FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Oct. 3, 2019
Facing Trial, Plowshares Activists Tell Their Stories to Cheers in NYC
NEW YORK – More than 250 people, a multicultural crowd, joined five of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 in person at a Festival of Hope celebration in New York City last Sunday. Four of the activists wearing monitors strapped around their ankles told their stories of how they came to enter Naval Base Kings Bay to nonviolently disarm Trident’s nuclear weapons on April 4th, 2018, and how they intend to transform the courtroom and jury at their trial starting October 21.
Mark Colville called in by telephone from the southern Georgia jail he has been in for most of the past 18 months.
“All of the machinations that have gone on in the court in this case right up to now have had to do with the government trying to exclude two things from the deliberations in this court,” Mark told the crowd. “One would be conscience, and the other could be common sense. So, if we could get the jury actually to apply either one of those things in full measure at this trial there’s really no way we could be found guilty. So, even a little bit of conscience along with a little common sense would lead anybody to understand that this situation that we are in, that these weapons are illegal.”
Mark was released on Tuesday and returned to his home in Connecticut. (An earlier press release announcing Elizabeth McAlister’s release from jail in mid-September incorrectly mentioned bond as a condition for her release. She was released without a bond and without a requirement to wear an ankle monitor.)
Nuclear weapons are not just deadly when they are launched, Clare Grady told the crowd. “But they kill every day by their mining, refining, testing, and dumping on indigenous land. They are used like that cocked gun. Even when you never pull that trigger you are using that gun. And, to be clear, that is the enforcement mechanism for all those systems that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King identifies in the triplets of white supremacy, and global capitalism, and global domination…. I’ll call it the biggest bully stick. It’s connected to every form of state-sponsored violence down to the police. Be clear that that’s the connection.”
Democracy Now! Co-Host Amy Goodman asked the five Plowshares activists how they came to take this Plowshares action.
Martha Hennessy spoke of the privilege of her life and the challenges of this action. “I still don’t know if I am prepared to continue on this effort. But here I am, and I put one foot in front of the other, and I rely on the love and the stability of my community and the grace of God to continue to go through with this…. It has not been an easy path at all for me.”
Carmen Trotta said that he had been interested in Plowshares actions over the years. He attended a preliminary meeting to “give it a shot and see what the dialogue was like.” He didn’t know who exactly would be there. “When I walked into the room it was pretty clear to me that I was not really going to be able to walk out of this. In part because they were old friends.”
Elizabeth McAlister, who turns 80 next month, said she wants her life to have some sense of meaning. “I want to witness to justice and peace and I want that to be a gift to my offspring, but also to all our offspring. They deserve to grow up in a world where they can breathe and drink water and enjoy sunlight and not work with the constant poisoning of the world that we are engaging in with these weapons.”
Bud Courtney read a letter from his friend, Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., the only one of the Plowshares 7 remaining in jail now. “I am among the wilderness of the incarcerated two and a quarter million folks comprising the human warehouses in the empire,” the letter reads. “It is resistance jailed, a price extracted by an empire. And I echo the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: An empire in its death throes as it clings to and mouths obscene threats with its lethal arsenal, a fire that is a direct theft of trillions from the poor…. Your presence today clearly demonstrates that while you can jail the resisters you cannot destroy the resistance…. I am encouraged by your presence to ask that this small effort of ours not be the last word in nuclear abolition.”
Special guest journalist Jeremy Scahill challenged the storyline presented by mainstream media and Democrats today. “The greatest danger that we’re facing in this society right now is not Donald Trump’s corruption. It’s not something involving Ukraine or servers or the DNC. We have one of the most unstable individuals in this country with his finger on the nuclear button. The gravest threat that humanity faces right now has nothing to do with how sleazy and crooked and criminal Donald Trump is. It has to do with the fact that in an instant a man with the thinnest of skin could launch a nuclear strike that could destroy the world many times over. That – that – is the crisis in this country right now,” he said.
“We can’t be distracted by the Democrats and MSNBC calling themselves the resistance. What resistance looks like is to go into the dead of night onto a base that houses weapons that could destroy all of humanity and not know what the next day will bring but that you know the only place you could be to be human at that moment is to be where these seven stood… Those that resist, who see the darkness for what it is, are the prophets of our time.”
