Drones on trial

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WA: Week of Sentencing! March 26th for the Disarm Now Plowshares

From: Disarm Now Plowshares

Week of Sentencing!

Here is the most current schedule of events leading up to and including the sentencing of the Disarm Now Plowshares. Please note that changes might occur, and we will keep this schedule updated, so check back on the day of each event for any last minute changes.

Please also note that you can still write letters of support on behalf of the Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants. Go to the “Support Us” page to learn more. Thanks!

SATURDAY MARCH 26 – 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Vigil at the US Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main (Trident Ave.) Gate.

SUNDAY MARCH 27 – 10:30 a.m. MASS AT ST. LEO CHURCH, 710 South 13th St., Tacoma, Fr. Pat Lee, SJ, Oregon Provincial

SUNDAY MARCH 27 – 5:30 p.m. FESTIVAL OF HOPE AT ST. LEO CHURCH, Potluck Dinner, Music by St. Leo’s Choir, Mooncoyne, Native American Drummers. Speakers include BISHOP THOMAS J. GUMBLETON– longtime peace activist and founding member of Pax Christi.

MONDAY MARCH 28 – 9:00 a.m. SENTENCING for all five Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants begins at the U.S. District (Union Station) Courthouse, Tacoma. 8:00 a.m. Vigil in front of the Union Station Courthouse in support of Disarm Now Plowshares. Come out and support them!

Click here for directions and parking information for the Tacoma Union Station Courthouse.

Post Sentencing Gathering to be determined.

For more information and/or if you need hospitality, please call Bix at 253-304-6612.

For housing, contact Karen at karenh@harbornet.com or call her at 253-627-0486.

‘Creech 14’ found guilty of trespassing, judge says ‘go in peace’

By Dave Toplikar
Las Vegas Sun

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011, Creech Air Force Base

A Las Vegas judge on Thursday handed down a decision that got a mixed reaction from protesters of drone warfare who were arrested for trespassing nearly two years ago at Creech Air Force Base in Southern Nevada.

Judge William Jansen, in a 20-page decision, ruled that the “Creech 14” who protested April 9, 2009, at the base, were guilty of the crime of trespassing.

But the judge also decided that the defendants, who stood trial for the misdemeanor offense last September in his courtroom, would be given credit for the time they served in jail and would be free to go.

“Go in peace,” were Jansen’s final words to the defendants after an hour-long court proceeding this morning in Las Vegas Justice Court.

The judge also urged them to use diplomacy, rather than trespassing, in their attempts to get U.S. drone warfare policy changed.

There was some scattered applause in the crowded courtroom upon hearing the defendants wouldn’t get jail time — but the defendants weren’t pleased about the judge’s guilty verdict.

The protesters had argued there was “necessity” that compelled them to act. As someone might trespass onto private property to save a child from a burning building, they said they were trying to stop drone warfare from killing civilians thousands of miles away in Afghanistan.

However, in his conclusion, Jansen said that “Defendants’ motivation for why they committed the offense is irrelevant and does not constitute a defense to the charge. Moreover, defendants are unable to show that their conduct was compelled by true ‘necessity’ as that doctricne has been defined by various courts.”

Before handing down sentences, the judge allowed each of the defendants to make statements. Each of those who spoke said they disagreed that what they were doing wasn’t out of necessity.

Those found guilty of the misdemeanor charge are the Rev. John Dear, a Jesuit priest; Dennis DuVall; Renee Espeland; Judy Homanich; Kathy Kelly; the Rev. Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest; Mariah Klusmire; Brad Lyttle; Libby Pappalardo; Sister Megan Rice, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus; Brian Terrell; Eve Tetaz; and the Revs. Louie Vitale and Jerry Zawada, both Franscican priests.

The Judge Will DECIDE!

January 27, 2011
 

The Creech 14 were arrested in April 2009, the State of Nevada prosecuted the case on September 14th 2010. The judge recognized the social justice significance and decided to withhold judgement for at least 90 days. 
Come hear his announcement with the Creech 14 at the Regional Justice Center, 200 Lewis Ave., Las Vegas, (8th Floor).

That will coincidentally be the 60th anniversary of nuclear testing at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS–formerly the NTS/NPG).

January 27 from 7:30 to 8:15am: Pre-verdict rally @ Lewis St and 3rd (outside Regional Justice Center). This rally/vigil happens just prior to the court hearing in which Hon. William Jansen will pronounce his verdict–4 months and 13 days after the trial ended.

January 27 from 3:00 to 5:00pm: Public Vigil @ Las Vegas Blvd at Tropicana on pedestrian overpasses

January 28 from 6:30 to 8:00am & 3:30 to 5:00pm: Vigils at Creech Air Force Base in opposition to remote-controlled “hunter-killer drones” from Indian Springs.

January 29 from 11am to 1pm: Prayerful Memorial Observance of the 60th Anniversary of 1st Nuclear Bomb Test in NV. This event is @ the entrance to the Nevada National Security Site (formerly called the Nevada Test Site)–Mercury exit of US-95, 65 miles northwest of Vegas. The actual anniversary is January 27th, but our Memorial Observance is January 29th.

Jury for Tacoma Trident Peace Activists Still Out


Thanks to Disarm Now Plowshares for sharing this article from the Huffington Post

By Bill Quigley, Dec. 10, 2010

The federal criminal trial of five veteran peace activists facing several charges was recessed until Monday after their jury announced late Friday they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on one of the counts. The Tacoma Washington trial has been going on since Tuesday. 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.

