Nuclear Resister E-bulletin Spring/Summer 2020

Spring/Summer 2020












British military refuser arrested   

An active duty British soldier in uniform was arrested outside the Ministry of Defence in London while engaged in a solo public protest. For more than nine hours on August 24, Yemeni-born Lance Corporal Ahmed Al-Babati stood on the sidewalk next to hand-lettered signs reading “I refuse to continue my military service until the deal with Saudi comes to an end,” and “Every 10 minutes child dies in Yemen due to war – 1 whistle = 1 dead child”. After 57 whistle blasts, two military police were recorded approaching the young man, having a brief conversation, then escorting him into custody. He was released from custody and returned to his unit a few hours later, facing an uncertain future as a soldier. 

Read more here.

Elizabeth McAlister sentenced for Kings Bay Plowshares action    

Elizabeth McAlister, age 80, was sentenced on June 8 to time served for her part with six other Catholic peace activists in the April 4, 2018 Kings Bay Plowshares action for nuclear disarmament. She had already spent more than 17 months in Georgia county jails following her arrest. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, McAlister appeared for sentencing via video from her daughter’s home in Connecticut. Judge Lisa Godbey Wood presided from federal court in Brunswick, Georgia. 

The defense had objected to several elements of McAlister’s pre-sentencing report. Judge Wood rejected each objection in turn. She found that in the absence of remorse, the defendant had not accepted responsibility for her actions; that the recommended amount of restitution was appropriate; and most significantly, that the defendants had, at minimum, consciously and carelessly risked their own lives and those of military personnel when they entered the base without regard for no trespassing signs and broadcast audio warnings of deadly force. This is the first time the “risk of death” enhancement has been used by the government to increase the recommended sentence for Plowshares defendants.

McAlister was also ordered to pay a special assessment of $310 and restitution of $33,503.51, assigned jointly and severally to all the defendants. She was also placed on three years of supervised probation.

Read more here.

Six plowshares activists still await sentencing    

The Kings Bay Plowshares were convicted last October in federal court in Brunswick, Georgia on charges of misdemeanor trespass and three felonies: destruction of property on a Naval Station, depredation of government property and conspiracy to do these things. Elizabeth McAlister was sentenced via video on June 8. The other six defendants – Martha Hennessy, Carmen Trotta, Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Fr. Steve Kelly and Patrick O’Neill – have exercised their right to be sentenced in person in open court, when family and friends can attend. After being granted several continuances, they are now scheduled for sentencing on October 15 and 16. Updates will be announced at the Kings Bay Plowshares website here. Jesuit priest Steve Kelly has been in jail since the April 2018 action. His jail address is here

Read more here.

Rafil Dhafir released to home confinement  

On the morning of May 15, Dr. Rafil Dhafir was released to home confinement from the Allenwood federal prison in central Pennsylvania. The Iraqi-American physician and philanthropist has been in federal prison since the day of his arrest more than 17 years ago in 2003, on the eve of the second U.S. invasion of Iraq. He was not due to be paroled from his 22-year sentence until November, 2021. Dhafir will now complete that term at his home near Syracuse, New York.     

Read more about Dr.Dhafir’s case here.

Turi Vaccaro released from Italian prison

After 21 months behind bars, Turi Vaccaro walked out of Sicily’s Pagliarelli prison on April 15. The 67-year-old pacifist was a fugitive from court for previous acts of nonviolent resistance to the Pentagon’s MUOS satellite relay station when police caught up with him at the annual NO MUOS peace camp in August, 2018. He was sentenced then to nearly 12 months for a December, 2014 Spade in Aratri (Swords into Plowshares) action, at which he cut the fence to enter the MUOS site, planted fig trees and grape vines, and picked up a large rock and battered electrical equipment vital to the operation of a MUOS satellite dish. While in custody, other outstanding protest charges were prosecuted and months were added to his sentence.   

Read more here.

