Palm Sunday Vigil at SeaTac

A small band of the faithful gathered on a cold, rainy Palm Sunday at the SeaTac Federal Detention Center in Seattle, Washington.  It was fitting that this year’s Palm Sunday fell on April Fools Day.  On that day a little over two thousand years ago God’s Foolish One came riding into town on a donkey.  Although there were no donkeys present at SeaTac on Sunday, followers of the nonviolent way converged on SeaTac Federal Detention Center, where Steve Kelly, SJ continues to dwell in his “solitary” monastery – the Special Handling Unit (SHU). Continue reading

Palm Sunday Vigil at SeaTac Federal Detention Center

Looking for a way to show love and support for Fr. Steve Kelly and Susan Crane?

We will return to the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac for a vigil on Palm Sunday.  Steve and Susan remain incarcerated for the Disarm Now Plowshares Action of November 2009. They have been imprisoned for a year and Palm Sunday is a very good time to remind Susan and Steve that the community still holds them in our hearts.

Date of Vigil:  April 1, 2012 Time:  2 – 3 PM Place:  2425 S 200th St, SeaTac, WA  98498

Please invite a friend and bring palm branches if you have them or some other sign of support for Susan and Steve.

Vigil members have been asked not to use detention center parking. It is unclear whether or not cars parked at the detention center will be a problem.

If you are coming from Tacoma, a carpool group will meet at 1418 South G Street (in front of Guadalupe House) in Tacoma at 1:10 and leave for the prison at 1:20 PM.

January 2012 SeaTac vigil when Bix was in solitary.

If you are driving up separately, I advise parking on or near 200th and Highway 99 and then walking to the detention center.

About Susan:  Susan is not at SeaTac; she is scheduled to be released from the Federal Detention Center in Dublin California on April 25th. We invite you to join our virtual vigil (see below) in support of Susan as she spends her last month in detention.

About Steve: Steve refuses to cooperate with the punishment he received for following his conscience and international law. After being incarcerated last March, he temporarily cooperated in order to remain with Bix and care for him. However, when Bix was removed from SeaTac – in May – Steve returned to non-cooperative status and was placed in solitary confinement where he remains to this day. Steve is scheduled to be released in early June.

About the Virtual Vigil: Whether or not you can join us at SeaTac, please take time on April 1 to be “vigilant” about nuclear disarmament in Susan’s and Steve’s name. Some possibilities:

Tell the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Urge your legislators to commit to nuclear disarmament

Write a letter to the editor … any editor!

If you have any other questions please call me at 253-779-8362


Joe (Power-Drutis)

Editor’s Note: In addition to the two advocacy actions listed above, you can find additional advocacy actions at The Nuclear Abolitionist.  Scroll down the right-hand column to the section titled “Advocate for a Nuclear Weapons Free World.”

Bix to leave SeaTac tomorrow!

[from Joe Power-Drutis]

By all accounts Bix should be getting out of SeaTac tomorrow, February 9th, sometime in the morning.

As you may recall, communications have been somewhat stilted since Bix returned to SeaTac Detention on January 11th and immediately chose Non Cooperation Status and subsequently Solitary Confinement (very much the same as Steve Kelly has lived for 8 months).

Given his extensive fasting and living in a 5’x 10’ box for the past month, I really do not know what Bix desires upon his release; therefore, the plan is for Theresa and I to go to SeaTac and await his release – not knowing what time that will be. Bix has no access to a phone and I feel certain the prison authorities have not informed him of a release time; a common discourtesy that is par for the course.

It is also unknown what form his home confinement will take. Apparently the probation office is in charge of this and information about this next type of confinement has been little. All I know is that Bix was told, prior to entering SeaTac, that he could expect the home confinement to begin shortly following his release from SeaTac.

Once Bix is released tomorrow, and he tells us what he wants, I will be sending out his wishes through Plowshares News and by phone as well as I can. He may desire a time of rest and centering, on the other hand he may be ready to party the day through; one never can predict where his desires and energies are.

