“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.

 

Abolish Nuclear Weapons: Choose Life!

Editor’s Note: This is an article I was asked to write for St. Patrick Church, Seattle.  It was recently published in the Summer 2013 Roots of Justice, the parish Social Justice Newsletter.  Click here for the PDF reprint.

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Abolish Nuclear Weapons: Choose Life

by Leonard Eiger

“In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all – whether those governments which openly or secretly possess nuclear arms, or those planning to acquire them – agree to change their course by clear and firm decision and strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. The resources which would be saved could then be employed in projects of development capable of benefiting all their people, especially the poor.” (Pope Benedict XVI, World Day of Peace, 2006)

Decades before, the Archbishop of the Seattle Archdiocese, Raymond Hunthausen, was active in resistance to the U.S. stockpiling of nuclear weapons and the new Trident submarine-based nuclear weapons system, which included the Bangor Trident submarine base in Puget Sound just 20 miles west of Seattle. In 1981 Archbishop Hunthausen referred to the Trident submarines based there as “the Auschwitz of Puget Sound.”

The Church’s condemnation of nuclear weapons is grounded in the Church’s respect for life and the dignity of the human person. People of faith have been active throughout the movement to abolish nuclear weapons, and the struggle to resist Trident mirrors this history. Even before the first Trident submarine sailed into Bangor, people were coming together to build a resistance to it.

The Pacific Life Community (PLC), a small intentional community, formed to resist the coming of Trident to the Pacific Northwest. Two years later, out of the initial PLC experience, Jim and Shelley Douglass co-founded Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ). The GZ community purchased land adjacent to the Bangor base, laying the groundwork for the long work ahead.

As the submarines came and the base grew, so did the resistance. In the early years resisters handed out leaflets at the Bangor entrance gates. When the first Trident submarine arrived it was met by thousands of protestors on land in addition to a small flotilla of boats.

Next came rocket motors, and then nuclear warheads, transported by trains to Bangor for assembly to complete the Trident nuclear missiles. These trains were met by huge numbers of people, many of whom risked arrest blocking the tracks leading into the base. Archbishop Hunthausen was present at some of these actions in solidarity with the resistance.

The Douglasses later moved to Birmingham, Alabama to start a Catholic Worker House, and GZ’s work continued. Today that work is as strong as ever. A new Center House has risen from the ashes of earlier structures on the grounds. Three annual actions ground our continuing resistance to Trident – Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Mother’s Day weekend and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemoration.

This continuing resistance, deeply rooted in nonviolence, is absolutely necessary in this time of renewed pursuit of nuclear weapons as a foreign policy tool. Besides the US Government’s buildup of its nuclear weapons research, development and production infrastructure, it is pursuing new nuclear weapons systems – among them a new generation of Trident submarines.

The new submarines, currently in research and development, are intended to replace the aging Trident nuclear weapons system, a relic of the Cold War. Twelve submarines will cost $100 billion just to build, in addition to hundreds of billions in operational costs.

Beyond the costs – For people of faith killing is simply wrong, and nuclear weapons, which are omnicidal by design, are an abomination in the eyes of God. His Holiness was clear in his 2006 statement – Nuclear weapons must never again be used; they must be eradicated, and we must dedicate ourselves to life-affirming ends.

May we choose life.

Jesuit anti-nuclear activist back in jail for probation violation (article from NCR)

Editor’s Note: The following May 22, 2013 article by Seattle-based freelance writer Julie Gunter is reprinted from National Catholic Reporter Online: Jesuit anti-nuclear activist back in jail for probation violation.

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TACOMA, WASH. — A noted Jesuit peace activist who has spent over a decade in jail for nonviolent protest actions, mostly over nuclear weapons issues, has been returned to prison for probation violations.

Fr. Steve Kelly, who has been on probation since June 2012 after serving a 15-month sentence for breaking into a nuclear weapons facility, was sent back to prison May 20 by a federal judge.Kelly, 64, was transported from the SeaTac Detention Center to the United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma, to receive the 60-day sentence. With time served, he is expected to be released May 29.

Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly is seen in a 2007 file photo, taken outside outside Fort Huachuca in Arizona. (CNS photo/Felice Cohen-Joppa, courtesy TortureonTrial.org)

Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly is seen in a 2007 file photo, taken outside outside Fort Huachuca in Arizona. (CNS photo/Felice Cohen-Joppa, courtesy TortureonTrial.org)

More than a dozen friends and supporters, including members of Tacoma’s St. Leo parish community and his Jesuit superior Fr. John Fuchs, attended the hearing. Some also attended a vigil outside the courthouse an hour before Kelly’s court appearance.

