Disarm Now Plowshares – 2011-03-29 23:13:41
Pacifists Jailed for Trying to Disarm Nuclear WMD
Disarm Now Plowshares Sentenced: 6 to 15 Months
Disarm Now Plowshares
(March 28, 2011) — The Disarm Now Plowshares activists who entered US Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there were sentenced today at the Tacoma Federal Courthouse, receiving sentences of 6 months to 15 months confinement, plus one year supervised release.
About 250 people gathered at the courthouse to support the Plowshares activists with their presence, song, and prayer. After the trial, they sang peace songs and processed out as a group, celebrating the beacon of hope the five activists have been for their community.
Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and others testified on behalf of the defendants. Bishop Gumbleton, retired bishop of Detroit and founding president of the peace group Pax Christi, testified that the Catholic Church has spoken out very strongly against nuclear weapons, saying that no use of nuclear weapons can be justified morally. “We must abolish these weapons before the earth is destroyed.”
Ramsey Clark, US Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson, testified that never in his life has he encountered such unselfish people as those who participate in the Plowshares tradition of direct action against nuclear weapons. Regarding their decision to live a life of civil resistance, he said, “Their consciences tell them they have to do it. God will bless them for it and the courts of the United States should too.”
Speaking as part of the Disarm Now Plowshares legal team, Anabel Dwyer and Bill Quigley laid out the broader legal picture of the case. “The problem is that nuclear weapons and the rule of law canâ€™t exist side by side,” Dwyer said. “The other problem is, we cannot disarm nuclear weapons unless through the rule of law. We are in a conundrum here.”
Quigley submitted that lawyers are obligated to “understand difference between law and justice and to narrow that gap.” He encouraged the judge to look back one hundred years and consider how many of the laws of that time were “legal but manifestly unjust.”
Dwyer is a Michigan attorney and Board Member of The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), and an expert in humanitarian law and nuclear weapons. Quigley is the Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and Professor at Loyola New Orleans.
Each of the five co-defendants, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, read statements in court. They focused on the personal responsibility they feel to disarm nuclear weapons, and their desire to prevent pain, suffering, and death for “those deprived by our wars and military budget of a human way of life.”
Character witnesses spoke to the defendants’ solidarity with Native people, children, working people, and the wider Tacoma community. Rosella Apel, age 11, said in her character witness for Steve Kelly, “I have a clear image that when I grow up I’m going to do the exact same thing that these five have.”
Crane and Kelly have each been sentenced to 15 months prison and one year supervised release. Greenwald has been sentenced to six months prison, one year supervised release, and 60 hrs community service. Bichsel has been sentenced to three months prison, six months electronic home monitoring, and one year supervised release. Montgomery has been sentenced to two months prison, four months electronic home monitoring, and one year supervised release.
Roger Hunko, standby counsel for the Plowshares activists, disagreed with the outcome of the trial but expressed his respect for Judge Settle as a fair man. Dwyer was also impressed by the judge’s civility and his thoughtful attention to the case, but she too disagrees with the judge’s decision.
“Every citizen has the right to ensure nonviolent complete nuclear disarmament. Trident is grotesquely illegal and criminal, and Disarm Now Plowshares should not be in prison for pointing that out.”
For more information about all sentencing-related events please see the Disarm Now Plowshares Website at www.disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com
Chrissy Nesbitt, 610-316-3243, email@example.com
Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jackie Hudson, 360-930-8697, email@example.com
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Road NW Poulsbo, WA 98370
Five US Peace Demonstrators Sentenced to Prison
TACOMA, Washington (March 28, 2011) — Two priests, a nun and two women in their 60s who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest submarine nuclear weapons were sentenced Monday to prison terms ranging from two to 15 months.
US District Judge Benjamin H. Settle sentenced Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly, 62, and retired teacher Susan Crane, 67, to 15 months in prison, US Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie said.
Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel, 82, was sentenced to three months in prison and six months of home monitoring. Sister Anne Montgomery, 84, got two months in prison and four months home monitoring, and social worker Lynne Greenwald, 61, got six months in prison and 60 hours of community service. All five defendants also were given one year of supervised release. They were ordered into custody Monday, Langlie said.
The judge praised the five defendants for their humanitarian work but said he was bound by the law to send a message that legal means must be used to bring about change, the News Tribune reported. “Indeed, there is no indication of remorse,” Settle said.
A federal jury convicted the five anti-war demonstrators of conspiracy, trespass and destruction of government property in December. They had faced up to 10 years in prison, and prosecutors recommended sentences ranging between six months and 36 months.
Court documents say the group cut through fences on Nov. 2, 2009, to reach an area near where nuclear warheads are stored in bunkers. The protesters put up banners, sprinkled blood on the ground, scattered sunflower seeds and prayed until they were arrested.
The Bangor base, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Seattle on Hood Canal, is home to 10 Ohio-class submarines, eight armed with Trident ballistic missiles and two with conventional weapons.
Prosecutors said in sentencing documents that the five trespassed into a restricted area, destroyed the Navy’s property and placed themselves and others in jeopardy.
About 250 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse before Monday’s sentencing. Some demonstrators carried signs saying, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” according to Seattle radio station KOMO.
Kelly told KOMO before the sentencing that he was prepared to go to prison. “I think it’s really worth it. I have the solace of my conscience, as I think this is just one little step against nuclear weapons and someday we’ll be free, and maybe not in my lifetime, but I have hope.”
The five defendants said nuclear warheads stored at the base and on submarines there are illegal under international, national and humanitarian law, but a judge prohibited them from using international law and the lethality of nuclear weapons as a defense. The trial hinged on straightforward charges relating to trespassing and property damage.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Letters to the Jailbirds
Posted on March 29, 2011 by Disarm Now Plowshares
Many people have been asking about how and where to send letters to our dear friends now that they are beginning their journey through our nationâ€™s glorious Criminal Justice System (think Rube Goldberg). Itâ€™s going to be a while before they are settled.
They are currently (temporarily) residing at the luxurious Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Sea Tac in Seattle. Click here to see a photo of this lovely five star property. Itâ€™s hard to estimate just when they will be moved to the prisons where they will stay for the duration of their sentences.
We are monitoring each personâ€™s status, and will update either the Contact or Support page with their addresses and any other pertinent information on a regular basis. I know many of your are anxious to write them (I know I am); it would be best to wait until they are settled as letters to their temporary digs may not reach them.
We will also be working to help get messages out to the world from the Disarm Now Plowshares prisoners of conscience, and will post their messages on the Blog as we hear from them. Rest assured that we will keep this Website and Blog going and it will continue to be the voice of the Disarm Now Plowshares five.