Just got back to Des Moines late last night.
First the good news:
Jessica Reznicek, former Des Moines Catholic Worker, full time peace activist and friend and companion of the poor, did a direct disarmament action Witness for Peace at the Northrop Grumman building in Bellevue, Nebraska. She took a sledge hammer and baseball bat to front windows and door of the Northrop Grumman building on Sunday night, December 27, 2015.
Northrop Grumman is one of STRACTCOM’s off site contractors, helping (adding and abiding) provided support to the Strategic Air Command and US Strategic Command (criminal activities) for over 30 years. (see excerpt from Jess’s research below)
Jess was arrested by the Bellevue police and taken to the Sarpy County Jail.
The other unintended news:
Mauro Heck, Michele Obed and Frank Cordaro were also arrested at the same time while they were attempting to leave the site on a frontal public road. We drove Jess to the site. We walked her onto the site. Mauro Heck took photos. We left the site as soon as Jess started her witness. We were arrested in Mauro’s van. Once in police custody it was obvious we were in the area as support for Jess. We spent the last two days in the Sarpy County Jail with Jess.
Jail, Court Report / Charges Made
Yesterday we were all charged with two felonies: criminal mischief $5000 or more and felony burglary in the Sarpy County Jail Court. Jess refused con. Mauro, Michele and I all accepted court appointed attorneys. Bail was set at $100,000 for Jess and $20,000 for Mauro, Michele and Frank. Mauro, Michele and Frank all made bail by posting 10% cash, $2000 apiece by the end of the day. Our next court date is a preliminary hearing for all four on January 26, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.
We are all aware that this is the beginning of a long legal journey for all four of us. And whatever legal course that Mauro, Michele and Frank choose to take, we do not want to distract from the message and witness that Jessica made at Northrop Grumman. In the days and weeks and months ahead we hope to amplify Jess’s message and witness.
I talked to Jess this morning. Her spirits are good. And she is anxious to get her message out.
We will be putting together a Jail/Court/Prison support network asap. We might even come up with a name for the campaign.
For the time being, the message I wish to convey is “If witnessing the Witness is a crime, than I am Jessica Reznicek”.
Please feel free to write Jess:
Sarpy County Jail
1208 Golden Gate Dr, Papillion, NE 68046
Feel free to contact:
Michele Obed <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mauro Heck <email@example.com>
For more info and follow up contact:
515 282 4781 / c 515 490 2490
JANUARY 26 UPDATE:
In court on January 26, criminal mischief and burglary charges were *dismissed* for Mauro Heck, Michele Naar-Obed and Frank Cordaro! The three were witness to anti-war activist Jessica Reznicek’s “Hammer of Justice” action at Northrop Grumman in Nebraska on December 27. Charges remain for Reznicek, who is still in jail and will appear again one week later at the same court. She attempted to do a direct disarmament action and expose the illegal, billion dollar contracts that Northrop Grumman uses to make weapons used in the STRATCOM military system. In the process, Jessica broke 2 windows and a door in her attempt to get to the computers inside.
From Frank Cordaro:
Report plus Jess’ prepared statement in court:
During the hearing, Jessica complained to Sarpy Co. Judge Stefanie
Martinez, that after a month of jail time, she had not been able to
adequately prepare a defense for herself. In fact, she could not event
get the official # of her case, despite repeated request to her
jailers! She was refused access to law books and was not given the
police report from her arrest.
When Jess did not waive the hearing of the evidence, the
prosecutor told the court that her main witness was not in court room
and she could not proceed!
When the Judge heard Jess complain about not being able to
prepare an adequate defense locked up, the Judge offered to review
Jess’s bond. Jess quickly reminded the Judge that she was refusing to
give any $$$ to a corrupt justice system. And by doing so, Jess
exposed yet another lie about our Justice System. Even though it is
the right if every person standing trial to defend themselves, it is
virtually impossible for a poor person in jail to do so adequately.
So since Jess was denied any chance to defend herself and the
prosecuter admited she was not prepared to present her evidence, the
First Preliminary Hearing was extended to next week, Tuesday Feb 2 at
1:30 p.m. before Judge Martinez.
Jessica Reznicek gave the following statement at the end of her First
JR: I first want to make an official statement on behalf of my
co-defendants. I alone destroyed Northrop Grumman property on December
27th. I alone entered the building. I alone swung the hammer. And I
alone am responsible for all charges being filed.
