Seven Kings Bay Plowshares activists arrested inside Trident nuclear submarine base

The Kings Bay Plowshares – Clare Grady, Patrick O’Neill, Liz McAlister, Steve Kelly SJ, Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville and Carmen Trotta (L-R)

(Updates at the Kings Bay Plowshares Facebook page here, and website here)

Seven Catholic plowshares activists were detained early Thursday morning, April 5 at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. 

They entered on Wednesday night, April 4.  Calling themselves Kings Bay Plowshares, they went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command: “beat swords into plowshares”. 

The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  who devoted his life to addressing the triplets of militarism, racism and materialism. In a statement they carried with them the group quoted King, who said: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.”

Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction.  

Carmen Trotta and Elizabeth McAlister at Nuclear Weapons Depot

Kings Bay Naval base opened in 1979 as the Navy’s Atlantic Ocean Trident port.  It is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.  There are six ballistic missile subs and two guided missile subs based at Kings Bay. 

The activists went to three sites on the base: The administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers.  The activists used crime scene tape, hammers and hung banners reading: “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide, Dr. Martin Luther King”, “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide” and “Nuclear weapons: illegal – immoral.”  They also brought an indictment charging the U.S. government for crimes against peace.

The activists at the nuclear weapons storage bunkers were Elizabeth McAlister, 78, Jonah House, Baltimore, Fr. Steve Kelly SJ, 69, Bay Area, California and Carmen Trotta, 55, New York Catholic Worker.

The activists at the Administration building were Clare Grady, 59, Ithaca Catholic Worker and Martha Hennessy, 62, New York Catholic Worker.

The activists at the Trident D5 monuments were Mark Colville, 55, Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Connecticut and Patrick O’Neill, 61, Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, North Carolina.

All activists were detained and will be handed over to custody of the Camden County Sheriff on charges of trespass and defacing government property.  No one was injured.

This is the latest of 100 similar actions around the world beginning in 1980 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

See their statement below, and their indictment (after the photos). Links to media coverage are at the bottom of this page. You can find writings from the prisoners here. For more information, visit the Kings Bay Plowshares website and Kings Bay Plowshares Facebook page.

UPDATE: The seven disarmament activists are being held at the Camden County Detention Facility in Woodbine, Georgia. [later note: they were moved on May 7 to the Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, GA.] They are currently charged with three Georgia state crimes – misdemeanor criminal trespass and two felonies: possession of tools for the commission of a crime and interference with government property.

APRIL 6 UPDATE, from the support team: At this morning’s bond hearing, we learned that our seven friends are being denied bond. This is bad news and we will explore an appeal. Based on what we saw, it seems that the judge sets excessive conditions of release for many defendants. Read more here.

Read the May 28 legal update here.

SUPPORT THE PRISONERS

* Write them a note of support. Jail addresses can be found here.
Important, please note: Inmates may only receive plain white pre-stamped postcards. Postcards may not have any pictures nor backgrounds on them. Blue or black ink only. Plain white pre-stamped postcards may be purchased at some Post Offices and online. Do not use any return address labels or other labels. All postcards are subject to search and /or screening. Postcards should have a handwritten return address with a full name in situations where the post card must be returned. Inmates cannot receive letters.
* Donate to the Kings Bay Plowshares Support Fund
Donations are needed for legal research, travel for family and supporters, commissary, etc. costs… please help if you can!
Click here to make an online donation, or mail a donation to Catholic Worker (with Kings Bay Plowshares written on the memo line of the check), PO Box 3087, Washington, D.C. 20010.
* See other support actions here.

Statement from the Kings Bay Plowshares

We come in peace on this sorrowful anniversary of the martyrdom of a great prophet, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fifty years ago today, April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee as a reaction to his efforts to address “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism.”

We come to Kings Bay to answer the call of the prophet Isaiah (2:4) to “beat swords into plowshares” by disarming the world’s deadliest nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine.

We repent of the sin of white supremacy that oppresses and takes the lives of people of color here in the United States and throughout the world. We resist militarism that has employed deadly violence to enforce global domination. We believe reparations are required for stolen land, labor and lives.

Dr. King said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.” This remains true in the midst of our endless war on terror. The United States has embraced a permanent war economy.

“Peace through strength” is a dangerous lie in a world that includes weapons of mass destruction on hair-trigger alert. The weapons from one Trident have the capacity to end life as we know it on planet Earth.

Nuclear weapons kill every day through our mining, production, testing, storage, and dumping, primarily on Indigenous Native land. This weapons system is a cocked gun being held to the head of the planet.

As white Catholics, we take responsibility to atone for the horrific crimes stemming from our complicity with “the triplets.” Only then can we begin to restore right relationships. We seek to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons, racism and economic exploitation.

We plead to our Church to withdraw its complicity in violence and war. We cannot simultaneously pray and hope for peace while we bless weapons and condone war making.

Pope Francis says abolition of weapons of mass destruction is the only way to save God’s creation from destruction.

