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D7 Solidarity with "Disarm Now Plowshares" on Trial for Anti- War Resistance in the U.S.

category international | anti-war / imperialism | news report author Tuesday December 07, 2010 08:29author by Ciaron - Giueseppe Conlon House/ London Catholic Worker Report this post to the editors

They're on Trial for Us, We're on the Loose for Them!

Our friends
- Bill “Bix” Bichsel, S.J., of Tacoma, Washington;
- Susan Crane, of Baltimore MD;
- Lynne Greenwald, of Bremerton Washington;
- Steve Kelly, S.J., of Oakland , CA.;
- Anne Montgomery RSCJ,
are going to trial Dec 7th. in Washington state, USA. for a plowshares action on the Trident 1st. Strike Nuclear Weapon system.

* Dublin and Derry folks may recall Bill from his silodarity anntendance at Pitstop Ploughshares and raytheon 9 court appearances. Bill is in his '80's. He was ordained a Jesuit in Berlin before the wall went up! He has previously been imprissoned for nonviolent resistance tot the U.S. wars on Central America and the U.S. nuclear weapon sysetm. Bill is a member of the IWW and lives and works at a Catholic Worker in Tacoma, Washington.

Folks who have been to Palestine may have met Sr. Anne Montgomery who was based in Heborn for a number of years with the Christian Peacemaker Team. Anne is also in her '80's and was one of the original Plowshares 8 which acted against 1st. strike nuclear weapons at a General Electric factory.

Fr. Steve Kelly is also a Jesuit and has spent many years in jail for nonviolent anti-war resistance. He has spent a lot of time ion solidatary for nonviolent cnoncooperation with the prison system.

Susan Crane is a member of Jonah House community www.jonahhouse.org and a long time anti-war resister.

Lynne Greenwald is based in Washington state where the Trident 1st. strike nuclear submarine fleet is based.

*Find out more about them, Trident and their act of nonviolent disarmament on their website
http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/

*Check out this must see (5 1/2 min) youtube clip of Old-vs-navy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=...Qatco
Fr. Bill Bichsel, from Disarm Now Plowshares, talks with Seattle Times reporter Mark Rahner.

*And there is also a brand new "Video" page with the latest Disarm Now
videos! http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/videos/

********There will be a solidarity vigil outside the US embassy in London for the five plowshares activists going on trial on December 7th. 11am-1pm
Join Chris (BAe Ploughshares), Ciaron (ANZUS/ Jabiluka/ Pitsop Ploughshares), Dan (Trident Ploughshares) Sr. Susan (Riverside Ploughshares) and other good folks outside the U.S. Embassy
*More info Ph or text Ciaron 079 392 905 76

The 'Disarm Now' Plowshares

On November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, Fr. Bill Bichsel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Fr. Steve Kelly and Sr. Anne Montgomery were arrested at the Bangor Naval Base, the largest nuclear weapon storage area in the US. They had entered the base through the perimeter fence to call attention to the illegality and immorality of the first strike Trident nuclear weapons system. They made their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC) where they cut through two chain link fences and entered the area which holds the largest nuclear weapon stockpile in the United States.

As they walked they held a banner saying “Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident: Illegal and Immoral”. The Plowshares activists knew that they were in a shoot to kill zone, but they also remembered the many people who live in shoot to kill zones all the time because of US occupation of their country. The unarmed activists were detained, held face down, handcuffed and hooded for over three hours. They were carried out, still hooded, through the very holes in the fence that they had made.

The Disarm Now Plowshares activists were indicted by a Federal Grand Jury and have been charged with trespass, conspiracy, destruction of government property, and depredation of government property. The activists respond to these charges by saying that they were acting according to the moral law of their faith, and that they have a responsibility and duty under international law to disarm the nuclear weapons at the base. The five go on trial on Tuesday 7th December at US District Court, Tacoma, Washington

In solidarity with these brave folks there will be a vigil outside the US embassy on the first day of their trial, Tuesday 7th December, from 11am – 1pm, organised by ploughshare activists, Catholic Workers and friends – come along!

author by eyewitnesspublication date Sat Dec 18, 2010 07:50author address Washington state, USAauthor phone Report this post to the editors

More religious terrorists were convicted today of multiple felonies in the US. This cell of five desperadoes comprised two priests aged 81 and 60, an 84-year-old nun, and two women--66 and 60--with criminal records. These radical Christians call their cell the Disarm Now Plowshares and they cut security fences and hiked into the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington on 2 November 2009.

