Petition for sr. Megan Rice

Sixteen years in prison is not enough? Sister Megan Rice and her friends, all peace activists, already face 16 years in prison if convicted for a nonviolent peace action. Sister Megan, Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli went to Oak Ridge, Tennesse, to say NO to nuclear holocaust. Instead of dropping charges, the US Attorney General and the Department of Justice are considering two additional charges against this 82-year-old nun and two U.S. veterans, both sabotage charges. One carries 20 years and the other 30 years in prison. With the new charges, the defendants would face a maximum of 65 years in prison. This is the equivalent of a death sentence.

Megan, Greg, and Michael called their action “Transform Now Plowshares,” and brought nothing more dangerous than flashlights, binoculars, bolt cutters, bread, flowers, a Bible, and household hammers to Oak Ridge. They hammered on the walls of a storage facility to symbolize the disarming and abolition of nuclear weapons. The real danger to society is not this nun and two veterans, but instead the facility they want to transform. This unconstitutional facility holds enough weapons grade uranium to make more than 10,000 nuclear weapons, far more than what scientists say is needed to destroy life on earth.

Please join in this petition to the Attorney General of the United States asking him to refuse to authorize additional charges: 16 years in prison for revealing the criminality and insecurity of nuclear weapons production smacks of killing the messenger for the failings of the king.

For more see here.
To contribute to this work for nuclear disarmament, click here.
To sign the petition: here.

More on the case: Woe to the empire of blood, part II and part III.

From A Pinch of Salt.

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Sister Jackie Hudson – Presente

From: Disarm Now Plowshares:
Aug 3rd 2011

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you that Sister Jackie Hudson passed away early this morning in Washington State.  Sr. Jackie died at around 7:30 am Pacific time.

After services in Washington her remains will be flown to Grand Rapids where a funeral Mass and the gift of her life will be celebrated.

We will have more details as soon as they are available.

Sisters Kay O’Neil and Michelle Meyers from Minnesota said, ”Surely Jackie never leaves us from her home in the communion of saints…  We write with tears, love, and prayers of gratitude for her magnificent life. She continues to comfort and challenge us in death. May all who lived and worked with Jackie be held in tender love.”

As Liz McAllister said this morning, “Let us keep Jackie, her family, friends and community in our thoughts as we join our prayers with hers for a world at peace… and may more of us grow into her spirit.”
Deep Peace amidst such Deep Sorrow,

Leonard

See also: Jackie Hudson: A Peacemaking Road Well Walked 

A memorial will be held for Jackie Hudson on Saturday, August 13th at 1:30 pm at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Road, Poulsbo, Washington.

Prison for Peacemakers in Tacoma, Washington

From Common Dreams, please also follow the blog http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/ for updates!

Two Grandmothers, Two Priests and a Nun Go onto a Nuclear Base

by Bill Quigley

Two grandmothers, two priests and a nun were sentenced in federal court in Tacoma, WA Monday March 28, 2011, for confronting hundreds of US nuclear weapons stockpiled for use by the deadly Trident submarines.

Sentenced were: Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New York, who was ordered to serve 2 months in federal prison and 4 months electronic home confinement; Fr. Bill Bischel, 81, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma Washington, ordered to serve 3 months in prison and 6 months electronic home confinement; Susan Crane, 67, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore, Maryland, ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison; Lynne Greenwald, 60, a nurse from Bremerton Washington, ordered to serve 6 months in federal prison; and Fr. Steve Kelly, 60, a Jesuit priest from Oakland California, ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison. They were also ordered to pay $5300 each and serve an additional year in supervised probation. Bischel and Greenwald are active members of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a community resisting Trident nuclear weapons since 1977.

What did they do?

In the darkness of All Souls night, November 2, 2009, the five quietly cut through a chain link perimeter fence topped with barbed wire.