Clarifying the teachings of our Church, Pope Francis said, “The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned … weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”

Nuclear weapons eviscerate the rule of law, enforce white supremacy, perpetuate endless war and environmental destruction and ensure impunity for all manner of crimes against humanity. Dr. King said, “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.” We say, “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide.” A just and peaceful world is possible when we join prayers with action. Swords into Plowshares!

Elizabeth McAlister
Mark Colville
Clare Grady
Martha Hennessy
Stephen Kelly S.J.
Patrick O’Neill
Carmen Trotta

Administration building, Kings Bay Naval Base

Martha Hennessy hanging banner at administration building

Banner at D-5 Missile monument

at the base of the D-5 missile monument

KINGS BAY PLOWSHARES

​​Plaintiff 

​​​​​vs.​​

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA​​​​​​​​​

Defendant.​​

​​​​​
INDICTMENT

Today, through our nonviolent action, we, Kings Bay Plowshares—indict the United States government, President Donald Trump, Kings Bay Base Commander Brian Lepine, the nuclear triad, and specifically the Trident nuclear program.

WHEREAS, This program is an ongoing criminal endeavor in violation of international treaty law binding on the United States under the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article VI, Section 2):

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

WHEREAS, The United States is bound by the United Nation’s Charter, ratified and signed in 1945. Its preamble affirms that its purpose is to “save future generations from the scourge of war”. It directs that “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation”. Article II regards the threat to use nuclear weapons as ongoing international criminal activity.

WHEREAS, The Nuremberg Principles, also promulgated in 1945, primarily by the U.S., prohibit crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. They render nuclear weapons systems prohibited, illegal, and criminal under all circumstances and for any reason.

WHEREAS, The U.S. government is obligated as well by the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in force since 1970 that requires the signers to pursue negotiations in good faith and to eliminate nuclear weapons at an early date. The U.S. government is also obligated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits full-scale nuclear explosions.

WHEREAS, the members of the United Nations are currently negotiating a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

THEREFORE, the work being at done at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base violates all these agreements and is thus criminal.

Specifically, the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base refits and maintains submarines, which carry Trident D5 nuclear missiles. The Trident D5 is a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), built by Lockheed Martin. The Navy currently operates 14 Ohio class submarines. Six have their homeport at Kings Bay. Each submarine carries the capacity to cause devastation equivalent to 600 of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima, Japan. Thus, the six Tridents maintained at Kings Bay have the capacity to cause the devastation of 3600 Hiroshima-scale attacks.

From the initial mineral mining through testing, storage, and dumping, the production and maintenance of these weapons harms human beings, destroys the environment, and violates international and God’s law. Moreover, each day this program steals from all in our nation and world by its theft of much-needed resources. Nor is the Navy or the nation retreating from this violation of international law. The Navy is currently preparing to spend at least $100.2 billion of the public’s money on a new class of 12 Trident ballistic missile submarines to replace the current Trident submarines.

Against these continuing violations of treaty law, we assert our right and duty to civil resistance against nuclear weapons. Furthermore, we affirm as crucial the human right to be free from these crimes. The Nuremberg Principles not only prohibit such crimes but oblige those of us aware of the crime to act against it. “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity…is a crime under International Law”. The United Nations Charter further reinforced this principle and made it part of binding international law. Similarly, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which the United States is a signatory, makes it clear that private individuals can be held responsible for acts of genocide.

The ongoing building and maintenance of Trident submarines and ballistic missile systems constitute war crimes that can and should be investigated and prosecuted by judicial authorities at all levels. As citizens, we are required by International Law to denounce and resist known crimes.

For the sake of the whole human family threatened by nuclear weapons, and for the sake of our Planet Earth, which is abused and violated, we indict the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base and all government officials, agencies, and contractors as responsible for perpetuating these war crimes.

xxx

MEDIA COVERAGE:

April 2018

From WOKV
From America Magazine May 18, 2018
 

PLOWSHARES: WHO ARE THEY? WHAT DO THEY WANT?
Fri, 04/27/2018 – 1:17am TribuneG1
BY: JILL HELTON

(Appeared in Tribune & Georgian, Camden, GA newspaper)

It could have been a dinner party at any Camden County home.

As southern Georgians do, they opened their potluck gathering on Friday evening with prayer. With plates of hors d’oeuvres and half full glasses of wine, the guests assembled around the living room for some engaging conversation.

Yet these party guests may not have been welcome in every Camden County home.

This was a gathering for members of the Kings Bay Plowshares, who visited the area to support the anti-nuclear protestors who were arrested at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base earlier this month. They are part of an international Plowshares movement that wants to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

The full verse from Isaiah 2:4 (KJV) states, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more..”

Seven of their members, all Roman Catholic, remain in jail this week after bond was denied in Camden County Magistrate Court. They illegally entered the base on April 4 and staged protests into the early morning hours of April 5 at three areas of the installation: the nuclear weapons storage bunkers, the D5 missile monument and the administration building.

