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Crater 42-charges Dropped!

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July 24, 1972 - These bomb craters were dug by Rainbow People of Ann Arbor to symbolize the damage done to the people of Indochina by U.S. bombs.

Last May a bunch of people got together on the University of Michigan "diag" with some sunshine, rock-n-roll, shovels and pickaxes. When the music started playing, they dug in and created four replicas of bomb craters that dot the countryside of Indochina.

The simulated bomb craters were meant as a non-violent educational protest of the Pentagon's air war and of U-M's extensive involvement in the misuse of technology for the destruction of land and human beings, technology that was developed by U-M scientists right here in Ann Arbor for explicit military purposes.

The crater digging led to several secret meetings between U-M and the police. Finally, almost a month later, the police announced they were able to only identify four of the diggers, whom they then busted for "malicious destruction of property under $100."

The arrests resulted after the Board of Regents and several alumni reactionaries brought pressure on U-M administrators to stop the protest. The Crater Four were singled out to try to intimidate the others.

Instead hundreds of other diggers marched to police headquarters at City Hall to present themselves and demand they also be charged. The red-faced cops numbly refused.

So all "guilty" parties once again got together to dig more craters, assembling on the "diag" on June 18. But this time the police moved in almost immediately, clubbing several people and arresting 38 more.

Since then the Crater 42 have been given the run-around while the powers-that-be tried to figure out what to do. As it turned out, the expense of prosecuting 42 people in jury trials (a constitutional right that everyone requested) was too heavy a burden for them to bear. Nor was U-M willing to pick up any of the tab since it didn't want evidence of its war crimes introduced in the trials.

After nearly five months, Ann Arbor District Judge S. J. Elden ruled on Nov. 6 - one day before the election in which he lost his bid for circuit judge-that all charges were to be dropped on a technicality.

He admitted the accuracy of the Crater 42 lawyers (a team of Gabe Kamowitz, Dennis Hayes, Dave Goldstein, Don Koster and Torn Bentely) in pointing out that the "malicious destruction" statute only applies to a "house, barn, building or apertinence thereof." Since U-M lawns don't resemble any barns, the charges were technically unenforceable, Elden said.

So it now appears that digging craters on U-M property is perfectly legal. And it appears just as certain that if the Indochina War continues beyond the election (as it apparently will) and if U-M continues to invent new weapons (as it apparently will) that more craters will be popping up all over.