Amidst national spikes of more than 81,000 COVID-19 cases and 1,016 US deaths on Oct. 28th, the remaining four Kings Bay Plowshares 7 defendants have decided to request further postponement of their sentencing scheduled for November 12 and 13 in Brunswick, GA. Nationwide there has been a 41 percent increase in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks. The governors of New York State and Connecticut have recommended that people not travel out of state at this time and have imposed a 14-day quarantine upon return for those who do.
The four defendants, Carmen Trotta, Martha Hennessy, Mark Colville, and Clare Grady want to appear in person in open court to be sentenced with supporters and public present. It is not known if Judge Wood will grant this continuance. We should know better in a week.
Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J. and Patrick O’Neill were sentenced two weeks ago in a socially distanced courtroom. Steve was given a sentence of 33 months, three years of supervised release and restitution of $33,501 jointly with the other six defendants. He has fulfilled that time with his confinement in county jails since the action but has a probation violation from a prior trespassing arrest at the West coast Trident base. He is awaiting transport to the court there.
Patrick O’Neill was sentenced to 14 months, less than expected under the guidelines, and the same additional conditions. He is planning to report to federal prison on January 14. In his sentencing statement he referred to international law and the imminent United Nations treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.
“In fact, our government has violated many vital laws regarding nuclear weapons, the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty clearly, among many others. But there is also good news. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons any day now WILL be International Law. As of this week, 47 nations have ratified the treaty. Only three more nations are needed for global ratification that will mean there is NO doubt that we will have this new International Law on the books in the very near future.
“That’s why you, Judge Wood, in perhaps the only time you expressed your personal opinion during the trial, said Trident is probably not unlawful. The United States’ refusal to recognize international law does not make international law irrelevant.”
Steve Kelly also referenced the treaty in his statement prepared for the Oct. 11 Festival of Hope. “Felice and Jack (Cohen-Joppa of the Nuclear Resister) provided me with a statement by doctors who are part of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, and co-founders of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. They assert that as the virus health crisis is depleting resources and exhausting medical staff first responders, just one nuclear exchange, say between Pakistan and India, in a time of food and economic insecurity, not only would kill millions in the first moment, but the eventual spread of dust and ash would darken the skies and plunge the world into a nuclear ice age.”
A week after that sentencing, a historic milestone was reached. On Oct. 24 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was ratified by the 50th nation necessary for this international law to enter into force. This law now takes effect on Jan. 22, 2021, a little more than 75 years after the US dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
According to the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the group spearheading the global effort since 2017:
“This is just the beginning. Once the treaty is in force, all states parties will need to implement all of their positive obligations under the treaty and abide by its prohibitions. States that haven’t joined the treaty will feel its power too – we can expect companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapon producing companies.
How do we know? Because we have nearly 600 partner organizations in over 100 countries committed to advancing this treaty and the norm against nuclear weapons. People, companies, universities and governments everywhere will know this weapon has been prohibited and that now is the moment for them to stand on the right side of history.”
“Setsuko Thurlow, survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, said ‘I have committed my life to the abolition of nuclear weapons. I have nothing but gratitude for all who have worked for the success of our treaty.’ As a long-time and iconic ICAN activist who has spent decades sharing the story of the horrors she faced to raise awareness on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons this moment held particular significance: ‘This is the first time in international law that we have been so recognized. We share this recognition with other hibakusha across the world, those who have suffered radioactive harm from nuclear testing, from uranium mining, from secret experimentation.’ Survivors of atomic use and testing all over the world have joined Setsuko in celebrating this milestone.”
We understand that many are struggling financially at this time. We ask for donations only if you are able and doing well. Thank you for all the support you have given through these past two and a half years. Your support for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding the seven co-defendants while in prison and their families and communities. Checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Or donate online here at this link: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_isaiah
We invite you to see the updated website, find new articles, watch defendant videos and webinars. Here is a post we’d recommend. August 5, 2020 By Sean Howard, No Shelter from the Storm.https://capebretonspectator.com/2020/08/05/nuclear-threat-hiroshima-bomb/