Phoenix-area political dissident arrested
- The following very disturbing article appeared on page B3 of the wednesday,
5 March 2003 edition of the Arizona Republic. It is credited to reporter
Carlos Miller of the Republic. I do not wish to create a panic, but the
anti-war community in Arizona may soon become the target of a government
campaign of repression, and we must all be vigilant.
ANTI-POLICE ACTIVIST ARRESTED ON EXPLOSIVES CHARGES
Tempe resident Laro Nicol, a member of an anti-police brutality group and
frequent critic of the U.S. government, was arrested Tuesday on federal
Nicol is suspected of building "an improvised grenade," said Tom Mangan,
spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"It's basically like a pipe bomb," Mangan said.
His friends believe it was a set-up.
"I am convinced that this is an attempt to intimidate people who are
anti-war and anti-police activists," said Joel Olson, who like Nicol is
a member of Phoenix Copwatch, a Valley groups that videotapes police
officers as they make arrests in order to prevent police brutality.
Armed with a search warrant and assisted by Tempe police, federal agents
arrived at Nicol's house in the 2100 block of East Palmcroft Drive
at about 2:10 p.m.
Nicol, who was not home at the time, had been notified of the incident
and turned himself in to Tempe police a few hours later, Mangan said.
He is being held at Madison Street Jail on one count of posession and
manufacturing of destructive devices. He could not be reached Tuesday
for comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office said it would release a report
today that would offer more details on the investigation.
Nicol, 40, an air-traffic controller at Goodyear Airport, was editor of the
now-defunct Valley alternative newspaper, the Current.
The former military man also spoke to Arizona State University students
last October on "Justice in an Unjust World," according to a university
"He has been actively involved in peace and justice groups in the Phoenix
area for years," said Olson, who described Nicol's political ideology as
"left to center."
Pat Schwind, a former member of Phoenix Copwatch who has been friends with
Nicol for years, believes the charges "are totally bogus."
He describes his friend as a man who "speaks out against oppression and
the abuses of government power" and has a tendency "to express views that
may not sit well with the authorities."
But he also describes Nicol as "squeaky-clean."
"He just feels differently about political things than the average guy,"