Trial continues for Mt. Graham protester Duffy

By Laura Ingalls

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The clock is ticking for Abel Duffy.

The Western New Mexico University student who protested the University of Arizona's involvement in the Mount Graham telescope project will get a second day in court.

Pima County Justice Court Judge Emojean Girard continued the Friday trial to 8:30 a.m. today. One additional prosecuting witness and about four defense witnesses are scheduled to testify today.

The 23-year-old student sat on top of the Student Union clock tower for six days last February. Duffy, who is a member of the Southwest Student Environmental Action Coalition, was arrested Feb. 29 on charges of criminal trespassing and interference with the peaceful conduct of an educational institution.

The State of Arizona wants Duffy to pay $10,000 in restitution, mainly to cover emergency equipment and security costs.

University police posted around-the-clock officers and roped off an area around the tower, cutting access to a sidewalk and third floor terrace area. A "cherry picker" device attached to a fire truck was used to pluck Duffy from the tower.

Testimony Friday focused on whether the added security measures were necessary, whether wheelchair-bound students were inconvenienced by the sidewalk closure and if Duffy's protest banners damaged the clock's mechanism.

"We're here today for money, over $10,000 in restitution. It's an outrage that our educational institution is asking such an oppressive sum," said Paul Gattone, Duffy's attorney.

Gattone said he thinks university police overreacted to the stunt and is prosecuting Duffy to discourage people from expressing their right to free speech.

Duffy placed banners that read "University of Extinction" and "No Scopes" that may have disrupted the clock's motions.

Duffy was previously arrested September 18, 1993 for obstructing a roadway in protest of the Mount Graham International Observatory.

Pima County attorney Bruce Chalk would not comment on the case.

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