Headed to prison today, activist explains nonviolent witness: A journey from the U.S. Navy to Duluth Federal Prison Camp

Mark Kenney, before crossing the line on August 9, 2010

April 27, 2011
National Catholic Reporter

By Joshua J. McElwee

A young sailor walks through his nuclear submarine, headed for the engine room. As he winds through the tight, crowded corridors he suddenly finds himself standing next to a nuclear missile launch hatch.

He reaches out an outstretched hand. Tentatively, he places it on one of the warheads.

Click. Something changes. The destructive power of a thermonuclear detonation is no longer an abstraction. It’s real. His hand is touching it.

Over the next few days, the sailor heads to his chaplain. He asks the same questions, over and over: What are we doing? How can we justify this?

Fast-forward thirty years. That ex-sailor, Mark Kenney, reports today to Duluth Federal Prison Camp for a six-month stint for an act of civil disobedience at Offutt Air Force Base. He walked about ten steps onto the property of the complex with three others after a vigil there August 6.

The prison stint is the third Kenney’s served for protests at the base, which is the home of U.S. Strategic Command and responsible for the planning and targeting of the nation’s nuclear weapons.

It’s a reality that is a far cry from what Kenney thought he’d be doing when he first enlisted in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion program in 1977. Yet, in a March interview at the Omaha, Nebraska Catholic Worker, the 51-year-old didn’t express any regrets.

Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Reporter blog here.

For updates and support for Mark Kenney, contact:
The Omaha Catholic Worker
1104 N. 24th St. Omaha, Nebraska USA 68102
Phone 402- 502- 5887