Ardeth Platte’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement

“I REFUSE TO BE SILENT”

Sister Jackie Hudson, Order of Preachers, was the next peacemaker scheduled for sentencing, next Monday morning at 9:30. Her life was given on August 3rd, 2011, her testimony complete, and it resounds loudly and clearly, remaining with us and we are grateful. Jackie, presente!

Magistrate Guyton, we have been taught, have learned and believe that:
In these courts, justice should be rendered.

In these courts, prosecution for broken laws and policies regarding cancer-causing radioactivity that poisons soil, water, animal and human life should be enforced.

In these courts, killing and threats to kill should be on trial.

In these courts “Deterrence” – intentional threats to kill massively (i.e. triggers cocked at targeted nations) should be listed on trial dockets as criminal.

In these state and federal courts Y 12 (along with Los Alamos and Kansas City Nuclear Complexes) producing and processing uranium, plutonium, materials and parts for nuclear weapons should be prosecuted as crimes.

Prosecutors, you have chosen instead to prosecute the Y 12 thirteen. Your “in limine” motion to silence us at trial about applicable Constitutional, Humanitarian, Customary, International laws and treaties substantiating our action and motivation stripped us of our defense.

The probation officers chose to list for you some of my nonviolent, symbolic, direct actions of civil resistance that were designated points because of arbitrary arrests and incarcerations. However, they too have eliminated the moral and legal ways and means of my teaching and preaching truth about war and weapons, nor have they recorded the reasons why I refuse to be silent.

So before sentencing I want to tell you more of my story. Note that it is violence, injustice and killing that move me to actions. I believe that nuclear weapons are the taproot of all violence and must be abolished. Poverty and deprivation kill too. Domestic and foreign violence, injury to air, soil and water kills, massive killing in war with conventional bombs and threats of actual use of nuclear weapons – all are immoral, illegal and criminal.

So I refuse to be silent.

My stance is the same as my religious community of Dominican Sisters, my intentional community of Jonah House and my Roman Catholic Church. It is the same position taken by international law professors and lawyers (like Charles Moxley who testified before you), the World Court, Global Zero, Nobel Peace Laureates, many Admirals and Generals, political leaders, scientists, organizations and millions of people throughout the world.

We each in our own way refuse to be silent!

At four years of age, I/We in kindergarten were ordered to duck and cover. Our families were ordered to extinguish all lights for blackouts in the entire city. In those early years we were all incorporated under the cloak of fear to participate in war.

At nine years of age my country obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as you know, killing hundreds of thousands of people – innocent women, men and children with “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. (Years later I have had the privilege of being with and speaking at forums with the Hibakusha who plead for a nuclear-free world also.) The pictures of their land and burnt dead make me weep.

At thirteen years of age my brother was accidently shot while deer hunting. What I recall was the sight of the open leg wound and its difficult healing process. It stirred in me images and awareness of the maiming and killing in warfare.
In the early 50’s I entered college and then the Dominican Sisters Community, preparing for a vowed life and teaching ministry. Scripture, theology, social documents of the Church, secular studies, the life and charism of Dominic, our founder – an itinerant preacher of truth, along with many Dominican saints formed me and deepened my conscience.

Affected by and study of a nonviolent/loving God, a nonviolent Jesus, giving his life rather than taking another’s life, all people made to the image of God, one family of sisters and brothers in the world, to become a Beatitude people, love God and neighbor as self, do good to those who persecute you, forgive seventy times seven, hammer swords into plowshares –all of these words/concepts took root in me. I would never be the same because sacred life and creation became most meaningful.

I found my voice, must speak out, must speak truth!

In the 60’s and 70’s, during the years of my educational ministries, the “isms” became evident, focused and clearer to me. Racism was prevalent so it was right and good to be part of the nonviolent civil rights movement. Farmworkers were oppressed, so many of us joined boycotts and marches with Cesar Chavez and workers. Sexism and classism reflected the subjugation of women and the poorest and my heart and eyes were opened to the need for education, empowerment and organized efforts. For in each of these movements for justice, I saw democracy in action and had to join it; it was the way to bring about systemic change through legal, political and direct action.

I refused to be silent then and now!

Assigned to an Upward Bound program at our college as an administrative assistant and to an inner city high school as principal brought me face to face with killing. It was the time of turmoil, riots and sniping in the streets of the cities. At the same time war was escalating and raging in Vietnam. Militarism had a devastating effect on domestic budgetary needs: education, food, shelter, health care. African Americans, Hispanics, and people made poor challenged me to walk by faith’s talk about preferential option with the poorest. Some of our grads were coming back in body bags and some of our students and family members were killed on the city’s war-zoned streets.

We opened an Educational Center to drop outs, expellees and adults to offer some hope and self-determination sessions during a dark time. I participated in moratorium marches within the city and also in Washington DC. My own conversion kept deepening.

My voice was not silent!

War is not peace. Basic human necessities are intended as a right for all of God’s people. Hundreds of thousands of us were part of the demonstrations…and the Vietnam War ended. But nuclear weapons continued to be built. Each President, except Ford, threatened to use them, from Truman to the present as weapons of mass destruction have become more and more powerful.

We continued organizing – teaching conscientious objection, joining thousands at the UN Disarmament Conference in New York City in 1978 and a million of us in 1982. Nearly 1800 were arrested at the five nuclear weapon nation’s Embassies. In 1979 I was invited to the White House with other religious leaders to examine the SALT treaty. As a City Councilwoman I attended “Women for the Prevention of Nuclear War” with Rosalyn Carter, Ellen Goodman, Coretta Scott King, Joanne Woodward and numerous women leaders from every walk of life. As Mayor Pro Tem of the city I voted at our California Conference with Mayors for Peace for a Nuclear Freeze. Upon return from these urgent events our Michigan Coalition developed, gained signatures, and placed on the November 1982 ballot an Initiative banning nuclear weapons from our state. It passed by a 56% vote of the people.

