24 arrested for civil resistance at Kansas City nuclear weapons part plant

photo by Bee Lloyd

photo by Bee Lloyd

Protesters at new Kansas City facility seek to open a door to a nuclear-weapons-free world

from Jane Stoever

On July 13, about 80 people sang and prayed at the entry road to a new facility in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. By 10:15 a.m., two dozen protesters had crossed the property line and were soon arrested.

The five-building facility, the Kansas City Plant, at 14510 Botts Road in Kansas City, Missouri, will by next year house the operations of the current Kansas City Plant (at Bannister and Troost in KC), where 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for U.S. nuclear weapons are made or procured.

During a brief ceremony, the 80 people pledged “to strive for peace within myself and seek to be a peacemaker in my daily life … to persevere in nonviolence of tongue and heart … to work to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.”

With the assembly singing “Open the Door,” written for the occasion, 24 people stepped through a door marked “Open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free world,” the rallying call of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

These are the 24 who then crossed the line separating the public road from the facility’s property:

–Carl Kabat of St. Louis, a Catholic priest in the Oblates of Mary
Immaculate (OMI), who had entered the property and been charged with
destruction of property in July 2011 and July 2012;
–William Antone, OMI, of Washington, D.C., the OMI order’s U.S.
provincial superior;
–Resisters from the Kansas City area, including Sister of Charity of
Leavenworth Cele Breen, Jim Everett, Lauren Logan, Notre Dame Sister
of Omaha Theresa Maly, Community of Christ minister Lu Mountenay, Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, Nehemiah Rosell, Kelsey Schmidt, Jane Stoever, Ann Suellentrop, and Georgia Walker;
–Resisters from the Des Moines, Iowa area, including Frank Cordaro, Ed
Bloomer, and Jessica Reznicek;
–William “Bix” Bichsel, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma, Washington;
–Cassandra Dixon of Madison, Wisconsin;
–Paul Freid of Lake City, Minnesota;
–Betsy Keenan of Maloy, Iowa;
–Chrissy Kirchhoefer and Anneliese Stoever of St. Louis;
–Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Catholic womanpriest from Lexington, Kentucky; and
–Jerry Zawada, a Franciscan priest from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Photo of Fr. Carl Kabat, OMI by Kate Simmons/National Catholic Reporter

Photo of Fr. Carl Kabat, OMI by Kate Simmons/National Catholic Reporter

The 24 line-crossers were arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and then detained at the Jackson County Police Department. Some were released on July 13, some on July 14, and some will be released on July 15. The resisters received different trial dates, but lawyer Henry Stoever said he would try to secure a single trial date for them.

Zawada, when asked why he crossed the line, said, “It’s the children! And the future of the world. People are blind, people are deaf, to the fact that we’re producing these horrible bombs and creating an atmosphere of fear. It threatens the whole world.” He quoted a statement from deceased Jesuit Richard McSorley: “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon.” Zawada also said he wanted to accompany Kabat in this action – Kabat has spent 17 years in prison for acts of civil resistance to nuclear weapons. Referring to Kabat and the whole worldwide community of people seeking a nuke-free world, Zawada said, “It takes passion. And perseverance.”

Maly reflected, “I hope people that have positions of power, the ability to make decisions about nuclear weapons, hear our message.”

Read a National Catholic Reporter article about the action by Kate Simmons here.