Federal judge rules against Kings Bay Plowshares’ motion to dismiss charges under RFRA, October 21 trial date set

UPDATE: Trial date set for October 21.
BRUNSWICK, GA  –  On August 26, a federal judge denied all the pre-trial motions of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The activists had urged U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood to dismiss their charges for numerous legal reasons as well as the fact that the hundreds of first strike nuclear weapons on the submarines based at Kings Bay Naval Base are illegal and immoral.
The judge found the Plowshares did establish a prima facie case under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act because they were sincerely religiously motivated to challenge the nuclear weapons at the Naval Base. Wood also found that the government’s actions substantially burdened their right to exercise their religious beliefs. However, the judge went on to rule that the government had a compelling interest in keeping unauthorized people out of the base and the prosecution of the Plowshares activists was the least restrictive means of protecting the safety of the base.

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Two blockaders arrested at Des Moines Drone Command Center

Ed and Frank

from Frank Cordaro

The Des Moines Catholic Worker and Veterans for Peace ended their third annual 24/7 Vigil from August 6 – 9 at the Des Moines Cathedral with a rally and direct action August 9 at the Des Moines Drone Command Center. Two protesters were arrested.

The peace gathering was an annual commemoration in Des Moines of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

This year’s three day, three night 24/7 vigil at the St. Ambrose Cathedral was low key and personal. We did not have an opening or closing ceremony for the vigil. The reason? We are in-between Catholic Bishops in Des Moines. The Pope named Father William Joensen, a priest from the Diocese of Dubuque, to be installed as our new Bishop in September. Bishop Pates is retiring and moving back to Minnesota.

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Chelsea Manning will remain confined another year, steep daily fines continue

Judge Says Chelsea Manning Can Pay Fines, Despite Evidence to the Contrary

Alexandria, VA — On Monday, August 5, 2019, Judge Anthony Trenga denied Chelsea Manning’s Motion to Reconsider Sanctions imposed after he found her in civil contempt of court for her refusal to give grand jury testimony relating to her 2010 disclosures of classified information. 

While the judge has authority to sanction Ms. Manning in an effort to convince her to comply with his order to testify before the grand jury, he does not have the authority to impose sanctions for punitive purposes. In her motion, Ms. Manning argued that the sanctions, including both incarceration and steep daily fines, will never coerce her compliance with the Court’s order, and therefore impermissibly serve only a punitive function.

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France jails nuclear dump opponent after re-occupation of dump site

Opponents of France’s nuclear dump occupy a tree at the proposed site.

On July 18, opponents of the country’s planned underground nuclear waste dump announced that they had routed a small police presence from the contested site in northeast France.

Many people have moved into the place, on the ground as well as in the trees, to reaffirm their opposition to the Cigéo project for radioactive waste burial, to nuclear power and to the industrial, colonial, military world that goes with it. The police forces that occupied this strategic location until then … were forced to leave. From now on, we call for people to come here in Lejuc Forest, as well as in Bure and Mandres-en-Barrois, two villages located two kilometers from the forest.

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Federal judge hears Kings Bay Plowshares’ motion to dismiss charges under RFRA

2018 photo of the Kings Bay Plowshares

from the Kings Bay Plowshares

BRUNSWICK, GA – On August 7, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 made oral arguments in federal court concerning the denial of the pre-trial motions to dismiss the charges against them.  Appearing for the first time before Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, who will be the trial judge, four of the pro-se defendants and two of the lawyers spoke about why they felt Magistrate Benjamin Cheesbro had improperly ruled against them after two days of hearings last November. The main focus of the August 7 hearing was the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which is being used for the first time in a case like this.

Defendants were only given 90 minutes for all arguments. The government used 30 minutes of its allotted time.  The courtroom was packed with more than 60 supporters inside, including actor and activist Martin Sheen, and 25 were kept outside for lack of space. It was the first time this year that the three defendants still incarcerated in the Glynn County Detention Center for 16 months – Mark Colville, Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, and Elizabeth McAlister – saw their codefendants.  They have been prevented from in-person legal preparation since last November.

