Patrick O’Neill’s Closing Statement, Oct. 24, 2019

Well, we’re coming to the end of a long, and I hope not too boring week of testimony. Thank you for your attentiveness and patience. It’s been quite a trial up to this point, and soon it will be time for the 12 of you to deliberate the facts of this case that you have listened to for the last five days. As I said in my opening argument, this would not be an ordinary trial. I kept my word.

I told you the evidence presented in this case would be unusual; that the testimony in this case would be unique. I kept my word.

For me, keeping my word has been an important part of this trial. The one thing you can take to the bank, so to speak, is that the seven of us on trial in this courtroom have kept our word. We came to proclaim an uncomfortable truth; a truth that is not only hard to believe, but hard to understand.

We came as Christians to bring a message we knew would not be accepted by most people. Of course we wanted to tell you the truth — we had to, we were compelled by Jesus, our Lord and Savior to do so — because the truth is what our faith requires of us. Oddly enough, even with us telling the truth, there are still a lot of pieces missing to the puzzle as you prepare to deliberate. It is obvious that we wanted to tell you much more about ourselves and our witness than the government wanted you to hear.

While your time of deliberation must be devoted to understanding the law, it is also a time to discuss the many facts of a very complex case.

Throughout the last four days of the trial you have often heard words like vandalism and graffiti used by the government to describe what we did at Kings Bay. They have also used words like destroy, smash and attack to describe our actions at Kings Bay. Those words from the government are used because they don’t want you to focus on the words we have said, most of them from the Bible, such as idol, nonviolence, love your enemy, prayer and choose life.

But in all of the government’s choice of words over the last four days, there was one time yesterday when U.S. assistant attorney Greg Greg Gilluly got it exactly right. In fact, he used a word that may be the very best word to describe our actions. When Mr.
Greg Gilluly was questioning Mark Colville, he said: “for about an hour you were all engaged in TRANSFORMATION.” In choosing to use the word transformation, Mr. Gilluly got it exactly right. He described our actions at the missile shrine and the bunkers perfectly.

Yes, people of the jury — the entire reason we came to Kings Bay was for the purpose of TRANSFORMATION. We came to say nuclear weapons and endless war are not honoring Jesus, who we call the Prince of Peace. We came to TRANSFORM those weapons that kill God’s children. We came to TRANSFORM the Navy’s nuclear swords into plowshares; we came to TRANSFORM the Navy’s nuclear spears into pruning hooks. Yes, TRANSFORMATION is our guiding principle.

And, most importantly, all of us want to TRANSFORM OUR HEARTS. When our hearts are transformed, we will no longer experience the fear that leads us to embrace weapons of mass destruction as our only hope. When we experience TRANSFORMATION we will turn away from war and violence, and instead put our faith in the God of Love, who transforms us.

My prayers go out to you today, and I ask God to give you the wisdom you will need to draw your own conclusions. In order to find us guilty you will have to agree beyond a reasonable doubt that we are in fact guilty of four charges. So, be reasonable. Ask yourself and each other the hard questions that our case has raised. Don’t be shy about asking questions about this case — to yourself, to each other, and if necessary, to Judge Wood. If you hold doubt in your heart about our guilt, keep searching for the truth, even if that truth is something you’ve never considered before this week. You are charged today to seek the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth … so help you God. Yes, even the oath we take ends with the words “so help you God.” In others words, ask God to guide you as you seek truth today.

For the most part, people who engage in unlawful behavior do so for the purpose of personal gain, not expecting to be caught. The evidence you have seen in the Kings Bay Plowshares case shows the seven of us made no effort to “get away” with anything so to speak, and we certainly gained no profit from our nonviolent actions (But we did gain God’s Grace).

In the evidence you’ve heard, and the testimony of the seven of us, you know that some of us awaited arrest for more than hour AFTER we had been observed by the police. In truth, we wanted to come here to Judge Wood’s courtroom to have a discussion about what is truth. That discussion took four days, now the conclusion of the story is in your hands.

It is clear from the evidence, that the Naval police who arrested Mark Colville, Clare Grady, Martha Hennessy and myself at the nuclear missile shrine, did not view us as threats. In fact, in my testimony, I noted that, after more than an hour of our waiting to be arrested, Department of Defense Officer Lee Carter — his gun tucked safely in its holster — slowly walked up to the four of us in a friendly way, surveyed the Nuclear Shrine, and said with a note of humor: “Now y’all know you are in a bit of trouble don’t you?”

