Plowshares activist and Catholic Worker Art Laffin is the editor (with the late Sr. Anne Montgomery) of two editions of Swords into Plowshares – Nonviolent Direct Action for Disarmament (Harper & Row, 1987 and Fortkamp, 1996). He delivered the following historical review to about 100 supporters of the Kings Bay Plowshares gathered in Brunswick, Georgia for their trial, October 21-24. His talk was also recorded on video.
Plowshares History Talk
by Art Laffin
Delivered October 22, 2019 at St. Athanasius Episcopal Church, Brunswick, GA.
This version includes some slight revisions.
I am honored to be invited to speak tonight and to share this presentation with Rosalie Riegle.
I would like to begin by thanking God for the miracle of this day, for the miracle of life and for the Kings Bay Plowshares7, for Martha, Liz, Clare, Steve, Patrick, Mark, Carmen and their families and communities, and for their amazing legal and support teams. Let’s give them all a standing ovation!!!
I would like to call into our presence the crucified and risen Jesus, and all the Holy Cloud of witnesses, including those plowshares friends who have gone home to God–Fr. Paul Kabat, Larry Cloud Morgan, Mary Lyons, Elmer Maas, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Peter DeMott, Kees Koning, Joe and Jean Gump, Sr. Jackie Hudson, Larry Morlan, Agnes Bauerlein, Macy Morse, Judy Beaumont, Tom Lewis, Bill Bichsel, Lynne Greenwald, Brian Law, Phil and Dan Berrigan. I believe they, along with countless others, including peacemakers who recently died – Frances Crowe, John Downing, Mary Grace McCoy, Ned Smith (other names are invoked from the audience) and all our beloved departed, are advocating for us and cheering us on!
In Dan Berrigan’s book, Testimony, there is a chapter titled An Ethic of Resurrection. Towards the end of the chapter Dan speaks about the teachers who influenced him. After naming different people, Dan writes:
“Incomparably the greatest of these (teachers) is Jesus, who for His part took bread, broke it, and said ‘This is my body given for you.’ Then He took the cup and said, this is ‘My blood, given for you.’ The ethic of the body, given, the blood outpoured! The act led straight to the scaffold and to that ‘beyond’ we name for want of a better word, resurrection… (W)e have yet to experience resurrection, which I translate, ‘the hope that hopes on.’
“A blasphemy against this hope is named deterrence, or Trident submarines, or star wars, or preemptive strike, or simply, any nuclear weapon…
“That is why we speak again and again of 1980 and all the Plowshares actions since, how some continue to labor to break the demonic clutch on our souls of the ethic of Mars, of wars and rumors of wars, inevitable wars, just wars, necessary wars, victorious wars, and say our no in acts of hope. For us, all of these repeated arrests, the interminable jailings, the life of our small communities, the discipline of nonviolence, these have embodied an ethic of resurrection.”
Dan’s words go right to the heart of the spirituality of plowshares actions. Indeed, these (and other acts of nonviolent resistance as well), of beating the swords of our time into plowshares, are manifestations of an ethic of resurrection. They are rooted in the belief that the God of all Creation has the last word, not the principalities and powers. The God of Life has overcome the powers of this world and the forces of death! Consequently, this abiding faith in the God of Life leads us to commit our lives to making God’s reign of love, justice and peace a reality by doing the works of mercy, accompanying the poor and the victims, embracing the way of nonviolence and community, actively resisting the forces of death and trying, trying to build a new world within the shell of the old.
The 39 year history of plowshares actions, I submit, are connected to and a continuation of the resistance of the Baltimore Four (David Eberhardt of the Baltimore Four is here present) and Catonsville Nine actions and subsequent draft board actions, where peacemakers believed that it was better to destroy draft files (licenses to kill) than to burn children and destroy entire villages in Vietnam. Likewise today, sisters and brothers who have carried out plowshares actions, believe it is their duty to nonviolently and symbolically disarm weapons of mass murder that can end all life and civilization, and incinerate the planet.
I would like to give a brief background of plowshares actions, reflect on the underlying spirit and hope of these actions and address how the courts have responded. It is my intent here not to be exhaustive on covering all these issues in great detail, but to give a general sense of what plowshares-disarmament actions are about.
On September 9, 1980, the “Plowshares Eight” carried out the first of what have come to be known as plowshares actions. Eight peacemakers entered the General Electric plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, where the nose cones from the Mark 12-A nuclear warheads were manufactured. With hammers and blood they enacted the biblical prophecies of Isaiah (2:4) and Micah (4:3) to “beat swords into plowshares” by hammering on two of the nose cones and pouring blood on documents. Thus, the name “plowshares” has been used to identify this action. The eight were subsequently arrested and tried by a jury, convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 1/2 to 10 years. After a series of appeals that lasted 10 years, they were resentenced to time served—from several days to 17 1/2 months. How many were here at the Plowshares 8 trial? I did support for this action and trial as Dean Hammer, from our Covenant Peace Community in New Haven, was one of the eight. I also knew all of the others who acted.
Since the Plowshares Eight action, others, acting in community and some individually, have entered military bases and weapons facilities and have symbolically and actually disarmed components of U.S. first-strike nuclear weapons systems: the MX, Pershing II, Cruise, Minuteman ICBM’s, Trident II missiles, Trident submarines, B-52 bombers, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, the Navstar system, the ELF communication system, the Milstar satellite system, a nuclear capable battleship and the Aegis destroyer. Combat aircraft used for military intervention such as the F-111 fighter bomber, the F-15A fighter, the F-18 bomber, the A-10 Warthog, the Hawk aircraft, as well as combat helicopters and other conventional weapons, including aircraft missile launchers, bazookas, grenade throwers, and AK-5 automatic rifles, have been disarmed. Model weapons have been disarmed at an “Arms Bazaar.”
In the Transform Now Plowshares action in 2012 at Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear Facility at Oak Ridge, TN, Mike Walli, Sr. Megan Rice (who are here at the trial) and Greg Boertje-Obed hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, poured blood and spray-painted messages on the facility. Because of so-called security issues, this action prompted authorities to close what’s been called the “Ft. Knox of Uranium,” for an unprecedented three weeks.
People who have been involved in plowshares actions have undertaken a process of intense spiritual preparation, nonviolence training and community formation, and have given careful consideration to the risks involved. Plowshares activists, accepting full responsibility for their actions, remain at the site of their action so that they can publicly explain their witness.
Resonating closely with this spirit of nonviolent direct disarmament, other people, though not seeing their action arising out of the biblical prophecy of Isaiah and Micah, have been compelled to nonviolently disarm components of nuclear and conventional weapons. Although individuals who have carried out these actions have been inspired by plowshares participants who embrace a biblical vision, they view their action as being primarily motivated by a deeply held conscience commitment to nonviolence or by other spiritual or moral convictions.
As of this year, more than 200 people have participated in some 101 plowshares and related disarmament actions that I am aware of.  (I want to acknowledge Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, co-editors of the Nuclear Resister, who are both here, for their amazing work in keeping records of all the different actions that have happened. I have drawn on this information to compile the Plowshares chronology). 58 of these actions have taken place in the U.S. and 43 have been international actions. Also several groups and individuals were stopped by security and arrested at or near a weapons site before being able to complete their intended disarmament action. Some plowshares activists have gone on to participate in other plowshares actions.
Plowshares actions have occurred in the U.S., Australia, Germany, Holland, Sweden, New Zealand and Scotland and England. 21 of these plowshares actions have been directed at the Trident submarine program–16 actions in the U.S. and 5 in England and Scotland. The backgrounds of plowshares activists vary widely. Parents, grandparents, veterans, lawyers, teachers, artists, musicians, priests, sisters, house-painters, carpenters, writers, health-care workers, students, advocates for the poor and homeless, and members of Catholic Worker communities have all participated in plowshares actions. I would like to ask all those present who have participated in Plowshares actions to please stand so we can acknowledge them. I want to affirm something Carmen Trotta said Sunday at the Festival of Hope. We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Jonah House for being the inspiration and sustaining force for the Plowshares actions. I also want to hold up Elmer Maas, and Peter DeMott, who in the years before their deaths provided invaluable support to Plowshares communities. And I want to acknowledge my dear friend, Sr. Anne Montgomery, who did 6 Plowshares actions–we did two together. We also co-edited two Swords into Plowshares books.
