PLC 2013 Big Finish At Bangor (News Release)

Silverdale, Washington, March 4, 2013 — Twenty peace activists from around the United States were arrested as a result of their nonviolent protest against nuclear weapons at a U.S. Naval base.

Members of the Pacific Life Community gathered at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor early Monday morning in resistance to the continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system and the associated threat of use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. government.

The Bangor Trident base is home port to eight of the nation’s 14 Ohio class nuclear ballistic missile submarines and also home to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific, where the Navy stores thermonuclear warheads for deployment on its submarines.  Bangor represents the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

While maintaining a peaceful vigil along the roadway, six of the resisters entered the roadway with a banner, which they stretched across the entrance lanes in symbolic closure of the base. The banner quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”  The protesters also knelt in prayer.

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Washington State Patrol officers ordered the protesters to leave the roadway. All six protesters complied with the officers and were escorted to the median where they were briefly detained and issued citations for “Walking on roadway where prohibited.”

Meanwhile, another fourteen protesters walked onto the roadway carrying banners and signs calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  All crossed the blue line onto the base and knelt in prayer.  Naval security personnel arrested the protesters and drove them to a facility on the base for processing.  They were cited under Section 1382 of Title 18 prohibiting trespassing on military bases, and released a short time later.

The resisters carried a letter addressed to the Bangor base commander.  It stated that the “Trident II D-5 missiles with their W76 or W88 [thermonuclear] warheads are illegal under international law and hence are also illegal per the Constitution of the United States.” Naval security personnel declined to accept the letters. 

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Those cited for Federal trespassing were Louis Vitale, OFM, Oakland, CA;  Rodney Herold, Seattle, WA; Ted Bracknan. Puyallup, WA; Tensie Hernandez, Santa Maria, CA; Betsy (Frances Elizabeth) Lamb, Bend, OR; Ann E. Havill, Bend, OR; Denny Moore, Bainbridge Island, WA; Bill Bichsel, SJ, Tacoma, WA; James G. Haber, San Francisco, CA; Ed Ehmke, Menlo Park, CA; Mary Jane Parrine, Menlo Park, CA; Jerry Zawada, OFM, Milwaukee, WI; Felice Cohen-Joppa, Tucson, AZ and Susan Crane, Redwood City, CA.

Cited by State Patrol were Tom Karlin, Tacoma, WA; Clancy Dunigan, Langley, WA; George Rodkey, Tacoma, WA; Marcus Page-Collonge, Albuquerque, NM; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA and Cliff Kirchmer, Tacoma, WA.

The vigil and nonviolent direct action brought to a close this year’s Pacific Life Community (PLC) Faith and Resistance Retreat held near Tacoma, Washington.  The PLC is dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons and war-making through nonviolent direct action. The annual event is held each year on the weekend around the anniversary of Castle Bravo, the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the U.S. 

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Fallout from Castle Bravo contaminated a large portion of the Marshall Islands, and poisoned island residents as well as the crew of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a Japanese fishing vessel.  It also generated international concern about atmospheric testing.  The U.S. still occupies part of the Marshall Islands in its continued testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

This year’s Faith and Resistance Retreat was hosted by the Tacoma Catholic Worker community.  The event brought together people from around the Western U.S. Catholic Workers came from San Jose, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Half Moon Bay, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Guadalupe, CA; Sheep Ranch, CA and Redwood City, CA. 

Fr. Bill Bichsel, of the Tacoma Catholic Worker community and 2012 Greater Tacoma Peace Prize laureate, commented on the significance of the Pacific Life Community’s work.  “We refuse to accept nuclear weapons as our security.  We owe it to our children and grandchildren to create a nonviolent world.  We are the future and the kingdom that we have been waiting for.”

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

(Photo credit: Mike Wisniewski, LA Catholic Worker)

Also represented at the retreat were Nevada Desert Experience, The Nuclear Resister and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Ground Zero, a community in resistance to nuclear weapons, particularly Trident, hosted this morning’s vigil and action at Bangor.

The U.S. Navy is building a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at the Bangor Trident base, and is engaged in research and development to build twelve new ballistic missile submarines designed to replace the existing Trident submarines.  Estimated cost to build the twelve submarines is almost $100 billion. Rear Admiral Joseph Tofalo, commander, submarine Group 10, Kings Bay, Georgia has stated that “A single Trident submarine is the sixth nuclear nation in the world all by itself.” 

Full text of letter to base commander follows.

