Plowshares activist Mark Colville to return to Brunswick, Georgia jail

From Catholic Worker and Kings Bay Plowshares activist Mark Colville, sharing his statement before he self-surrenders to jail in Brunswick, Georgia on December 11, 2018

Greetings in the peace that the world cannot give…

Please pardon my spottiness in terms of keeping in touch with all of you since getting out of jail in early September. It has never been my custom to allow the federal government to indulge the fantasy that supervising me is a legitimate use of their time or resources, and to be honest, it’s been a bit difficult to find my footing out here in minimum security for the past three months. In our case, magistrate judges Baker and Cheesbro have clearly seen fit to use bail, house arrest, curfews and ankle monitors as preemptive punishment for the accused. (This was made amply plain when in that same court, four persons arrested in October for allegedly stealing explosives and ammunition from Kings Bay Naval Base were released without restrictions, on a promise to return for court appearances!) Nevertheless I cheerfully opted to accept these bail conditions on an emergency basis, when it became clear that the Glynn County Jail was not terribly interested in allowing me access to adequate medical care after a diagnosis of skin cancer. As things turned out, this proved to be a good decision, because after two successful surgeries back home in New Haven, I’ve been given a clean bill of health with no further follow-up care required.

So it’s time to go back. It’s obvious that this governmentally-imposed obedience training program amounts to nothing but another form of imprisonment, one for which the accused do not receive any credit toward an actual post-conviction sentence. This has become a scandalously common abuse of the Bail Reform Act in courtrooms all across the country. Personally, the daily practice of voluntarily cooperating in my own captivity has also imposed a strange sort of existence, one in which I find it difficult to fully engage in life and relationships in the ways I’m accustomed to doing so. It’s an unhealthy dynamic that has only become worse since the reason for my decision to take bail no longer exists, and the court’s lack of integrity imposes the responsibility on me to make that dynamic change. 

From the beginning, my participation in the Kings Bay Plowshares action was first of all an act of contrition for complicity in the sins of nuclearism and empire, and I’ve regarded any incarceration as penance for those sins. But the jail has also been for me a place of ministry, personal faith-development and formation of conscience. It provides the incredible daily privilege of walking with Jesus in the person of the prisoner, and of seeing the world the way He did: from the perspective of the bottom. It’s a lot like being in an unusually noisy monastery where all the monks have tattoos and share a fondness for the F-word! Of course, Christmas can be a very lonely and desolate time for people in jail, especially those who don’t enjoy the constant support of family and friends on the outside as I do, so returning there before the holidays seems like a useful and appropriate sacrifice to make. With this in mind, there are no misgivings or mixed feelings about going back to Glynn County Detention Center, but rather a sense of rejoicing that, as Dan Berrigan liked to say, one has the freedom to go to jail.

A week ago, judge Cheesbro accepted a motion to return the bail money that was posted on my behalf and put me back in the jail on December 11th. This Tuesday, Luz and I will show up at the Glynn County Detention Center and part ways again, for another undetermined length of time. We will do this mindfully, reaching hands of solidarity toward our extended global family members who are now at this country’s border facing atrocities and uncertainties far beyond whatever hardships we might be obliged to bear. Anyone who wishes to join us, before my self-surrender, in a group hug and a prayer for refugees, would be most welcome to meet us there in the GCDC parking lot (100 Sulphur Springs Road, Brunswick, GA 31520) at 11:30 a.m. After that, I’ll look forward to your postcards, and delight in all news of your ongoing efforts to bring about the nonviolent collapse of the U.S. empire, in defense of all creation… 

Love and Prayers,

For more information about the Kings Bay Plowshares, click here.