Carefully stepping through the hole in the fence, they entered into the Kitsap-Bangor Navy Base outside of Tacoma Washington – home to hundreds of nuclear warheads used in the eight Trident submarines based there.

Walking undetected through the heavily guarded base for hours, they covered nearly four miles before they came to where the nuclear missiles are stored.

The storage area was lit up by floodlights. Dozens of small gray bunkers – about the size of double car garages – were ringed by two more chain link fences topped with taut barbed wire.

USE OF DEADLY FORCE AUTHORIZED one sign boldly proclaimed. Another said WARNING RESTRICTED AREA and was decorated with skull and crossbones.

This was it – the heart of the US Trident Pacific nuclear weapon program. Nuclear weapons were stored in the bunkers inside the double fence line.

Wire cutters cut through these fences as well. There they unfurled hand painted banners which said “Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident Illegal and Immoral”, knelt to pray and waited to be arrested as dawn broke.

What were they protesting against?

Each of the eight Trident submarines has 24 nuclear missiles on it. The Ground Zero community explains that each of the 24 missiles on one submarine have multiple warheads in it and each warhead has thirty 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.

The bunker area where they were arrested is where the extra missiles are stored.

In December 2010, the five went on trial before a jury in federal court in Tacoma charged with felony damage to government property, conspiracy and trespass.

But before the trial began the court told the defendants what they could and could not do in court. Evidence of the medical consequences of nuclear weapons? Not allowed. Evidence that first strike nuclear weapons are illegal under US and international law? Not allowed. Evidence that there were massive international nonviolent action campaigns against Trident missiles where juries acquitted protestors? Not allowed. The defense of necessity where violating a small law, like breaking down a door, is allowed where the actions are taken to prevent a greater harm, like saving a child trapped in a burning building? Not allowed.

Most of the jurors appeared baffled when defendants admitted what they did in their opening statements. They remained baffled when questions about nuclear weapons were objected to by the prosecutor and excluded by the court. The court and the prosecutor repeatedly focused the jury on their position that this was a trial about a fence. Defendants tried valiantly to point to the elephant in the room – the hundreds of nuclear weapons.

Each defendant gave an opening and closing statement explaining, as much as they were allowed, why they risked deadly force to expose the US nuclear arsenal.

Sojourner Truth was discussed as were Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

The resistance of the defendants was in the spirit of the civil rights movement, the labor movement, the suffragist movement, the abolition of slavery movement.

Crowds packed the courtroom each of the five days of trial. Each night there was a potluck and a discussion of nuclear weapons by medical, legal and international experts who came for the trial but who were largely muted by the prosecution and the court.

While the jury held out over the weekend, ultimately, the activists were convicted.

Hundreds packed the courthouse today supporting the defendants. The judge acknowledged the good work of each defendant, admitted that prison was unlikely to deter them from further actions, but said he was bound to uphold the law otherwise anarchy would break out and take down society.

The prosecutors asked the judge to send all the defendants to federal prison plus three years supervised probation plus pay over five thousand dollars. The specific jail time asked for ranged from 3 years for Fr. Kelly, 30 months for Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, 7 months in jail plus 7 months home confinement, Sr. Anne Montgomery and Fr. Bill Bichsel, 6 months jail plus 6 months home confinement.

Each of the defendants went right into prison from the courtroom as the spectators sang to them. Outside the courthouse, other activists pledged to confront the Trident in whatever way is necessary to stop the illegal and immoral weapons of mass destruction.

————–

Bill Quigley is part of the legal team supporting the defendants and was in Tacoma for the sentencing. You can learn more about the defendants at disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com.


Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Contact Bill at quigley77 @ gmail.com

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.

Bangor protestors face prison with no regrets

http://www.nwcn.com/v/?i=113825804

From King 5:

by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

Posted on January 15, 2011 at 5:51 PM
Updated yesterday at 6:05 PM 

POULSBO, Wash. – At the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Saturday there was a celebration of what Martin Luther King Junior stood for, and a celebration of the Bangor 5.