Kelly was arrested March 29, Good Friday, for blocking a road outside the Lockheed Martin missile plant in Sunnyvale, Calif. A trespassing charge was later dropped, but he was taken into custody for an outstanding federal warrant associated with probation violations.

Kelly was on probation for the 2009 Disarm Now Plowshares action, during which he and four other activists cut through multiple security fences and accessed highly sensitive areas of the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific in Bangor, Wash., where more than 2,300 nuclear weapons are believed to be stored.

After serving 15 months in prison for that action, Kelly was released June 21, and his first probation violation occurred within 72 hours when he failed to contact his probation officer. He violated his probation again a couple months later when he traveled to Atherton, Calif., for the funeral of Sacred Heart Sr. Ann Montgomery, a longtime activist and friend who had been part of the Disarm Now Plowshares action.

In court May 20, Kelly made an emotional appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the healing of divisions between people. Other testimonies praised Kelly’s character and commitment to peace.

Fuchs addressed the judge on Kelly’s behalf stating, “Fr. Steve Kelly is one of my brother Jesuits … Our religious Constitutions commit us to working for peace and justice in our world, resisting all forms of violence and unjust war, following our consciences regardless of the consequences. Steve is being faithful to his vocation as a Jesuit.

“I know Fr. Steve very well, having directed him in a number of spiritual retreats, and I can assure you … that he is one of the most nonviolent, gentle and committed persons I know,” Fuchs said. “I only wish that I and the rest of us could be nearly as courageous as he has been in following his call.”

Over the past two decades, Kelly has been imprisoned for an estimated 12 years, according to St. Leo parishioner and friend Joe Power-Drutis. Kelly has been held often in solitary confinement because as a matter of conscience he refuses to work for the Bureau of Prisons while incarcerated.

Kelly discussed his unique witness in a 1998 interview with America magazine. “My hope is that the church will really become a peace church,” he said.

“I realize that what I’ve done is not what most people would call being an effective witness. I don’t expect the culture as a whole to change overnight. The people I would like to reach are people of faith and belief. As for what I’ll be doing in the future, as long as nuclear weapons are being made for use on human beings, I’ll try to resist their creation.”

[Julie Gunter is a Seattle-based freelance writer.]

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Source URL: http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/jesuit-anti-nuclear-activist-back-jail-probation-violation

Steve Kelly and the final chapter of Disarm Now Plowshares prison time

Below is a brief report from Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa of The Nuclear Resister about Steve Kelly’s hearing yesterday in Federal Court.

Yesterday’s hearing and Steve’s resulting final bit of jail time will bring to an end the prison journeys of Bill Bichsel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly and Anne Montgomery, at least for the their common journey as the Disarm Now Plowshares.

These five peacemakers willingly and without reservation came together to commit an act of spirit-led resistance to the scourge of nuclear weapons, knowing the price they would pay. And pay they did; the state (or should I say empire) does not take kindly to those who question its imperial intentions, let alone those who embarrass it with their Plowshares actions.  With thanks to each of these people of steadfast faith, courage and conviction.

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Dear friends,Steve Kelly was given a 60 day sentence [both defense and prosecution asked for the minimum sentence] by Judge Settle for violating conditions of supervised release put in place at the end of his prison sentence for the Disarm Now Plowshares action. It’s expected he will be released in 9 days [around May 29th], since he’s been held in custody since a Good Friday arrest at Lockheed Martin in California, and gets credit for most of the time served… then his Disarm Now Plowshares file will be closed!

Attorney Blake Kremer, part of the legal team for the Disarm Now Plowshares, reports that there were eloquent statements in court made by Steve and supporters. Blake also forwarded a powerful legal brief written and filed with the court for the hearing by Steve’s standby counsel for the Plowshares trial, Roger Hunko [see the previous post at Disarm Now Plowshares].

Stay tuned – before long Steve will be able to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and enjoy the summer sunshine!

Peace,

Felice and Jack

Editor’s End Note: Here is an additional comment from Mira Leslie, who was present at court as a witness and supporter: Steve ‘s courage and presence is absolutely pure. He appealed emotionally to the judge to help abolish nuclear weapons.  There were about 15 supporters, and no doubt  Ann Montgomery was presente.

Roger Hunko’s statement to the court on behalf of Steve Kelly

Steve Kelly, SJ will appear in United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma, before the Honorable Benjamin H. Settle in the matter of Steve’s violation of the terms of his supervised release.

Steve, being arrested at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, Good Friday (2103).

