Press Release November 2, 2018

For Immediate Release:

For more information please contact:

Primary Contact: Mark Colville (203) 415-5896 amistadcwh@yahoo.com   defendant

Clare Grady (607) 279-7187 claretgrady@gmail.com  defendant

Martha Hennessy (802) 230-6328  marthahennessy@gmail.com  defendant

Patrick O’Neill (919) 624-5245 pmtoneill@aol.com  defendant

Carmen Trotta  (347) 898-2217 trottacarmen@yahoo.com   defendant

Bill Quigley (504) 710-3074  quigley77@gmail.com  attorney


An evidentiary hearing in the Kings Bay Plowshares Nuclear Disarmament Case has been scheduled for November 7 at 10 a.m. in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in Brunswick, GA, before the Honorable Benjamin W. Cheesbro, Magistrate. The defendants will argue on the basis of the  Religious Freedom Restoration Act that the charges against them should be dismissed, or significantly reduced.

While the standard established by RFRA which requires the federal government to use “the least restrictive means” to limit religious practices which could be held in violation of federal law has previously been invoked in cases such as those involving Native American use of hallucinogenic drugs in traditional ceremonies, and a suit by a community of Catholic nuns against a gas pipeline being imposed on their property, the use of it as a defense in a Plowshares action is unprecedented, but compelling. As a defense memo filed in the case makes clear: “The defendants exercised their sincerely held Catholic beliefs by symbolically disarming nuclear weapons. The government is substantially burdening the defendants’ exercise of those same beliefs by seeking to enforce, through criminal prosecution, federal statutes that prohibit trespass and protect property (‘trespass and property statutes’).”

 The defendants will each have the opportunity to testify as to the nature of their religious beliefs and how, on April 4 of this year, their obligation to act upon those beliefs led them to undertake acts of symbolic disarmament at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Georgia, homeport to at least six nuclear ballistic missile submarines, each of which is armed with 20 Trident II D5 MIRV thermonuclear weapons, carrying multiple warheads with a yield of 100 or 475 kilotons, 7 to 25 times the explosive power of the weapon that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. As Mark Colville, one of the defendants, declared in an affidavit previously submitted to the court: “Nuclearism doesn’t simply stand apart from Christianity. It refutes all of the basic tenets of Christian faith…”

 It is expected that Professor Jeannine Hill Fletcher of Fordham University and Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson Mississippi, among others, will also testify at the hearing as to how the defendants’ actions are consistent with an authentic understanding of what is required of a faithful Roman Catholic Christian.

 Defendants and expert witnesses will be available for press interviews at the conclusion of the day’s court session.

The seven defendants are:

Elizabeth McAllister: 78, Baltimore, Maryland

Stephen Kelly SJ: 69, Oakland, California

(Currently incarcerated in Glynn County Jail, Brunswick Georgia)

 Mark Colville: 55, New Haven, Connecticut

Clare Grady: 59, Ithaca, New York

Martha Hennessy: 62, Perkinsville, Vermont

Patrick O’Neill: 61, Garner North Carolina

Carmen Trotta: 55, New York, New York

(Currently  released on $50,000 bond and home confinement with electronic ankle monitor)

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