###

March 4, 2013

Dear Captain Pete Dawson, Commander, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor:

We are members of the Pacific Life Community, a network of people from the western United States working for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We come today, near the anniversary of the March 1, 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test in the Bikini Atoll, in memory of the people of Rongelap who died from radiation poisoning as a result of fallout from that test. We stand with their survivors who do not trust the assurances of the United States government that it is safe for them to return there, even now. Any pressure on the former residents of Rongelap to return must stop now.

Trident II D-5 missiles with their W76 or W88 warheads are illegal under international law and hence are also illegal per the Constitution of the United States. It is a violation of the Nuremberg Principles to threaten destruction of a city, and it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions to threaten use of weapons of indiscriminate power. The July, 1996 International Court of Justice ruling was clear; nuclear weapons are not consistent with international humanitarian law.

It is obvious that nuclear weapons are stored at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Please inform us if we’re wrong. We have a responsibility as citizens to be informed enough to weigh in on military and foreign policy issues. Local governments and residents have a need to plan for public safety given the surety that one of the largest collections of nuclear weapons in the world is only 20 miles from Seattle and Tacoma and its 1 million residents.

We want to stop the continued pollution and radioactive contamination from the ongoing nuclear weapons stockpile. The problem of uranium leaks at Hanford cannot be divorced from the problem of nuclear weapons on Trident submarines that threaten nuclear war on every nation and person in the world. Nuclear weapons are killing people now.

We need and deserve a response. We’re waiting.

Sincerely,

cc: Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, United States Armed Forces

cc: Rear Admiral Dietrich H. Kuhlmann III, Commander, Submarine Group 9

An invitation from Susan: Begin the process of conversion

[A reflection from Susan Crane, February 1, 2012, FCI Dublin on the US military base Camp Parks]

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your prayers and letters, articles and books.   Life here continues to be simple in some basic ways. In prayer I don’t have to discern whether to live or work here or there, to cross the line at this or that military base, or to begin to disarm these drones or that nuclear capable missile. What I can do is be neighbor to the people around me, sharing, listening, reminding myself and others that the use of violence is never in conformity with the gospel or the god of love.

I was having a conversation with a friend here about a woman who had just been taken to the SHU. She had been fasting from water and food as part of her prayer for her daughter who has cancer. A drug test (urine) was demanded of her, and (we hear) she didn’t break her fast to drink water to be able to comply. My friend said, “A woman of God would be obedient, not stubborn and rebellious.” And that statement pretty much sums up the thinking among many women here. How is it that we so easily confuse the authority of the state with God’s will?

And here I sit, in general population, while Steve and Bix are both in the SHU. Am I confusing the authority of the state with God’s will? How much does fear or the desire for comfort influence my thinking?

I’m reminded of the story of Eleazar (2 Maccabees 6:18-31) who refused to act in contradiction to the tenets, as he understood them, of his faith.

The doomsday clock was just moved a minute closer to midnight. Our country still spends half of our federal tax dollars on warmaking. Stringfellow’s words about the state still ring true to me. He reminds us that the only sanction the state relies on is death, or some status that embodies the same meaning as death: imprisonment, deportation, loss of reputation or property or employment, or intimidation that causes fear and conformity.

If we were living in WWII Europe and there was a concentration camp in your neighborhood, would you work there and demean and kill people? If you didn’t work there, would it be enought to live a good life doing works of mercy?

The crimes of our government are not talked about on Fox news or in many places of worship. But we still have a responsibility to speak out and act nonviolently to begin to convert our warmaking hearts and economy and Empire.

Pray with friends! Breathe together! Practice love of friends and enemies! Walk into Lockheed Martin and other weapons manufacturers. Walk onto military bases. Begin the process of conversion!

We are all responsible for the collective acts of our warmaking state. Here in prison, there is a special kind of rest for my conscience. Join me! For love of the world we hammer swords into plowshares.

An invitation from Susan: Turn swords into plowshares

From Susan Crane, February 1, 2012, FCI Dublin on the US military base Camp Parks

Dear Friends,

Thanks for your prayers and letters, articles and books.   Life here continues to be simple in some basic ways. In prayer I don’t have to discern whether to live or work here or there, to cross the line at this or that military base, or to begin to disarm these drones or that nuclear capable missile. What I can do is be neighbor to the people around me, sharing, listening, reminding myself and others that the use of violence is never in conformity with the gospel or the god of love.

I was having a conversation with a friend here about a woman who had just been taken to the SHU. She had been fasting from water and food as part of her prayer for her daughter who has cancer. A drug test (urine) was demanded of her, and (we hear) she didn’t break her fast to drink water to be able to comply. My friend said, “A woman of God would be obedient, not stubborn and rebellious.” And that statement pretty much sums up the thinking among many women here. How is it that we so easily confuse the authority of the state with God’s will?