I've known four of them for a few years. Sr. Anne Montgomery, 84, is the senior member of this crime ring and has many felony convictions on her record, including all those accrued from eight Plowshares actions since the original one on 9 September 1980, when she and seven others went into the General Electric nuclear warhead factory in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where they took some of the warheads and hammered them (no, there were no radioactive nor explosive elements yet installed--none of the Plowshares actions has ever endangered anyone except those who wield hand tools to dismantle the weapons components). She has also taught children at some of the absolute worst schools in Harlem and has also spent lots of time walking Palestinian children to and from school in areas of illegal Israel settlements, where the settlers were pelting little children with stones. Anne has herself been injured doing this. It was certainly a brave and proud moment for the United States Marines who finally arrested the five elder activists. The first thing they did was to hood them. Yes, the mighty Marines hooded a then-83-year-old nun who must weigh all of 91 pounds.

ARRTCLE continued....
http://hastingsnonviolence.blogspot.com/2010/12/holy-te....html

author by Verdict - Plowsharespublication date Mon Dec 13, 2010 21:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

News Release
December 13, 2010
For Immediate Release
Jury Reaches Verdict in Disarm Now Plowshares Trial

Tacoma, Washington, Monday, December 13, 2010: The federal criminal
trial of five veteran peace activists that began December 7 ended
today after the jury found them guilty on all counts. The five
defendants, called the Disarm Now Plowshares, challenged the legality
and morality of the US storage and use of thermonuclear missiles by
Trident nuclear submarines at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside
Bremerton Washington.

In their defense the peace activists argued three points: the nuclear
missiles at Bangor are weapons of mass destruction; those weapons are
both illegal and immoral; and that all citizens have the right and
duty to try to stop international war crimes from being committed by
these weapons of mass destruction.

The five were charged with trespass, felony damage to federal
property, felony injury to property and felony conspiracy to damage
property. Each defendant faces possible sentences of up to ten years
in prison.

On trial were: Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New
York; Bill Bischel, SJ, 81, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma Washington;
Susan Crane, 67, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore,
Maryland; Lynne Greenwald, 60, a nurse from Bremerton Washington; and
Steve Kelly, SJ, 60, a Jesuit priest from Oakland California. Bill
Bischel and Lynne Greenwald are active members of the Ground Zero
Center for Nonviolent Action, a community resisting Trident nuclear
weapons since 1977.

The five admitted from the start that they cut through the chain link
fence surrounding the Navy base during the night of the Feast of All
Souls, November 2, 2009. They then walked undetected for hours nearly
four miles inside the base to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific
(SWFPAC). This top security area is where the Plowshares activists say
hundreds of nuclear missiles are stored in bunkers. There they cut
through two more barbed wire fences and went inside. They put up two
big banners which said "Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident Illegal and
Immoral," scattered sunflower seeds, and prayed until they were
arrested at dawn. Once arrested, the five were cuffed and hooded with
sand bags because the marine in charge testified "when we secure
prisoners anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan we hood them...so we did it
to them."

The eight Trident nuclear submarines home ported at Naval Base
Kitsap-Bangor each carry 24 Trident D-5 nuclear missiles. Each missile
carries up to eight warheads, each one having an explosive yield of up
to 475 kilotons, over 30 times the destructive force of the weapon
dropped on Hiroshima.

Additionally, Bangor is home to SWFPAC where nuclear warheads are
stored ready for deployment. Located just 20 miles west of Seattle,
it is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the
U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the 2,364 nuclear
warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S.
arsenal, more than the combined nuclear warheads than China, France,
Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan.

The jury heard testimony from peace activists who came from around the
world to challenge the use of Trident nuclear weapons by the U.S.
Angie Zelter, internationally known author and Trident Ploughshares
activist from the UK, testified about the resistance to Trident
weapons in Europe.

Stephen Leeper, Chair of the Peace Culture Foundation in Hiroshima,
told the jury, "the world is facing a critical moment" because of the
existence and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Though prohibited from
testifying about the details of the death, destruction, and genetic
damage to civilians from the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima, he
testified defendants "have a tremendous amount of support in
Hiroshima." When asked if he had encouraged the Disarm Now
Plowshares defendants in any way he said, “Yes, I told them, ‘Yes, do
anything you possibly can to bring this to the consciousness of the
world, because Americans more than any other people in the world are
unconscious of what’s going on.’ ”

Retired US Navy Captain Thomas Rogers, 31 years in the Navy, including
several years as Commander of a nuclear submarine during the Cold War,
said of Trident, "strategic nuclear weapons on submarines... are kept
on alert, deployed, and if ever used, they are released with a coded
message that's authenticated on board the ship, and the commander of
the ship shoots the missiles, delivers the weapons. Which, in my
opinion, in my knowledge, is contrary to the law of armed conflict
which says a commander is responsible for - - is responsible for
following the rules and principles of humanitarian law, and for not
indiscriminately hurting noncombatants and for not causing undue
suffering or environmental damage, and that commanding officer is
powerless, and it's an awful feeling.

The peace activists represented themselves with lawyers as stand by
counsel. Attorneys Anabel Dwyer and Bill Quigley also assisted the
defendants. 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.