In my view, the basic hope of the plowshares actions (and here I’m not attempting to speak for other people involved in these actions) is to communicate from the moment of entry into a plant or base—and throughout the court process and prison witness—an underlying faith that the power of nonviolent love can overcome the forces of violence; a reverence for all life and creation; an acceptance of personal responsibility for the dismantling and the physical conversion of the weapons; and a spiritual conversion of the heart to the way of justice and reconciliation. Thus, plowshares participants believe that the physical dismantling of the weapon and the personal disarmament of the heart is a reciprocal process. As Philip Berrigan states: “We try to disarm ourselves by disarming the weapons.”
The main symbols used in plowshares actions are hammers and blood. Hammers are used to literally begin the process of disarmament that thousands of talks and numerous treaties have failed to accomplish. The hammer is used to take apart as well as create, and to point to the urgency for conversion of war and weapons production to products that enhance life. The blood symbolizes the mass killing that weapons of mass destruction can inflict, as well as the murderous cost they now impose on the poor. Blood speaks too of human unity and the willingness to give one’s life rather than to take life.
Seeking to expose the violence, secrecy, and idolatry of the national nuclear security state, some plowshares defendants have tried to present a “justification” or “necessity” defense. During their defense they have tried to show, through personal and expert witness testimony, that their actions were morally and legally justified and that their intent was to protect life. In most cases, the courts have shown their complicity in protecting the interests of the government and have disallowed this defense. In the Sperry Software Pair plowshares case in 1984, John LaForge (who is here) and Barb Katt were allowed to present a justification defense but they were convicted. Some plowshares groups have also presented a defense declaring that a state religion of “nuclearism” has been established, which is unconstitutional, in violation of the First Amendment. Moreover, nuclearism is in violation of God’s law, which forbids the worship of “gods of metal.” Plowshares defendants have moved for dismissal of all charges brought against them; for the law, as applied in these cases, is used to protect this unconstitutional state religion. Such motions have been consistently denied. For the first time in a plowshares case, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 introduced in court the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to be used as part of their defense. But as we all know this, too, was denied.
With the exception of the G.E. 5 in 1981, the Kairos Plowshares in 1988, the Aegis Plowshares in 1991, the first Australian Plowshares action in 1987, the Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares action in 2000 (after 7 days in jail their charges were dropped), and the Riverside Plowshares in 2004, all plowshares activists have been prosecuted for their actions. While most plowshares-disarmament activists have pled not guilty and have gone to trial, several opted to plead “no contest” or “guilty” to charges brought against them.
Most of the trials to date, mainly jury trials, have ended in convictions. However, members of the Epiphany Plowshares were tried an unprecedented five times with three trials ending in hung juries and mistrials. Also, Chris Cole’s first trial for a plowshares action in England ended in a hung jury. The first ever acquittal in a plowshares case occurred in Liverpool, England where a jury found the Seeds of Hope—East Timor Ploughshares not guilty. There was also another plowshares acquittal, which occurred in Edinburgh, Scotland during the trial of three women who disarmed Trident-related technology as part of the Trident Ploughshares 2000 campaign. And in another plowshares-disarmament action against Trident in England, a trial for two women ended in a hung jury for one charge and an acquittal for the second charge.
Here’s an overview of other plowshares actions where cases were either not prosecuted, resulted in hung juries or found not guilty.
–Bread not Bombs Ploughshares, Sept. 13, 1998, VSEL Barrow in England. Hung Jury in first trial. Peacemakers convicted in second trial.
–HMS Vengeance Disarmament Action, Nov. 23, 1999, Barrow Shipyard in England. Jury verdict of Not Guilty.
–Aldermaston Women Trash Trident, Feb. 1, 1999, Barrow Furness shipyard, England. Jury found peacemakers not guilty on one charge and could not reach a verdict on second charge. A second trial resulted in jury not be able to reach a verdict.
–Trident Three Disarmament Action, June 8, 1999, Laboratory Barge with Trident Equipment in Loch Goil, Scotland. Not Guilty Verdict.
–Pit Stop Ploughshares, Feb. 3, 2003, Shannon Airport, Ireland. Two mistrials. Third trial resulted in jury Acquittal.
–Waihopai Plowshares, April 30, 2008, GCSB/U.S. National Security Agency Spy Base in New Zealand. Jury acquitted three peacemakers.
The first Plowshares case in Federal court was the Griffiss Plowshares in 1984, which Liz and Clare were part of. They were acquitted by a jury of sabotage, but were convicted of conspiracy and destruction of government property.
During the trials in the U.S., which have occurred in both state and federal courts, most of the defendants have represented themselves and have been assisted by legal advisers. The trial tactics by judges and government prosecutors have become extremely repressive. A “Motion In Limine,” which calls for the complete prohibition of “affirmative” defenses, has been introduced by the government and accepted by the Courts in most, if not all of the plowshares trials at least since the Epiphany Plowshares trial. For example, prior to the third and fourth trials of the Epiphany Plowshares, the trial judge, complying with the U.S. prosecutor’s request, imposed a “gag” order forbidding any mention of such subjects as God’s law, the Bible, international law, U.S. military intervention in Central America, nuclear weapons and the poor. For speaking about these subjects, two defendants were given contempt charges and 20-day jail sentences. And during their opening statement to the jury in North Carolina, members of the Pax Christi-Spirit of Life Plowshares in 1994 were found in contempt of court for not complying with the judge’s instruction to refrain from speaking about crimes of the national security state and their moral and legal intent.
Prison sentences have varied for each plowshares-disarmament action. These sentences have ranged from suspended sentences to 18 years. The average sentence for plowshares activists has been between one and two years. I want to note here that, as a consequence of their Plowshares actions, Fr. Carl Kabat has spent close to 18 years in prison, Helen Woodson over 12 years in prison, and Fr. Steve Kelly about 10 years in prison.  (Please see below Notes regarding other plowshares activists who have served long prison sentences for their actions). These, and all Plowshares activists, in the U.S. and internationally, who have served prison sentences, have made great sacrifices and risked their freedom to help bring about a disarmed world.
With respect to the Transform Now Plowshares, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their sabotage conviction as they were already serving over a year and a half their 3 and 5 plus year prison sentences. This resulted in their sentence being vacated and they were released from prison and resentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution.
Regarding pre-trial detention for plowshares people who were not willing to bond out or comply with other pre-trial release conditions, the case of the KBP7 is unprecedented. Mark served over a year, Liz, 17 months and Steve, 18 months and counting.
Doing support work on behalf of plowshares activists has also been an integral part of the plowshares actions. Efforts by local support groups, including now here in Georgia, have been invaluable in supporting plowshares activists during trial and imprisonment and in helping to educate the public about the meaning of these actions. As people have been sentenced to long prison terms, support for prisoners and their families has been, and continues to be, crucial.
While plowshares activists have different perspectives on a variety of issues, most would undoubtedly agree with the following viewpoint articulated by Philip Berrigan in 1992:
Plowshares began disarmament in 1980, doing what the government refused to do for 35 years. With equal concern, Plowshares appealed to the hearts, minds and spirits of the American people—‘You must share disarmament!’ The twin goals of Plowshares—symbolic yet real disarmament and sharing disarmament—have reciprocity. The weapons exist because our fear, violence and hatred built them… The imperative is to be human in an inhuman time, to act in season and out despite the prospect that the American empire might not break up in our lifetime, nor disarmament happen while we live. If that be the case, modesty of means will sustain us as another face of faith. And faith is not faith except for the long haul. 
Regarding this notion of faith, Elizabeth McAlister asserts:
There is not going to be any real disarmament until there’s a disarming of hearts. And so one puts oneself on the line to symbolically, but really, disarm the weapons in a hope and prayer that the action might be used by the Spirit of God to change minds and hearts. One puts oneself on the line—at risk and in jeopardy—to communicate the depth of commitment to that hope. 
Based on my experience, it is important to note that each of the plowshares participants I’ve met has carefully reflected on these and other important considerations prior to an action. While there does exist among plowshares participants a basic unanimity about the underlying spirit for plowshares actions, there is a diversity of opinion among plowshares participants about certain issues including defenses to use in court, the level of cooperation with court and probation authorities, and the payment of fines and restitution. Clearly, these and other issues that I have addressed have generated important discussion among plowshares activists and the wider disarmament movement.
