FRAMED PHOENIX ACTIVIST FACING TWO YEARS
Phoenix, Arizona peace and justice activist Laro Nicol, seeking to minimize the risk of spending even more time in prison away from his family, in April agreed to plead guilty to "possession of an unregistered destructive device" (small homemade fireworks) and " possession of an unregistered machine gun" (unassembled parts, all purchased legally). Sentencing is set for September 27 in federal court in Phoenix, and Nicol is expected to be sentenced to two years in prison.
Nicol's story is one of a convenient political prosecution. Once the editor of The Current, a Phoenix peace newsletter, Nicol was, on the eve of the Iraq invasion, a member of Phoenix Copwatch. The police rode their beat, while Nicol - married father of three, ex-Marine and air traffic controller - actively assisted citizens to demand police accountability.
When police put the screws to one of the beaten-down, offered a deal, and got enough words together in a brief, coerced statement - words like guns, drugs and explosives - to obtain a warrant to search Nicol's home, they seized his safely locked gun collection and model rocketry materials to build their case. No evidence of his alleged illegal drug use was ever found. He was initially held without bond for more than two months.
Nicol has broad support from the peace and justice community in Phoenix, who are soliciting support for his family in the event of his imprisonment. For more information, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.phoenixcopwatch.org/freelaro. Contributions for legal and family support may be sent to Phoenix Copwatch, POB 1543, Phoenix, AZ 85001.