Yes, we knew we were  in a bit of trouble; that’s why we’re all here in federal court today. And, in his testimony, officer Carter said we represented no threat to him or his fellow officers in any way.

The evidence you have seen – and which was provided by the seven of us — shows that this case is far from simple. The evidence in this case is probably some of the most unusual evidence ever presented in a federal courtroom.

You have seen video — from the camera I was wearing — of my splashing blood on the  Missile Shrine logo. The video (with my audio commentary) also shows that I struck a cement statue of a Trident II D-5 missile with a hammer that was made with metal from melted down guns. You also saw that the hammer head broke off after a swing or two. You have also heard me refer to the statue of the D-5 missile as an idol. You have read many of our spray-painted messages: Disarm + Live, Abolish Nukes Now and Blasphemy. Many of our messages were Bible quotes: Love Your Enemies (a quote from Jesus), Swords into Plowshares (a quote from the prophet Isaiah) and Thou Shalt Not Kill (a quote from God). Again, these are not the messages commonly brought to what the government refers to as “a crime scene.”

As you deliberate today, you will have to take into consideration all of the evidence and try to understand how it corresponds with the facts of this case and the law, which Judge Wood will tell you about.

The evidence indeed shows that the words idol and idolatry are mentioned often. You have photos of the words spray painted on the various idols present at the Missile Shrine. We didn’t use that word lightly. We acted at the Missile Shrine because we stand opposed to our government’s crafting of idols — what the Bible calls graven images — that are used in place of the True God. I ask you members of the jury, ask yourselves this question: “Does Jesus support nuclear weapons?” the use of which could end life as we know it on planet earth? In addition, the word idolatry is shown in many photos (show photos)of the Missile Shrine and the Swift Atlantic administration building.

Like Idolatry, which is best known as a Biblical term, there is also lots of evidence you’ve seen that notes the overriding religious theme of our actions. The evidence showed that we carried with us a Bible, a Catholic rosary, baby bottles of blood and a statement that explains our religious reasons for going to Naval Station Kings Bay.

In my opening argument, I told you that our actions April 4, 2018 were intentionally dramatic. In fact, I compared our actions at Kings Bay to the Biblical story in the New Testament of Jesus cleansing the temple of the money changers. Like Jesus, the seven of us engaged in powerful drama to make a point about a powerful evil. The use of drama can entertain us, but it is also an important way to educate people about injustice, about the battles we face between good and evil, truth and lies, love and hate. We hope that our use of drama at Kings Bay has been — to use Mr. Gilluly’s term — TRANSFORMATIVE for each of you.

In my testimony, I said: My faith led me to address the sinfulness of nuclear weapons. We live in a world where nuclear weapons on perpetual hair-trigger alert has become “normal.”

You were also told, that never before has our world been more at risk of the prospect of nuclear war. The Doomsday Clock, maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stands at two minutes to midnight. You also heard testimony that President Donald Trump backs nuclear weapons expansion, and he has vowed to pull the U.S. out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty that was signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev.

In my testimony, I said that in July, 2017, an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations — but not the United States — voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – a landmark international agreement that establishes a pathway to nuclear disarmament. This treaty is a sign of hope for the world, but the United States has not joined the other 122 nations that have signed the treaty. In my testimony, I held up a copy of that treaty that has been entered into evidence in this case.

In my testimony, I also spoke of the long tradition in our country when people, aware of the horrible injustices going on at the time, broke laws to bring about important change. I mentioned Rosa Parks, an African American woman, who sat in the front seat of a segregated bus, which was against the law. I spoke of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who went to jail many times in the pursuit of Civil Rights for all people. Dr. King’s message included the reality that sometimes it is necessary to break the law when the law is misused to oppress others. As you might recall, the seven of us went to Kings Bay on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s murder. Our purpose was to honor King, who spoke of his opposition to the triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism. The Kings Bay Plowshares embraced Dr. King’s message of transformative love and equality for all when we went to the submarine base.

In closing I want to say that for me, our time together has been a human experience — a Holy, Sacred, Prophetic and Sacramental experience.Again, I thank you very much for sitting on the Kings Bay Plowshares jury. I think most of us in this courtroom will never forget our time together. I hope it changes all of us for the better. I wish you God Speed in your deliberations. May God Bless each of you.