Judge: I just want to advise you that although you are not under oath,
everything is being recorded.
JR: Wonderful. I hope so. Because I’m doing this for others.
Judge: I understand that, I just had to advise you.
JR: Now, on a slightly more informal note, while we each may fight for
justice in our own ways, I have no faith left in this criminal justice
system. Your courtroom concepts don’t resonate with me. I’m rarely
certain as to what you expect me to do or say, or why the prosecutor,
a stranger, is paid here to discredit me, my character, my conscience
and my Faith. In my experience, lawyers rarely place value on the
principles I hold close, which is why I stand before you today absent
of legal representation. Although I understand it is your job to judge
me, I’ve already decided to try not to judge you for doing so. I vow,
rather, to remain true to my spirit, and to my faith, for I believe
that this will set me free. Looking ahead to trial, my hope is to
expose the war crimes being committed by Northrop Grumman, using my
peaceful protest to bring truth to light.
(text transcribed from court and completed over the phone of Jessica’s
prepared statement for her Jan 26, 2015 Court)
If you are so moved you can donate to our Hammer of Justice Defense & Prison Support Fund.
Right now we have spent:
$600 (give %10 of $6,000 cash need to bail Frank, Mauro and Michele out of jail)
$185 to get Mauro’s Van out of pound.
$400 to Jess’ jail store and Frank’s phone bills & gas for visits
$1,185 spent so far
*** Donations to cover this and other cash needs for the Hammer of Justice Defense & Prison Support Fund can be made out to the Berrigan Catholic Worker House with note for Defense and Prison Support Fund… Mail donations to: Phil Berrigan CW House, 713 Indiana Ave., Des Moines, IA 50314.
3200 Samson Way, Bellevue, NE 68123
provided support to the Strategic Air Command and US Strategic Command for over 30 years. This original onsite Offutt enterprise began with a software development and sustainment program in support of land-based intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine launched ballistic missile war planning. It has now built offsite (within eye distance) and consolidated 4 offices
Military Intelligence – Northrop Grumman Corporation
For more than 35 years, Northrop Grumman has helped supply the advanced intelligence information systems that support military
strategy, planning, and missions for …
U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)
We are one of the foremost providers of intelligence, C2, and strategic war planning systems and IT services. The diverse technical
assistance we offer includes the drafting of USSTRATCOM’s C4ISR Concept of Operations, assisting in the stand-up of USSTRATCOM
responsibilities in missile defense and information operations, and providing systems engineering support to SIGINT operations conducted by RC-135 RIVET JOINT aircraft assigned to the 55th Wing
Bond set for suspects in Northrop Grumman vandalism, KETV Omaha Dec 29, 2015
Alleged vandals were moved by God, advocates say ‘We oppose nuclear
weapons as Catholic workers’, KETV Omaha Dec. 29, 2015
4 people arrested at defense contractor’s building have bail set in
Sarpy County Court, KETV Omaha Dec 30, 2015
4 people arrested at defense contractor’s building appear in Sarpy
County Court” World-Herald News Service , Dec 29, 2015
It’s the Hammer of Justice
by Michele Naar-Obed
As the word of Jessica Reznicek’s action is getting around, I thought I might add a bit more substance to the story.
I’ve known Jess for a little while now. I know she’s lived in Central America. She’s lived with Occupy Des Moines, and now with the Des Moines Catholic Worker. She’s seen poverty and despair. She’s seen the suffering of people in small nations as they deal with the oppressive and deadly interactions from the empire building nations. Now, in researching out the weapons systems contracted out from the Pentagon to private developers like Northrop-Grumman and used out of places like Offut Air Force Base and STRATCOM, she put all of this together and a spark ignited in her spirit to cry out loud and clear: ENOUGH.
Intending to take full responsibility for her action on the night of December 27, 2015, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Jess took hammer and baseball bat with the intention of entering the Northrop-Grumman office building in Bellevue, Nebraska to dismantle and disarm the computer systems that hold the contracts and plans for a variety of illegal and immoral weapons systems. She fully intended to adhere to the principles of nonviolence in that she was committed to making sure no person was injured, harmed or felt threatened by her action. She intended to hammer out a message that lethal danger to humanity exists on those computers and it needs to be stopped. She intends to give up her freedom by remaining in jail so that the rest of us might continue ringing the bell of freedom from the captivity of fear mongering generated by the weapons developers and researchers. She intends to sing out the song of love between our brothers and our sisters from behind the jail cell wall and hopes that our song of love will join with hers and amplify this message.