Steve, being arrested at Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, Good Friday (2103).

Many of you reading this need no explanation of the reasoning behind Steve’s noncooperation with the terms of his supervised release.  Others might ask why Steve did not simply comply and get on with things; make it easy on himself.  For Steve to do so would be tantamount to cooperating with evil; his deeply spiritually grounded resistance to nuclear weapons knows no boundaries.  Essentially, the court that tried, sentenced and continues to attempt to control Steve holds no moral ground and cannot, therefore, hold any real control over him (other than its ability to continue to bring him into court and hand down sentences, as it will do on Monday).  These physical applications of control are meaningless to a person of such deep spiritual grounding.  Steve truly is untouchable; beyond reproach.  The system that continues with the threat of use of nuclear weapons is morally and spiritually bankrupt, in addition to being illegal under international humanitarian law.  The courts of this land that do not allow defendants like Steve (and other nuclear resisters) to mount reasonable defenses in their cases are NOT doing justice; rather they are defending the indefensible actions of a morally bereft government.

A number of attorneys have given of their time and energy to defend the actions of nuclear resisters.  Roger Hunko is one of these people; Roger was Steve’s standby counsel in the Disarm Now Plowshares trial.  Roger has written some beautiful and powerful words on Steve’s behalf, which are contained in the following statement for Judge Settle’s consideration in tomorrow’s hearing.

With Thanks and In the Spirit of Resistance,

Leonard

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Case 3:10-cr-05586-BHS Document 258 Filed 05/18/13

The Honorable Benjamin H. Settle

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT TACOMA

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Plaintiff vs. STEVEN KELLY, Defendant

NO. 10 5586 BHS

DEFENDANT’S DISPOSITION MEMORANDA

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Father Steve Kelly comes before this Court on a violation of his Supervised Release.  The violation is a single count of his failure to report as directed in the original sentence. At the time of his sentence he informed the court that because of his conscience he could not comply with the supervised release provision of his sentence. As a result he did not report.

The sentence of Father Kelly did not come from a desire to commit evil, but to prevent evil. He and his colleagues wanted to peacefully protest our government’s proliferation and maintenance of the World’s largest nuclear weapon arsenal and the most advanced method of deployment. All in violation of international treaties and law. To that end Father Kelly and four comrades in peace cut through the fence at Bangor, Washington. The five committed participants traversed the distance to the area where the nuclear warheads for the missiles were stored. Supposedly Bangor is one of the most secure facilities in the world for storing such weapons of mass destruction. They were able to cut through two more fences without being detected and managed to put up a Plow Shares banner condemning the proliferation of nuclear weapons within feet of the igloos where the warheads were suspected to be stored. It was only after this prolonged journey that the Marines designated to secure the weapons arrived. Even though two of the committed peace activist were octogenarians and the rest were either in or close to their sixties. One of the five was taking nitroglycerin to prevent a heart attack. They were arrested, bags put over there heads and months later charged.

The five represented themselves with stand by counsel. I was standby counsel for Father Kelly. A task I am grateful to the Court for giving me the opportunity to meet this man and to participate in an attempt to assist him in his fight against nuclear weapons.

Father Kelly never denied what he had done. He was arrested while attempting to finish a prayer next to the weapons of mass destruction. He did not deny his purpose. He did not deny why he did what he did. His defense was that he was doing what was morally required to put his government and the general population on notice that the possession and deployment of such non discriminate weapons was a violation of international law and also the higher law of nature. He was not allowed to present that defense. He, of course, was convicted which he anticipated. At sentencing he informed the Court that he could not submit to the supervised release conditions because he felt he was doing the morally responsible acts.

He was arrested for failure to report on March 29, 2013. He has been held on a Federal detainer since that time.

At his first appearance he attempted to admit the violation, but Magistrate Creatura, deferred a finding till Your Honor could hear the matter. Father Kelly does not deny the allegation. He only avers that his conscience will not allow him to submit.

I was appointed to represent him on his supervised release violation

I have been practicing law for the last thirty four years. Almost exclusively in the field of criminal defense. I have never represented a man like Father Kelly, wholly devoted in trying to prevent an evil from hurting his fellow man, whether American or anyone else. A man totally committed to peaceful resistance. A man who is willing to risk his life to show others the right path.
In deciding what I could do to represent a totally conscientious person in a violation where he fully admitted both at sentencing and by his actions afterward that he would not submit to supervised release, I was at a loss. I then thought of going back to philosophers, intellects and others to see what defines a conscientious person.

