What We’re About

The Nuclear Resister networks the anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance movement while acting as a clearinghouse for information about contemporary nonviolent resistance to war and the nuclear threat. Our emphasis is on support for the women and men jailed for these actions.  This blog is the online companion to the quarterly Nuclear Resister newsletter, a more comprehensive chronicle.

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Patrick O’Neill sentenced to 14 months in prison for nuclear disarmament action

from the Kings Bay Plowshares media team
BRUNSWICK, GA — On October 16, in a decision likely unexpected by both the defendants and prosecutors, a federal judge passed down a significantly lower prison sentence to one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7.
Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced Patrick O’Neill of Garner, North Carolina to 14 months in prison for his role in the nonviolent protest on April 4, 2018 at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia.
“I’m grateful that we were able to pull the heartstrings of the judge and help her be as merciful as she can be under the circumstances,” O’Neill said afterwards. 
Wood began the proceedings by telling O’Neill she’d “received quite a lengthy, quite tall stack of records, of letters, on your behalf.”

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33 month prison sentence for Plowshares activist Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J.

On October 15, Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. was sentenced to 33 months in prison for his part in the Kings Bay Plowshares nuclear disarmament action of April 2018. Federal judge Lisa Godbey Wood also ordered that Kelly pay restitution of $33,503.51, jointly and severally with his six codefendants, and a special assessment of $310. Recognizing the Jesuit priest’s indigence, the court waived any fine and interest payments on the restitution. Three years of supervised probation will follow his prison term, with the conditions that Kelly must surrender all financial information requested by the probation office, make no applications for credit, and cooperate with submitting a DNA sample.
Fr. Kelly has already served 30 months in Georgia county jails since his arrest, and the judge said he will receive credit for time served. It’s possible that with statutory good time credit he has completed the 33 months, but that calculation has yet to be made by the Bureau of Prisons.

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Presentencing declaration of Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., Kings Bay Plowshares nuclear disarmament action

Steve Kelly at 2015 Pacific Life Community blockade of Lockheed Martin, CA. Photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Presentencing Declaration of Pro Se Defendant’s Conscientious Objection To and Non-compliance With Any and All Post-incarceration Conditions

[This statement was filed with the court before Fr. Steve Kelly’s October 15, 2020 sentencing.]

While still in chains, I, pro se defendant Stephen Michael Kelly, S.J., file this declaration in an attempt to remove any ambiguity and avoid all misunderstanding, come time of sentencing. 

I assert the innocence of the Kings Bay Plowshares. But this statement is my own declaration. Both my conscientious objection and my Religious Freedom Restoration Act testimony are attempts to fulfill the mandate of the Nuremberg Accords. This witness has me confronting and engaged with the omnicidal policies of the U.S. government. Recourse to appeal is futile, pathetic, and dangerous because all the judiciary’s rulings precluded our jury from hearing any defense. The circuit, appeal, the entire judiciary has thwarted redress that would fulfill the purpose and mandate of the signatories of the Nuremberg Accords. For this reason, I am a political prisoner of conscience for Christ. The judiciary has been unable to see the Isaian vision as a way out of this spiral of violence. The Isaiah 2:4 vision is an imperative to conversion. The judiciary dangerously legitimizes a nuclear holocaust in following previous rulings. The precedents, when followed, have functioned as a gag order. This court would not allow the jury, the triers of fact, to hear what was recognized in our Religious Freedom Restoration Act evidence; we were at the Trident base to preach against the sin that flourishes in weapons of mass destruction.

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11 years in prison: A Catholic priest serves time for crimes of conscience

from Religion News Service

by Patrick O’Neill

September 24, 2020

(RNS) — For more than 850 days, the Rev. Stephen Kelly, a Jesuit priest, has hunkered down in a south Georgia jail in relative obscurity.

On April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination, Kelly and I cut a padlock on a perimeter fence gate at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, the Atlantic home port of the Trident submarine, located in St. Marys, Georgia.

Five other Catholic peace activists passed through that gate with us that evening as we made our way to three different parts of the nuclear base to, in the words of the biblical prophet Isaiah, “beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.”

The U.S. fleet of Trident subs, each armed with D-5 nuclear missiles, carry enough firepower to essentially end the human experiment.

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Ardeth Platte, Dominican nun dedicated to no-nukes cause, dies at 84

photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Sr. Ardeth Platte, O.P., Presente!

April 10, 1936 – September 30, 2020
Nuclear resister, Plowshares activist, Dominican sister
With Sr. Carol Gilbert, O.P., long time member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore, and then of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C.
We had been in touch with Ardeth and Carol in recent weeks to discuss and plan and brainstorm what we can do across the country after the 50th nation ratifies the nuclear ban treaty, and it enters into force 90 days later – something she had worked so hard for. 
With deep gratitude for the gift of her life, and for her encouragement and support and friendship over many years… Rest in power, Ardeth. In your memory – and with your energy and commitment! – we will continue to work for a nuclear-free world. 

