Light in the Darkness

Greetings Friends,

Our dear Disarm Now Plowshares people continue to do the various works to which they are moved. Lynne continues her work at Irma Gary House at the Tacoma Catholic Worker. Bix stirs the pot from his operations base at Jean’s House of Prayer just across the alley from Irma Gary. This coming weekend he will hold a shared Easter Eucharist at one of the Bangor Trident submarine base’s gates. Steve is a tough one to nail down; he moves as the Spirit moves him, and it moves him far and wide. There was a recent Stevo sighting at Jean’s House. Susan continues her work at the Redwood City Catholic Worker.

Speaking of Susan, she recently developed a website for the RC Catholic Worker. Today I came across a beautiful story (in the April 2014 Redwood City Catholic Worker Newsletter) written by Larry Purcell about someone who found light in the darkness when she came to the RC Catholic Worker for help. Click here to read the story and check out their website.

food distribution at RC Catholic Worker

food distribution at RC Catholic Worker

The Disarm Now Plowshares was a deep, spirit-led, courageous action that is now a piece of history, and a very important piece of history it is!  Bix, Lynne, Steve and Susan continue to be bright beacons as they do God’s work in the world. Their individual and collective works bring light to a world desperately in need of it.

And of course, we remember that great beacon Anne Montgomery.

May each of us light our candles from theirs and continue to spread light throughout the world.

In Peace,

Leonard

Transform Now Plowshares: A Trumpet Call to All of Us

by William “Bix” Bichsel

On July 28, 2012, Sr. Megan Rice, shcj, 84yrs, Michael Walli, 64yrs, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59yrs hiked a ridge and cut through four fences to reach the new U.S. storehouse for Highly Enriched Uranium, which is needed for the production of thermonuclear weapons. These weapons, used to threaten other nations, are in violation of the U.S. Principles of Nuremberg (U.S. Law), in which citizens are directed to resist illegal acts by their government. The refurbishing of the weapons is in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which the U.S. pledges complete nuclear disarmament.

(l to r): Michael, Megan and Greg (art by The Washington Post)

(l to r): Michael, Megan and Greg (art by The Washington Post)

They name their lawful act of resistance: Transform Now Plowshares Action, following Isaiah’s injunction, “They shall hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” With faith in following the non-violent Jesus, they poured their blood, painted words of justice and hammered on the walls of the HEU Building.

They were convicted of sabotage (threatening the security of the U.S.) and depredation of government property and were sent directly into jail as terrorists to await sentencing (which took place ten months later). They were charged with $52,000 of damage- mostly to the fences. One of the attendees of the trial drew a parallel, “Would anyone let fences surrounding Auschwitz stand? Much less should we let fences guarding nuclear weapons stand.”

Sr. Megan Rice was given 35 months imprisonment, both Michael and Greg were given 62 months. Jack and Felice Cohen-Joppa, editors of the “Nuclear Resister” stated: “As the Hibakusha (survivors of the terror from Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings)”; so do Megan, Michael and Greg offer their lives to prevent similar massacre.

Ralph Hutchinson, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, stated: “Though their bodies are in prison, their voices are free reminding us that the central issue of this action and trial have not been resolved- as long as the government continues to produce thermal nuclear weapons of mass-destruction in Oak Ridge or anywhere, people are required to resist.”

Lynne Greenwald of the ‘Disarm Now Plowshares Action’ (DNPA) at Bangor in 2009 reminds us that the day of this sentencing is the same day, Feb 18th, as the sentencing to death (by guillotine) of Sophie Scholl, her brother Hans, and six other members of the White Rose Resistance to Nazi Germany’s fascism in 1943 and also the day in 1985 when Lynne and six activists carrying white roses sat on the tracks leading into the Bangor Naval Base blocking the white train carrying nuclear weapons into the base.

