News Release

“Kangaroo Court” “Railroading” Noted Peace Activists

The trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 enters its third day today in Brunswick, Georgia.

These activists have spent varying amount of time in jail for having entered a major nuclear facility to nonviolently “symbolically disarm” the massive nuclear arsenal stationed there.

Prosecution witnesses on Tuesday refused to “either confirm or deny” the existence of nuclear weapons on the base.

The defendants face decades in prison if convicted. The judge has indicated she wants to finish the trial Wednesday or Thursday.

See Wednesday morning report from the Intercepted podcast: “Omnicidal Tendencies. Also see report by “Democracy Now”: “Kings Bay Plowshares 7: Trial Begins for Liz McAlister & Others for Breaking Into Nuke Sub Base.”

See reporting from the court room from the Ithaca Voice and by Linda Pentz Gunter in the British Morning Star.

Howard Zinn testified in a similar Plowshares case in 1985 and related the action to a tradition in the U.S. of civil resistance. See video.

But in this case, the judge has restricted expert testimony and prevented a defense based on religious freedom.

See Sam Husseini’s report “Catholic Activists Stand Trial for Protesting Nuclear Weapons” in The NationDaniel Ellsberg “has filed an affidavit with the court arguing that the defendants were justified in their actions because they are attempting to prevent ‘omnicide, the collateral murder of nearly every human on earth in a war in which the nuclear missiles aboard Trident submarines were launched.’

“But decisions of the judge have largely shut the door to the jury hearing anything about such defenses of ‘justification’ or ‘necessity.’ On Friday, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia prohibited a whole series of defenses — including the testimony of international lawyer Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, on the illegality of U.S. nuclear policy — writing that while the defendants’ ‘subjective beliefs about the illegality of nuclear weapons may be relevant background information, whether nuclear weapons are actually illegal under international or domestic law…is not relevant or an appropriate issue to litigate in this case.”

The prosecution in excruciating detail showed pictures of the actions of the protesters. Husseini posted pictures of the actions, which include spray painting statements on a monument to nuclear missiles on the base and spilling their own blood on the emblem of the facility.

The defendants left a copy of Ellsberg’s latest book — The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner — at the base. It was not among the items the prosecution offered for evidence, although they did discuss Kind bar wrappings the defendants had apparently brought onto the base.

Available for interviews:

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Boyle’s books include Destroying World Order. He also submitted declarations to the court which the judge is preventing the jury from knowing about. “This is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp and a railroad all put together,” said Boyle.

ART LAFFIN, artlaffin at hotmail.com
Laffin is member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker community in Washington, D.C. He is also editor of the two-volume work Swords into Plowshares, which has a forward by the late Father Daniel Berrigan. He gave a talk Tuesday night at a nearby church on the history of the Plowshares movement, see audio here and here.

These activists — all Catholic Workers — are: Father Steve Kelly, who is still in prison, Elizabeth McAlister (who is the widow of Phillip Berrigan), Martha Hennessy (the granddaughter of Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day), Mark Colville of the Amisdat House New Haven, Clare Grady of the community in Ithaca New York, who made the first of the defendants opening statements, Patrick O’Neill of the community in Garner, N.C., and Carmen Trotta of the New York community.

For interviews with the Plowshares activists and other information, contact:
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com
Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com
Ellen Barfield, ellene4pj at yahoo.com

[Note: electronic equipment is not allowed in the court room, so defendants and others there may be slow in responding to electronic communications.]