In the final analysis, people who do plowshares actions are ordinary people who, with all their weaknesses, are attempting to respond in faith and conscience to a moral mandate, which must be enacted in our violent world, and for those in the U.S. arguably the most violent empire in history. These actions are not to be glamorized or taken lightly. People have taken great risks, experienced the loneliness and dehumanization of prison, and have had to cope with many difficult personal and family hardships. Building and sustaining an acting community takes extraordinary commitment and is certainly not problem-free. Yet, with all their limitations and imperfections, these actions are a powerful reminder that we can live in a world without weapons and war if people are willing to begin the process of disarmament by literally beating the swords (weapons) of our time into plowshares. While these actions are deemed criminal by the state, they should be considered, in light of the great evil we face, the norm. Although each plowshares action has many similarities to others, in the end each is unique, each is a learning process, each is an experiment in truth.
Friends, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have turned its Doomsday Clock to two minutes before midnight because of the apocalyptic twin dangers of climate chaos and nuclear war. Russia and the U.S. possess over 6,000 nuclear weapons each, many of which are on hair trigger alert. U.S. and NATO Missile Defense systems ring Russia and China, increasing already heightened tensions. A new U.S. Space Force has been created to oversee military control and domination of space. Meanwhile, during this past year, the U.S. withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal and the INF Treaty with Russia. On February 13, 2019, the U.S. carried out a sub-critical nuclear test, a flagrant violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. And Pentagon policy makers have declared that a limited nuclear war could be waged and won, according to a new nuclear doctrine titled “Nuclear Operations.” These actions, along with the fact that there have already been at least 32 nuclear accidents (broken arrows) in the Nuclear Era, have further exacerbated the nuclear peril.
With an unpredictable president in office, and the development of a new smaller nuclear warhead, the W76-2, to be deployed this fall, the U.S. will now have the nuclear “flexibility” to wage what is called a limited-nuclear war. Let’s be clear: The stated U.S. nuclear policy is that it must be prepared to use any military means necessary, including using nuclear weapons, to protect and ensure its “vital” national security and geo-political interests. And all this is supposedly “legal!” Remember that since the U.S. used nuclear weapons against the Japanese people in 1945, every U.S. president has threatened to use nuclear weapons to bolster U.S. imperial ambitions–at least 30 such threats have been made.
This reality of the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons being “legal,” came home to me in a powerful way in 1982 during the Trident Nein plowshares trial, in which I was a defendant. The Trident Nein action was carried out on July 5, 1982 when nine peacemakers hammered and poured blood on the USS Florida Trident nuclear submarine and components at the General Dynamics-Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, CT. We also spray-painted USS AUSCHWITZ on the submarine and poured blood and hung a banner on sonar equipment. The banner said: TRIDENT A HOLOCAUST–AN OVEN WITHOUT WALLS! At one point during the trial an extraordinary exchange with the trial judge took place. He stated that we defendants may very well be right, that the world might be blown up, but the law must still be upheld! I was astonished by this statement! By implication, the judge was clarifying how the civil law of the United States protects nuclear weapons. Even though the use of such weapons pose an unprecedented peril for our world, the “laws” sanctioning them cannot be questioned. In short, the use of nuclear weapons, which could end the world as we know it, would be technically lawful.
On Sept. 4, 1989, six peacemakers (including Kathy Boylan and Jackie Allen who are here) and I carried out the Thames River Plowshares action in New London, Connecticut. We were able to swim and canoe to the docked USS Pennsylvania, the 10th Trident, and hammered and poured blood on the hull. Elmer Maas, Jim Reale and I beached our canoe on the fin end of the Trident and were able to climb on top of the submarine. There, kneeling in prayer on the submarine, we read from the entire 15th chapter of John’s Gospel and prayed for the abolition of nuclear weapons. As MP’s used fire-hoses from a distance to try and get us to leave the submarine, I made an appeal to them to become conscientious objectors to war. We were then taken into custody by the Coast Guard.
From aboard this most destructive weapon on earth, I believed then, and I believe now, that if people have the faith to believe that disarmament is possible, and act on that faith, it can occur. I, along with other Plowshares activists and many other peacemakers, know this can happen because we were, in fact, able to literally begin the process of true disarmament.
Let’s thank God for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who risked their freedom and lives on April 4, 2018 to enflesh God’s dream for the human family to abolish weapons of mass murder and war! Now is the time to heed the pleas of the Hibakusha to the world that Jim Douglass referred to in his powerful reflection on Sunday at the Festival of Hope: HUMANITY CANNOT COEXIST WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS! And that the U.S. must now lead the way to repent of the nuclear sin and ratify the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. Now is the time to renew our commitment to join with them to eradicate the triple evils of poverty, racism and militarism that Dr. King implored us to do. As all of you are already doing, let us recommit ourselves, through God’s amazing grace, to bringing about a nonviolent and disarmed world and create the Beloved Community! For with God and community all things are possible! Let us all continue to strive to embrace and embody an Ethic of Resurrection!
Thank you very much!
 See: Swords Into Plowshares: A Chronology of Plowshares-Disarmament Actions, 1980-2003, by Arthur J. Laffin with introduction by Daniel Berrigan, SJ, reissued by WIPH and STOCK Publishers. See also Expanded Plowshares Chronology: 2003-2015, by Arthur J. Laffin, at kingsbayplowshares7.org.
 There have also been other Plowshares activists who were sentenced to long imprisonment, including Fr. Paul Kabat, Larry Cloud Morgan, Martin Holliday, Jean Gump, Joe Gump, Jerry Ebner, Richard Miller, Jeff Leys, George Ostensen, Peter Lumsdaine and Sachio Ko-Yin, Katya Komisaruk, Lin Romano, Sr. Jackie Hudson, Sr. Megan Rice,and members of the Plowshares Eight, Trident Nein, Griffiss Plowshares, AVCO Plowshares, Trident II Plowshares, Trident Two Pruning Hooks, Pershing Plowshares, Silo Plowshares, Anzus Peace Force Plowshares, Jubilee Plowshares East, Pax Christ-Spirit of Life Plowshares, Thames River Plowshares, Prince of Peace Plowshares and Gods of Metal Plowshares and Plowshares VS. Depleted Uranium. And there have been plowshares activists who did multiple plowshares actions and served substantial prison time, including Elmer Maas, Peter DeMott, Sr. Anne Montgomery, Daniel Sicken, Susan Crane, Sr. Ardeth Platte, Sr. Carol Gilbert, Phil Berrigan, Liz McAlister, Greg Boertje-Obed, Michele Naar-Obed, Michael Walli, Kathy Boylan and Turi Vaccaro. This is a partial listing and does not include international actions. Please see Swords Into Plowshares (book) and KBP7 link for all those who have been imprisoned for their courageous and prophetic witness!
 Phil Berrigan, The Nuclear Resister, December 23, 1992.
 Liz McAlister, The Catholic Agitator, November 1992.
Plowshares-Disarmament Chronology: 1980-2018
PLOWSHARES EIGHT: September 9, 1980 – General Electric Nuclear Missile Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, PA
PLOWSHARES NUMBER TWO: December 13, 1980- General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) shipyard in Groton, Connecticut
TRIDENT NEIN: (German for No): Independence Day, 1982 – General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) shipyard in Groton, Connecticut
PLOWSHARES NUMBER FOUR: November 14, 1982 – – General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) shipyard in Groton, Connecticut
AVCO PLOWSHARES: July 14, 1983 – AVCO Systems Division in Wilmington, Massachusetts
GRIFFISS PLOWSHARES: November 24, 1983 – Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY.
PLOWSHARES NUMBER SEVEN: On December 4, 1983 – U.S. Army base in Schwäbisch-Gmünd, West Germany
PERSHING PLOWSHARES: April 22, 1984 – Martin Marietta in Orlando, Florida.
SPERRY SOFTWARE PAIR: August 10, 1984 – Sperry Corporation in Eagan, Minnesota.
TRIDENT II PLOWSHARES: October 1, 1984 Electric Boat Quonset Point facility in North Kingston, Rhode Island.
SILO PRUNING HOOKS: November 12, 1984 – Minuteman II missile silo controlled by Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri
RESISTANCE IN CAPTIVITY – March 16, 1988 Helen Woodson walked through the main gate of Alderson Prison carrying a banner and statement protesting the nuclear arms race, pollution of the environment and prison conditions for women.
PLOWSHARES NUMBER TWELVE: February 19, 1985 – Minuteman II missile silo of Whiteman Air Force Base near Odessa, Missouri.