Eighty-four-year old Anne Montgomery is the oldest of the “Disarm Now Plowshares,” convicted in December of breaking into the Kitsap Bangor Naval Base outside of Bremerton.

Now in their golden years, they face 10 years in federal prison with no regrets.
“We take responsibility, we don’t walk away, and prison comes out of that,” said Montgomery.

For decades they stood outside of the base – protesting the storage of nuclear weapons. But two years ago, they cut through barbed wire and onto the base.
The five were charged with trespassing and destroying property.
“We have a responsibility and we’re grateful we had that opportunity to speak out the atrocities that exist on the other side of the fence here,” said Lynne Greenwald.

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.

Washington State: On the Eve of the Trial…

From our friends at: Disarm Now Plowshares.
We wish them much good luck and we hold them in our prayers…

On the Eve of the Trial…

Posted on December 7, 2010 by Disarm Now Plowshares

Friends,

It is late Monday evening, and I am sitting in the living room of Jean’s House of Prayer writing this post while others huddle over their laptop computers preparing for tomorrow’s trial.

On the eve of the Disarm Now Plowshares trial people came together at St. Leo Church in Tacoma to break bread, join together in fellowship and celebrate Plowshares. Following a bountiful potluck supper, the Seattle Raging Grannies serenaded us with timeless classics like “Take Me Out of the Bomb Game.” James Morgan engaged the crowd in a sing-along to “The Ballad of Disarm Now Plowshares,” along with other music throughout the evening.

Fr. John Fuchs, SJ, opened the formal program with a moment of silence in honor of Philip Berrigan, who died on this day 8 years ago.

Before introducing the evening’s keynote speaker, Angie Zelter, the Rev. Anne Hall of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action shared the colorful history of Plowshares actions at Bangor. The Disarm Now Plowshares are the third group of Plowshares activists to have made their way to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific, and none of them had it easy.

The first time was in 1979 when James Douglass and others slogged across Sub Base Bangor after notifying the Navy ahead of time; it still took the Navy 12 hours to find them. Six months later on January 5, 1980, Douglass and others trudged through the snow towards SWFPAC again. This time they did not notify the Navy ahead of time, and only after Shelley Douglass got worried after not hearing from Jim after 20 hours and called the Navy did they find them (after they had been on the base a total of 24 hours. The Navy wanted to minimize publicity, and only charged them with trespassing; they spent 6 months in jail.

Scottish Trident activist, and founder of Trident Plowshares (among many other things) Angie Zelter then spoke to us of “The Importance of Civil Resistance.” I will do my best to share highlights of her rich presentation.

Angie applauded the action of Disarm Now Plowshares as “creating the changes needed in your society to enable it to pass beyond war and injustice, control and dominance,” and she reminded us that “we are colleagues in the same struggle for justice and peace.” As for the trial, Angie said that the actions of Disarm Now provide an opportunity for our court system to recognize and stop the grievous crimes being committed by our own government “and to strengthen the rule of law.” She also recognized that the courts may “not act fairly and rise to the challenge,” in which case it will be on their conscience.

In stating the case for strong engagement by civil society Angie said, “I believe that the law is a powerful tool that, if respected and used with integrity, can deliver nuclear disarmament. However, as we know to our cost, powerful nations tend to act above the law and to abuse power, which is why there is a need for a strong civil society to keep track and pressure governments and law courts to uphold international law. This has been difficult as there is a great deal of official and public cynicism about law in general and international law in particular, epitomised by views that the law serves the powerful in society, does not look after the interests of the poor or weak, and is the law of the victors over the vanquished.”