I end with a thought Steve Kelly sent to me recently; I find his words thought provoking.

Steve writes after learning Bix had to take a bus to Tacoma on January 10th:  I grieve for the people that Bix seems to encounter. People with power seem to leave their humanity at the parking lot…an 84 y.o. wasn’t permitted a car ride…!?!  Reminds me of Dorothy Day’s words, – “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

Clueless in Seattle

Clueless in Seattle – that would be any of the people I spoke with
today on the phone or in person at SeaTac Detention; when asked why is
it that two days ago an 83 year old man was ordered to navigate his
own way via public transportation from their facility to one of their
houses in Tacoma, then in less than 24 hours be hauled back to Seattle
by Federal Marshals in chains and leg irons and then put in Solitary
Confinement! No one knows anything, just doing their jobs.

What dreadful thing has he done! Well now we all can rest better
tonight knowing that once again, our Federal Marshals and prison
guards have the dangerous Stephen Kelly and Bill Bichsel safely locked
up in 5’ x 10’ boxes.

Someone correct me if I am wrong here; but, has Steve and Bix, as
members of the California and Oregon Provinces of the Society of Jesus
in effect just formed a Jesuit Community at the Special Housing Unit
(SHU), aka, protective custody, solitary confinement, the hole, at the
Seattle/Tacoma Federal Corrections Center? Is this a first?

Susan Crane just happened to call and when I told her what just
occurred, she quipped – “There was once 2 Jesuits who lived in the
SHU, they had so many ideas of Resistance – they didn’t know what to
do” – beautiful!

I suspect, like Lynne Greenwald’s experience in August, this whole
thing was orchestrated by BOP for their own sadistic reasons. I for
one don’t have the need to ponder the Klingon mind.

A dear friend of ours, Joe Fortier, S.J., from Eastern Washington
summed up what is happening here much better than I ever could. Joe
writes.. “I work with the Indian People, and this sounds all too
familiar. (Yes, I passed the fill-in-the-blank test). Repeat
“offenders” are dirt to BOP establishment goons. You’re no longer a
person. Especially if you’re poor and/or a minority; Or in cohoots
with the poor. Bix , Susan and Steve will certainly be in our Keller/
Inchelium community’s’ prayers. Peace in the
Kingdom of Danger and Risk, Joe

I suspect, much like Steve, Bix is presently in full non compliance –
meaning he might not use the phone or take visitors and it may be some
time before he can write to us. Thing is – though they may not be able
to see each other, they are together, and I feel certain the Spirit
they are sharing is life giving to each of them.

Best support we can provide is to write and shower them with our
thoughts and affections.

Our brother, John Dear dropped me a note reminding us that Steve’s
birthday is on the 15th. It would be wonderful for anyone who can to
send a birthday card to Steve on this, I believe, his 63rd year. Makes
no difference if it gets there late, anytime in the next week would be
Steve and Bix were originally together at SeaTac during April of 2011.
After Bix was sent to Tennessee, shortly afterwords Steve chose the
route of non cooperation and has remained in the SHU ever since. He
was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Stephen Kelly, S.J.
 # 00816-111 SHU
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198 – 1090

Bix’s address is slightly different than it was previously.

William J. Bichsel, S.J
 # 86275-020 SHU
P.O. Box 13900
Seattle, WA 98198 – 1090

Susan was sent to Dublin California and remains their today. She, an
aspiring poet, while maintaining all of her mental faculties, is not
confined to the SHU. Like Steve, Susan was also sentenced to 15 months
in prison, she can be written to at:

Susan Crane
# 87783-011
 FCI Dublin
5701 8th St. Camp Parks
Dublin, CA 94568

Also: If you are in the area – this weekend on the 14th and 16th,
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action will be hosting activities
and actions in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

Then on Sunday evening at 6:30 PM we will be celebrating a Festival of
Hope at St. Leo Church, in honor of Steve, Susan and Bix.

