News Release

Rev. Tutu Among Luminaries Backing Activists Facing 25 Years for Nuclear Weapons Action

A host of luminaries, including Nobel Peace Prize laureates Rev. Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Jody Williams, have released a joint statement/petition backing a groups of activists — the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 — who “nonviolently and symbolically disarmed the Trident nuclear submarine base at Kings Bay, Georgia.”

The action took place on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — a year ago Thursday.

The nonviolent activists — several of whom have been behind bars for the past year, including Elizabeth McAlister, the widow of Phil Berrigan — are facing decades in jail. Other plowshares activists, and people in the support network, are now available for interviews, see below. Their trial is expected to start in the coming weeks.

Other signers of the statement include noted critics of U.S. foreign policy Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers and recently wrote the book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.

[The group’s supporters in a news release on Wednesday give critical background and note that NATO, which is this week being celebrated in Washington, D.C. (with its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg addressing a joint meeting of Congress today), overwhelmingly opposes the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is supported in the statement.]

Here is the petition, with a listing of the initial signers, which is now open for all to sign:

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) are facing a federal trial and a 25-year prison term for having confronted a system in which nuclear weapons that can destroy all creation are accepted as a normal, even inevitable, part of life.

This threat, and the lack of public outrage over it, compelled seven principled activists (Elizabeth McAlister, Stephen Kelly S.J., Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Mark Colville, and Carmen Trotta) to enter Naval Station Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia on the 50th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Kings Bay is homeport to six U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear weapons, many of which have up to 30 times the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. Following the Prophet Isaiah’s Biblical command to “beat swords into plowshares” (Is. 2:4), the seven were also acting legally to uphold anti-nuclear treaties as the supreme law of the land according to the U.S. Constitution, international law manifested in the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg principles. By their actions at Kings Bay, they sought to draw attention to the urgency of withdrawing consent and dismantling what Dr. King called the “triple evils” of racism, excessive materialism, and militarism. The KBP7’s action statement reads: “Nuclear weapons eviscerate the rule of law, enforce white supremacy, perpetuate endless war and environmental destruction, and ensure impunity for all manner of crimes against humanity. Dr. King said, ‘The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.’ We say, ‘The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide. A just and peaceful world is possible when we join prayers with action. Swords into Plowshares!’”

We who share the moral vision of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 proclaim our support for their courage and sustained sacrifice and call for the immediate dismissal of all charges against them. The defendants invite us to act creatively. They invite us to join global coalitions working to promote governments’ adherence to, and full implementation of, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. They also invite us to participate in campaigns for divestment from nuclear weapons as complementary efforts towards the realization of a world free of nuclear weapons.

Three of the Plowshares activists are still behind bars: Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., Elizabeth McAlister, and Mark Colville (Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Conn.) have been in a rural county jail in Georgia since their arrest last year.

Four of the defendants are out of jail on bail, bond and GPS monitors, and are available for interviews. They are Clare Grady (daughter of John Grady, Camden 28), Ithaca Catholic Worker, N.Y.; Martha Hennessy (granddaughter of co-founder of the Catholic Worker, Dorothy Day) of Vermont; Patrick O’Neill of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, N.C.; and Carmen Trotta of the New York City Catholic Worker.

For interviews, contact:
Mary Anne Grady Flores, in Ithaca, N.Y., gradyflores08 at gmail.com, @kingsbayplow7
Bill Ofenloch, in NYC, billcpf at aol.com