I came up with the following:

1. Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it. Albert Einstien

2. Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die. Martin Luther

3. The person that loses their conscience has nothing left worth keeping. Izaak Walton

4. Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. Justice Louis D. Brandeis

5. Pity the poor, wretched, timid soul, too faint hearted to resist his oppressors. He sings the songs of the damned, ‘I cannot resist, I have too much to lose, they might take my property or confiscate my earnings, what would my family do, how would they survive?’ He hides behind pretended family responsibility, failing to see that the most glorious legacy that we can bequeath to our posterity is liberty! Old Chinese Proverb

6. Non-violent resistance implies the very opposite of weakness. Defiance combined with non-retaliatory acceptance of repression from one’s opponents is active, not passive. It requires strength, and there is nothing automatic or intuitive about the resoluteness
required for using non-violent methods in political struggle and the quest for Truth. W. Vaughn Ellsworth

7. A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi

8. Any attempt to replace a personal conscience by a collective conscience does violence to the individual and is the first step toward totalitarianism. Mahatma Mohandas K Gandhi

9. What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow; that is the whole Law: all the rest is interpretation. Hermann Hesse

10. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law … That would lead to anarchy. An individual who breaks a law that his conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. Martin Luther King

11. The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. Martin Luther King

12. Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about his religion. Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and of service to your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place. Show respect to all people, but grovel to none. When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero . Tecumseh

I then compared these words to what Robert Oppenheimer said on his successful test of the first atom bomb. “I am Vishnu destroyer of worlds.”

But of course the Court must decide what to do with Father Kelly. In doing so it must consider U.S.C. 18 § 3553. The most appropriate section in this case being Section 6. The need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.

Under this cause number the Court has already sentenced Susan Crane on a similar violation. The Court ordered her to do 60 days in custody and terminated her supervised release. A similar result should be ordered in this case.

Dated this 18th day of May, 2013.
/s/ Roger A. Hunko
Attorney for Father Steven Kelly

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Editor’s Note: You can read this entire document as entered into the official public record at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzRG1crlv8YMcGpaQ2w4VEtKaVE/edit?usp=sharing

Transform Now Plowshares: Let the trial begin!!!

Dear Friends,

As I write this our dear friends Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed of the Transform Now Plowshares are in the thick of the second day of their trial in Federal District Court in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Yesterday was jury selection. Today they get down to the real business at hand.

Bix travelled back to Knoxville to be with them, and based on the photo I saw of him whooping it up with Sr. Megan during yesterday’s street celebration, it should be quite a week.

This trial is NOT – although one might not know it from nearly any of the media coverage – about lax security at a major nuclear weapons production facility (although one might ask questions about that).

  • It is about the total lack of security provided by the continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.
  • It is about the fundamental immorality of weapons that kill indiscriminately and on a massive scale, and leave a continuous trail of death far into subsequent generations.
  • It is about the fact that it is impossible for nuclear weapons and true human security to co-exist.  Nuclear weapons are against all that is human, and do not fit within any moral framework.
  • It is about why the United States continues to consider itself above our own laws, international humanitarian law and treaty obligations.
  • It is about asking questions such as how does the continuing buildup (by the US) of its nuclear weapons infrastructure along with the production of new weapons systems (example: the new generation of ballistic missile submarines in research and development) move us towards a nuclear weapons free world???
  • It is about whether we will we choose to base our nation (and our world) on a culture of peace or a culture of violence?  And nuclear weapons are truly the taproot of violence.

The Transform Now Plowshares has a website/blog where you can keep up with trial developments on a daily basis.  While you’re at the  blog you can sign up (see the upper right hand column) to get updates by email.

Let’s hold Greg, Megan and Michael and all who support them through their trial in our thoughts and prayers this week and beyond.

In Peace,

Leonard

Transform Now Plowshares URL: http://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/

“Washington youth pair anti-nuclear action with Scottish protests”

Dear Friends,

A group of youth from St. Leo Church in Tacoma led a vigil at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base on April 14th in witness against nuclear weapons.  You can watch a video of the day below (with thanks to videographer Rodney Herold), and read an article about their vigil in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) written by Julie Gunter: Washington youth pair anti-nuclear action with Scottish protests.  

The NCR article quotes (among others) Bill Bichsel who laments the state of the world that current and previous generations have created for the young people and future generations, and says “My generation, and the generation following, have left so much violence, so many systems of exploitation, to our young people,” he said. “I believe we have the obligation to let them know we’ve made mistakes, and help give them the strength to resist what we didn’t have the strength to resist.”

With gratitude to these young people, and their strength and courage, AND for models like Bix and others who show the way (to PEACE)..

Peace,

Leonard

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