You can find lots of good information on these events at:

[Editor’s note: Click Here for full information about all the Ground Zero events.]

Bix back at SeaTac (Part 2): Perspective…

[From the Editor:  This note came from Joe Power-Drutis early this morning.  I can picture him waking, and centering on God in the stillness of this bright, clear, sunny morning… Grace flooding through him… and he finds that still place to gather his thoughts before writing (always a good idea)… it is Peace (and all that flows from it), that elusive place we all must seek within ourselves to stay on (the nonviolent) path throughout this difficult journey we are all on.  Thank you, Joe,  for reminding us.]

I probably shouldn’t write when I am angry; on the other hand, given
how I felt yesterday, I probably would not have been able to update

Anyways, I first want to apologize to Bix and then to you for my
unfiltered and impulsive rantings yesterday. As can be expected,
unrestrained emotions have a way of muddying up the waters of whole
experience and prohibit us from right action.

I will be going to SeaTac today and will attempt to visit with Bix.
Today should be one of his normal visiting days of the weekend. If
this comes about, he will let us know the reason or reasons for the
return to SeaTac.

It is important to remember though that BOP cannot hold him past his
court appointed release date which is February 9th; at which time he
was scheduled to return to Jeans House of Prayer and begin serving his
6 months of home detention, which was the second part of his Disarm
Now Plowshares action at the Trident Sub Base on November 2, 2009 –
All Souls Day.

Pope John XXIII once wrote: “True peace is born of doing the will of
God, and bearing with patience the sufferings of this life, and does
not come from following one’s own whim or selfish desire, for this
always brings, not peace and serenity, but disorder and discontent.”

Bix has been returned to SeaTac!!!

[An update from Joe Power-Drutis]

My mother in law, the very wise late Mary Powers used to say “fool me
once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.

Oh Bix – you are always so ready to trust the enemy, even love the
enemy, fact is to do anything else but that would be contrary to your
nature – Nonetheless, did you not hear what Captain Kirk said “the
Klingons can’t be trusted”!!!

So picture this, Saturday January 7th – we’re sitting there at SeaTac
and I’m telling him the Nazi’s have something up their sleeve – Bix
says I need to work on my trust issues – I tell him he makes a comical
Charlie Brown and that Lucy invariably will always pick up the
football at the last minute and Charlie Brown will always land on his
bald head!! Well, in forty five years I can count on one hand the
number of times he has listened to my advice, a little like talking to
your children, and this wasn’t going to be one of them.

So – Bix is back at SeaTac. What can I say. I was in the process of
going to Progress House today with some supplies and a letter from his
Primary Care Doctor about medical care issues when I was informed that
he was returned to SeaTac Federal Detention, probably yesterday Jan
11th. Everyone has closed lips. So what’s new about that.

Once again, referring to my report a couple of days ago – once you are
in the custody of BOP, they own you and literally can do whatever they
want with you, providing no explanations, anytime they want.

So now, here’s the real question. Get it right and you get an “A” on
your final; it’s a tough one, a fill in the blanker, none of this true
or false stuff.

Question: Why can BOP do this to Bix?

And the Answer is: Because _ _ _ _ _ _ _ !

If you’ve answered the question correctly, it means you’ve been doing
your homework!

I’ll be back at you just as soon as I have more information. I will
say this though, based on my conversation with several of the people
in that system, I generally believe he is OK and that he remains in
good health. After all, Blake and Oratai did see him on the evening of
the 10th and he was in very good spirits. Whatever happened after
that, who knows, anything is possible with BOP and once again the only
thing that is consistent with them is their in-consistence! Once again
to Blake and Oratai, your quick action to go and see him lets us know
he is probably ok; and we are all very grateful for your timely

And to you, our Master, Fr. Steve Kelly who lives in solitary
confinement at the Federal Detention Center SeaTac in total non
cooperation with the Klingons – wipe that smile off your face!