TRIDENT II PRUNING HOOKS: April 18, 1985 – EB Quonset Point facility in North Kingston, Rhode Island
MICHIGAN ELF DISARMAMENT ACTION: May 28, 1985 – Navy’s “Extremely Low Frequency” (ELF) transmitter antennas, Michigan
PANTEX DISARMAMENT ACTION: July 16, 1985, – U.S. Department of Energy’s Pantex Nuclear Weapons Assembly Plant in Amarillo, Texas
WISCONSIN ELF DISARMAMENT ACTION: August 14, 1985 – ELF Communication system transmitter site, WI
MARTIN MARIETTA MX WITNESS: September 27, 1985 – MX Witness, Martin Marietta CO
SILO PLOWSHARES: Good Friday, March 28, 1986 – Whiteman Air force Base, MO
PERSHING TO PLOWSHARES: December 12, 1986*
EPIPHANY PLOWSHARES: January 6, 1987 – Willow Grove Naval Air Station, PA
PAUPERS PLOWSHARES: Good Friday, April 17, 1987 – Naval Air Development Center, PA
WHITE ROSE DISARMAMENT ACTION: On June 2, l987 – Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA
TRANSFIGURATION PLOWSHARES (WEST): August 5, 1987 – Whiteman Air Force Base, MO
TRANSFIGURATION PLOWSHARES (EAST): On August 6, 1987- South Weymouth Naval Air Station, MA
HARMONIC DISARMAMENT FOR LIFE: On August 16, 1987 – ELF Communication system transmitter site, WI
AUSTRALIAN PLOWSHARES ACTION: December 28, 1987 – Sydney Harbor, Australia
NUCLEAR NAVY PLOWSHARES: Easter Sunday, April 3, 1988 – Norfolk Naval Station, VA
KAIROS PLOWSHARES: June 26, 1988 – General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) shipyard in Groton, Connecticut
KAIROS PLOWSHARES TOO: On August 1, 1988 – EB Quonset Point facility, RI
CREDO PLOWSHARES: On September 20, 1988 – Air Force Arms Bazaar, DC
DUTCH DISARMAMENT ACTION: December 8, 1988
NF-5B PLOWSHARES: January 1, 1989 – Dutch military base
Other Dutch Disarmament Actions:
February 9, 1989,
Good Friday, March 24, 1989,
July 16, 1989
STOP WEAPONS EXPORTS-PLOWSHARES 2: February 16, 1989 – Sweden
THAMES RIVER PLOWSHARES: September 4, 1989 – Naval Underwater Systems Center in New London, CT
PLOWSHARES ESKILTUNA: March 20, 1990 – FV Ordnance Weapons Factory, Sweden
UPPER HEYFORD PLOWSHARES: March 21, 1990 – Upper Heyford US Air Force Base, Great Britain
DOVES OF PEACE DISARMAMENT ACTION: April 3, 1990 – Physics International Laboratory, CA
ANZUS PEACE FORCE PLOWSHARES: January 1, 1991 – Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY.
ARMS FACTORY PLOWSHARES: March 1, 1991 – FFV Ordnance Weapons Factory, Sweden
AEGIS PLOWSHARES: March 31, 1991 – Bath Iron Works, ME
DARWIN PLOWSHARES August 17, 1991 – Darwin Royal Air Force Base, Australia
SOLDIER DISARMS RIFLE January 8, 1992 – Sweden
GOOD FRIDAY PLOWSHARES MISSILE SILO WITNESS – Good Friday April 17, 1992 – Whiteman Air Force Base, MO
HARRIET TUBMAN-SARAH CONNOR BRIGADE DISARMAMENT ACTION: May 10, 1992 – Space systems complex, Rockwell International, CA
BAE PLOWSHARES: January 6, 1993 – British Aerospace Weapons Factory, Great Britain
GOOD NEWS PLOWSHARES: Good Friday, April 9, 1993 – Newport News Shipbuilding, VA
JAS INTO PLOWSHARES: June 22, 1993 – Saab airplane factory, Sweden
PAX CHRISTI-SPIRIT OF LIFE PLOWSHARES: December 7, 1993 – Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, NC
ANARCHIST PLOWSHARES: January 27, 1994 – Satenas Swedish Military Base, Sweden
GOOD FRIDAY- APRIL FOOLS DAY PLOWSHARES: April 1, 1994 – Grand Forks Missile Fields, ND
JUBILEE PLOWSHARES EAST August 7, 1995 Newport News Shipbuilding. VA
JUBILEE PLOWSHARES WEST August 7, 1995 Lockheed-Martin Corporation in Sunnyvale, CA,
SEEDS OF HOPE – EAST TIMOR PLOUGHSHARES: January 29, 1996 – British Aerospace site
LAURENTIAN SHIELD TRIDENT ELF DISARMAMENT ACTION: April 22, 1996 – Elf Communications Transmitter site, WI
PRINCE OF PEACE PLOWSHARES: February 12, 1997 – Bath Iron Works, ME
WEEP FOR CHILDREN PLOWSHARES: July 27, 1996 – Naval Submarine Base, CT
CHOOSE LIFE DISARMAMENT ACTIONS: April 19, 1997 – Bofors arms factory
GODS OF METAL PLOWSHARES: May 17, 1998 – Andrews Air Force Base, Washington DC
MINUTEMAN III PLOWSHARES August 6, 1998 – Greely Missile Field
JABILUKA PLOWSHARES: August 9, 1998 – Jabiluka Uranium Mine, Australia
HMS VENGEANCE DISARMAMENT ACTION: November 23, 1998 – Barrow Shipyard, Great Britain
ALDERMASTON WOMEN TRASH TRIDENT: February 1, 1999 – Barrow Shipyard, Great Britain
BREAD NOT BOMBS PLOWSHARES: September 13, 1998 – VSEL Barrow, Great Britain
TRIDENT THREE DISARMAMENT ACTIONS: June 8, 1999 – Loch Goil, Scotland
PLOWSHARES VS. DEPLETED URANIUM: December 19, 1999 – Warfield Air National Guard Base, MD
SILENCE TRIDENT PLOWSHARES: June 24, 2000 – ELF communication site, WI
SACRED EARTH AND SPACE PLOWSHARES: September 9, 2000 – Petersen Air Force Base, CO
JUBILEE PLOUGHSHARES 2000: November 3, 2000 – Wittering Air Force Base, England
SACRED EARTH AND SPACE PLOWSHARES II: October 6, 2002 – missile silo field, CO
SHANNON PLOWSHARES: January 29, 2003 – Shannon Airport, Ireland
PITSTOP PLOWSHARES: February 3, 2003 – Shannon Airport, Ireland
NATO PLOWSHARES: February 9, 2003 – Volkel NATO Air Base, Netherlands
RAF LEUCHARS PLOWSHARES: March 11, 2003 – Fife, Scotland
RAF FAIRFORD PLOUGHSHARES: March 13 & 18, 2003 Fairford, Great Britain
SILO N-8 PLOWSHARES: August 6, 2003 New Rajm, CO
RIVERSIDE PLOWSHARES: March 25, 2003 – Navy Fleet Week NYC
DUTCH PLOWSHARES SIX: (F-16 Plowshares) August 10, 2005 – The Netherlands
WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION HERE PLOWSHARES: June 20, 2006, ND
WAIHOPAI PLOWSHARES: April 30, 2008 New Zealand
TRIDENT PLOUGHSHARES: August 6, 2008 North Yorkshire, Great Britain
AVRUSTA! DISARMAMENT CAMPAIGN: (4 actions) October 16 & 18, 2008 Eskilstuna, Sweden
SAAB MICROWAVE BECOMING2 PLOUGHSHARES: June 24, 2008 Molndal, Sweden
SAAB PLOUGHSHARES WITNESS (CONTINUES): March 22, 2009 Linkoping, Sweden
NUCLEAR WEAPONS HERE PRUNING HOOKS: August 6, 2009 Greeley, CO
DISARM NOW PLOWSHARES: November 2, 2009 Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, WA
TIGER PLOUGHSHARES ACTION: July 21, 2011 Rockhampton Airport, Australia
CRANE PRUNING HOOKS: July 3, 2011 Kansas City, MO
TRANSFORM NOW PLOWSHARES: July 28, 2012 Y-12 National Security Complex , Oak Ridge, TN
MUOS PLOUGHSHARES ACTION: November 11, 2015 Niscemi, Sicily
BAE DISARMAMENT ACTION: January 29, 2017 Warton, Great Britain
KINGS BAY PLOWSHARES: April 4, 2018 – Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, GA
Detailed Chronology of Plowshares actions in the world 1980-2018
This chronology was compiled by Art Laffin in February 1996 and briefly describes each of the plowshares and disarmament actions and the trials and sentences each person received.