However, the federal government and Dept of Defense defied the will of the people of Michigan by deploying and storing hundreds of nuclear cruise missiles for B52’s at two Strategic Air Command (SAC) Bases in 1983 and 1984. For the next twelve years, we prayed, studied, organized, marched, demonstrated, lobbied and did legal, political, and direct actions until every nuclear weapon was removed (1995) from our state, which is a wonderland with fresh water lakes surrounding it. At the same time we did all we could do to gain funds and commitment to cleanup the serious contamination which we believe caused cancer rates to escalate in the area.

I and others refused to be silent!

{As an interesting sideline, all of my arrests at these bases were for trespass. In the city I served for years, the police were facing a hostage situation – a veteran had collected a stash of guns and was holding his wife hostage. The police requested me to come to defuse the situation, so the man could be seized and given the mental health care that he needed. There was no question about my trespassing to stop a possible killing. I did so and it was successful. It is exactly what we attempt to do each time we enter a nuclear site – to save lives and stop the hostage-taking of other nations.}

During the 1980’s and 1990’s under the tutelage of lawyers, we learned the laws of the United States applicable to nuclear weapons, war and our own nonviolent actions. These experts: Francis Boyle, Kary Love, Bill Durand, Richard Faulk, Bill Quigley, Peter Weiss, Bob Aldridge, Ved Nanda, Lawyers for Prevention of Nuclear War, Anabel Dwyer, etc. by their writings and testifying through the years substantiate the illegality and crimes of governments and corporations and our duty and responsibility to stop them.

A Coalition of Michigan peacemakers and lawyers led by Anabel Dwyer developed the Nuremberg Campaign. Atty. Dwyer attended the sessions at the Hague regarding the International Court of Justice report and opinion of nuclear weapons being illegal in threatening to use or ever using them. The Campaign included depositions, laws, procedures to be taken to stop the SAC Base from illegal action. The briefs were submitted to the Attorney General, two federal District Attorneys and two county prosecutors. Day by day we offered leaflets at the SAC Base to teach Air Force personnel that they must disobey any command (according to their Field Manuals) to threaten use or to launch nuclear weapons.

I refuse to be silent!

Lawyers who are experts in Law continue to teach us the pertinence of the Constitution, Geneva, Hague, UN Charter, Nuremberg Principles, Poison Earth Treaty, World Court Decision, the Non Proliferation Treaty – “with its obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects, under strict and effective international control.”

Nuclear weapons inflict indiscriminate and uncontrollable mass destruction, violate fundamental rules and principles of humanitarian law and threaten the existence of life itself.

I/We were informed that the replacement upgrades in targeting capability of Trident D-5 missiles, W76 and W88 series are breaches of Article VI of the NPT and signed agreements, therefore, the ongoing production at Y12 Oak Ridge must be halted and total disarmament take place.

I refuse to be silent and joined in issuing the proclamation on July 5, 2010.

So I ask you now:
Is it or is it not the duty to stop crimes?
Is it legal to defy treaties?
Is it legal to kill civilians?
Is it legal to bomb counties at which no war has been declared? to torture?
Is it legal to threaten with nuclear weapons?
Is it legal to occupy countries and establish 1000 military bases on ¾ of the world’s countries?
Is it legal for the U.S. to divide the world into Command Centers, controlling independent Continents?
Is it legal to allow or cause people to starve and be malnourished here and abroad?
Is it legal to sign treaties to total nuclear disarmament and not fulfill them? If it is legal, it is certainly not moral. My commitment has been and is to put my mind, body, spirit and voice on lines to stop war, weapons, and killing. I oppose all killing – by the pen, by guns, by conventional and nuclear weapons. I refuse to be silent about personal, societal, state and national murder. I refuse to be silent regarding the lies told, the resources stolen, the crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The universe, Earth, creation and creatures are sacred, too magnificent to be destroyed.

You may wonder why I’m taking time to add the above material to the record and my rap sheet. No doubt you have probably decided my sentence before I spoke. I wanted you to know my convictions and passion and what has led me to do what I do…not only civil resistance and the promise to give my life for justice and peace. I want to invite you to be agents of change.

My question is – where are the courts and judges. Will any of you be agents for change as were the courts in abolishing slavery, child labor, gaining civil rights, women’s voting, unionization, and other laws galore that had to be upheld and interpreted. It is an urgent time, a kairos moment, a key time in history – wherein abolition of nuclear weapons is law. Let all of us go home to feed the poor and serve God’s people! Never again bring to court nonviolent civil resisters at Y12. Cases dismissed. Join the movement to stop weapons, war and killing! Prosecutors – bring forth the cases of contamination and radiation. Stop nuclear weapons and prosecute those breaking the law. As Jackie would say, “Let’s all take another step outside our comfort zone.” I trust and hope you will be the persons that will someday do it.

Sentencing Statement by
Sister Ardeth Platte, O.P.
September 16, 2011 for Y12 Action

3 Responses

  1. […] First of all, God has no shape or form – therefore no image of God can exist. However He can take any shape or form and often times we mistake that image of God with God, then we start fighting each other over who is right. Anyway… all is how it should be. Here you find some images you can use as representations of God that are in no way accurate. On the same subject: https://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/ardeth-plattes-y-12-sentencing-statement/ […]

  2. […] TN for sentencing for another non-violent action at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge TN. Sister Ardeth Platte’s Y-12 Sentencing Statement Sister Carol Gilbert’s Y-12 Sentencing […]

  3. How do I reach Ardeth, Does anyone have an email? Is she back in Baltimore?

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