Prosecutors said the government would neither confirm nor deny the
existence of nuclear weapons at the base, and argued that "whether of
not there are nuclear weapons there or not is irrelevant."
Prosecutors successfully objected to and excluded most of the defense
evidence about the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, the illegality
of nuclear weapons under U.S. treaty agreements and humanitarian law,
and the right of citizens to try to stop war crimes by their
government.

The Disarm Now Plowshares defendants tried to present evidence about
the presence of nuclear weapons at Bangor despite repeated objections.
At one point, Sr. Anne Montgomery challenged the prosecutors and the
court, "Why are we so afraid to discuss the fact that there are
nuclear weapons?"

There were many indications that the jury found it difficult to
convict the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants. Jury questions,facial
expressions, body language and post-trial conversations all gave this
impression. One of the jurors said that from what he could tell, no
one was ready to convict right away.

After the verdict was read and the Judge Settle was about to dismiss
the jury, Steve Kelly stood and announced that the defendants would
like to bless the jury. Steve and all of his co-defendants stood with
their hands raised in blessing as he said, "May you go in peace and
have a safe, happy holiday."

Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2011 at 9:00 am.

author by Day 1 Trial Report - Disarm Now Plowsharespublication date Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

News Release
December 7, 2010
For Immediate Release

December 7, 2010, Tacoma, Washington: Plowshares activists were in
court for the first day of their trial for entering a U.S. Navy
nuclear weapons storage depot.

The trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares five, who entered the U.S.
Navy's Strategic Weapons Facility (SWFPAC), Pacific on November 2,
2009 in a symbolic act intended to bring light to the immoral and
illegal nuclear weapons stored and deployed from there, began in U.S.
District Court today.

During the morning's jury selection there was an animated discussion.
The U.S. Attorney asked if considerations of the defendants health and
age, or the fact that they might be priest or nuns would hamper their
ability to render an impartial judgment.

Defendant Susan Crane started her voir dire questions by asking,
"Would you have convicted Rosa Parks?" One prospective juror answered
that she was not asked to judge the integrity of the law; it is not
like the movies or TV. Another answered, "I totally respect the rule
of law, but some laws are meant to be broken, and that is how laws are
changed. ... It is written: 'Thou shalt not kill, and it doesn't say
there are some conditions under which you would be able to kill.

Another prospective juror, who is herself a lawyer, called Parks
"courageous", and said she would feel "conflicted" if asked to come to
a verdict on her case. There are the facts of the case, she said, and
then "there are things in our society that are just wrong. It would
be very difficult for me."

Before the prospective jurors were seated, the defense had attempted
to counter the government's effort to limit their cross examination.
The defense asked the Judge to take judicial notice that nuclear
weapons are stored at SWFPAC and attempted to introduce documents
citing such evidence, but Judge Benjamin Settle stated the they had
not yet produced anything from the public record indicating that there
are nuclear weapons on the base. The defendants believe that the
presence of nuclear weapons at SWFPAC is central to their ability to
present any defense.

Opening statements began after the lunch recess. The U.S. Attorney
Arlen Storm's first words were, "This is a case about trespass and
damaging government property." The defendants have a different
perspective.

Susan Crane started off her opening statement by introducing the
defendants and all the humanitarian work they have done in Tacoma and
around the world. She then focused on the three central pillars of
their defense: the nuclear weapons at SWFPAC are horrendous; they are
illegal; it is our duty as citizens to resist them.

The jury listened attentively as Crane described the medical and
environmental effects of nuclear weapons. She tried to convey to the
jury that the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is a war
crime, and was interrupted as the prosecutor objected to the reference
to international law. Crane replied, "Alright, I'll go on, but it is
hard not to tell the truth."

In his opening statement, Father Bichsel's voice shook with emotion as
he described his experience in Japan hearing the stories of survivors
of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He said the
greatest gift he brought back from his visit was the commission to
"please get rid of these nuclear weapons."

Bichsel explained the Disarm Now Plowshares state of mind as they
entered SWFPAC, where lethal force is authorized. They went "in
solidarity with half the people in our world, who are living under
authorized lethal force - without food, without housing, without
education, without the possibility of employment. The things that
they live under - it's lethal force. And it's authorized, it's not
just happenstance that they are living that way. It doesn't have to
be that way, and we have the power to change it."

In his opening statement Bichsel also explained how the consciences of
Disarm Now Plowshares have been formed by the people they hope to call
as expert witnesses in the coming days: Steven Leeper, Chairman of the
Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation; Angie Zelter, Scottish Plowshares
activist and founder of Trident Ploughshares; Dr. David Hall, former
president of the Washington State chapter of Physicians for Social
Responsibility; and Retired Colonel Ann Wright, who resigned from the
State Department over the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.

On Wednesday morning the trial will continue as the government
presents its case.

Trial updates at http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/

Related Link: http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/
author by Images D7 vigilpublication date Wed Dec 08, 2010 09:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Images from D7 solidarity vigil at U.S. Embassy here

http://tinyurl.com/39dxmws

 
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