Which fast do we choose? A reflection from Lynne

A Reflection by Lynne Greenwald
22 April 2011, Good Friday
FDC SeaTac

My second bunkmate at FDC SeaTac was Jan (not her real name).  She arrived one week after I began this short 6-month sentence.  She walked into our room cheerful and talkative, excited because the van that brought her from the airfield had a TV.

Jan explained she was here for “testing.”  Over 3 weeks time she gradually shared pieces of her life story.  I’m grateful to have gotten to know her for the short time we were on the same unit.  She’s left my life richer for putting a face and painful emotions onto a system of generational abuses and injustices.

Jan could not remember where she was or what the “rules” were.  Gradually, with a helpful community of women supporting her, she fell into the prison routine.  She has a great sense of humor, a transparency and vulnerability similar to a young child, loyalty to her family, pride in her Native American heritage, and a good, generous heart.

Jan is also a fighter.  I hear her voice so clearly when she would say, “I had to fight all my life, since I was a kid.”  She would take up a pose with her fists up, so it was possible to see this short, compact woman-child taking a stand against a threatening, often violent world.

Coming from a South Dakota reservation, Jan talked about having a job before having “brain surgery.”  It seems she had a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, leaving her weak on her right side and unable to speak.  Her recovery gives testimony to her survival spirit, and her challenges continue to frustrate her, taking her into patterns of conflict and self-destruction.

Jan was brought to SeaTac for a psychological evaluation to determine if she is capable of going to trial.  What led to this situation is unclear.  She drank, heavily at times, and spent time in holding cells.  The Reservation police knew her and seemed to have developed a way to keep everyone safe.  That is until one night when the responding officer didn’t know Jan.  She was home drinking heavily, there was a knife, “a long knife,” and Jan was shot in the abdomen.  She really doesn’t remember what happened.  She kept asking, “Why am I here when I was the one shot?”

Seeing the psychiatrist was especially traumatic.  “He thinks I’m stupid.   How would he like to have someone’s hands on his brain?”  Jan would explain, “Brain surgery changes you.”  She struggled to find names for objects, to recall names and recent events.  As her anxiety increased, her behavior deteriorated.  She would either “lash out” or “shut down.” 

Jan was put in the “SHU” today – Special Housing Unit, “the hole.”  Earlier this morning she came back from the psychiatrist’s office extremely upset, verbally lashing out at everyone.  “He thinks I’m stupid  Are you in on it too  You are, aren’t you?”  She went to her room and soon came out crying.  Tears ran down her face as she sat next to me, trying to explain what was going on.  Other women tried to comfort her.

As we were eating lunch, Jan went up to the unit counselor, stood too close and said something.  She was sent to the SHU.  My last image of Jan is seeing her standing defiantly in front of prison authority.  I was transferred from the unit shortly afterwards.

I think of Jan’s mother and family back home waiting for a phone call.  These frequent calls and her memories were all that kept Jan connected with home.  Tomorrow is her son’s birthday.  He’s locked up in Rapid City.  Jan once told me, in relation to her son’s imprisonment, “There’s meth on the reservation.  Can you believe it?  It was in all the news.”  He’s the same age as my son, Noah.

I’m not sure anything could have really prepared me for prison.  Everything operates so differently from my personal and professional life.  Things like empathy, compassion, helping, strength-building are at odds with this system meant to punish people and deter crime.

Although there are many good, kind people working here, workers are here to support the prison.

So I’m left with many questions and a reflection.  Why are so many poor and non-whites locked up for nonviolent crimes, leaving families torn apart?  Why are so many professionals caught up in a system of supporting prisons, not people?  Why does it seem too simple to shift resources into mental health care, drug and alcohol treatment, education and jobs?  Why are some individuals getting rich off of the prison system?

“This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke, letting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke.” (Isaiah 58:6)

Many nonviolent resisters choose to witness within prison walls as part of an action intended to expose violence and injustice, and to begin the transformation process.  Let us pray for the strength to do this work.

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