PLOWSHARES EIGHT: September 9, 1980 Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit priest, author and poet from New York City; Philip Berrigan, father and co-founder of Jonah House in Baltimore, MD; Dean Hammer, member of the Covenant Peace Community in New Haven, CT; Elmer Maas, musician and former college teacher from New York City; Carl Kabat, Oblate priest and missionary; Anne Montgomery, Religious of the Sacred Heart sister and teacher from New York City; Molly Rush, mother and founder of the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh and John Schuchardt, ex-marine, lawyer, father and member of Jonah House, entered the General Electric Nuclear Missile Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, PA where nose cones for the Mark 12A warheads were made. They hammered on two nose cones, poured blood on documents and offered prayers for peace. They were arrested and initially charged with over ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. In February 1981, they underwent a jury trial in Norristown, Pennsylvania. During their trial they were denied a “justification defense” and could not present expert testimony. Due to the Court’s suppression of individual testimony about the Mark 12A and U.S. nuclear war-fighting policies, four left the trial and returned to witness at G.E. They were re-arrested and returned to court. They were convicted by a jury of burglary, conspiracy and criminal mischief and sentenced to prison terms of five to ten years. They appealed and the Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed their conviction in February 1984. The State of Pennsylvania then appealed that decision. Following a ruling in the fall of 1985 by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in favor of the State on certain issues (including the exclusion of the justification defense), the case was returned to the Superior Court Appeals Panel. In December of 1987, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania refused their appeal, but ordered a re-sentencing. This ruling, however, was appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In February 1989 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a hearing of any further issues in the case, and on October 2, 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not hear the Plowshares Eight Appeal. On April 10, 1990 the Plowshares Eight were resentenced by the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas in Norristown and, with neither the prosecutor nor G.E. making any recommendations or asking reparations, paroled for up to 23 and 1/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. Judge James Buckingham listened attentively to statements by defendants, attorney Ramsey Clark, Dr. Robert J. Lifton, and Professors Richard Falk and Howard Zinn, placing the “crime” in the context of the common plight of humanity, international law, America’s long tradition of dissent, and the primacy of individual conscience over entrenched political systems, as demonstrated recently in eastern Europe.
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PLOWSHARES NUMBER TWO: On December 13, 1980 Peter DeMott, former seminarian and Vietnam veteran from Jonah House, entered the General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) shipyard in Groton, Connecticut during the launch ceremony for the “USS Baltimore” fast attack submarine. Noticing an empty EB security van with keys in it, he got into the van and repeatedly rammed the Trident “USS Florida” denting the rudder. Security guards then broke into the van and arrested him. He was tried by a jury in New London Superior Court and convicted of criminal mischief and criminal trespass. He was sentenced to one year in jail.
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TRIDENT NEIN: (German for No): Independence Day, 1982, Judy Beaumont, a Benedictine sister and teacher from Chicago; Anne Montgomery, of the Plowshares Eight; James Cunningham, an ex-lawyer from Jonah House; George Veasey, a Vietnam Veteran also from Jonah House; Tim Quinn, expectant father and house painter from Hartford, CT; Anne Bennis, teacher from Philadelphia; Bill Hartman, peace worker from Philadelphia; Vincent Kay, house painter and poet from New Haven; and Art Laffin, member of the Covenant Peace Community in New Haven; entered EB to make a “declaration of independence” from the Trident submarine and all nuclear weapons. Four boarded the Trident “USS Florida” by canoe, hammered on several missile hatches, poured blood, and with spray paint, renamed the submarine “USS Auschwitz.” They were arrested within half an hour. Meanwhile, five others entered EB’s south storage yard and hammered and poured blood on two Trident sonar spheres. They were apprehended after three hours. During their two week jury trial in New London Superior Court, they were disallowed a justification defense and expert witnesses were prohibited from testifying about the dangers of the first-strike Trident. They were convicted of criminal mischief, conspiracy and criminal trespass and ordered to pay $1,386.67 in restitution to the Navy. They were sentenced to jail for up to one year.
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PLOWSHARES NUMBER FOUR: November 14, 1982 – five days after the Trident Nein sentencing – John Grady, auto mechanic from Ithaca, New York; Ellen Grady, aide to an elderly woman and peace worker, also from Ithaca; Peter DeMott, of Plowshares Number Two; Jean Holladay, grandmother and nurse from Massachusetts; Roger Ludwig, a poet and musician involved in work with the poor in Washington, D.C.; Elmer Maas, of the Plowshares Eight; and Marcia Timmel, from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C.; entered EB. Three boarded the Trident “USS Georgia” and hammered and poured blood on several missile hatches. Four others entered the south storage yard and poured blood and hammered on Trident components before being quickly apprehended. Like the Trident Nein, they underwent a jury trial and were denied a justification defense. They also were convicted of criminal mischief, conspiracy and criminal trespass. They received prison sentences ranging from two months to one year.
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AVCO PLOWSHARES: July 14, 1983 Agnes Bauerlein, mother and grandmother from Ambler, PA; Macy Morse, mother and grandmother from Nashua, NH; Mary Lyons, mother, grandmother and teacher from Hartford, CT; Frank Panopoulos, member of the Cor Jesu community from New York City; Jean Holladay, of the Plowshares Number Four; John Pendleton, member of Jonah House; and John Schuchardt, of the Plowshares Eight; entered the AVCO Systems Division in Wilmington, Massachusetts, where MX and Pershing II nuclear weapons components are produced. They hammered on computer equipment related to these weapons systems and poured blood on blueprints labeled MX-“Peacekeeper.” They also issued an indictment against AVCO and its co-conspirators, including the “national security state” and the Armed Forces, with an indictment for committing crimes against God and humanity by manufacturing for profit weapons of genocide. They were apprehended within an hour. During their jury trial they were able to present a justification defense but this defense and expert testimony was disallowed by the judge prior to jury deliberation. They were convicted of wanton destruction and trespass. They were sentenced to jail for up to three and one-half months. After seven years in the Massachusetts Appellate Courts, their appeal was denied on November 16, 1990. They were then sentenced to time already served which included three months for Jean and John Pendleton and nearly two weeks for the others.
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GRIFFISS PLOWSHARES: On Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1983 Jackie Allen, a nursery school teacher from Hartford, CT; Clare Grady, an artist and potter from Ithaca, NY; Dean Hammer, father and member of the Plowshares Eight; Elizabeth McAlister, mother and co-founder of Jonah House; Vern Rossman, minister, father and grandfather from Boston, MA; Kathleen Rumpf, a Catholic Worker from Marlboro, NY; and Karl Smith, member of Jonah House; entered Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY. They hammered and poured blood on a B-52 bomber converted to carry cruise missiles as well as on B-52 engines. They also left at the site of their witness a written indictment of Griffiss Air Force Base and the U.S. Government pointing to the war crimes of preparing for nuclear war and depicting how the new state religion of “nuclearism” denies constitutional rights and punishes acts of conscience. Unnoticed for several hours, they finally approached security guards and were arrested. In this, the first Plowshares case to be tried in Federal Court, their justification defense was denied. They were acquitted by a jury of sabotage, but they were convicted of conspiracy and destruction of government property. They received prison sentences ranging from two to three years. Their appeal was denied in Federal Court in March 1985.
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PLOWSHARES NUMBER SEVEN: On December 4, 1983 Carl Kabat, of the Plowshares Eight, and three West Germans – Herwig Jantschik, Dr. Wolfgang Sternstein and Karin Vix – entered a U.S. Army base in Schwaebisch-Gmuend, West Germany and carried out the first Plowshares action in Europe. Six weeks earlier, they publicly announced their actions, but did not disclose the exact date or place. They participated in a six week peace march in Germany where they distributed a booklet informing the public and media about their action and previous plowshares actions. On December 4, they entered the base early in the morning and with hammers and bolt cutters disarmed a Pershing II missile launcher. They were soon apprehended by U.S. soldiers. Following their arrest, they were all released ROR. Carl returned to the U.S. and did not attend the trial. During the first week of February 1985, the three Germans were tried before the three judges and two lay judges and convicted. After their conviction, the judges called the Pershing II a “bad prophecy,” and characterized their action as violence. Herwig and Wolfgang were sentenced to 1800 DM ($900) or 90 days in jail, while Karin was sentenced to 450 dm ($225) or 60 days in jail. Karin and Herwig served their prison sentence; Wolfgang paid the fine.