And here I sit, in general population, while Steve and Bix are both in the SHU. Am I confusing the authority of the state with God’s will? How much does fear or the desire for comfort influence my thinking?

I’m reminded of the story of Eleazar (2 Maccabees 6:18-31) who refused to act in contradiction to the tenets, as he understood them, of his faith.

The doomsday clock was just moved a minute closer to midnight. Our country still spends half of our federal tax dollars on warmaking. Stringfellow’s words about the state still ring true to me. He reminds us that the only sanction the state relies on is death, or some status that embodies the same meaning as death: imprisonment, deportation, loss of reputation or property or employment, or intimidation that causes fear and conformity.

If we were living in WWII Europe and there was a concentration camp in your neighborhood, would you work there and demean and kill people? If you didn’t work there, would it be enought to live a good life doing works of mercy?

The crimes of our government are not talked about on Fox news or in many places of worship. But we still have a responsibility to speak out and act nonviolently to begin to convert our warmaking hearts and economy and Empire.

Pray with friends! Breathe together! Practice love of friends and enemies! Walk into Lockheed Martin and other weapons manufacturers. Walk onto military bases. Begin the process of conversion!

We are all responsible for the collective acts of our warmaking state. Here in prison, there is a special kind of rest f0r my conscience. Join me! For love of the world we hammer swords into plowshares.

Y12 RESISTERS RELEASE TODAY!

[[January 6th]]

All,

Thursday, January 6, 2012 marks the end of eight long months of imprisonment for Steve Baggarly, Mike Walli and Bonnie Urfer who are scheduled to be released today from prisons in Lisbon, Ohio; Morgantown, West Virginia; and Lexington, Kentucky. We celebrate their faithful witness against the destructive power of thermonuclear weapons, expressed so courageously at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in the July 5, 2010 resistance action. For each of them, the Y12 action was one of many compelling actions in which these resisters have stood to speak truth to power. Their odyssey through the legal system took them to jails and prisons in Knoxville, TN; Maryville, TN; Ocilla, GA; and Oklahoma City, OK in addition to the facilities from which they are released today.

Still in custody is Bill Bichsel, who we all know as Bix. At last report, Bix was scheduled to be transferred to a transitional facility later within the next few days to serve out the remained of his sentence; he entered SeaTac prison to serve three months for his Y12 action in November.

The last remaining Y12 resister from the July 2010 action to be sentenced is Dave Corcoran, who entered a plea of guilty in late December and will be sentenced on March 21, 2012.

In the words of Dennis DuVall, codefendant of all those named above: RESIST ALWAYS!

peace,
ralph [Hutchison]

ps. since the may 9 trial of the Y12 resisters, OREPA has marked their imprisonment each sunday evening at 6:00pm with the singing of “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” at the conclusion of our weekly vigil at Y12, singing their names into the night air with great energy and hope. we continue to sing for bix and dave —

The only chain that we can stand
Is the chain of hand in hand
Keep your eyes on the prize—
Hold on!

Moving from “Empire to Servanthood”

Friends,

The National Catholic Worker gathering wrapped up yesterday (Sunday) with prayers and nonviolent resistence at both the Nevada Test Site (aka: Nevada National Security Site) and Creech Air Force Base, protesting both nuclearism and drones.  59 Catholic Workers were arrested at the Test Site, and 18 were arrested at Creech.

I’m sharing (see below) the Final Statement created by those gathered over the past few days in Las Vegas.  It is an extraordinary statement calling us all to the Gospel of Nonviolence and the walk of the peacemaker.  It calls on the Church to end its complicity in the hubris of Empire.  It calls on our entire nation to repent for the crimes of war.  Above all, it recommits those present at the the CW gathering to “creating the Beloved Community where all God’s people can live together in peace with justice.”

To that day when Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore,

Leonard

************************

Final Statement for Las Vegas Catholic Worker Gathering
(On the 10th Anniversary of the U.S. Bombing and Invasion of Afghanistan)

We Catholic Workers from around North America gather in Las Vegas on this 10th anniversary of the U.S. bombing and invasion of Afghanistan with the theme “From Empire to Servanthood.” We renounce all war-making as a affront to the God of Creation and we reject the false gods and religion of Empire that dominate our national spirit. We call on our church and nation to join us in repenting for the violence the U.S. has inflicted, and make reparations to all of its victims at home and in Afghanistan as well as in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. At this critical point in history, when we face unending wars, nuclear perils, occupations, and economic collapse, when human life and creation itself has become so devalued and killing has become the norm; when greed, exploitation, racism and discrimination are at the heart of social injustice; when our earth and environment is endangered as never before; we recommit ourselves to the God of creation that calls us to revere all life as sacred, and to resist the way of violence, oppression, and empire.

