FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 4, 2020
NYC, On Monday, June 8 at 9 am ET, Elizabeth McAlister, the eldest (at 80 yrs-old) of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 anti-nuclear weapons activists, will be sentenced from her home in Connecticut by video conferencing with Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the Southern District of Georgia Federal Court, in Brunswick. For public access to audio of this hearing, dial 1-888-684-8852, enter the call access code 2296092 and enter the security code 1234. McAlister will probably not face additional prison time because she has already served 1½ years before trial. The prosecutor is also asking for 3-5 years of probation and restitution. (Interview available)
McAlister’s six codefendants asked for a postponement rejecting the idea of sentencing by video. They asked the court to recognize their right to be sentenced in person with the public and press present in the Brunswick, GA court. Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., and Martha Hennessy’s new court dates are June 29 and 30. They haven’t been told whether they would be sentenced in person or by video once they get there. Since most of the defendants are over 60, and some have underlying health conditions, they requested home confinement during this time of COVID-19, as entering prison is a death sentence. Their request was opposed by the government because their action involved a threat to human life (their own) by entering a restricted military base where lethal force is authorized against intruders. (Interviews available)
The KBP7 calls for the release of people in prisons, in federal and state prisons, county and city jails, especially the elderly, the infirm, and all non-violent offenders. (Links are offered at the end for further information.)
The KBP7 issued a statement of solidarity with the movement calling for justice for George Floyd. “Our hearts break with each new wave of murders of Black people, men, women, and children. We know that this murder is not new, that Black lives have been stolen, tortured, terrorized, and killed, from the beginning of this nation. We want to acknowledge the resilience and resistance of African Americans that also dates back to the beginning of this nation. We especially want to acknowledge the wisdom and courage of those rising up right now, insisting that their humanity be denied no longer. As seven white, American Catholics, who have chosen to nonviolently, symbolically disarm this nation’s most deadly weapon, the Trident nuclear submarine, we understand that there is a critical connection between this nation’s weapons of mass destruction and guns of the police on the street. Both are used 24/7 to enforce systems of White Supremacy and Global Capitalism. When those of us who are privileged by these systems take responsibility for the crimes of killing millions and stealing trillions, we begin to stop scapegoating those who are on the receiving end of those crimes. In the cries for racial justice and the demilitarization of police forces that today resound through our streets nationwide, we hear anew God’s call to disarm and live.” (Interviews available)
Elizabeth McAlister is a long time peace activist and community builder, who founded Jonah House, in Baltimore, in the early 1970s with her late husband Philip Berrigan. Liz is often known as the “Mother of the Movement” for her insightful analysis, Biblical acumen, indefatigable humor, and courageous organizing. She is also the mother of three grown children Kate and Frida Berrigan both of New London, CT, and Jerry Berrigan of Kalamazoo, Michigan. She is the grandmother of six children ages 6 -16. Liz was a member of the Griffiss Plowshares in 1983 and served the better part of two years in prison for the act of nonviolently disarming a B-52 bomber based near Syracuse, NY that carried nuclear cruise missiles through Canadian airspace twice a day to threaten Russia. She celebrated her 80th birthday soon after the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 trial in October, 2019 and now lives in New London with her youngest daughter and her daughter-in-law.
On April 4, 2018, acting on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the KBP7 used a bolt cutter to enter a remote gate at Naval Base Kings Bay in St. Mary’s, GA and walked two miles through swamp and brush. They then split into three groups and prayed, prayerfully and symbolically poured blood, spray-painted messages of disarming nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a cement shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King, “the ultimate logic of racism is genocide” and another “the ultimate logic of Trident is ominicide.” The seven waited to be arrested and were taken to the Camden county jail where they were held without bail on state charges. They were subsequently indicted on federal charges and taken to the Glynn county jail in Brunswick, GA. Several were released after 6 weeks on posting $50,000 bond (with $5,000 cash). Others were released after some months. Fr. Steve Kelly has remained in custody. The seven were all convicted in a four day trial in October, 2019. Sentencing has been put off by delays in getting required reports from the probation department and then by the pandemic.
Links for information on Releasing People in Prison: