Today 80 year-old Elizabeth McAlister was sentenced to time served and three years supervised probation and restitution for her part in the Kings Bay Plowshares disarmament action more than two years ago at the Trident submarine base in Georgia. US District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood in Brunswick sentenced her by video conference after she waived her right to have an in-person sentencing. Liz had already served more than 17 months in pretrial confinement. She had been convicted of three felonies and a misdemeanor along with her six co-defendants after a trial in October, 2019.
McAlister, widow of Phil Berrigan, was ordered to pay $25 a month towards the restitution for damage to the base, limited because she has no financial assets. The seven plowshares defendants are held to be jointly and separately liable for the $30,500 cost the government claims to repair fences and monuments at the submarine base. The judge also ruled that Liz did not accept responsibility for her actions by not being suitably repentant and had 11 previous convictions thereby needing some deterrence. All the defense arguments for mitigation were ruled against.
Frida Berrigan, Liz’s daughter, gave a spirited statement of support for her mother attesting to her lifelong commitment to peace. “…as a 46 year-old white citizen in a nation that is going to spend $720 plus billion on the military this year, even in the face of an economy smashing pandemic that has killed 100,000 people and laid bare the stark inequity and fundamental brokenness of every fiber of the social safety net, I am grateful that people like my mother are willing to stand up and say: “Trident is a crime.” (Her full statement will be on the website: Statement.)
Finally Elizabeth spoke about what motivated her to join this action and take such risks. She quoted the biblical exhortation to “Beat swords into plowshares” from Isaiah and said, “All my life I’ve tried to follow the prophet, Isaiah, to stop learning war… All my life I have spoken and written against nuclear weapons and I believe these are contrary to life, destructive of life on every single level.”
The sentencing hearing began with technical glitches and was adjourned for more than a half hour while these were worked out. There were 270 people listening to the audio feed when adjourned and due to some confusion about getting back on only 230 were on for the actual hearing.
The other six co-defendants are scheduled for sentencing for June 29 & 30 but they are choosing to be sentenced in person in court with family and the public present and it is not certain at this time if that will be allowed or if there will be further delays.
Martin Gugino, the elderly man who was knocked down to the sidewalk by Buffalo police and lay bleeding from his head is a long-time peace activist and recently made two video statementswhich were viewed hundreds of times in support of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7activists.
# # #