Carrying bottles full of their own blood and hammers, they “attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction,” according to a press release from the organization. The activists defaced the properties with what appears to be their blood, spray-painted messages like “love one another” on sidewalks and pounded with their hammers in a symbolic gesture.

Mark Colville, 55, of New Haven, Conn.; Clare Grady, 59, of Ithaca, N.Y.; Martha Hennessy, 62, of Perkinsville, Vt.; Steve Kelly, 69 of Los Gatos, Calif.; Elizabeth McAlister, 78, of Baltimore, Md.; Patrick O’Neill, 61, of Garner, N.C.; and Carmen Trotta, 55, of New York City; were charged in Camden County Superior Court with interference with government property, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, both felonies, and criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. No federal charges have been filed.

Several Camden County citizens have voiced their outrage on social media because they feel the group wrongly characterizes its demonstrations as non-violent.

“I am all for freedom of speech and expression but there is a time and place. Entering without authorization and vandalizing is not part of it,” said Andrew Bellendir of Kingsland, whose letter to the editor was published in a recent edition.

The Tribune & Georgian Facebook page also elicited mostly negative comments about the seven offenders and their detention at the Camden County jail.

Various peace groups have protested the nuclear weapons on base since the early 1980s with few incidents and appear to be mostly tolerated as they picket at the front gate of the base.

The Plowshares’ actions drew a stronger response, in part because laws were broken, but also because blood can contain disease-causing pathogens and hammers can be used to cause grave bodily injury.

However, they don’t put much into the idea that Camden County citizens, even those who live on base, might be legitimately disturbed or fearful of their safety because of the protest.

Plowshares’ member Bill Streit said he was sorry for anyone who truly felt threatened by the demonstrators, but questioned how one could be fearful of a hammer but not the destructive power of the missiles at Kings Bay. He said it shows how skewed and numb people have become about weapons of mass destruction.

“(The hammers) are not used against any human being,” he said. “Our souls are messed up when we are more afraid of Christians with bolt cutters,” Streit said.

When a reporter suggested that others don’t know what there intent might be, group members emphasized that the hammer was an essential element of this symbolic action.

“Hammers are also used to build things,” added Beth Brockman from Durham. N.C.

In the book, “Religion and War Resistance in the Plowshares Movement,” Plowshares activist Mary Sprunger-Froese explained why they use human blood.

“War has been sanitized … because we mostly do it through our technology and satellite surveillance. Back when people [fought] hand to hand, you would see the blood and gore and you would see the consequences,” she said. “Now we’re so far removed and we watch war coverage on TV like it’s a miniseries. That’s so desensitizing, deadening. So when we use blood, it has a very powerful effect. … The blood is very real, very arresting, shocking, and in your face. It says, ‘This is what we’re talking about — human life.’ All this technology is made to destroy it, to spill human blood.”

The activists realize that some of the blood that is spilled may be their own.

Group members said those who demonstrate spend up to a year preparing with prayer, fasting, political analysis and other rituals before attempting to breach sensitive areas that are often guarded with armed Marines.

The group shared the thoughts of Elizabeth McAlister, one of those arrested, on their Facebook page after the demonstration:

“We raise our voices in a cry to dismantle the weapons — all of them — and we risk life and limb and our future hopes to make this plea: ‘dismantle the weapons.’

“Admirals at Kings Bay, you must know as well or better than we, that the payload of your six Tridents is more than enough to obliterate all life on Earth. We plead with you to examine your priorities. Is this really what you want to be about?

“How can you look at your children and grandchildren and continue to grease the wheels of destruction. Turn it around before it is too late …”

The Plowshares organization has protested at about 100 installations around the world and some of the support team members have themselves been arrested in similar operations. If the trial for the seven base protestors is set in Camden County, the Plowshares said many more peace activists will come to the community in a show of support for the accused.

The Plowshares’ press release said they selected the Georgia base as a demonstration site because April 4 was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Robert Randall, a support team member from Glynn County, said Dr. King was also characterized as radical or even violent because of his actions during the early days of the civil rights movement. He preached nonviolence through sit-ins and marches.

“We want to make sure that message does not get lost,” Randall said.

Streit said he understands that abolishing nuclear weapons is an unpopular proposition in a community where the economy is so heavily dependent on that military program.

“To them, it would be a radical way of thinking,” he said. “We are hoping to reach hearts.”

Brockman said the money spent on the nuclear weapons program could address an endless list of public needs, such as hunger and homelessness.

It seemed to matter little that the group would be fighting an uphill battle to grow its membership in Camden County.

They point to the teachings of Jesus Christ and question how any Christian could feel differently. To them, this is just following the path upon which their faith has placed them.

“We’re not really in charge,” Streit said. “We just do what is right, just and good and then we leave it in better hands than ours.”

 

April 7 vigil outside Kings Bay Trident nuclear sub base