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Woman arrested after dousing herself in red paint in the road leading to Scotland’s Faslane Trident nuclear sub base

Faslane Peace Camp photo

from Faslane Peace Camp

“Never Again” (verb)

A 29-year-old woman was arrested on August 6 at the North gate of Faslane Naval Base, home to Trident, Britain’s nuclear arsenal of warheads and submarines. She was attending a vigil hosted by the Faslane Peace Camp, commemorating the lives lost as a result of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 74 years ago this week.

Bearing a placard reading “Never Again”, the protester doused herself in red paint, symbolic of the blood of the fallen, before lying in the road in front of the main gate, disrupting traffic as the base underwent its daily shift change. On refusing police’s requests to move, she was arrested at 4:15 p.m. for obstruction of the highway.

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Forty-two demonstrators arrested during Livermore Lab protest

The “Designing Armageddon at Livermore Lab” rally marked the 74th anniversary of the U.S. bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

by Toni McAllister

August 6, 2019

LIVERMORE, CA — A protest at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Tuesday to remember the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago this week resulted in 42 arrests, according to a company spokesperson.

Those arrested were blocking LLNL’s West Gate, said Lynda Seaver, LLNC’s director of public affairs.

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Eleven people cited at Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, marking the 74th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing

from Ground Zero Center on Nonviolent Action

Sixty people were present on August 5th at a flash mob demonstration against Trident nuclear weapons at the Bangor submarine base.  The demonstration was in the roadway at the Main Gate of the Trident nuclear submarine base during rush hour traffic.  To see flash mob performance and related videos, please see https://www.facebook.com/groundzerocenter

At around 6:30 a.m. on Monday, over thirty flash mob dancers and supporters entered the roadway carrying peace flags and two large banners stating, “We can all live without Trident” and “Abolish Nuclear Weapons.”  While traffic into the base was blocked, dancers performed to a recording of War (What is it good for?) by Edwin Starr.  After the performance, dancers left the roadway and eleven demonstrators remained.  The eleven demonstrators were removed from the roadway by the Washington State Patrol and cited with RCW 46.61.250, Pedestrians on roadways.

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International nuclear disarmament activists are arrested in a series of actions at Germany’s Büchel Air Base

International Action Camp photo

from Nukewatch


BUECHEL, Germany — Eleven international peace activists entered the Büchel Air Base southwest of Frankfurt early in the morning of July 10 to deliver a self-named Treaty Enforcement Order declaring that the sharing of U.S. nuclear weapons at the base is a “criminal conspiracy to commit war crimes.”

Upon entering the base’s main gate with a printed “cease and desist order,” they insisted on seeing the base commander to deliver the order in person.

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Five nuclear abolition activists arrested at Trident nuclear submarine base in Scotland

Faslane Peace Camp photo


Campaigners Reclaim UK Nuke Base for Peace on Anniversary of Nuke Ban Treaty

On July 7, the second anniversary of the day that the United Nations agreed to ban the bomb, members of Trident Ploughshares used spray paint to re-decorate the main entrance of the base for peace and blocked the base’s other entrance. They were there to challenge Faslane Trident nuclear submarine base’s legitimacy and highlight the progress that has been made since a huge majority of the world’s states took the ban decision. 

The group had time to paint “Banned 7/7/17” and “Nae Nukes Anywhere” on the notice boards and “Scrap” and “Redundant” on the gate to the base. They also covered the roadway with slogans referring to the Ban Treaty. Eventually the MoD police arrived and arrested the three painters, Eoin McCarthy, Janet Fenton and Gillean Lawrence, charging them with vandalism. They were taken to Greenock police station and released shortly afterwards. Meanwhile, Brian Quail from Glasgow and Willemien Hoogendoorn from the Faslane Peace Camp were able to hold up base traffic by blocking the base’s south gate. They were cleared from the road several times.

Later Willemien and Elaine Graham locked down in the middle of the road, and were arrested and taken to jail. Willemien refused bail conditions, and remains behind bars until trial.

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