Angie spoke of how international law is becoming more widely recognized in the United Kingdom in cases involving anti-nuclear activists, but cautioned that they ” still find prosecuting lawyers and some judges expressing impatience and strong disapproval of ordinary citizens ‘meddling’ in the law, and a belief that ‘amateurs’ should not try to ‘uphold’ the law or ‘take the law into their own hands’. We are told not to get involved, that it is up to the government, or the police, or the military, or some other institution, to deal with crimes against peace or war crimes. But we all know that we cannot rely upon these institutions to make the changes we need – we have to act ourselves, as responsible global citizens, and be involved in people’s disarmament.”

Because the legal systems in both our countries have been corrupted and therefore work to prevent defendants from presenting full legal arguments, we must use the jury system to our advantage in order “to uncover the illegalities and criminalities of possessing and threatening to use nuclear weapons and to demand a proper reckoning. We have to expose the hypocrisy of our countries expecting others to obey international law while refusing to obey it themselves.” Of course, given the limitations generally placed on the defense it is difficult but not impossible to be able to speak to the jury. Angie reminds us that we must use “creative ways of making sure that the jury are informed.”

Back to the importance of civil society: “Civil society acts in the belief that the strength and wisdom of a society lies with its people and that we get the governments and legal systems that we allow. We believe we are not completely powerless but are responsible individuals. Thus, rather than staying silent when we see gross crimes being committed in our names, we act. Knowing that the deployment of weapons of mass destruction destroys our humanity and breaks the fundamental principles of humanitarian law, we take the spirit of the law seriously and call our institutions to account. We become part of the forces creating the evolution of our society, we help shape the law and ensure its implementation.”

In speaking of the process of correcting the courts’ previous errors of judgement and upholding the rule of law Angie said ,

Actions like the Disarm Now Ploughshares action are part of this whole process of social transformation that takes much longer than we would all wish but which is nevertheless having its effect. You face a much tougher challenge than we do as you are more often refused the chance to present the evidence of the effects of nuclear weapons on people and the environment. This is because it is clear that if this evidence were given to an impartial jury it would be obvious that these weapons break all the rules and there would be a good chance of an acquittal. Over the coming days we will no doubt witness the lengths to which the Tacoma court will go to stop the truth from getting out. It is our responsibility to make sure that nevertheless we take it out to a wider public by writing articles and talking about it, doing whatever we can. And I hope that the coming trial will inspire you all to continue the nonviolent civil resistance.

I believe that our citizens’ campaigns must carry on using international law to de-legitimise nuclear weapons and to legitimise our own nonviolent actions and to do this in highly public and confrontational ways so it cannot be ignored. We have to do this whilst keeping the moral arguments to the fore as well, by emphasising the links between morality and law.

As she neared the end of her presentation, Angie quoted Judge Weeramantry of the International Court of Justice who stated that,

Every citizen has an obligation to use his or her influence to prevent crimes against humanity …….. Indeed anti-nuclear civil resistance is the right of every citizen of this planet for the nuclear threat, attacking as it does every core concept of human rights, calls for urgent and universal action for its prevention. If it is a basic human right to be free of threat or violence, if the right to life is a basic human right, and if the protection of children and future generations is a basic human duty, international law must unhesitatingly recognise that the right to nonviolent resistance activities, for the prevention of such an international crime is basic to human dignity.

Angie finished by reiterating our responsibility as citizens of the world to act:

It is clear …… that there is an increasing need in the modern world …….. for citizens to take a greater interest in international law and in the way their government fulfils its obligation in this regard. This is increasingly a matter for the citizenry of the world and if they do not rise to their obligations in this respect, future generations will pay dearly for this inaction.”

So you see the law is on our side. Humanity is on our side. The vast majority of countries in the world want nuclear disarmament and are on our side. Eventually if we keep our fragile candle of hope and love and nonviolent resistance alight we will get nuclear disarmament. I wish you all strength and hope for the coming days.

As the Disarm Now Plowshares prepare to begin their trial tomorrow morning may each of us light a candle of hope for them, and may we also pledge to call on our government to uphold its obligations under international laws and to speak out as citizens of the world and say “NOT IN OUR NAME!”

Peace,
Leonard