral aphorisms about mankind’s higher laws superseding the laws of the nations. And although they were as outspokenly critical of the war as ever they had been in demonstrations and news conferences past, they seemed muted even as they redeclared themselves, as if this time they felt secretly defeated right at the start.

Seven “leading intellectuals” in all, they contributed a total of $325 to an account called the People’s Life Fund or to various beneficiaries of the fund (the Welfare Rights Organization, the Women’s Bail Fund, the United Farmworkers Organizing Committee and Operation Move-In). The purpose of the conference, aside from giving them a public forum for personal testimonials, was to launch an intensified campaign for the War Tax Resistance in these last two weeks before we all file our returns.

Robert Calvert, the national director of War Tax Resistance, tried to put some zing into the subdued conference by stressing the inconvenience his group would cause the Internal Revenue Service. “It usually takes the government six months to a year to move and get the money,” he said, adding happily, “I’ve been resisting my telephone tax for a year. The government has not got a penny from me.”

But Paul Goodman, the most openly cynical of the group, countered that hopeful note by observing, “It would be unrealistic for us to think that this is an economic burden on the government.” But he said he did hope the action would have some influence upon the opinions of legislators.

When the conference was over, Goodman walked off saying cheerily, “Well, it’s nice to give money to the Women’s Bail Fund. I always like to see people get out of jail.”

Founded in , the War Tax Resistance now has more than 170 tax resistance centers in various parts of the country. And in Manhattan, where they’ve been picketing the IRS office, they’ve attracted one clandestine ally, a young man who works for IRS but who opposes the war. Although he won’t give his name, he did tell me he planned to help the War Tax Resistance people figure out other ways to keep the government from collecting taxes.

If you’re interested in war protest through tax withholding, Calvert’s group suggests that you deduct between $10 and $50 from your federal taxes this year and send the difference to the People’s Life Fund, War Tax Resistance, 339 Lafayette Street, New York 10012 (telephone 477‒2970 or 777‒5560). The government will eventually collect the money you withhold and charge you a penalty fee for your action, but according to the IRS employee who is counseling War Tax Resistance, “the expense to collect the tax that is not being paid is far greater than the additional penalty imposed for the delinquent action.” That’s why the Tax Resistance people suggest you withhold such a small sum.

The money will go to the beneficiaries of the People’s Life Fund on , when the People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice will lead a demonstration to Wall Street to protest both the war and unemployment.