Three other demonstrators were also arrested during the permitted protest.
The base, which trains missileers to operate nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles through the 532nd Training Squadron, has become the location for occasional demonstrations protesting the military’s use of nuclear missiles over the years.
According to the court brief filed in August by federal public defender Gia Kim, a video presented at a bench trial showed Omondi wrapped in a “peace” flag standing in the permitted protest area at the base’s front entrance. The video then shows him leaving that space, crossing a green line marking the base’s exclusive jurisdiction and walking barefoot toward a line of armed security personnel.
The case is reminiscent of Guadalupe resident John Dennis Apel, who twice took his conviction for trespassing at the base to the Supreme Court. The justices ultimately upheld the conviction and in 2016 Apel received a sentence of six months of probation and 200 hours of community service. Apel said the justices never considered First Amendment arguments in his case.
Apel refused to comply with the sentence and instead was sentenced to four months in jail at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.
After Omondi's roughly three-hour trial held in Santa Barbara in 2017, he was sentenced to the statutory maximum of six months in jail for his conviction of entering a military installation for a purpose prohibited by law or lawful regulation, according to the brief. Omondi is currently out on bail during his appeal.
At the 2017 trial, according to Kim’s brief, the magistrate found Omondi guilty of trespassing, noting his three prior convictions for trespassing at the base, the confrontation with the line of officers, a government vehicle blocking access to the base and the arrests of three other demonstrators minutes before his were sufficient factors for Omondi to understand that he was risking arrest by crossing a green demarcation line painted on the road leading into the base.
The brief also noted that Omondi walked past a visitors center, which sits beyond the green line and is accessible to the public.
Omondi immediately appealed his conviction to the district court, which was upheld. He argues that Apel’s Supreme Court case clarified that the green line on the pavement does not define the base’s boundary. The boundary also encompasses portions of state Highway 1, although public access is allowed via an easement.
Omondi contends that there wasn’t sufficient signage warning him of unlawful entry and that he neither received an adequate verbal notice or an opportunity to leave before he was handcuffed and detained by Air Force security personnel.
According to Kim, the government is expected to file its opposing brief in late November. Although the case is on an expedited track, she said, it won’t likely be heard until March or April of 2020.
Kim said an attorney from the Solicitor General, which argues on behalf of the federal government at the Supreme Court level, will argue the case in Pasadena.
The case will be argued before a three-judge panel at the 9th Circuit courthouse, she added. Each side will be allowed 10 minutes to argue their case. Favorable decisions from at least two judges are needed to overturn the conviction, according to Kim.