News Release Archive - Nuclear

Pacifists Face Prison for Taking on U.S.’s Nuclear Weapons

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Three Catholic Worker activists are scheduled to be sentenced separately beginning Thursday morning at 10:00 and going into Friday for trespassing on a major U.S. nuclear weapons facility in Georgia. Instructions on how to listen to the hearings are here.

Last month, one of the co-defendents, Patrick O’Neill from North Carolina, was sentenced to 14 months.

The defendants are known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 for following the biblical edict to turn swords into plowshares. They include Martha Hennessy, the granddaughter of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Clare Grady of Ithaca, New York and Carmen Trotta of the New York Catholic Worker.

On April 4, 2018 — exactly 50 years after the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — the activists entered the massive Trident missile base at Kings Bay, Georgia. They spray painted “Abolish Nukes Now” and “Choose Life” and hammered on a monument to nuclear weapons at the base.

The group notes: “With the nation’s attention being drawn to Georgia and the pending runoffs to determine the majority in the U.S. Senate, three of the Kings Bay Plowshares defendants have arranged with the federal court in Brunswick, Georgia to appear virtually for sentencing this week. The disarmament activists have received little national attention since their action against the Trident submarine base more than two years ago while the stakes are much higher, our future existence and the very survival of our world as we know it. …

“On Oct. 24 the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was ratified by the 50th nation necessary for this international law to enter into force. This law making nuclear weapons illegal now takes effect on Jan. 22, 2021, a little more than 75 years after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” See IPA news release: “* Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Enters into Force * Religious Freedom?

Another of the seven activist, Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly, was sentenced to 33 months, time he had already served having been held in county jail since the action. He is now being transported to the West Coast by the U.S. Marshals for an earlier probation violation.

For more information, contact:

Ellen Barfield, ellene4pj@yahoo.com
Bill Ofenloch, billcpf@aol.com
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08@gmail.com

Also see: KingsBayPlowshares7.org and @kingsbayplow7.

Lebanon Explosion

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RANIA MASRI, [in Beirut], rania.z.masri at gmail.com, @rania_masri
Masri is a lecturer and political and social justice activist. She is an elected representative of the political party Citizens in a State, which seeks to end Lebanon’s sectarian political system. She just appeared on the program “Flashpoints” with Dennis Bernstein and was interviewed by the Afro-Middle East Centre, which is based in South Africa.

She said today: “We know that a port hangar containing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that was improperly stored six years ago was the cause of the large explosion on August 4, an explosion that has so far claimed more than 150 deaths, 5,000 wounded and missing, 300,000 families made homeless, and destruction in the $3 to 6 billion range. (For the record, Timothy McVeigh used 2.3 tons of ammonium nitrate in the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing.)

“This catastrophe was neither a natural disaster, nor an accident, nor an external act of terror. This explosion was caused by the criminal negligence of men — encouraged by a political system designed to build clients and not see citizens. There are many official reports that warned of the danger of keeping a similar amount of highly flammable ammonium nitrate stored in a manner that does not take into account public safety conditions, and despite this information, they did not move to disassemble the sleeping bomb before it exploded.

“The coalition of sectarian leaders was aware of this time bomb at the Beirut Port. This catastrophe comes on top of, not only the COVID pandemic, but also a financial and economic bankruptcy. They were also quite aware of the bankruptcy, particularly since they are responsible for it!

“Neither declaring public mourning, nor enforcing a state of emergency for Beirut, nor forming investigation committees (and most definitely not this humiliating farce of a foreign investigation committees) are the solution. The people responsible for this massacre are known. It is the authority of the coalition of leaders of the sects, and their agents and representatives in Parliament, the government, the judiciary, and the administration and the security.”

[Richard Silverstein of Tikun Olam has just published a piece quoting an anonymous Israeli official claiming “Israel Bombed Beirut.” Silverstein’s charge is noted by Gideon Levy in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in his more general piece “Israel is in shock, in a sickening show of hypocrisy.”]

Today, Sentencing for Pacifist Jailed for Protesting “Omnicidal” Weapons — Supported by Activist Thrown to Ground by Police

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Early Friday, IPA put out a news release “Barr Prosecuting Pacifists: Activists Face Prison for Action at Huge Nuclear Weapons Base” about the years-long prosecution and the sentencing of Plowshares activists, which begins Monday morning with the sentencing (by video conference) of Elizabeth McAlister, who founded Jonah House in Baltimore with her late husband Phil Berrigan.