I had the privilege of driving Jess to the site where this action would be carried out. I knew very little of the plan but I felt I knew enough of Jess’s heart to, at the very least, help with transportation to the site. I had no intention of doing anything but that. The act itself was Jess’s. That’s what she made clear to all of us that she wanted.
The act, however, leads us to a bigger challenge which is to ignite the spark and get the fire of passion burning in all people of good will to say ENOUGH to death and destruction, ENOUGH to fear and hatred, ENOUGH to war and killing, ENOUGH, ENOUGH, ENOUGH.
I know people have raised questions about the tactics used in this action. Some might see the use of the baseball bat and hammer as tools of destruction by smashing the windows. Maybe another way to look at it is the windows are now open to allow us to see the horror of the plans developed in that building. Her intention to dismantle and disarm the computer systems might also be viewed as a means to clearing out the communication system of death and opening up a space to communicate love and hope.
I for one, thank Jess for the challenge and the opportunity. As time goes on, I’m sure we will hear more from Jess directly. Until then, I hope we can hammer out justice, ring the bell of freedom and sing the song of love between our brothers and our sisters all over this world.
Peace activists arrested on grounds of Nebraska defense contractor
by Patrick O’Neill
A security guard’s encounter with an anti-war protester who was holding a sledgehammer in one hand and baseball bat in the other led to the arrests of four peace activists Sunday night on the grounds of defense contractor Northrop Grumman in Bellevue, Neb.
At their first court appearance Tuesday, large bonds were set for Michele Naar-Obed, Jessica Reznicek, Frank Cordaro and Mauro Heck. The four were each charged with felony burglary and felony criminal mischief after police encountered them on Northrop Grumman property. Some windows were broken, and the damage was estimated at $8,000.
Reznicek, 34, who was holding the bat and sledgehammer, told television station KETV that she alone did the damage. She was given the highest bond at $100,000. Naar-Obed, Heck and Cordaro were each given $20,000 bonds. Naar-Obed, Cordaro and Heck were released Tuesday after posting a percentage of their bonds. Reznicek remains in jail.
“My intention was to be on the property and to do property destruction, that’s what I wanted to do,” Reznicek told a KETV reporter via a jailhouse phone interview. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I didn’t want to scare anybody.”
Michele Naar-Obed’s husband, Greg Boertje-Obed, told the television reporter that the four were engaged in an anti-war protest at Northrop Grumman.
“We oppose nuclear weapons as Catholic Workers,” said Boertje-Obed, a long-time anti-war activist who was released earlier this year after serving a two-year prison sentence for a Plowshares protest with two others at the Y-12 weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. “We oppose the making and selling of weapons for profit.”
Following their arrests Sunday, the four were booked into Sarpy County Jail. In a telephone interview following her release, Michele Naar-Obed, 59, told NCR she had only gone along for the car ride to Northrop Grumman to support Reznicek, who, along with Cordaro, is part of the Catholic Worker community in Des Moines, Iowa.
“My role in all this was to be with the group that drove her there,” Naar-Obed said. “I had no intention of going in or participating in the action itself.”
Naar-Obed and her husband Greg Boertje-Obed are members of the Duluth, Minn., Catholic Worker community. Cordaro, 64, is a former Catholic priest and another long-time peace activist. Heck is a photographer and long-time Iowa peace activist.
Recalling the events, Naar-Obed said Reznicek was planning to be the lone actor in an attempt to “disarm” computer equipment at Northrop Grumman, but after dropping her off, the group — concerned for her safety — stayed behind and waited for things to unfold. Heck also took a picture of Reznicek shortly before her arrest. His camera was confiscated, Naar-Obed said. By the time the trio decided to drive off, the police had already been called. When a police car spotted a lone car leaving the Northrop Grumman property, the three were pulled over and detained.
Naar-Obed, who, like her husband, has also spent time in prison for anti-war activities, said Reznicek’s action was a “disarmament” action, but not a traditional “plowshares action” in which the actors cite Isaiah 2:4: “And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” Plowshares activists often give a name to their actions and write a statement explaining their motives. Naar-Obed said Reznicek did write a statement, but it was lost or misplaced en route to the protest.
Heck told the KETV reporter that he was not involved in the planning process with Reznicek, but he did say he drove the group to Northrop Grumman “in hopes of raising awareness on government spending.”
“We have to be conscious of how people’s taxes are spent,” Heck told the reporter. “People are not even aware.”
