Pilgrim Protester Faces Jail Time Over Trespassing

GavelFALMOUTH – The announcement that Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is closing in four years does not mean the end of protesters.

Falmouth restaurant owner Paul Rifkin has trespassed on the plant’s property in Plymouth three times over the years as an act of civil disobedience.

“I do this because it’s a matter of conscience for me. I think the plant is dangerous. If anything happens we’re going to be trapped here on Cape Cod, because they close the bridges if there’s an accident at Pilgrim in Plymouth. And none of this is acceptable to me,” Rifkin said.

Rifkin was before a judge in Plymouth District Court this week on his latest trespassing charge.

But instead of pleading guilty and paying a fine like his fellow protesters, Rifkin wants to let a jury decide his fate.

“I didn’t want to plead guilty, because I don’t feel that I’m guilty. I feel that the acts of civil disobedience I perform are worthy of commendation not condemnation,” he said.

Rifkin said the judge yesterday advised him that his history of trespassing at the plant had given him “three bites at the apple,” and that he should not break the law when participating in civil disobedience.

Rifkin said he was surprised that a judge seems not to understand what civil disobedience is.

“Civil disobedience requires refusal to accept or obey certain laws to make a political point. That’s what civil disobedience is. There is no civil disobedience without breaking a law,” Rifkin said.

Rifkin plans to represent himself at a jury trial in February. If he is found guilty, he faces 30 days in the house of corrections.

By LAURA M. RECKFORD, CapeCod.com News Editor

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