‘Violence ends where love begins’: A conversation with Sr. Anne Montgomery

by John Dear SJ on May. 01, 2012 in the National Catholic Reporter

Sr. Anne Montgomery is a legend in some peace movement circles. A member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, she has spent more than three years in prison for many civil disobedience actions against war, including seven Plowshares disarmament actions*; many years teaching in Harlem; and many years living with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron, Palestine-Israel. Continue reading

Mary Kelly – Ploughshares Conviction Overturned!


As we await the day of sentencing for the Disarm Now Plowshares it is good for us to remember that the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 stand in good company within a larger, global plowshares community.

On a damp, cold night in January 2003 Mary Kelly, a nurse and mother of 4 children, entered Shannon Airport in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland and disabled a U.S. Navy war plane that had stopped for refueling while bringing armaments to Iraq for the illegal U.S. war there. Mary, with full knowledge of the consequences, took an axe to the nose cone and fuel lines. Continue reading

Sending the Wrong People to Jail…


In a little over a month from now (on March 28th) the five Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants will walk into Judge Benjamin Settle’s courtroom for sentencing.

Sentencing can be defined as the punishment given to persons convicted of a crime.  One legal dictionary refers to the primary goals of sentencing as “punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.”  It is somewhat ironic that one of the goals of sentencing is “deterrence,” the same longstanding stated (and completely misguided) goal of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.  And I must admit that the last one, “rehabilitation” made me laugh as I thought of the idea of rehabilitating any of these fine people.  Perhaps it would be more appropriate to  prescribe rehabilitation for those people engaged in preparations for nuclear war, the ones Thomas Merton once described as:

“…the sane ones, the well-adapted ones, who can without qualms and without nausea aim the missiles and press the buttons that will initiate the great festival of destruction that they, the sane ones, have prepared.” Continue reading

From War Culture to Peace Culture: Steven Leeper Interview


Steven Leeper, Chairperson of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, spent the week with us during the Disarm Now Plowshares trial – observing, supporting and testifying, and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.  Mike McCormick interviewed Steve on Saturday, December 11th, on KEXP Radio, Seattle.  Steve gave a rich explanation of the purposes and functions of Mayors for Peace and the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, provided perspective on the trial, and spoke directly about the world “nuclear weapons crisis.”

Questions… (And New START)!


Ever since the news media got wind of the jury’s verdict in the Disarm Now Plowshares trial there has been an onslaught of questions about the trial: What were the reasons for their Plowshares action?  Will they appeal?  Why did they choose to defend themselves?  What happens next?  What does this mean for the nuclear weapons abolition movement? Continue reading

On Community… and Conspiracy


Wow!!!  What a week! 

I could stop there; those few words pretty well summarize the past four days. Thanks to an obsessive Media Team the blog posts of the past week should tell a story.  As significant as the story of this trial, of Plowshares, of nuclear weapons and of peacemaking (and more), for me this story is also one of community.

Since November 2, 2009 a community has encircled the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 with its compassionate care and nurturing.  It was so evident over the past week as people came from all over the country and the world to be here in support and solidarity.  In a very organic fashion people moved into support roles in a minimally choreographed dance, which is so representative of this movement of dedicated peacemakers.  People did what they could do, and often more, to make everything happen.

Everyone’s role has been (and continues to be) important, from those who stayed behind each day at Jean’s House of Prayer to answer the phones to those on the other side of the Atlantic who vigiled in solidarity with Disarm Now Plowshares.  We are so extraordinarily THANKFUL to each and every one of you!

The Disarm Now Plowshares defendants chose to defend themselves, and have relied on many legal experts to stand with them and advise them at each step of the trial.  The legal team included court-appointed stand by counsels and an additional counsel, Blake Kremer, who is working on this pro bono. 

Anabel Dwyer, international law expert and Board Member of The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), the US branch of the International Association of Lawyers’ Against Nuclear Weapons (IALANA), and Bill Quigley, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights; Professor, Loyola New Orleans, came from afar and gave of their time and talents. 

 It is extraordinarily difficult to bring the Disarm Now Plowshares 5 together for a group photo (even when they are together, which is often these days), but we did it, and we were able to include the legal team (sadly, without Anabel Dwyer and Paula Crane who had to leave early).  Here they are, captured for posterity as they left the courthouse on Friday.


They will all be back in the courtroom on Monday morning, surrounded by a global community of co-conspirators, all conspiring for PEACE!