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PERSHING PLOWSHARES: In the season of Passover, Easter Morning, April 22, 1984 Per Herngren, a student and peace worker from Sweden; Paul Magno, from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C.; Todd Kaplan, involved in work with the poor in Washington, D.C.; Tim Lietzke, member of Jeremiah House in Richmond, VA; Anne Montgomery, of the Plowshares Eight and Trident Nein; Patrick O’Neill, university student and peace worker from Greenville, North Carolina; Jim Perkins, teacher, father and member of Jonah House; and Christin Schmidt, university student and peace worker from Rhode Island; entered Martin Marietta in Orlando, Florida. Once inside, they hammered and poured blood on Pershing II missile components and on a Patriot missile launcher. They also served Martin Marietta with an indictment for engaging in the criminal activity of building nuclear weapons in violation of Divine, international and national law. They also displayed a banner which said: “Violence Ends Where Love Begins.” They were apprehended after several hours. During their jury trial in Federal Court they were denied a justification defense. They were convicted of depredation of government property and conspiracy. They were sentenced to three years in federal prison, given five year suspended sentences with probation, and each ordered to pay $2,900 in restitution. Both their appeal and motion for reduction of sentence were denied in Federal Court. Herngren, a Swedish national, was deported on August 27, 1985 after serving over a year of his sentence.
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SPERRY SOFTWARE PAIR: August 10, 1984 John LaForge and Barbara Katt, house painters and peace workers from Bemidji, MN, dressed as quality control inspectors, entered Sperry Corporation in Eagan, Minnesota. Once inside they poured blood and hammered on two prototype computers designed to provide guidance and navigation information for Trident submarines and F4G fighter bombers. In addressing Sperry’s nuclear war preparations, they also served Sperry with a citizens indictment declaring that they are committing war crimes in violation of national and international law. After a two day jury trial in Federal Court in which they were allowed to present a justification defense, they were convicted of destruction of government property. Judge Miles Lord imposed a six month suspended sentence and used the occasion to criticize the arms industry, and to cite Sperry’s corporate corruption. He also recognized the legitimacy of the justification defense for civil disobedience trials and for the Sperry Software trial in particular.
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TRIDENT II PLOWSHARES: October 1, 1984 William Boston, a house painter and peace worker from New Haven, CT; Jean Holladay, of the Plowshares Number Four and AVCO Plowshares; Frank Panopoulos and John Pendleton of the AVCO Plowshares; and Leo Schiff, draft registration resister and natural foods chef from Vermont; entered the EB Quonset Point facility in North Kingston, Rhode Island. They hammered and poured blood on six Trident II missile tubes and unfurled a banner which said: “Harvest of Hope – Swords into Plowshares.” They also placed a pumpkin at the site and posted a written “Call to Conscience” on the missile tubes condemning these weapons under international and religious law and calling on those responsible to cease their crimes against humanity. They were arrested within half an hour and charged with possession of burglary tools, malicious damage to property and criminal trespass. During their jury trial, expert witnesses were allowed to be qualified in the presence of the jury. However the judge ruled this and other expert testimony irrelevant and denied a justification defense. At the end of their two week-long trial, the prosecution dropped the burglary tools charge (a felony carrying ten years) as the defendants pled guilty to the malicious damage to property charge. (After the State’s case, the judge dismissed the trespass charge). After two days of prayer and discernment, the five concluded that pleading guilty was the most nonviolent course to take. On October 18, 1985 they were each sentenced to one year and a $500 fine. Frank was given an additional two months for a contempt charge relating to his refusal to disclose to the judge who drove the group to EB.
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SILO PRUNING HOOKS: November 12, 1984 Carl Kabat, of the Plowshares Eight and Plowshares Number Seven; Paul Kabat, an Oblate priest from Minnesota; Larry Cloud Morgan, Native American and mental health care worker from Minneapolis, MN; Helen Woodson, mother of eleven children and founder of the Gaudete Peace and Justice Center from Madison, WI; entered a Minuteman II missile silo controlled by Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri. Once inside the silo area, they used a jackhammer and air compressor to damage the silo cover lid. They then offered a Eucharist and left at the silo a Biblical and Native American indictment of the U.S. government and the institutional church for their complicity in the pending omnicide of nuclear holocaust. They were arrested close to an hour after their action by armed military guards authorized to use “deadly force” against intruders. Following their arrest, they were declared by the court to be a “threat to the community” and were thus held on “preventive detention” and denied bond. They underwent a jury trial in Federal Court in February 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. They were convicted of destruction of government property, conspiracy, intent to damage the national defense and trespass. On March 27, 1985 they received the most severe prison sentences to date of any Plowshares group: Larry – eight years; Paul – ten years; and Carl and Helen – eighteen years. They were also given three to five years probation and ordered to pay $2,932.80 each in restitution. On November 1, 1985 U.S. District Judge D. Brook Bartlett, their trial judge, reduced Helen’s sentence from eighteen to twelve years, including 5 years probation. In March 1987, Larry and Paul were released from prison following a sentence reduction hearing. Larry’s sentence was reduced to 36 months and three years probation while Paul’s sentence was reduced to 40 months and 4 years probation. Both were required to perform 300 hours of community service and not violate the law for the duration of their probation. All but Helen appealed. Their appeals were denied in the Spring of 1986. On April 22, 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled not to consider Carl’s appeal. His sentence has since been reduced to 10 years including 5 years probation. On April 12, 1991 Carl was released on probation with the condition that he pay restitution. For reasons of conscience he has refused to comply with this order. On January 27, 1989 Larry was convicted of two counts of going out of the district of Minnesota, a violation of his probation, and was sentenced to prison for one year. The occasions of his departures were to attend protests at the Trident base in King’s Bay Georgia. He was taken into custody by U.S. marshalls at a church near the Trident base. Due to health reasons the Judge recommended that Larry be sent to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Rochester, Minnesota. Larry was released on November 13, 1989.
RESISTANCE IN CAPTIVITY – On March 16, 1988 Helen Woodson walked through the main gate of Alderson Prison carrying a banner and statement protesting the nuclear arms race, pollution of the environment and prison conditions for women. She was apprehended outside the prison by a patrol vehicle. She was temporarily placed in solitary confinement and then transferred to FCI Pleasanton in California. On December 10, 1988 in honor of Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday, Helen carried out another resistance action, this time, at FCI Pleasanton. She walked to the rec field track bearing an athletic bag stuffed with sheets, towels and papers doused with flammable nail polish, set the bag next to the fence and ignited a “lovely Advent blaze.” Then she hung a banner reading: “There is no security in the U.S. government, nuclear weapons, chemical contaminants, prisons and UNICOR-military prison industries. Fences make slaves. Tear Them Down.” And then, with toenail clippers, she snipped the “security” alarm wire, severing it in four separate places. She was sent to the hole and charged with attempted escape, arson, destruction of government property and inciting to riot. In late January 1989 she was moved to MCC San Diego. Before leaving Pleasanton she learned that the evidence for her action was destroyed and she was not prosecuted. After a short stint in San Diego, she was transferred to Marianna Prison in Florida. As a result of federal appeals court ruling, Helen was released on parole on June 14, 1993. During the spring of 1993 an appeals court overturned a lower court ruling and affirmed the government’s position that it could release Helen on parole. Helen had filed a civil suit asking to be held in prison until the expiration of her sentence, and then be unconditionally released. Three days after her release, she was involved in several controversial protests (which went outside the bounds of traditional nonviolent protest) focusing on the idolatry of money, corporate greed and the destruction of the earth. She was arrested and convicted for these actions and was sentenced to 202 months in prison. She is now at the Marianna Prison.
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PLOWSHARES NUMBER TWELVE: February 19, 1985 Martin Holladay, a carpenter from Sheffield, Vermont, entered another Minuteman II missile silo of Whiteman Air Force Base near Odessa, Missouri. With hammer and chisel, he damaged the silo lid and some electrical boxes. He also poured blood on the silo and spray-painted “No More Hiroshimas.” He left at the site an indictment charging the U.S. government with committing crimes against God and international law by its nuclear war preparations. After his arrest, he was denied bond and held until trial. During his four day jury trial, he was denied the opportunity to present a justification defense. On April 25, 1985 he was convicted of destruction of government property and destruction of national defense material. He was sentenced on May 16, 1985, to eight years in federal prison and five years probation. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $2,242 in restitution. Martin was released from prison after 19 months following a sentence reduction hearing on September 24, 1986. He remained on probation through 1991 and was required to pay restitution.