In court Tuesday, Reznicek said: “I assure you I did all the damage. I will not back down from that statement.”
Reznicek said she had no plans to post bond. She also told the television reporter she used a sledgehammer to break the glass as part of a research project for a grant.
“She wanted to get in, and she wanted to hammer on the computers if they became available to her,” Naar-Obed said. “She didn’t have a specific plan other than to get in and see what things there might be available for her to do this kind of disarmament action.”
Naar-Obed said Reznicek had decorated her bat.
“The baseball bat had some slogans on it like, ‘Drones are immoral, illegal’ — ‘Stop killing’ — ‘Stop war’ — kinds of stuff,” she said.
The four are scheduled to be back in court in January.
[Patrick O’Neill is a longtime NCR contributor.]
from KETV Omaha
by Chinh Doan and DaVonté McKenith
Bond set for suspects in Northrop Grumman vandalism
BELLEVUE, Nebraska — Four people accused of damaging the Northrop Grumman building in Bellevue appeared in court Tuesday morning, December 29, and were assigned varying bond amounts.
Michele Naar, Jessica Reznicek, Frank Cordaro and Mauro Heck face charges of felony burglary and felony criminal mischief after police say they smashed windows on the property.
The following bond amounts were set:
The incident happened Sunday, December 27 around 7:30 p.m.
Police said a witness reported the suspicious activity after at least one of them was seen breaking windows.
All four were booked in Sarpy County Jail Sunday.
Monday, three of the four suspects spoke with KETV NewsWatch 7’s Chinh Doan from jail via telephone. The group said they are peace workers, working for a movement.
“My intention was to be on the property and to do property destruction, that’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I didn’t want to scare anybody,” Reznicek said.
Reznicek, 34, said using a sledgehammer to break the glass was her plan and part of a research project for a grant.
“To bring public awareness to the fact that we really don’t know what our billions of taxpayers’ dollars are really going toward when we’re handing them over to Northrop Grumman,” she said.
The company is a contractor for the Department of Defense, including U.S. Strategic Command headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base. The base has been a place of protest for decades every December 28, known as Holy Innocents’ Day.
“There would be many more people with us today if they weren’t afraid, and aside from all the other issues, fear is not a good thing,” Cordaro said in a past interview with KETV NewsWatch 7.
Cordaro, 64, is a former priest. Monday, via telephone, he compared Northrop Grumman to mass destruction.
“That’s every bit as dangerous to the world as the strategic nuclear command is,” he said.
Mauro Heck said he had nothing to do with the planning process of what happened Sunday night but did tell us he drove the group to Northrop Grumman in hopes of raising awareness on government spending.
“We have to be conscious of how people’s taxes are spent. People are not even aware,” Heck said.
Reznicek said she has no regrets.
“I’ll sit in jail for as long as I need to if it gets people talking,” she said.
from the Bellevue Leader
4 people arrested at defense contractor’s building have bail set in Sarpy County Court
by Kevin Cole / World-Herald staff writer
Two men and two women arrested on suspicion of vandalism of the Northrop Grumman building in Bellevue had their bail set Tuesday in Sarpy County Court.
Bail was set at $20,000 apiece for Frank Cordaro, 64, of Des Moines; Michele Naar, 59, of Duluth, Minnesota; and Mauro Heck, 59, of Iowa City. They must pay 10 percent, or $2,000, in order to be released from the Sarpy County Jail.
Judge Stefanie Martinez set bail at $100,000 for Jessica Reznicek, 34, of Des Moines. Reznicek must pay $10,000 to be released.
All four defendants are charged with criminal mischief/causing $5,000 or more damage and burglary. If convicted on both felony counts, each would face up to 22 years in prison.
The four were arrested Sunday at the Northrop Grumman building, 3200 Samson Way in Bellevue, after police said they broke in, “causing malicious damage.” Northrop Grumman Corp. is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world.
A spokeswoman for the defendants, Gail Johnson of Des Moines, said they were protesting the billions of tax dollars used in the pursuit of war. Prior to the bail hearing, Johnson read the Nov. 19 comments of Pope Francis when he said: “The issue is that today, the way of peace isn’t comprehended. Indeed, Jesus’ proposal of peace has not been heard. And this is why he wept looking at Jerusalem and he weeps now.”
In October, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that Northrop Grumman won the contract to build the country’s next long-range bomber. That contract is expected to top $55 billion over the life of the program.