Trials for protest at nuclear weapons base in Germany 

Three nuclear weapons protesters were found guilty of trespassing and damage to property in Cochem District Court on May 11, as a result of a July 2018 protest action at Germany’s Büchel air base, where the United States positions 20 of its nuclear bombs. Dennis DuVall, a long-time member of Veterans for Peace from Arizona and now living in Dresden, Germany, became the first U.S. citizen prosecuted in Germany for civil resistance against the threatened use of the U.S. nuclear weapons. Also convicted by Cochem District Court Judge Andre Zimmermann were Susan van der Hijden, from Amsterdam’s Catholic Worker House and Chris Danowski, from Dortmund, Germany, a founder of the Hamburg Catholic Worker. The judge sentenced all three to fines equivalent to 30 times their daily income plus court costs. The fines ranged from 150 to 900 Euros ($165 to $990). Refusing to pay could result in up to 30 days in jail.

Read more here.

On June 10 in Cochem, Germany, three more peace activists were convicted of damage to property and trespassing for their part in the July 15, 2018 protest at the Büchel air base. The trial of Marion Küpker, of Hamburg, Stefanie Augustin, of Dortmund, and Margriet Bos, of Amsterdam, was the latest in a series of trials resulting from a long-running campaign of nonviolent resistance directed against the threatened use of the U.S. nuclear bombs. District Judge Andre Zimmermann sentenced Küpker, Bos and Augustine to fines ranging between 300 and 1,200 Euros, or to a possible 30 days in jail if they refuse to pay.

Read more here.

40th anniversary of the Plowshares Eight

On September 9, 1980, eight nuclear disarmament activists – Fr. Carl Kabat, Elmer Maas, Philip Berrigan, Molly Rush, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, Sr. Anne Montgomery, John Schuchardt and Dean Hammer – walked into the General Electric Plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where they poured blood on two nuclear weapons’ nose cones, and used household hammers to dent the metal. There have been more than 100 plowshares actions around the world since.

From their statement:

“In confronting GE, we choose to obey God’s law of life, rather than a corporate summons to death. Our beating of swords into plowshares is a way to enflesh this biblical call. In our action, we draw on a deep-rooted faith in Christ, who changed the course of history through his willingness to suffer rather than to kill. We are filled with hope for our world and for our children as we join this act of resistance.”

You can read Frida Berrigan’s article about the Plowshares Eight here.

You can read Molly Rush’s reflection in the September 2020 issue of the Nuclear Resister here.

You can read Dean Hammer’s reflection in the September 2020 issue of the Nuclear Resister here.

You can read John Schuchardt’s reflection in the September 2020 issue of the Nuclear Resister here.

Nuclear Resister coordinators win Nuclear Free Future Award 

We are pleased to announce that we have received the 2020 Nuclear Free Future Award, in the Education category! Congratulations to the other 2020 winners: Canadian Ray Acheson, director of Reaching Critical Will (in the Solution category); journalist Fedor Maryasov and lawyer Andrey Talevlin from Russia (in the Resistance category); and Native American activist and New Mexico Democrat, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (an honorary award for Special Recognition).

It is an honor to receive this recognition as we near the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Resister. We share this Nuclear Free Future Award with the thousands of activists over the years who have engaged in direct action and civil disobedience – many of them spending time in prison – to say a loud and clear NO to nuclear weapons, nuclear power, uranium mining and nuclear testing.

We would especially like to recognize Jesuit priest Steve Kelly, who has been in jail for 29 months and is awaiting sentencing for the Kings Bay Plowshares action at the Trident nuclear submarine base in Georgia.

Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa

Read more here.

Please support imprisoned anti-nuclear and anti-war activists – The Nuclear Resister needs YOU!

The Nuclear Resister is a bare bones operation that depends on grassroots support to chronicle anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance, and support the women and men in prison for their acts of conscience. We need your help to continue this work – please read more here!! Or go directly here to make a secure online donation and find information about how to send a check.  Each and every donation, large or small, will be gratefully received – thank you!