Mark Kenney was sentenced to a six month prison term on February 25, for stepping across the line at Offutt Air Force Base. The Nagasaki Day (August 9) demonstration was part of an annual vigil and protest at the home of the U.S. Strategic Command, overseer of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. Federal Magistrate Judge Thomas D. Thalken accepted Kenney’s guilty plea, and noted that Kenney’s prior record of line crossing at Offutt resulted in his serving 30 day, 45 day and two six month sentences (the two six months sentences being given by Judge Thalken).
Kenney, 53, spoke briefly to the court, concluding, “If I am guilty of anything, it’s that I desire to hold onto my faith in Jesus the Christ more than I wish to hold onto the the manufactured myth of the American Dream. If I am guilty of anything, it’s that I fear God more than I fear the courts.
“For these reasons, I do what I do. For these reasons I will try to accept as faithfully as I can whatever the courts or society have in store for me.”
Thalken said he respected Kenney’s personal convictions for peace but said he has many other options to express those convictions without “breaking the law”. Judge Thalken readily admitted that any prison time given to Kenney would not be a deterrent but only punishment. He sentenced Kenney to the full six month maximum jail time because of Kenney’s prior sentences.
Kenney was allowed to self-surrender once the Bureau of Prisons assigns him to a prison, within four to six weeks.
Two codefendants are considering a plea agreement, and the third, Fr. Jack McCaslin, 81, was set to appear with Kenney but is recovering from recent illness. His trial was postponed until April 12. The last time Fr. McCaslin was before Judge Thalken for the same reason, the judge promised to send him to jail regardless of his age or health.
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