Sr. Megan Rice who has spent her life living among and teaching the urban poor of our country and Western Africa, while also resisting U.S. militarism for the last 25 years, when questioned by Judge Thapars: “Do you have any regrets?”, responded: “Only for not starting 70 years earlier.”

` Greg Boertje-Obed has been most faithful in his quiet powerful witness against all weapons through many selfless actions of resistance. He has been separated from his wife and daughter for ten years.

Michael Walli is a Vietnam Vet who received a bronze star. After the service his life changed to caring for the homeless and marginalized people in a number of our cities. At the sentencing he asked Judge Thapar to look at his face and see the face of the future~ the many who will follow in resistance.

Fr. Steve Kelly, sj, another member DNPA (Nov-2009) said that the judge’s sentence gave great help to the U.S. in its efforts to categorize peace activists and whistle blowers as terrorists. The guilty verdict is meant to instill fear in the citizens. In contrast to this, Jesus says to Megan, Michael, and Greg: “Be Not Afraid.”

Fr. Bill Bichsel, sj, also of DNPA says that the possibility of redress of grievances, from any of our branches of government, is blocked. The heroic action and subsequent sentencing of the three is a trumpet call to all of us.

“YOU CAN JAIL THE RESISTERS BUT NOT THE RESISTANCE.”

Yesterday’s sentencing of Greg, Megan and Michael, the three members of Transform Now Plowshares, was the culmination of the government’s collusion with the Nuclear Industrial Complex.  It is collusion in the sense that the government is breaking many laws, including international humanitarian law, in its continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the courts cannot help but see and uphold established precedents, including the Nuremberg Principles. Supposed justice was “blind” to the wrong things in this case, and essentially every other case of this kind.

There is no lack of irony in the timing of yesterday’s sentencing. Seventy-one years ago on February 18, 1943 Sophie Scholl and other members of The White Rose were arrested at the University of Munich for dropping leaflets protesting the evils of the Third Reich.  Click here for an article on this piece of history.  Sophie, her brother, and the other members of The White Rose clearly understood the consequences of their actions, should they be caught.

tnp three sentenced

Greg, Megan and Michael also understood the probable consequences of their actions, and took their action with joyful hearts and fully prepared to accept those consequences. Judge Thapar gave all three significant prison time – Megan 35 months, and Greg and Michael each received 62-month sentences.  The judge’s intention by giving such long prison terms was to dissuade others to engage in such actions and instead to pursue “legal” means.

Of course, those of us pursuing nuclear abolition clearly understand the futility of legal means, which we have all tried over and over. As Felice and Jack of The Nuclear Resister said in a recent post about the Transform Now Plowshares sentencing: “YOU CAN JAIL THE RESISTERS BUT NOT THE RESISTANCE.”

Our thoughts and prayers go out to our brothers and sister in resistance on the next stage of their journey.

 

Sentence postponed for Transform Now Plowshares

Thanks to Patrick O’Neill, who writes for National Catholic Reporter, for this TNP sentencing update.
Sentence postponed for Transform Now Plowshares

Patrick O’Neill | Jan. 28, 2014, in NCR Online (ncronline.org)

KNOXVILLE, TENN. A late-afternoon snowfall that blanketed the South led to the postponement of the sentencing of three Catholic anti-nuclear activists in federal court on Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Amul R. Thapar issued a continuance in the case of Sr. Megan Rice, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli when he was told the courthouse would be closing at 2:30 p.m. because of the snowfall. The case, which involves more than a half-dozen lawyers, was reset for Feb. 18.

The three, who call themselves the Transform Now Plowshares, are facing long prison sentences for sabotage following their July 28, 2012, break-in at Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. They were convicted May 8, 2012, of “injuring the national defense” and depredation of government property, charges that carry up to 30 years in prison. Federal guidelines in the case call for the three to receive from five to nine years in prison.

In Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, which was witnessed by more than 100 supporters of the group, defense lawyers argued that Thapar should “downwardly depart” from the sentencing guidelines suggested by the federal prosecutor.

