Frida Berrigan’s Statement at Sentencing of her Mother, Liz McAlister, June 8, 2020

Good morning, friends, My name is Frida Berrigan and I am here to speak on behalf of my mom, Elizabeth McAlister, one of the co-defendants in the Kings Bay Plowshares. I’m here in New London, Connecticut with my husband Patrick and our three kids, Liz’s grandchildren- Madeline, 6; Seamus, 7; and Rosena, 13. My brother Jerry is also here, with his wife, Molly and Liz’s other 3 grandchildren, Leah, 10; Jonah, 13 and Amos, 16. My sister Kate and her partner Karen are also here, they are now Liz’s roommates and live up the street a few blocks.


We are all here to love and support and stand with (sit with, here anyway) Liz as she has sat and stood, loved and supported so many over the last 45/50 years of her life as a nonviolent anti-nuclear activist, ally to those struggling against oppression and advocate for civil and human rights.


Last night, we all logged on to zoom to pray with more than 100 friends and family from around the country. We shared bread and wine and stories and drew strength from one another.


So many of the names that blipped up would be familiar to you; friends who have written letters of support and love from literally every corner of Liz’s life; her family members, her fellow sisters from her time as a Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, people who have broken bread and broken laws with her over the last 4 or 5 decades, who lived in community with her– in and out of prison. Each of these letters attest to what you, Judge Wood and you, Prosecutor Knocke, know in your hearts and see with your own eyes: that our mother is a good and holy person whose only crime is to attend to the thrum and whisper of her conscience and not allow that still, small voice to be drowned out by the blood thirsty screams and desperate caterwauling of nuclear preparations and constant war making.


As her daughter, I could wish that her hearing was not quite so good. As her kids- my brother, sister and I- wish she had not spent 17 months and 9 days in your county detention centers. We would like to say enough is enough. She has paid too high a price already, and we who love her have paid that price too.


But as a 46 year-old white citizen of 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.”


As a 46 year-old white citizen in a country where white supremacy and militarized policing are so emboldened that Derek Chavin can crush George Floyd’s life out of him in front of a crowd, in front of cameras, where the McMichaels father and son can gun down Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight as he jogged through the streets of a quiet Georgia town, I draw hope and inspiration from white people who continue to invoke Dr. King’s framework of the giant triplets of racism, militarism and materialism… these weights that cripple our collective humanity. I draw hope and inspiration from my mom and her friends who declare that “Black Lives Matter” who wed their anti-nuclear analysis with an anti-racist ethos, and declare that the ultimate logic of trident is omnicide.


So, I am here as a daughter who doesn’t want her 80 year-old mother sent back to jail and a human being who wonders how anything ever changes if people like my mom aren’t willing to take that risk.


I’m hoping you agree with the government that Liz McAlister has served enough time in jail already and you’ll help our family close this long and challenging episode of our lives today by sentencing her to time served. I also hope that you will recognize that as a person who owns nothing but the clothes on her back and the water colors she uses to paint with her grandchildren, you will waive all fines and restitution.


Thank you.