Update on Mark Colville and Other Plowshares, June 18. 2021

Mark Colville, the last of the KBP7 activists sentenced, reported to prison on June 8 and is in quarantine for 2 weeks in the Brooklyn Federal Detention Center since. He is kept in a cell for 23 ½ hrs a day and only let out for ½ hr. to call his family.Mark is very grateful to receive your letters but is unable to answer anyone as he was given only 6 stamps instead of 20. He’s in good spirits and was finally given a bible yesterday by the priest-chaplain.

Yesterday Mark was interviewed by a psychologist, dressed in tactical gear. Mark has offered his talents, as long as he’s not getting paid by the prison, for the betterment of his community. He’s willing to tutor or clean toilets. He does not want to work for the prison and have his prison pay garnished to pay restitution for the nuclear weapons of mass destruction that should not have been built in the first place.

If all works out, after being tested for Covid, on Monday, he may be moved to general population. Mark’s release date is September 11. He doesn’t want to apply for early release to home confinement or a halfway house as he views that type of intrusive supervision and wearing an ankle monitor as worse than being in a prison. He welcomes mail and his address and that of the other KBP7 are on the website.

Clare Grady

Clare is doing pretty well. The federal prison at Alderson, West Virginia will be sending Clare to group quarantine in early July in preparation for her Sept. 10th release date. After she entered in February Clare was in a quarantine pod for approximately 2 months, as small groups of women kept joining that pod from other jails. Eventually, 45 women were moved together into the general population, in a pod of 120 women in one big noisy dorm, similar to Patrick O’Neill’s prison situation in Elkton, OH. Here’s part of Clare’s letter from May 30. The full letter has been posted on the website with the other defendants’ letters from prison.

“Apologies for the long delay in responding to your letters. I have been a bit overwhelmed by mail but also by the categorization of mail – a quick answer, a thoughtful read before answering, a thoughtful read of an article, a newsletter, a book. Reading a book before I pass it on because I have a 5-book limit and 25-letter limit – it is a constant roll. Add that to my slow reading and writing ways. Add that to a bit of ADHD. Add to that – NO SOLITUDE. Add to that NO solid chunks of uninterrupted time. It seems to me I am always in transition. Ok, today is Sunday, my day off. No work, several counts, several meals, several phone calls, a few neighborly encounters but…hours on my upper bunk surrounded by mail, taking one piece at a time.”

As Clare enters quarantine, the pod will be quieter, she won’t have to clean showers anymore and she’ll be able to rest a bit. The downside will be no access to the outdoors unless she throws out the garbage at the end of the day to see the night sky and stars.

Patrick O’Neill

Since January, Patrick O’Neill has lived in one room with 115 other men at FCI Elkton in Lisbon, OH. The cacophony is unrelenting. Men yell even when playing chess, he says. “The noise includes a brutally loud public address system that screeches commands and other ‘information’ beginning at 5:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day as if you were in a stadium! There is also no privacy.” On a good week Patrick is allowed outside four times for one hour each. He can fit five to six miles of running into each session. He is the only white man in the Black prisoners’ prayer group, and also participates in the white prayer group. “While my imprisonment here has been difficult at times,” he writes, “mostly I am contented. I have made a lot of friends, and I get along with everyone for the most part.” He recently got to visit with his wife Mary and son Michael for one hour, no physical contact allowed. Daughters Annie and Bernadette will visit him on Fathers Day. Though each entire visit is watched by a guard each visit is followed by Patrick being “strip-searched with a body cavity ‘inspection.’” He is interviewing his cell block mates for a book he is writing about the “harshness and vindictiveness of the federal judicial system.” Patrick expects to be released to a halfway house in Raleigh on August 24. He has written frequent reflections on the prison experience which are posted on the website under “Letters from Jail.”

Martha Hennessy

Martha Hennessy was released to a halfway house in Manchester, NH on May 26. She had served five months in Danbury in addition to two months before trial. It is not clear how long she will have to be there before being allowed home confinement until the end of her sentence in August. She originally thought it would only be a week or two. Martha is trying hard to get approved for home confinement for which she believes she is eligible but the process is murky. After a few weeks of quarantine she is now allowed out for walks and to go to Mass once a week. She also started volunteer work at a food pantry. However, she really wants to get back to her family farm in Vermont and see her grandchildren. She has done several recent interviews which are available on the website.

Carmen Trotta

Carmen Trotta was released to home confinement in a friend’s apartment in NYC on May 27. He has to wear an ankle monitor and is not allowed to go out of the apartment without advance permission although he has now set up a regular schedule where he can go Mass once a week, to a gym twice a week and grocery shopping once a week. He is trying to get permission to help out at the Catholic Worker to serve food and cook some meals. The probation officers want him to get a paying job. He is also allowed to go out to a designated restaurant with relatives once a month. He has gotten a computer and cell phone and can use email and the internet.

Fr. Steve Kelly and Liz McAlister

Fr. Steve has refused to report for his three years of supervised probation after more than three years of incarceration and a bench warrant has been issued. He is laying low for the time being. Liz is in her supervised probation with almost no limitations.

Biden- Putin Summit

For the holders of over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons to “jaw-jaw, not war-war,” to paraphrase an already misquoted Churchill line, at the Biden-Putin summit on June 16th is certainly better than the alternative. The presidents jointly stated, “Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” Returning to some nuclear agreements and resuming normal diplomatic relations by mutually re-assigning ambassadors is something positive.
But as Beatrice Fihn with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, pithily noted, that over the last 10 years, “We’ve seen a huge modernization… of nuclear programs, new types of…weapons, new missions and an increase of the…role of nuclear weapons in these two countries…” The two leaders propose to create a bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue to work on arms control and risk reduction. Not a word about major, or any, reductions of weapons, or ever joining the Treaty for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
And Biden was fairly aggressive about Russian human rights abuses, when Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier and so many others languish in US prisons and US police kill thousands of disproportionately Black and Brown people every year. Biden made threats about a US response to cyber attacks supposedly originating from Russia, when Russia has urged a cyber treaty for years which the US has resisted. US hypocrisy was on display.
So not surprisingly our work to expose and resist the omnicidal nuclear threat must continue as firmly as ever.

Posted in