Thapar also agreed with the government’s contention that the defendants were responsible for making restitution to the government of $52,557.

The judge disagreed with defense contentions that the defendants were entitled to leniency because they had accepted responsibility for their actions. Federal prosecutor Jeffrey E. Theodore argued that the defendants were not entitled to departure from the guidelines because, “They have never admitted to criminal conduct.” The Plowshares activists, who take their name from Isaiah 2:4 (“They shall beat their swords into plowshares; their spears into pruning hooks. One nation will not lift sword against another, nor shall they train for war anymore”) have claimed they were following international law when they gained access to the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, which contains a stockpile of weapons-grade uranium. Once inside the facility, the three chipped the building’s structure with hammers and sprayed “biblical graffiti” before lighting candles and awaiting arrest.

“The critical point is contrition, and I don’t think any of the defendants are contrite about what they did,” the judge said. “The defendants will not be given acceptance of responsibility.”

Thapar also denied the defendants’ claim that they deserved leniency because they believed their “criminal acts” at Y-12 “were committed to prevent a perceived greater harm” (the possible use of nuclear weapons). Thapar said, “I understand that the defendants perceived a greater harm, but I think the United States has a different point of view.”
The judge still will hear arguments for departure based on the argument that the case includes “special or unusual circumstances.” Toward that end, the defense called four character witnesses, each of whom praised the defendants as committed peace activists who were led to nonviolent direct action out of their love for creation and humanity.

In her testimony, Yale professor and author Mary Evelyn Tucker, a longtime family friend of Rice, said, “It is clear that Megan is a person of high moral principles with a profound Christian commitment to alleviate suffering and advance the cause of peace.”

Catholic Worker Kathy Boylan, who lives with Walli at the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., testified that “Michael Walli is trying to save our lives; your life, Judge Thapar; your life, Mr. Theodore. Listen to him.”

Witness Wilfred “Andy” Anderson called for the release of the three, calling them “terrific” and “decent, warm-hearted human beings” who did not “present a danger to society.”

The Society of the Holy Child Jesus, Rice’s religious order, is also calling on Thapar to be lenient. “We’ve been hoping and praying for either a suspended sentence or a lenient sentence, especially because of (Sr. Megan’s) age,” Sr. Sandra Lincoln, who was representing the society at the hearing, told NCR. Rice turns 84 on Friday. “She has a heart condition and over 50 years of service in our community.”

Boertje-Obed’s wife, Michelle Naar-Obed, told NCR the judge wasn’t in charge of the outcome. “I know it’s the Holy Spirit who’s in charge here,” she said.

[Patrick O'Neill, a freelance writer from Raleigh, N.C., is a longtime contributor to NCR.]

Source URL: http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/sentence-postponed-transform-now-plowshares

Disarm Now Plowshares Blog 2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 57,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 21 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Bix and Susan (and Friends) on trial AGAIN!

Dear Friends,

Just a brief note to let you know that Bix and Susan, along with five fellow resisters, will stand trial today in Federal court for their nonviolent direct action at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base on March 4, 2013.  You can get more details about the March 4th action and read a report on today’s trial (later today) at the Pacific Life Community Blog.

Last night we celebrated with our friends and resisters at a Festival of Hope at St. Leo Church in Tacoma.  Here is a photo of the blessing of the resisters.

IMG_1679

 

Appearing in court later today – William “Bix” Bicshel, SJ; Susan Crane; Ed Ehmke, Betsy Lamb; Denny Moore; Mary Jane Parrine and Jerry Zawada, OFM.

Blessings and Peace,

Leonard

 

Bix invites Pope Francis to Jeju Island

Bix and Gilberto are nearing the end of their stay on Jeju Island.  Here is a photo showing them in solidarity with the people of Jeju, in opposition to the construction of the naval base there.

Bix & Gliberto on Jeju (1)

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