Mark Colville’s Jan. 10 Probation Hearing Postponed

Friends,

We just got word that the Federal Court in Hartford has suspended in-person court appearances and is holding procedures virtually instead for the time being. Mark has decided that he would like to exercise his right to appear in person before the court and so his court date scheduled for Monday, January 10 has been postponed until further notice.

Because of these developments, we have decided to postpone the vigil in Hartford and are asking others who were holding solidarity vigils to do the same. We hope to organize the vigils again when Mark gets his new court date, keeping in mind that the United States is going full steam ahead in the building of a whole new generation of nuclear weapons to the tune of $100,000 a minute for the next 10 years.

Please see Mark’s statement below regarding the probation violation that was submitted to the judge.

May the resistance continue!

In Peace, The KBP7 support committee

Mark Colville’s Statement

To the Honorable Michael P. Shea:

January 6, 2022

It is my understanding that the reason for this summons to appear before you stems from my principled refusal to comply with two of the mandates imposed by the probation department in New Haven, pursuant to my conviction in Brunswick, Georgia federal court in October, 2019. As explained by the officer assigned to my case, Elizabeth Ogilvie, those mandates are to submit to random drug-testing, and to divulge personal financial information that will be used by the government to seize funds for the court-ordered restitution which, as of now, remains a part of my sentence. (It should be noted that the restitution order is currently under appeal in the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, Georgia.) This statement is intended to provide some essential clarification, from my perspective, as you discern how to proceed with this complaint. Of course, I also welcome the opportunity to address these and any other relevant issues in person.

First, I wish to assure you that my non-compliance in these matters is accompanied neither by an attitude of defiance nor disrespect, but rather one of regret. (This, to be sure, can be confirmed by Officer Ogilvie, based on our conversations.) Given my personal and family life circumstances at home- of which the court will be informed through separate submissions – this is a frighteningly inconvenient time to be in dispute with those tasked with my supervision, or to risk being placed under sanctions that could include yet another period of separation from my loved ones. I am doing so only because of the unshaken conviction that this is what faith and conscience demand of me. It is also my sincere belief that this non-cooperation is justified by the court’s own findings, as well as its application of the law, at my trial.

Based largely on the testimony of expert witnesses, the court in my case repeatedly affirmed that the actions for which I was charged were not only motivated by sincerely-held religious beliefs, but were also entirely consistent with core teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that have informed the consciences of believers for more than five hundred years. Subsequent to that finding, our jury was forbidden to hear or consider that evidence, and further instructed that the question of the legality of nuclear weapons was irrelevant. (Obviously, I have a personal opinion about whether or not a conviction would have been the result if Judge Lisa Godbey Wood had ruled differently on those two points of dispute, but it is certainly not my desire to waste anyone’s time here with an attempt to re-litigate my case.) For the purposes of this hearing, I simply wish to make the claim that the probation department is under none of the constraints that those decisions imposed on the jury at my trial. This means that the illegality of nuclear weapons (which became recognized internationally by ratified treaty as of January 20, 2021), and the faith-based nature of my actions are not only relevant when it comes to my supervision, they are essential factors in determining how, or even if I should be supervised by a probation department at all.

From the early 1990’s to this day, I’ve been part of an international movement known as Plowshares, which since 1980 has engaged in nonviolent acts of symbolic nuclear disarmament intended to make real in history the words of the great Hebrew prophet Isaiah: “They shall hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2:4). Our analysis of the present moment is that human survival depends on the accomplishment of this ancient mandate, before the inevitability of nuclear annihilation comes to fruition. Our understanding of politics and history further indicates that the United States government is utterly incapable of disarming itself, and it therefore becomes the right and obligation of citizens in a democracy to initiate that process. Chief among the objectives of the Plowshares movement is to address the legal vacuum into which our federal courts have placed nuclear weapons, in much the same way that citizens once had to place themselves outside the law in order to begin the process of breaking the legal seal that protected the horrific criminality of slavery.

To be clear: I am not asking the court to agree with any of this analysis as I’ve explained it here, much less to embrace the faith-based doctrines that have been so formative in my life. It is simply my petition that the court acknowledge – during a time when the government is spending what amounts to $100,000 of public funds per minute over the next ten years on the proliferation of first-strike nuclear weapons – that it is reasonable for me as a citizen to hold these convictions and, within the boundaries of nonviolence, to act upon them. I appeal to you then, Judge Shea, to appreciate the bind that I find myself in as I appear before you.

Compliance with the two mandates from the probation department that are the subject of this hearing would place me in a posture of affirming what I know to be a lie; namely, that my beliefs and my conduct have been both irrational, and destructive of the community into which I am currently re-integrating from prison. Such coercion into prevarication constitutes punishment, which, according to the guiding legal principles behind supervised release, is an overstepping of the authority vested in the probation department in New Haven.

Please note that I bear no ill-will toward anyone in that office. Since April of 2018, apart from the eighteen months spent incarcerated, I’ve voluntarily submitted to federal supervision- including curfews, travel restrictions, an ankle monitor, and the obligation to refrain from entering any military installations- without incident, bad report, disciplinary action or complaint. I even revoked my own bail at one point and decided to await trial in the maximum-security holding facility in Glynn County Georgia, rather than risk violating the probation department’s directives when they had become unnecessarily restrictive. My cooperation should be well documented. And today, nearly four years later, after a full twenty-seven months of unblemished compliance, in a community into which I am obviously quite well-integrated already, it seems more than reasonable to ask: What exactly do they intend to “supervise” during these next three years, and what does drug-testing and the invasion of my right to practice my religion have to do with that supervision?
It is my hope that this compliance hearing will provide some much-needed clarification on these questions. Thank you for your attention.

Blessings and Peace,
Mark Colville