As we hear the cry of the suffering and the poor of our country and world, we demand that all resources being squandered for weapons and war be instead spent to meet urgent human needs.

As the U.S. government continues its immoral and illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and its murderous drone attacks, especially in Pakistan, we recall the words of Dorothy Day regarding U.S. war-making during World War II:

“We are at war, a declared war, with Japan, Germany, and Italy. But still we can repeat Christ’s words, each day, holding them close in our hearts, each month printing them in the paper… We will print the words of Christ who is with us always, even to the end of the world. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute you …” In The Catholic Worker we will quote our Pope, our saints, our priests. We will go on printing the articles which remind us today that we are all called to be saints, that we are other Christs, reminding us of the priesthood of the laity…We are still pacifists. Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers.”

Yes, we are still pacifists. In the name of Jesus who calls us to love unconditionally and be peacemakers, we call on all followers of Jesus to embrace and practice the Gospel of Nonviolence. We urge our church leadership to break their silence and prophetically proclaim Christ’s gospel by calling the entire nation to repent for the war crimes we have committed. We invite them and all followers of Jesus to join us in making the following appeal to the political, military and economic power structure of our nation:

–end all U.S. war-making and and military intervention throughout our world, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Pakistan.

–stop all drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

–stop demonizing Arabs and Muslims.

– and the US backed Israeli occupation of Palestine and support self-determination for the Palestinians.

–disarm and abolish all conventional, biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

–close and/or convert all nuclear and conventional weapons facilities, military bases, and military training centers like the SOA/WHINSEC.

–stop the U.S. militarization of space.

–convert our war-based economy to one centered on serving the common good, alleviating poverty and protecting the environment.

–initiate an equitable redistribution of the earth’s resources.

–work to reverse global climate change and bring about environmental justice.

–cultivate respect for the health of the land that feeds us and honors the people that lived on it before us.

–end the practice of torture.

–close the Guantanamo U.S. military prison, the Bagram prison in Afghanistan, all secret black sites and detention centers, and end indefinite detention.

–end all ROTC training programs at all levels in Catholic and public schools.

– and we must end the “war on the poor” at home by: abolishing the death penalty, ending the practice of mass imprisonment, stopping prisons for profit, providing housing, jobs, adequate food and health care for ALL, taking down the wall on the US/Mexico boarder and insuring and protecting human rights of all immigrants.

Mindful of all political prisoners, including those Catholic Workers and other resisters imprisoned for acts of peacemaking, we commit ourselves to nonviolently resist all forms of state-sanctioned violence and oppression. In our efforts to come out of and resist U.S. Empire we concluded our weekend gathering by doing nonviolent direct actions at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site and at Creech AFB, a center of U.S. drone warfare. In solidarity with sisters and brothers around the world calling for an end to political repression, corporate domination and militarism, we seek to build a new society in the shell of the old. We commit ourselves to help create the Beloved Community where all God’s people can live together in peace with justice.

Y-12 Trial Ends – Guilty as Charged!

Editor’s Note: This came in earlier this evening from our ace reporter on the scene in Knoxville, Joe Power-Drutis.

Right on the money, at 5PM, a jury of 12 returned after less than 30 minutes recess to deliver a unanimous verdict of “GUILTY” for 12 Y-12 nuclear resistors at the Knoxville Court House.

The following peace activists were charged with trespassing at the Department of Energy Y-12 Project on July 5, 2010. Thirteen people took part in the action, David Corcoran, because of health reasons has been granted a later court date.

Carol Gilbert,OP,Ardeth Platte,OP,Jackie Hudson,OP, Bonnie Urfer,Michael Walli,Jean Gump and Steve Bggarly were immediately taken into custody.

Bradford Lyttle,Dennis DuVall,Sr. Mary Dennis Lentsch and Beth Rosdatter remain free on bond until a later sentencing date is arranged.

Fr.Bill Bichsel,S.J., who is currently serving a sentence for the Disarm Now Plowshares action of November 2, 2009, is remanded to the Knox County Detention Facility until his sentencing for this Y-12 action, on June 27, 2011.

On Thursday May 12, an overview of the three days of this trial will be covered.