The peace activists argued three points: the missiles are weapons of mass destruction; the weapons are both illegal and immoral; and that all citizens have the right to try to stop international war crimes being committed by these weapons of mass destruction. “It is not a crime to reveal a crime,” they argued. Supporters from around the world packed the main courtroom every day of the trial. Numerous others followed the trial in an overflow court room.

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

On trial are: Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New York; Fr. Bill Bischel, 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 Fr. Steve Kelly, 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 All Souls, November 2, 2009. They then walked undetected for hours nearly four miles inside the base to their target, the Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific. This top security area is where 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.”

Eight Trident nuclear submarines have their home port at the Kitsap-Bangor base. Each Trident submarine has 24 nuclear missiles on it. Each one of the missiles has multiple warheads in it and each warhead has many times the destructive power of the weapon used on Hiroshima. One fully loaded Trident submarine carries 192 warheads, each designed to explode with the power of 475 kilotons of TNT force. If detonated at ground level each would blow out a crater nearly half a mile wide and several hundred feet deep. In addition to the missiles on the submarines, the base has an extensive bunker area where more missiles are stored. That storage area is the Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific. That is where the activists made their stand for disarmament.

The trial brought peace activists from around the world to challenge the US use of the Trident nuclear weapons. Angie Zelter, internationally known author and 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.” Retired US Navy Captain Thomas Rogers, 31 years in the Navy, including several years as Commander of a nuclear submarine, told the court he thought the US possession of nuclear weapons after the Cold War was illegal and immoral. When asked how these weapons would impact civilians, he responded “it is really hard to detonate a 475 kiloton nuclear device without killing civilians.” Dr. David Hall of Physicians for Social Responsibility testified about the humanitarian core beliefs of the defendants. And Professor and author Michael Honey told the jury about the importance of nonviolent direct action in bringing about social change.

Prosecutors said the government would neither admit nor deny the existence of nuclear weapons at the base and argued that “whether or 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 US treaty agreements and humanitarian law, and the right of citizens to try to stop war crimes by their government.

The peace activists, who represented themselves with lawyers as stand by counsel, tried to present evidence about nuclear weapons 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?”
The government testified that it took about five hours to patch the holes in the fences and most of the day to replace the alarm system around the nuclear weapons storage area.

The twelve person jury reported it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on all counts and the judge sent them home for the weekend.

The extensive peace community gathered at the courthouse supported the defendants and rejoiced that the jury was taking the defendants and the charges seriously. Supporters promised to continue to protest against the Trident and its weapons of mass destruction. They echoed the words of one of prospective jurors who was excluded from the trial because, when asked whether he would follow the instructions of the judge in this case, said “I totally respect the rule of law, but some laws are meant to be broken, that is how things change.”
Jury deliberations will resume Monday.

For more information on the trial and the peace activists please see the site for Disarm Now Plowshares http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/ or Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action .

Note: for photos made by the government, taken after the action was over and the participants had been arrested, see here.

Los Alamos pretrial hearing of the LANL-8

NEWS RELEASE
Contact Trinity Nuclear Abolition (TNA): 505 242-0497
22 October 2010

7 NUCLEAR PROTESTERS PLEAD “NOT GUILTY”
1 PLEADS “NO CONTEST”

  LOS ALAMOS, NM  Seven nuclear abolitionists, arrested for trespass
last August as they sat in front of the locked gate of a plutonium
processing facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), will
plead their case to a jury picked from residents of Los Alamos, New
Mexico, where The Bomb was born.

At a pretrial hearing October 21 in Los Alamos Magistrates Court,
Magistrate Pat Casados set a trial date of Tuesday, February 8, 2011
for seven of the eight people arrested last August 6, the 65th
anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Defendant Elias Kohn, a
student at the University of Southern California, pleaded “no contest”
and was sentenced to 60 days probation and fined $500.

  The seven proceeding to trail are Jeff Freitas and Jason Ahmadi
(from California); David Coney and Bryan Martin (from Boise, Idaho);
Sister Megan Rice (from Las Vegas, Nevada); Lisa Fithian (from Austin,
Texas) & Jack Cohen-Joppa (from Tucson, Arizona).

  The LANL-8 were part of a group of over 100 activists who held a
colorful demonstration in the streets of Los Alamos on the 65th
anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Their march
lead onto LANL property for a ceremony in front of the Chemistry
Metallurgy Research (CMR) building on Diamond Drive, where critical
plutonium engineering for nuclear weapons goes on. Eight people
entered the security gate and sat down peacefully. LANL then asked
local police to arrest the eight activists for alleged “trespassing”.

Police were told by demonstrators that the true crime at hand was
continued nuclear weapons production, and the people had assembled to
stop it. Police chose to arrest the eight, who were booked at the jail
and released later that evening. 24-year old Think Outside The Bomb
participant Bryan Martin said, “What I learned this Summer in Chimayo,
New Mexico has led me into dedication as I have begun to realize just
how much there is to overcome to create a positive change in the
world.”

   Because the Department of Energy (DoE) is spending billions of
dollars on a CMR Replacement (a plutonium pit facility to continue the
work of the Manhattan Project) many peace activists came from around
the U.S. to Los Alamos to pray and act for peace on August 6th.  The
resisters know that plans to continue developing new nuclear weapons
are a crime against existing international and humanitarian law. They
contend that the Nuremberg Principles oblige all civilians to act to
prevent known criminal activity. In so doing, they went to the older
CMR building to prevent pro-nuclear work there.

“Our action is necessitated by a delay of 65 years in ending the continual
manufacture of nuclear weapons,” said 80-year old defendant Sr. Megan
Rice. “The original Manhattan Project scientists recognized (but
failed to convince the world) that continuing the nuclear weapons
project was intrinsically evil.”