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Actor Ends Vieques Case Jail Term

August 24, 2001

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Actor Edward James Olmos emerged from a federal detention center Friday after serving a 20-day sentence for trespassing on U.S. Navy lands during protests against bombing exercises on Vieques island.

Olmos walked out of the detention center in the San Juan suburb of Guaynabo holding the hand of Puerto Rican nationalist Lolita Lebron, who completed a sentence of 60 days behind bars for trespassing.

``Civil disobedience is the only way to stop this,″ Olmos said. ``The future is in our hands.″

Dozens of supporters cheered ``Vieques Yes! Navy No!″ as the two walked out of the detention center. Some of those in the crowd held flowers.

Olmos was among about 180 people detained during exercises in April and May. He trespassed onto the firing range in a fishing boat along with environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy and New York labor leader Dennis Rivera. Kennedy and Rivera were released this month after serving 30-day sentences at a federal detention center in San Juan.

In their trial, Navy officers testified that the three men’s incursion caused the Navy to halt ship-to-shore shelling for 2 1/2 hours while security officers searched for intruders.

The Navy has used the Vieques range for six decades, but President Bush has said the Navy must leave in 2003. Navy opponents want the training to stop now on Vieques, an island of 9,100 people.

Lebron, a staunch supporter of independence for the U.S. territory, was among four people imprisoned for a 1954 shooting attack on the U.S. House of Representatives that wounded five lawmakers. She served 25 years in prison.

Now 81, she was arrested on June 26 for entering Navy land with several others to protest bombing on the island.

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