In the meantime link onto http://www.knoxnews.com for the latest local news of the hearing. Knox news covered this event in court all three days; log onto Knox News for May 11th for another insightful report.

Editor’s End Note: You can read Ralph Hutchison’s full length trial wrap-up by clicking here.

Praying for Conversion: A Lenten Reflection

Turn our hearts
Turn our minds
Make us branches holding fast to the vine
Patient Keeper, hold us in your tender mercy, Tree of Life.

This Lenten journey has been one of prayer and conversion. I wake each morning asking god to turn my heart and mind toward nonviolence, love and compassion. It is very humbling to be here with the women being held, waiting for their cases to come up, waiting for sentencing, waiting for a destination. Their stories touch my heart. Their generosity and kindness brings a smile and a disarmed heart minute by minute.

During Lent, we follow the journey of Jesus as he prepares for his arrest, trial and execution. He was tortured and executed by the Roman occupying forces, by the Roman empire that didn’t want any unrest or challenge to its power. Jesus, who taught nonviolence, who healed, fed, and encouraged people, was a threat.

As Jesus is about to be arrested, Peter brings out his sword to defend him. John Dear, SJ, reminds us that if there ever was a time to use violence to defend someone, it would be to defend Jesus, the incarnate God. But Jesus tells Peter, NO. Put away the sword (Matthew 26:52).

He rejects violence, even knowing the consequence can be his own torture and death.

“Put away the sword” is good advice to us today. Put away our nuclear weapons. Put away our military spending. Put away our war making.

Archbishop Hunthausen once said, “Jesus’ acceptance of the cross, rather than the sword raised in his defense, is the Gospel’s statement of unilateral disarmament.”

We 5 are held here at SeaTac Federal Detention Center for saying No to nuclear weapons: No to the trident nuclear warheads.

Archbishop Hunthausen called Trident the “Auschwitz of Puget Sound”. The trident nuclear warheads, like flying ovens, are ready to be launched from the Trident submarines and incinerate millions of people anywhere in the world.

The parishioners of St. Leo Parish sang a hymn of conversion, Tree of Life, at the Mass where we were blessed and commissioned to federal prison. The love, prayers and encouragement of the people at St. Leo’s strengthens us everyday.

We pray for the women and men held here at SeaTac and for the guards; we pray for disarmed hearts in a disarmed world, and for the conversion of our hearts and our weapons.

Peace,

Susan

Relevant Links: 

Archbishop Hunthausen’s 1981 speech on Faith and Disarmament

Click here to learn about the Vancouver Declaration.

Passion for the Possible: A Sunday Meditation…

Friends,

This morning I read an excellent, well-balanced article in the Kansas City Star (Yes Virginia, fair and balanced journalism is not dead yet) about nuclear weapons (U.S. trims its nuclear arsenal while upgrading production, Saturday, February 26, 2011) using the new Kansas City bomb plant as the central character in this endless story of nuclear madness.

And by the way; the article confirmed that “the biggest concentration of the operational nukes is at the Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at Bangor, Wash., which sends out Ohio-class submarines operating in the Pacific and Indian oceans.Continue reading

NUCLEAR ABOLITIONISTS TO FACE TRIAL AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE BOMB

Fellow Abolitionists,

Please read this news release and the following special message from the LANL Six regarding their upcoming trial at the birthplace of the bomb. Click here to learn more and get trial updates.

In Peace,

Leonard

***************

On February 8, a jury in Los Alamos, New Mexico, will hear the case against six people charged with trespass during a demonstration against expansion of the nuclear weapons production complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The August 6, 2010 demonstration involved over 120 people, led by Think Outside the Bomb youth at the conclusion of their ten-day Disarmament Summer encampment in nearby Chimayo. They observed the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, with a spirited march through the town and up to the gate of the plutonium processing facility.

Eight people joined a sit-in at the gatehouse for half an hour until they were taken into custody by Los Alamos police. They were cited and released the same day. Two later pled no contest, and were sentenced to fines and probation. Continue reading

Choose Joy

Role Models

Written by Zach Pflederer from Illinois, and posted on his blog,  Choose Joy

Today I read the following:

On December 13, a Tacoma-based jury declared five Disarm Trident Now Plowshares activists “guilty” of trespass, felony damage to federal property, felony injury to property, and felony conspiracy to damage property. The charges against the Disarm Now Trident activists resulted from their November 2, 2009 Plowshares action at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base, which is located just outside of Bremerton, Washington. The activists, who will be sentenced on March 28, 2011, each face a potential prison sentence of 10 years. Continue reading

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