Judge Guyton, before I begin my prepared statement I want to apologize for how I look and hope my mind is operating because the last 31 hours have been hectic. We were awakened at 2 am and left Ocilla at 4:30 am with the officer driving 80 -90 miles an hour plus about half of the trip texting. I don’t know what the law is in TN or GA but in MD and in MI that is illegal. You might not think I am a very law and order person but my friends would tell you I am. We arrived about 11:30 am and were given a very nice lunch by the marshals. We then sat in the holding cell for most of the afternoon and then taken for processing. We arrived in our cells at 10:30 pm and were taken out again at 5 am for court. The jail also ran out of combs to give us. So, I apologize to you.
One of the charisms of my Dominican religious order is “to give to others the fruits of your contemplation.”
These past 131 days I have contemplated what if anything I would say to this court.
Four clarifications need to be made:
1.) We do not choose jail. Anyone who has ever been in jail, prison, or even a lock-up would never choose it. We do choose non-violent direct action. We do choose civil resistance enough to risk arrest and incarceration. We do choose to try and uphold Article 6 of the United States Constitution (the supremacy clause) which was not allowed in this courtroom. We do choose life over death. But, we do not choose jail.
2.) I chose not to testify at trial because of your order which would silence my truth. Your order spoke of lack of “imminence”. I believe that every human being and all species are my brothers and sisters. These last 131 days have only strengthened for me how imminent our action was.
The United States cannot at one, refurbish and upgrade nuclear warheads at Y-12 Oak Ridge for deployment, threat or use and abide in good-faith by promises to adhere to humanitarian law, the laws of war limiting the use of force and our obligation in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Criminal Code and I understand the U.S. Military Code.
We met women both in Blount County Detention Center, Maryville, TN and Irwin County Detention Center, Ocilla, GA
who had friends, relatives, spouses or themselves that worked or lived near Y-12. We heard stories of cancers, deaths, class action suits, loss of jobs due to contamination, money awards, environmental contamination and radiated deer. We heard from peacemakers where on 279 out of 365 days last year, the water leaving the Y-12 facility was contaminated beyond safe drinking water levels. This speaks to me of imminence!
3.) This court has no understanding of the difference between civil disobedience and civil resistance. Civil disobedience means breaking a specific law. One example from our history is the African-American population who broke the racist Jim Crow municipal ordinances by sitting at lunch counters legally prohibited from serving them. Civil resistance is upholding the laws. The necessity defense and Nuremburg principals say that citizens have a responsibility and a duty to resist illegal government crimes.
In many countries around the world and sometimes in this country people are acquitted for these non-violent actions. Our Y-12 action on July 5, 2010 was an act of civil resistance.
4.) I want to explain why Sister Ardeth Platte and I chose not to comply with supervised release after trial. We had been on ten months of strict supervised release which we followed to the letter of the law.
When we appeared here in July of 2010 you gave us permission to go to our motherhouse in MI for meetings. Usually, we have been on unsupervised release where we just signed a paper promising to return to court and not break any laws. So, when we got to Baltimore the papers did not read we could travel outside of MD. We did finally get approval after many phone calls. Then in October we had a college student group and we wanted to take them to a trial in VA for a Pentagon peace action. When I called the probation department the officer said he would need to call TN. He called back a few hours later and said if it was up to him he would give permission but after talking to TN he could not say yes. We could not participate in any demonstrations, vigils, rallies, prayer services, even our local death penalty vigil all of which were legal and First Amendment rights. Another hardship was parking when we had to visit the probation office as the costs were at least $8 and sometimes as high as $18 which were prohibitive for us. We could not work with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community on Faith and Resistance Retreats held three times a year in D.C. We also knew that after the guilty verdict we would need to return to TN for PSI reports and sentencing and it seemed better to begin serving the time.
These 131 days most of which were spent in a “for profit, private jail” (and that is a whole other story) taught me again how we treat the poorest in this country-the throw aways:
pain clinics, addictions, trauma, conspiracy laws, no trials, plea bargains, mandatory minimums, over-crowded federal and state prisons and lack of medical care – you know what happened to our Sister Jackie, may she rest in peace, and hers is one of many stories I could share.
I want to close with a story about our Sister Jackie Hudson. When Jackie was giving a presentation she always ended by asking people “to take one step outside of their comfort zone.
Each of the warheads prepared or refurbished at Y-12 is known and intended to threaten or inflict vast, indiscriminate and uncontrollable heat, blast and radiation. Life as we know it would cease.
After ten months of strict supervised release and 131 days in jails we come before this court as drops of water…drops of water that over time can wear away the stone.
And so Judge Guyton, prosecutors, U.S. Marshalls, court workers and friends, I stand before you today, in the memory of our Sister Jackie, who was to be sentenced in this courtroom on Monday, September 19th and say, “Let’s all take one step outside of our comfort zone.” Jackie Hudson, Order of Preachers, PRESENTE!
September 16, 2011 –Knoxville TN
Carol Gilbert, OP
(Y-12 Action July 5, 2010)