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A tribute to a jailhouse monk

3/14/18 – Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. at the Nevada nuclear test site

from Radical Discipleship

by Dean Hammer

One of the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit amongst believers is that we are afforded the capacity to be present to fellow travelers from a distance. Each day since the Kings Bay Plowshares (KBP) disarmament action (April 4, 2018), Steve Kelly and the other six of the KBP (Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Elizabeth McAlister, Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville, and Carmen Trotta) gift me with their witness against omnicide on behalf of human survival. Liz McAlister has been sentenced and the others await sentencing, currently scheduled for mid-October. This reflection is meant as a tribute to the extraordinary example of Steve Kelly and the KBP community.

Steve Kelly has done ten years in prison and time underground for his witness against nuclear weapons. He will not be released when the KBP charges are “resolved.” Since the KBP witness, he has been remanded on a retainer from the West Coast judicial system. Steve will be transported there to address a warrant for a previous protest action at the Pacific Fleet Trident base. He will continue to dedicate his life to ridding the world of nuclear weapons. With his fellow jail mates, Steve is identified by his inmate number. As Kathy Kelly eloquently says, “Those eight numbers distinguish him.”

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A 40th anniversary Plowshares Eight reflection from John Schuchardt

John Schuchardt

My Letter of Love and Gratitude

by John Schuchardt

Dear Jack, dear Felice….

Your Chronicle of Hope has been a lifeline of Spirit for all the years since your first mimeographed edition, mailed at personal expense, to announce the Good News of September 9, 1980, “good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, freedom for the oppressed, Jubilee justice this day and every day into eternity.”

You have nourished and been our Book of Acts for our beloved community of conscience which has over and again brought light from “the brilliant light burning in the human heart” into the darkest of places.

Dear readers/friends of 40 years, you who have written with your lives the Nuclear Resister, our astonishing Chronicle of Hope, you who have enfleshed hope and incarnated the Word, I am sending you this, my letter of love and gratitude, to each of you.

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A 40th anniversary Plowshares Eight reflection from Molly Rush

Molly Rush

We’re vulnerable, but so are the warheads

by Molly Rush

I have admired Dan and Phil Berrigan since they burned draft records. I did visit Jonah House and met Liz McAlister and their young children.

I learned about a planned protest at General Electric (G.E.) from John Schuchardt and I expressed interest, so he drove me to the retreat to pray and plan for a nonviolent action to protest G.E.’s production of Mark 12A nuclear warheads.

It was a serious decision because my two youngest sons of our six children were just 12 and 15. But it was the height of the Cold War and we lived under the very real threat of nuclear war. I was very worried if they’d live to grow up.

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A 40th anniversary Plowshares Eight reflection from Dean Hammer

Dean Hammer

Filled with Gratitude for the Plowshares Conspiracy of Hope

by Dean Hammer

“It will take a long time before we really understand what we did at GE King of Prussia.” Phil Berrigan shared this reflection with me during a jail yard walk shortly after the Plowshares 8 action. This is one of the many gems from this treasured teacher and friend. When we did the Plowshares 8 action, we had no idea that over a hundred plowshares actions in the U.S., Europe, and Australia would follow ours. Indeed, this is amazing grace.

I share the following reflections with deep thanks for Phil’s leadership with Liz McAlister, the Atlantic Life Community, and the global network that evolved the past forty years. This resistance community provided immeasurable passion and skill to create, sustain, and expand the Plowshares movement. The gracious, wise, and stalwart spirits of Daniel Berrigan, Anne Montgomery, and Elmer Maas continue to inspire us in their heavenly witness — I feel buoyed by their vital presence in my life. The persistent lived commitment to peace and justice by Molly Rush, John Schuchardt, and Carl Kabat is a great blessing, bearing light in dark times.

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After 4 decades of Plowshares actions, it’s nuclear warfare that should be on trial — not activists

(l-r) Fr. Carl Kabat, Elmer Maas, Philip Berrigan, Molly Rush, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, Sr. Anne Montgomery, John Schuchardt, Dean Hammer

from Waging Nonviolence

by Frida Berrigan
Forty years ago, the Plowshares Eight sparked a movement of nuclear disarmers that continues to take responsibility for weapons of mass destruction. 

“Nuclear warfare is not on trial here, you are!” said Judge Samuel Salus, in exasperation.

Before him were eight activists, including two priests and a nun. As Judge Salus tried to preside over the government’s prosecution of them for their trespass onto — and destruction of — private property, the eight were trying to put nuclear warfare, nuclear weapons, nuclear policy and U.S. exceptionalism on trial.

That was 40 years ago this week — ancient history by some measures. And no one reading this will be surprised to find that the eight were found guilty and the human family is still threatened by almost 15,000 nuclear warheads. So, four decades later, why isn’t nuclear warfare on trial?

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