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TRIDENT II PRUNING HOOKS: April 18, 1985 Greg Boertje, ex-army officer and peace organizer from Louisiana; John Heid, former Franciscan seminarian and social worker from Ithaca, NY; Roger Ludwig, of the Plowshares Number Four; Sheila Parks, former college teacher from Medford, MA; Suzanne Schmidt, mother, grandmother, worker with the disabled and member of Jonah House; and George Veasey, of the Trident Nein; entered the EB Quonset Point facility in North Kingston, Rhode Island – the same site where the Trident II Plowshares had acted seven months earlier. They poured blood and hammered on three Trident II missile tubes and spray-painted “Dachau” on them. They left there a “Call to Conscience” indicting General Dynamics for war crimes and preparing for a war of aggression in violation of international, constitutional and spiritual law. Arrested after a short time, they were charged with possession of burglary tools, malicious damage to property and criminal trespass. While Sheila and Suzanne were released nearly a month after the action on a “promise to appear” (PTA) and John after five months, Greg, George and Roger remained in jail for nearly nine months, refusing to accept a PTA for reasons of conscience. Shortly before their trial date, the judge released the three unconditionally from prison. During their two week jury trial, the judge denied their justification defense, insisting that their motives were irrelevant to the case. They were convicted of all three charges. In a special gesture of support for the group, four jurors had the judge publicly read a statement from them conveying that they were sympathetic to their cause. On March 31, 1986 they were sentenced to three years, suspended after one year, and given two years probation. John, Greg, George and Roger were released during the summer of 1986. Sheila and Suzanne were released in January 1987.
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MICHIGAN ELF DISARMAMENT ACTION: May 28, 1985 Tom Hastings, a Wisconsin peace activist involved in radio work, entered a wooded area in Michigan’s upper peninsula and sawed down one of the poles carrying the Navy’s “Extremely Low Frequency” (ELF) transmitter antennas which are used to coordinate the communications, command, and control process of all nuclear submarines in the U.S. He remained at the site for 45 minutes, praying, singing and planting a circle of corn around the pole. The next morning, he gave a part of the pole to Congressman Bob Davis’ office and turned himself in to the local sheriff. Held for 48 hours, he was released on personal recognizance. He underwent a jury trial and was convicted of malicious destruction of property. On September 27, 1985 he was sentenced to fifteen days and two years probation.
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PANTEX DISARMAMENT ACTION: July 16, 1985, Richard Miller, involved in work with the poor in Des Moines, Iowa, began dismantling a section of railroad track from the railroad spur leading from U.S. Department of Energy’s Pantex Nuclear Weapons Assembly Plant in Amarillo, Texas to a main line of the Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. After first taking extensive precautions to prevent accidental derailment and avoid personal injury, he labored with railroad tools for seven hours, removing a 39 foot section of rail. Pointing out the connection between the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz and the Pantex factory, which is the final assembly point for every nuclear weapon made in the U.S., he put up a banner that read: “Pantex=Auschwitz – Stop the Trains.” He further stated: “At Auschwitz the trains carried the people to the crematoria; at Pantex the trains carry the crematoria to the people.” Charged with “wrecking trains” and destruction of national defense materials, he underwent a jury trial in Federal Court and was convicted. On November 8, 1985 he was sentenced to two four year sentences to run concurrently. He was released from prison in February 1989 upon completing his sentence.
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WISCONSIN ELF DISARMAMENT ACTION: August 14, 1985 Jeff Leys, a draft registration resister and peace worker from St. Paul, Minnesota, continued the process of disarming ELF (see Michigan ELF action) by sawing two deep notches in an ELF pole hoping to weaken it and leaving the rest to natural forces. (Unlike the Michigan ELF still under construction, the 56 mile Wisconsin ELF system is fully operational, with 1.5 million watts flowing through it). In a statement he carried with him to the site he explained: “I act today in accordance with the teachings of Gandhi, Christ and the Indians – and in accordance with the basic underpinnings of humanity, as expressed in the various world religions¼ and international laws.” After an hour, Jeff walked to a transmitter site to turn himself in. Jailed after his arrest, he was tried by a jury on September 30, 1985 and was convicted of criminal damage to property. On October 29, 1985 Jeff was sentenced to five months in jail and given a three year suspended sentence with three years probation. He was also ordered to pay $4,775 in restitution. In April of 1986 Jeff began serving his three year sentence because of his refusal to pay restitution for reasons of conscience. His appeal was denied in September 1986. He was released in August 1987.
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MARTIN MARIETTA MX WITNESS: September 27, 1985 Al Zook, father and grandfather active with the Catholic Worker in Denver, CO; Mary Sprunger-Froese, member of the Bijou Community and involved in hospitality work in Colorado Springs, CO; and Marie Nord, a Minnesota Franciscan sister involved in hospitality work for women; entered Martin Marietta’s Denver, Colorado plant. (Martin Marietta has a $2 billion contract for building and testing the MX missile). With the intent of disarming components of the MX missile, they carried blood and hammers into the MX work area. Finding the area highly secured by employees wearing “peacekeeper” security badges, the three were not able to enter areas where MX work is done and directly disarm any MX components. They were, however, able to pour blood on large interior windows overlooking the work areas and unfurled their banner: “Swords Into Plowshares.” They were quickly arrested and each charged with felony burglary and criminal mischief. The burglary charge was eventually dropped, however the criminal mischief charge was changed from a misdemeanor to a felony. They were imprisoned for one month before they were released on their own recognizance. On March 5, 1986 they were found guilty by a jury of criminal mischief exceeding $300. During their trial the judge refused to hear their justification defense. On May 1, 1986 they were sentenced to two months in prison. Al and Marie appealed their case and the Colorado Court of Appeals recently reversed their convictions. The appeal was based on the judge’s denial of their motion to proceed in forma pauperis, after his determination that their indigency was voluntary. The state had petitioned for a review of the case before deciding to retry Al and Marie.
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SILO PLOWSHARES: Good Friday, March 28, 1986 Darla Bradley and Larry Morlan of the Davenport Catholic Worker in Iowa; Jean Gump, a mother of twelve and grandmother from Morton Grove, Illinois; Ken Rippetoe, a member of the Catholic Worker in Rock Island, Illinois; and John Volpe, father, former employee at the Rock Island Arsenal and member of the Davenport Catholic Worker; entered two Minuteman Missile Silos controlled by Whiteman Air Force Base near Holden, Missouri. Dividing into two groups, the first group of three went to Silo M10 while the second group went to Silo M6. Hanging banners on the silo fences, one of which read: “Disarmament – An Act of Healing” they employed sledgehammers to split and disarm the geared central track used to move the 120 ton missile silo cover at the time of launch. They also cut circuits and used masonry hammers to damage electrical sensor equipment. They then poured blood on the silo covers in the form of a cross and spray-painted “Disarm and Live” and “For the Children” on the silo pad. They left at the site an indictment charging the U.S. government with committing crimes against the laws of God and humanity and indicting as well the institutional Christian church for its complicity in the arms race. They were arrested nearly 40 minutes after their action by heavily armed military police. Following their arrest they were taken into custody and then released on their own recognizance. During their five day jury trial they presented important evidence regarding their state of mind but the jury was not allowed to consider justification as a defense. On June 27, 1986 they were convicted of destruction of government property and conspiracy. In addition, Jean, Larry and Darla were cited for contempt for refusing to answer questions about where they met prior to the action. They served seven days in jail following the trial. John and Ken were also imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with the conditions of their release so long as the others were imprisoned for contempt. They were released on July 8. On August 22, 1986 Darla, Jean, Ken and Larry were sentenced to 8 years with 5 years probation while John was sentenced to 7 years with 5 years probation. John and Darla were ordered to pay $1,680 in restitution while Larry, Jean and Ken were ordered to pay $424. Each was also fined $100. In April 1987, John was released from prison following a sentence reduction hearing. His sentence was reduced to 10 months, 5 years probation, and he is required to pay restitution. Ken and Darla were released from prison in mid-June 1987 after their sentence was reduced to one year. They were placed on probation for 5 years and were ordered to pay restitution. On April 18, 1990 his $424 having been paid anonymously, Larry, who had been imprisoned since his action, went to a halfway house and was released on probation on July 20, 1990. And in October of 1990, after four years of imprisonment, Jean was released on probation.