The multicultural crowd at Manhattan’s Iglesia Santa Cruz/Holyrood Ch urch included Puerto Rican human rights activist attorney Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, Puerto Rican and Dominican human rights activists, members of the International Action Committee, parish members, other church leaders, other Plowshares activists, Nueva Canción musicians Umigrante and Irish traditional musicians the Grady Girls, Catholic Workers, many KBP7 supporters and family members.
In his welcoming remarks, Holyrood Pastor Luis Barrios described the KBP7’s action as being in line with the resistance to the colonialism of his native Puerto Rico.
“These are people following God’s mandate,” he told the crowd. “You’re supposed to protect God’s creation. You have to look at this (action) in this context. We’ve got the commitment, the responsibility, that we are supposed to protect creation. So, what the hell do you think they were doing? They were protecting creation!” he said. “By the way, this is the correct manifest destiny. They are just following the mandate from God to protect creation. So, they are just being obedient.”
He then led the crowd in cheers to the Plowshares activists, “Thank you for your courage! Thank you for the example! Thank you for taking sides, breaking the silence! This is very important…. The action that they did is not a waste of time. It is an inspiration for all of us…. We are with the seven. We are! We are! We are!”
Patrick O’Neill used his time to speak to honor Fr. Steve, who turned 70 in jail this year. Patrick described Fr. Steve spending more than 10 years of his life in jail or prison for acts of nonviolent direct action against nuclear weapons.
“Steve has spent more than half of those 10 years in the… a segregated housing unit,” he said. “Because Steve refuses to work in jail and prison — and as you know, prison labor is what maintains jails and prisons — he will not as a matter of conscience contribute any labor to that unjust system. So, he goes into solitary confinement instead. Imagine what it would be like to spend five years in your bathroom because that’s the kind of solitary confinement Steve has spent five or six years of his life in. When we stand up in our jail cells most of the time, you spread your two arms, you touch both walls of the cell you’re in…. Steve is a theologian, a brilliant theologian. He has really been the spiritual leader of this community and he has been somebody who has helped us stay rooted. Carmen referred to Steve using the terms community and cross. Community is what Steve meant (by) us being together, the seven of us together. But cross speaks to something else about Steve. Steve is willing to pick up his cross and follow Jesus. When we walked into Kings Bay with Father Stephen Kelly we knew without a doubt that he was ready to die that night, that that was the depth of his faith. So, I just want to give a tribute to this man who is absolutely stunning in his devotion to God and to nonviolence.”
Amy Goodman told the crowd she appreciated “being in this holy place, in this sanctuary of dissent…. People around the world care deeply about these actions.”
Before playing music with his daughters, musician Tom Chapin said he is a second cousin to Dorothy Day’s granddaughter, Martha Hennessy. “If Dorothy Day were still alive… she would be here. Somewhere she is so proud of her granddaughter and all of these folks here.”
Raleigh, NC Festival of Hope
Friday, October 11, 5 – 8 p.m.
Umstead Park United Church of Christ, 8208 Brownleigh Dr, Raleigh, NC
Pastor Doug Long, host. Speaker: Theologian Stanley Hauerwas of Duke Divinity School and named “America’s best theologian” by Time magazine. KBP7 member Patrick O’Neill will speak. Poets and musicians will also perform.
Scores of supporters are expected in Brunswick, GA around the time of the October 21 trial of the KBP7. Supporters planning to participate in the 2 p.m. vigils leading up to the trial on Monday, Oct. 21 are asked to arrive on Friday or Saturday morning, October 18 or 19.
Georgia Contacts: Robert Randall: (912) 399-4862 and Roxane George (928) 607-7369.
Supporters are asked to place a reservation for Georgia events, housing and transportation here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdQbQXguQgaqD64KHB0H6hpbQs5FxJpDL4K3eCaU1bDSMpSng/viewform
Vigil at Kings Bay Nuclear Submarine Base, St. Mary’s, GA
Saturday, October 19, 2 – 5 p.m.
Kings Bay Stimson Gate at the intersection of Kings Bay RD/USS Henry L Stimson Dr. & Charlie Smith Sr. Hwy./Spur 40. Parking is available at McIntosh Sugar Mill Park, just north of the gate on Charlie Smith Sr. Hwy.
GA Festival of Hope
Sunday, October 20 (afternoon)
Five defendants will speak along with music and poetry.
Additional details to be announced.
Trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7
Brunswick, GA Monday, October 21, 9 am
Jury selection begins. The end date is uncertain but the trial may be one week or more.
Location: Federal District Courthouse, 801 Gloucester Street, Brunswick, GA
For information on rules at this courthouse visit https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/event/trial/.