Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Ready For Arraignment

The plowshares activists who entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot in Washington State in November 2009 are ready for their upcoming arraignment.

After waiting for over 10 months the five Disarm Now Plowshares defendants, who were only recently indicted by a grand jury for their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific (SWFPAC), are ready to go to court for their arraignment. They will be arraigned on Friday, October 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM in courtroom F before Judge Karen L. Strombom at the U.S. District Courthouse in Tacoma, Washington.

Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, of Redwood City, California, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, 82, of Tacoma, Washington, Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore, Maryland, Lynne M. Greenwald, 61, of Tacoma, Washington, and Steve Kelly,SJ. 61, of Oakland, California, each face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the government’s charges of “conspiracy, trespass, destruction of property on a naval installation, and depredation of government property.” The charges were handed down by a grand jury in early September 2010, ten months after their November 2009 Plowshares action.

The defendants entered Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the early morning hours of November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, with the intention of calling attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident weapons system. During the action they held a banner saying…“Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral”, left a trail of blood, hammered on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC) and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They gained entry to the secure nuclear weapons storage facility known as Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific (SWFPAC) where they were detained, and after extensive questioning by base security, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), cited for trespass and destruction of government property, given ban and bar letters and released.

Many individuals and organizations have sent messages in support of the Disarm Now defendants.

Dr. David Hall

Dr. David Hall, Physicians for Social Responsibility

Dr. David Hall, past president, Washington state chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility, said of the Disarm Now Plowshares action that, “the challenge of US nuclear weaponry for me is the challenge of knowing we Americans can and will obliterate whole cities, literally millions of innocent lives, if we so choose. Our Trident fleet of nuclear-armed submarines places every city in the world at risk of annihilation within 15 to 30 minutes of our designated leaders giving the command. We must imagine this horror so we can prevent it. People like Bix, Lynne, Susan, Steve and Ann of the Disarm Now plowshares group that entered the Trident submarine base on Hood Canal last November showed the courage and moral clarity to put their lives on the line to break the silence about these weapons of mass destruction. All of us who cherish life and the possibility of worldwide cooperative security owe them immense appreciation for their faithful witness to a future built on love instead of mass murder.”

Thomas Rogers, Captain, USN (Retired) talks with Joe Anderson from Gonzaga Univ.

Thomas Rogers, Captain, USN (Retired) issued a strong statement of support of the Disarm Now Plowshares action saying, “The time for our country to move away from a national security policy based on nuclear weapons is long overdue. Nuclear deterrence became obsolete when the Cold War ended nearly 20 years ago, yet our government continues to rely on this dangerous, expensive, barbaric strategy. I applaud the courage and commitment of the Plowshares Activists in bringing national attention to this most important issue.” Rogers, a former submarine commander, retired in 1998 after a 31 year career. He is currently active in the anti-nuclear weapons movement with the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, WA.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu supports plowshares activists.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu wrote a support letter saying, “We know that nations need teachers, schools, books, drinking water, productive farm land, food and shelter. We do not need weapons of war, and we do not need nuclear weapons which threaten to destroy all of God’s creation.” Tutu went on to say that, “If we are to believe the words of our faith, “to love our enemies”, then we must begin to disarm our nuclear weapons. If we believe that every life is sacred, that every person is a child of God, then we cannot bomb their villages and cities with nuclear warheads. The Plowshares movement, a movement of people who take responsibility for the nuclear weapons of their country, and who believe that disarmament is the way to abolish nuclear weapons, is a light in the darkness of the war making around us.”

All five Disarm Now defendants are prepared to face the judge and justify their actions based on both moral and legal reasoning, and welcome the opportunity to speak on their own behalf during the arraignment.

Supporters will join the Disarm Now defendants on the day of the arraignment to walk with them from the Tacoma Catholic Worker to the courthouse. They will then hold a vigil and prayer service in front of the courthouse (located at 1717 Pacific Avenue) in preparation for the arraignment.

There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, “God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people. And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations, nor will they train for war anymore.”

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.

The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million. The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.

Leonard Eiger, the contact for this release, can be reached at
subversivepeacemaking@comcast.net  or 425-445-2190
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