New England Courts Jail Civil Disobedients - Lockheed-Sanders
On Human Rights Day, December 10, New Hampshire Peace Action held its third annual Human Rights Day Peace Witness at the Sanders plant in Nashua. Sanders, New Hampshire's largest weapons maker, contributes components to the F-16 fighter, the F-22 fighter, the Aegis destroyer, and many other major weapons systems. The U.S. government has used many of these weapons against civilians in Iraq and Yugoslavia. Sanders is currently a subsidiary of Lockheed-Martin, but Lockheed-Martin is trying to sell the company.
About 30 people gathered at a park downtown for the music of Katherine Rhoda and the words of Plowshares activist and attorney John Schuchardt. After blessing and "ordaining" those planning to risk arrest at Sanders, they marched through downtown Nashua, stopping at City Hall to confront the city's refusal to address the war crimes Sanders is committing by making weapons that kill civilians, and at the IRS to protest the use of our tax money to build weapons of destruction.
Grandmother, gardener and veteran nonviolent resister Harriet "Hattie" Nestel, aged 60, was the first to be arrested. She poured blood on the Sanders driveway to symbolize the blood of the weapons' victims and then knelt and prayed until she was carried away by the police. In a statement she wrote "Because our government is unable to stop itself from continuing engagements and conflicts throughout the world in violation of humanitarian laws, international laws, and environmental laws, it is incumbent upon individual citizens to act in conscience to make necessary changes from violence to nonviolence in order to save the world for the future of the generations born and unborn." She was charged with littering for pouring blood, and also with criminal trespass.
Grandmother, teacher, and war tax resister Ruth McKay, 80 years old, from Concord, was the second to be arrested, walking into the Sanders driveway past a police line that tried to stop her. For ten years, from the early 1980's to the early 1990's, McKay held a vigil outside Sanders calling on the company to end its weapons production. In a letter she sent to area newspapers before the action, Ruth wrote, "I will[. . .] pray that God will open the way for Sanders to convert from electronic warfare components that kill, or threaten to kill, to life-affirming products." She sees the action as an "early Christmas gift" to her five grandchildren. She was charged with criminal trespass.
Grandfather, retired builder, and WWII conscientious objector Donald Booth, 83 years old, was the last to be arrested, following McKay into the Sanders driveway. He was also charged with criminal trespass.
The three returned to Nashua District court on December 29, where they pled no contest on all charges. McKay and Nestel had been arrested at the plant on two previous occasions, and at one point Judge Crocker asked them if there was any sentence that would deter them from returning to Sanders. The two women replied that nothing could deter them from opposing Sanders's weapons production. All three were sentenced to six days in jail in lieu of a $120 fine, plus a suspended $100 fine for Nestle's littering charge. The three immediately served their jail sentences.
For more information, contact New Hampshire Peace Action, (603)228-0559.