Jury for Tacoma Trident Peace Activists Still Out

Editor’s Note: We are grateful to Bill Quigley, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights; Professor, Loyola New Orleans, for authoring this news release, originally posted at the Huffington Post on December 10, 2010 09:31 PM

The federal criminal trial of five veteran peace activists facing several charges was recessed until Monday after their jury announced late Friday they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on one of the counts. The Tacoma Washington trial has been going on since Tuesday. The five defendants, called the Disarm Now Plowshares, challenged the legality and morality of the US storage and use of thermonuclear missiles by Trident nuclear submarines at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside Bremerton Washington. Continue reading

First day of trial encourages moral deliberation in Trident case

An impromptu video reflection on the trial by Anabel Dwyer, Esq., expert on international law.

December 7, 2010, Tacoma, Washington: Plowshares activists were in court for the first day of their trial for entering a U.S. Navy nuclear weapons storage depot.

The trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares five, who entered the U.S. Navy’s Strategic Weapons Facility (SWFPAC), Pacific on November 2, 2009 in a symbolic act intended to bring light to the immoral and illegal nuclear weapons stored and deployed from there, began in U.S. District Court today.

During the morning’s jury selection there was an animated discussion. The U.S. Attorney asked if considerations of the defendants health and age, or the fact that they might be priest or nuns would hamper their ability to render an impartial judgment.

Continue reading

Ramsey Clark to speak on behalf of Disarm Now!

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark will give a public presentation at the Carwein Auditorium, University of Washington Tacoma campus on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 6:30 PM. He will speak about international law and civilian responsibility in the context of nuclear disarmament.

The U.S. continues to pursue an aggressive policy that perpetuates the development, production and potential use of nuclear weapons, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars that need to be spent on human needs.  At the heart of this issue are citizens’ responsibility to resist our government’s illegal actions, and the government’s criminalization of such dissent.

Clark will also testify on behalf of the Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants during their motions hearing on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 at 1:30 PM. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma Courthouse.

Clark was U.S. Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1967 to 1969, and supervised drafting and passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

The former Attorney General has provided legal defense for Plowshares activist Philip Berrigan, as well as Camilo Mejia, Leonard Peltier and Lori Berenson.

Supporters of Disarm Now Plowshares will gather in front of the Tacoma courthouse from 12:30 to 1:00 for music and reflection prior to the 1:30 PM motions hearing on Tuesday.

Continue reading

Bangor: What are all those fences for???

Dear Friends,

The Disarm Now Plowshares five symbolically (through their act of cutting chain-link fences) and sequentially opened the Bangor nuclear submarine base and nuclear weapons storage depot to the world so that we may all see what lies within.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific are at the heart of our nations reliance on nuclear weapons.  The April 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) made it clear that between development and deployment of a new generation of ballistic missile submarines, and warhead “life extension” work for the W76 warhead deployed on the Trident D5 missile, Trident will continue to be the nation’s star nuclear player.

One may well wonder what ever happened to President Obama’s commitment to  a world free of nuclear weapons, and his promise to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy” (Prague speech, April 5,2009).  While his rhetoric has mostly been upbeat, the 2010 NPR is not.  Although it is a marked improvement over the 2001 NPR released by the Bush administration, it continues decades-old policies on deployment, modernization, disarmament, and use doctrine.

So the government continues to maintain (and improve) the vast numbers of nuclear warheads stored in Bangor’s bunkers and prepare the submarines that patrol the seas, ready to launch their deadly arsenal on command, without any signs of cutting back.  It is not only madness, but under our nations (and international) laws it is illegal.

The public is essentially kept in the dark about nuclear weapons, and in one study only 59 of U.S. respondents knew that our own nation possesses nuclear weapons (whoah!).  Ignorance is not bliss; we ignore the existence of nuclear weapons at our own peril.  Avoiding the issue will not make the weapons go away; quite the contrary – it allows our government to more easily pursue its aggressive nuclear agenda.

Today I present you with direct evidence of the nefarious activities hidden from view behind the chain link and barbed wire fences surrounding Bangor.  Thanks to someone with aerial access and a phenomenal camera system we can see what the Disarm Now Plowshares five saw (albeit from a different perspective) and more.  See what is beyond the fence in the You Tube video [11/16/10 note: shortly after the Bangor aerial footage (from YouTube) was posted here, it mysteriously disappeared, and so you will have to imagine it here in this empty space.]:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Once we view what is behind the fences at Bangor we can no longer pretend that it does not exist; we must make a choice – ignore it or take a stand against the nuclear monster that threatens to consume the world.  It is up to us to pressure our reluctant government to take real steps towards a nuclear weapons-free world.



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