The trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares activists who entered a U.S. Navy Trident nuclear submarine base and nuclear weapons storage depot begins on December 7, 2009 at 9:00 AM at the Tacoma Courthouse, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.
Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, all face charges of Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation and Depredation of Government Property for their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action. They entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons storage depot at Bangor, Washington to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there, and expose the illegality of the government’s continued preparations for nuclear war. As co-defendant Susan Crane described their intention during a pre-trial hearing, “On Nov. 2, 2009, we remembered the words of the prophet Isaiah, who had a vision of beating swords into plowshares”…convert weapons of war into something useful for human life. It is our firm understanding that these Trident nuclear weapons are illegal under national and international law, as well as the teachings of our faith, and general humanitarian law and conscience.”
Notwithstanding the limitations already imposed on their defense by Judge Benjamin Settle, the five co-defendants are prepared to face trial in good conscience, and have distinguished, expert witnesses prepared to testify on their behalf. They include Scottish Trident activist Angie Zelter, Anabel Dwyer, Esq., an expert on international law relating to nuclear weapons, Retired Air Force Colonel Ann Wright, and Steven Leeper, Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.
Angie Zelter is a British nuclear disarmament activist, founder of Trident Ploughshares and winner of the 2001 Right Livelihood Award. Anabel Dwyer is an attorney and Board Member of The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP). She has studied, lectured, taught and written widely on public international law in particular human rights and humanitarian law (the laws of war) and nuclear weapons. Ret. Col. Ann Wright ,who served in the U.S. Army and Foreign Service, resigned on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a violation of international law. Most recently, she was on the May, 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli military. Steven Leeper is the first American (as well as the first non-Japanese) chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. He was recognized with the 2008 Academia Prize in International Exchange from the Academic Society of Japan for his leadership as the Chairman of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation in the initiatives of Mayors for Peace, the project to do 101 Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Exhibitions in the U.S., and other international exchange and cooperation projects.
The Disarm Now Plowshares trial is open to the public and, although courtroom seating is limited, people are invited to come and witness the trial proceedings. There will also be opportunities throughout the week to come together in community to support the Disarm Now co-defendants. Beginning on Monday, December 6th there will be a program each evening of the trial with food, fellowship, speakers and music, along with a trial update. Speakers will include each of the expert witnesses. Following is a summary of the week’s schedule:
Monday, Dec. 6 Festival of Hope at St. Leo Church, 710 South 13th Street, Tacoma. 5:30 PM: Potluck supper. 7:00 PM: Keynote Speaker, Scottish Trident Activist, Angie Zelter. Rev. Ann Hall, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action will also speak. Music by James Morgan and the Seattle Raging Grannies.
Tuesday, Dec. 7 Disarm Now Trial begins at 9:00 AM in U.S. District Court, Tacoma. Supporters will vigil in front of the courthouse from 8:00 AM until Noon. Expert witnesses will be present from 8:00 AM until 9:00 AM to speak to the assembly. 5:30 PM: dinner at St. Leo Church. 7:00 PM: Keynote Speaker, Retired Col. Ann Wright, along with Retired Navy Capt. Tom Rogers. Music by Christy and Steve Nebel.
Wednesday, Dec 8 Trial continues at 9:00. Dinner, 5:30 PM at Catholic Community Services Great Hall, 1323 S. Yakima, Tacoma. 7:00 PM: Keynote Speaker, Steven Leeper, Chairman, Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, and Dave Hall, M.D., of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Music by Holly Gwinn Graham and Tamara Power-Drutis.
Thursday, Dec. 9 Trial continues at 9:00 AM. Dinner, 6:00 PM at Catholic Community Services Great Hall. 7:00 PM: Anabel Dwyer, Esq., international law expert on nuclear weapons, speaks on the illegality of Trident. UW Tacoma Professor Michael Honey speaks about social change movements. Music by Michael Honey and Tacoma School of the Arts students.
Friday, Dec. 10 Trial continues at 9:00 AM. Potluck dinner at Catholic Community Services Great Hall., followed by an evening of debriefing, sharing, discussion and reflection about the trial.
The Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants invite all people of conscience to come out to the Tacoma Federal Courthouse to vigil and to join the evening events as we move through this time of trial.
The Disarm Now Plowshares trial comes at a time when our government not only continues to deploy and maintain its nuclear weapons in preparation for their use, but also is rebuilding its nuclear weapons research and production infrastructure, and is in the design stages for a new class of nuclear missile submarine. In addition to what is already being spent on the nation’s nuclear weapons and weapons complex, President Obama has promised an additional $80 billion over 10 years to “sustain and modernize the nuclear complex” (NY Times). He added another $4 billion over 5 years during negotiations with Senate Republicans to ratify the New START Treaty.
The message of Plowshares is clear: Nuclear weapons are an abomination, and under both national and international law Trident nuclear weapons are illegal. The Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants are steadfast on both moral and legal grounds that their actions on November 2, 2009 were legal, and hope they will be allowed to present their case to the jury. It is not the Plowshares co-defendants who should be on trial, but Trident.
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..
Thanks to St. Leo’s Parish, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Pax Christi Tahoma, WA Physicians for Social Responsibility, Dominican Sisters of Tacoma, the Jesuit Community at Bellarmine, the Tacoma Catholic Worker and many others for help with the evening programs.
If you would like to help with the potluck and other dinners, contact Jodi McConnell at (253) 756-1930. For hospitality needs (housing) if you are coming from out of tow, contact Sam Tower: (253) 272-0135.
Daily blog posts during the trial will be available at https://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/. Check the Disarm Now Plowshares “Events” page at https://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/events/ for up-to-date information on the weeks events.
Note: Trial Week Events flyer attached.
Contact: Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
16159 Clear Creek Road NW Poulsbo, WA 98370
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