The elderly man who Buffalo police shoved to the sidewalk and lay bleeding from his head has been identified as Martin Gugino.
Gugino is a long-time peace activist and recently made a series of video statements about the sentencing of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists who entered a major nuclear weapons facility on April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination to “nonviolently, symbolically disarm” the weapons there.

The support group for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 states that the Catholic Worker activists, after entering the nuclear weapons facility in Georgia “then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, ‘the ultimate logic of racism is genocide’ and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven waited to be arrested.”

One of them, Father Steven Kelly, remains in jail. Others, like McAlister, have spent over 17 months in jail prior to trial with little media attention and is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. ET Monday. The unusual sentencing will take place by video conferencing while she remains at home in Connecticut. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234.

The group reports that “Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 p.m. in Brunswick, Georgia.”

The other activists — Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Kelly — have asked for an adjournment “and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times specified yet. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there.”

In one of his videos supporting Mark Colville and other Plowshares activists, Gugino addresses the federal court in Brunswick, Georgia where Colville is awaiting sentencing in support. Gugino cites Martin Luther King’s belief that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Gugino added: “What he doesn’t say there, is that it doesn’t bend itself; we have to bend it. We have to go out into the culture and act justly, act morally, do good, and little by little it will bend the culture towards justice. And some of the time, the culture doesn’t want to be bent, and so there will be conflict, and that’s just part of it. And Martin Luther King knew very well the possibilities.”

A year ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the charges against the activists be dropped. Instead, at their trial in October, the prosecution and judge prevented the activists from mounting a series of defenses, including presenting a justification or necessity defense with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg testifying on their behalf — or invoking international law. The prosecution and judge even effectively kept the reality of the nuclear weapons at the base from the jury. The activists were convicted on October 24 to minimal major media coverage.

Interviews are available with:
MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761 at gmail.com, @amistadobrero
One of the seven Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. He used a hammer made from melted-down guns to smash parts of a shrine to nuclear weapons at the facility. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

More information and interviews with other Plowshares activists are available via the group’s extensive website and via the media team:

Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com, @kingsbayplow7
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com

Barr Prosecuting Pacifists: Activists Face Prison for Action at Huge Nuclear Weapons Base

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Mass on the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 home base porch, August 8th, 2019, Brunswick, Ga. | Courtesy of Bones Donovan

On April 4, 2018, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, seven activists — following the Biblical edict to “beat swords into plowshares” — used bolt cutters to enter one of the largest nuclear weapons bases in the world at the Kings Bay Trident submarine base in Georgia.

On Monday, the first of the defendants, Elizabeth McAlister, a long time peace activist who founded Jonah House in Baltimore with her late husband Phil Berrigan, is scheduled to be sentenced. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234.

The support group for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 states that the Catholic Worker activists, after entering the nuclear weapons facility “then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, ‘the ultimate logic of racism is genocide’ and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven waited to be arrested.”

A year ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other Nobel Prize winners wrote to Attorney General William Barr asking the charges against the activists be dropped. Instead, at their trial in October, the prosecution and judge prevented the activists from mounting a series of defenses, including presenting a justification or necessity defense with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg testifying on their behalf — or invoking international law. The prosecution and judge even effectively kept the reality of the nuclear weapons at the base from the jury. The activists were convicted on October 24.

The group states that the defendants “asked for home confinement during this time of COVID-19, as entering prison could be a death sentence. Their request was denied by the prosecution. Elizabeth McAlister, at 80 years old, the eldest of the KBP7 defendants, was notified that her court date was changed from May 28 to June 8. She is to be sentenced by video while she stays at her home in Connecticut. McAlister will probably not face additional prison time because she served over 17 months before trial.

“Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 p.m. in Brunswick, Georgia.

“Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. (who has been detained in jails in Camden County and Glynn County for more than 25 months) also asked for an adjournment and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times specified yet. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there. …

“As they wait for sentencing, each of the defendants and their families continue to serve as their communities’ human needs grow exponentially during this COVID-19 pandemic. The defendants call for the release of people in prisons, in federal and state prisons, county and city jails, especially the elderly, the infirm and all non-violent offenders.”

Interviews are available with:

MARK COLVILLE, markcolville9761 at gmail.com
One of the seven Plowshares activists, Colville is co-founder of the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven with his wife Luz Catarineau. In late December, the New Haven Register wrote: “For their sustained, compassionate approach to building and supporting their community and for their lived opposition to war and violence, the Colvilles are the New Haven Register’s Persons of the Year.”

More information and interviews with other Plowshares activists are available via the group’s extensive website and via the media team:

Bill Ofenloch, billcpf at aol.com, @kingsbayplow7
Mary Anne Grady Flores, gradyflores08 at gmail.com