Fr. Carl Kabat splashes red paint on doors at Kansas City nuclear weapons plant

Carl Kabbat 2 July 4 16by Jane Stoever

Fr. Carl Kabat, 82, early in the morning on July 4, 2016, splashed red paint on the doors of the Administration Building at the National Security Campus (NSC) in Kansas City, Missouri. The facility makes, orders and assembles 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for U.S. nuclear weapons. Asked why he defaced the doors, Kabat replied, “That place is bloody, and it was red paint—bright red paint.”

Kabat was quickly detained by security guards and then placed in custody by police, who estimated that he had done about $600 worth of damage with the oil-based paint. Released before noon, Kabat was ordered to appear in Courtroom C of the Kansas City, Missouri Municipal Court at 9 a.m. on Monday, August 15, for two ordinance violations: trespassing after earlier being told not to return to the NSC site, and knowingly doing damage there.

Kabat, a priest in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, lives at the OMI retirement center in Belleville, Illinoia, where he moved after many years of living at the Catholic Worker home named for him in St. Louis. Following missionary work in the Philippines and Brazil, Kabat has devoted much of his life to resisting nuclear weapons. He participated in the first Plowshares action in 1980 and the first major resistance against Minuteman II missiles in Missouri in 1984 (for the latter, he received a sentence of 18 years in prison and served 12 years).

Known for complaining of the $100 cost of gas and expenses for driving to and from Kansas City, Kabat said on July 3, “I don’t want to come, but someone’s gotta do it!”

His action after 8 a.m. on July 4 capped a string of civil resistance actions by Kabat at the nuclear weapons parts plant, during its construction or after it opened in 2014. His other actions at the site:
July 4, 2011 – cutting the fence and staying overnight on the property;
July 4, 2012 – staying overnight on the property and damaging the fence and a construction vehicle;
July 13, 2013 – stepping across the property line with 23 others, including his provincial superior;
July 4, 2014 – sloshing red paint (oil-based) on the huge sign for the new plant; and
August 9, 2015 – sloshing red paint (water-based) on a sign at a back gate.

Kabat’s sentences have typically been time served (after he spent 2 days in jail).

The NSC, which the federal government says costs $900 million a year to operate, produces most of the non-nuclear parts for the U.S. nuclear arsenal, including fuses, wires, radar, security devices, containers for tritium and the bomb trigger mechanism.


August 16, 2016

Doin’ the Kabat Dance
Carl Kabat’s KC trial set for Oct. 12—y’all come!
by Jane Stoever

Father Carl Kabat, OMI, has come to one more court after one more resistance crescendo in the last 40 of his 82 years. All to the tune of nuclear resistance.

Picture this. On July 3, Carl drives from his Oblates of Mary Immaculate retirement center in Belleville, Illinois, to Kansas City (KC), Missouri. On July 4, with an assist from Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House, Carl visits KC’s new nuke-parts plant, the National Security Campus (NSC). He sashays up a path for walkers and joggers. Not allowed to trespass on the prairie grass. But trespass he does, from legal path to illegal weeds to parking lot to main doors of the NSC, the five-building facility that makes 85 percent of the parts for nukes.

Splash! Oil-based red paint on a door. Splash! On other doors. Whoops! Guards. Pirouette to a police station. Carl tells cops that papers in his beat-up black bag were from earlier trials. The supervisor, who evidently looked at the papers, tells Carl he is a super-patriot and lets him go, with a court date.

Fast forward to court, August 15. Prelude: Early arrivers wonder where Carl is. Chrissy Kirchoeffer of St. Louis drops Carl at KC’s Municipal Court, but he takes time to mosey around the first floor. Eventually, Attorney Henry Stoever directs him to Courtroom C on the second floor.

Carl tells supporters he’s heard from a KC reporter. Can’t remember who. Nine days earlier, Eric Garbison of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House asked me why KC judges were so lenient to Carl and suggested stirring up media attention. I sent notices to the media, and one reporter cared. Comes to court. We shuffle spots in the courtroom pew so the reporter can sit by Carl. Do-si-do.

We take stabs at why/when Carl got into nuclear resistance. Carl hems, haws. Chrissy knows: “Was it being with the poor in Brazil and the Philippines?” Carl marshals dates: 1965-68, Brazil; 1969-73, Philippines. “I came back in 1973,” he declares. “There was a National Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Baltimore, and I decided to go to try to talk with one of the bishops.” At Jonah House, people were staging a protest at a cathedral event for the bishops. Carl joined in. They held signs saying what? “I don’t know!” says Carl. “I’m O-L-D. Probably ‘No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis!’” Did he talk to a bishop? Well, no. With time, he writes to each bishop.

Picture Jonah House, 1976: “They had tried to call Jimmy Carter, but they would flick them off. Carter was voted in, not yet sworn in. So they talked about going to Plains, GA, and I went with them. We got about one block from Jimmy Carter’s house, with our signs, and two cops showed up—that’s all they had in those days.” They were in jail a few days—Carl’s first arrest, prefacing 18+ years in prison for nuclear resistance.

The reporter asks, “What would you have told Jimmy Carter?”

No answer. Legato. The court clerk asks people to say “guilty” or “not guilty” when their names are called. As the alphabetical names drone on, at “Carl Kabat,” Carl calls out, “Present!” Stoever, across the courtroom, asks, “Do you plead guilty or not guilty?” Carl announces, “Not guilty!”

Judge Corey Carter, fairly soon, tells Carl he is charged with doing about $600 worth of damage and could have up to six months in jail. “Are you going to have a lawyer?” asks Carter. “I’m going pro se,” says Carl, as is his custom, his refrain. Carter asks him to fill out a form waiving his right to representation. “This is the arraignment, right?” asks Carl. “Yes,” Carter answers. “Can I have the trial today?” asks Carl, noting the cost of making the trip to and from KC. “No,” says Carter. “There’s only time for arraignments today.”

After conferring with the prosecutor and a guard for Honeywell, which operates the NSC, Carter sets Carl’s trial for Oct. 12, 3:30 pm, in Courtroom G—two days after Carl turns 83. “Is there any chance I could have the trial now?” asks Carl. “No,” the judge insists.

Grabbing the cane he left on the floor, Carl leaves the courtroom. The reporter asks why, in Carl’s opinion, nuclear weapons must be opposed. “You can’t kill women, babies, and old people like me indiscriminately,” says Carl. “This is insane. The world’s insane. When did you vote for nuclear weapons? Nobody ever did.”

The reporter parries, “One of the leading candidates for president just talked about giving more countries nuclear weapons.”

“They are insane,” says Carl. Then he divulges, “I intended to use a hammer, too,” on July 4. “The Old Testament said, ‘They shall beat their swords into plowshares.’”

The reporter asks, “You didn’t use the hammer?” Carl replies, “No. They were on me.”

His supporters marvel that he made it to the NSC main door. Carl shrugs them off, saying, “The Holy One does big things!” He reminds us that John 10 quotes Jesus as saying, “You are gods,” quoting the psalms. “And Jesus said we would do greater things (than he). Jesus never deactivated a nuclear missile silo. We had it deactivated for a month, in 1984,” he recalls.
Play it again, Carl!

Happy after court hearing: (front, from left to right) Chrissy Kirchoefer, Father Carl Kabat, and Marsha Anderson; (back) Ann Suellentrop and Henry Stoever. (Photo by Jane Stoever)

Happy after court hearing: (front, from left to right) Chrissy Kirchoefer, Father Carl Kabat, and Marsha Anderson; (back) Ann Suellentrop and Henry Stoever. (Photo by Jane Stoever)