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PERSHING TO PLOWSHARES: On December 12, 1986 on the 7th anniversary of the NATO decision to deploy the Cruise and the Pershing II in Europe, Heike Huschauer, a member of the city council of Neuss, West Germany; Suzanne Mauch-Fritz, a social worker from Stuttgart; Wolfgang Sternstein, Plowshares #7; and Stellan Vinthagen, an orderly from Sweden; entered a back-up U.S. Army weapons depot at Schwabisch-Gmund, West Germany and damaged the tractor-rig of a Pershing II Missile Launch box. They hammered on the crane that maneuvers the missile and on the generator that operates the launcher, and poured blood on the rig. The banner which they hung over the truck stated, “Choose Life for the Children and Poor.” These words were also spray painted on the roadway. They were discovered after thirty minutes, when they signalled to a nearby guard. In a statement of intent the four said, “With awareness of our responsibility we understand that we are the ones who make the arms race possible by not trying to stop it.” Following their arrest, they were released. On October 11 through October 19, 1989 nearly three years after their disarmament action, they were tried before three professional judges and three lay judges on the charges of sabotage, damage to government property and trespassing. During their trial they were allowed to present evidence about the moral and legal justification for their action. They pleaded that if the court accepts their justification defense they must be acquitted. If not, they must be given a high sentence. The court did not accept their pleading and were given the following sentences: Wolfgang 1200 DM or 120 days in jail, Heike, Suzanne and Stellan 600 DM or 60 days in jail. In addition, for a subsequent blockade action, Stellan, Heike and Wolfgang were sentenced to 20, 80 and 135 days, respectively. Suzanne paid the 600 DM fine. Stellen and Wolfgang served their sentences and were released in April 1990. On March 4, 1991 Heike was ordered to serve her 101 day sentence despite her appeal for a postponement of sentence so that she could continue her organizing efforts to end the U.S. war against Iraq.
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EPIPHANY PLOWSHARES: On January 6, 1987 the Christian Feast of Epiphany, Greg Boertje, of the Trident II Pruning Hooks; Rev. Dexter Lanctot and Rev. Thomas McGann, priests of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; and Lin Romano, an advocate for the poor from Washington, D.C.; entered the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Horsham, PA. Dividing into two groups, one group went to a Navy P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft – an essential part of the U.S. first-strike arsenal. Meanwhile the other group went to a Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion and an Army H-1 Huey helicopter – both integral parts of U.S. interventionary forces. Both groups hammered and poured blood on the aircraft and displayed banners which proclaimed: “Seek the Disarmed Christ” and “Espadas en Arados – Swords into Plowshares.” The four left behind a statement which explained why they acted on Epiphany, the Christian feast that recalls the 3 Magis’ search for the Christ child, “who came in the name of Peace.” Having therefore addressed the “deadly connection” between nuclear weapons and military intervention, they also left an indictment of the US government for its criminal interventionary wars in Central America and the Middle East and its first-strike nuclear war-making policies. They were charged with conspiracy, destruction of government property and trespass – charges which carry up to 15 and 1/2 years. On March 31, they underwent a week-long jury trial in Federal Court in Philadelphia and were prevented from presenting a crime prevention or necessity defense. For the first time in a Plowshares case, the trial ended in a hung jury and a mistrial. On May 11, 1987 they were retried. The defendants were once again denied their affirmative defenses and their testimony was even more severely restricted than in the first trial. Despite the constraints of the court, their trial once again ended in a hung jury and a mistrial. In an interview following the trial, one juror stated he believed the group did not act with criminal intent and affirmed their efforts for disarmament. After the second trial the two priests, who were suspended from their priestly duties after the action, accepted a plea bargain, pled guilty to criminal trespass, and were sentenced to 100 days in federal prison plus $500 fines. Their suspensions were lifted following their release from prison. On July 13, 1987 a third trial began for Boertje and Romano. This trial ended in a mistrial when the judge ruled that the jury had been “contaminated” by statements from the defendants and spectators on such forbidden topics as international law. On September 21, 1987 a fourth trial began, with the judge’s repressive “gag order” remaining in effect. During the trial, both defendants received two contempt charges and had lawyers appointed to represent them (defendants had been representing themselves). On September 25, 1987 they were found guilty of all three charges. On November 17, Lin was sentenced to 2 years and 100 days in prison plus 5 years probation. For reasons of conscience, Greg chose not to appear for sentencing. In a written public statement issued at the time of sentencing, Greg stated his intention to go “underground” and eventually emerge in another non-violent action. Following his trial, conviction and sentencing for the Nuclear Navy Plowshares action, Greg was sentenced to 33 months for failing to appear at the original sentencing for the Epiphany action. Lin, and then Greg, appealed their case from prison on the grounds that the judge violated their “pro se” rights when he appointed lawyers to represent them. They won the appeal and each was granted individual trials. Lin was eventually released from prison after serving nine months. In November 1988 her charges were reduced to trespass, whereby she was not entitled to a jury trial. She was tried before a U.S. Magistrate, convicted, and was sentenced to two years probation even though she had already served more jail time than the maximum sentence for trespass – six months. In April 1989 charges against Greg were dropped, though he still had to serve a 33 month sentence for failure to appear at sentencing. In July 1990, Greg was released from prison and placed on probation.
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PAUPERS PLOWSHARES: On Good Friday, April 17, 1987 two brothers, Fr. Pat Sieber, a Franciscan priest who works at St. Francis Inn, a shelter for the homeless and soup kitchen in Philadelphia; and Rick Sieber, a father of three who also works at St. Francis Inn; entered the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster, PA. Once inside they dug a hole and buried a foot-long coffin that listed the names of 65 homeless and poor people who have been buried in an unkept lot in northeast Philadelphia known as potters or “paupers” field since 1980. They also placed a 3 foot cross bearing the same names on top of the makeshift grave. They then approached a P-3 Orion aircraft – an integral part of the U.S. first-strike arsenal – and hammered on the plane’s strobe light, cut wires in the nose of the plane and poured blood on a wing and fuselage area of the aircraft. While awaiting arrest they knelt in prayer and held a banner which said: “God Hears the Cry of the Poor.” They left at the site a statement and indictment addressing the criminality of U.S. nuclear war preparations, the priority the government gives to arms over the poor, and how these arms preparations are actually killing the poor. In addition to signing their own names to these statements, they also signed the name “Lazarus” to represent the poor for whom they acted. They were arrested after a half an hour and charged with unlawful entry and destruction of government property. On June 12, the charges were reduced to one misdemeanor – unlawful entry. On August 5, 1987 after an hour long bench trial, the pair were found guilty of unlawful entry. They were sentenced to one year’s probation, fined $100 and ordered to pay $1,540 in restitution. In February 1989 their restitution was dropped and they paid their fine which went towards a victims compensation fund.
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WHITE ROSE DISARMAMENT ACTION: On June 2, l987 in the early morning, Katya Komisaruk, a peace activist from the San Francisco Bay area, walked through an unlocked gate leaving cookies and a bouquet of flowers for security guards and entered a satellite control facility named “NAVSTAR” at the Vandenberg AFB in Santa Barbara County, California. (’NAVSTAR’ is the U.S. global positioning system of satellites. When fully operational, this system will consist of 18 orbiting satellites which will be able to provide the navigational and guidance signals to Trident II and other nuclear missiles as well as the Star Wars system, for a first-strike nuclear attack.) Once inside, she used a hammer, crowbar and cordless electric drill to damage panels of an IBM mainframe computer and a satellite dish on top of the building. Using a crowbar she removed the computer’s chip boards and danced on them. On the walls she spray- painted “Nuremberg,” “International Law,” and statements for disarmament. After being undetected for two hours, she left the base and hitchhiked to San Francisco. The next morning she held a press conference at the Federal Building in San Francisco to explain her action whereupon she was taken into custody by the FBI. She was charged with sabotage and destruction of government property. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. The day before her trial the sabotage charge was dropped in the face of a defense brief that had been earlier submitted calling upon the government to prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Her trial began on November 10, 1987 in Los Angeles Federal Court. Several weeks before the trial, Judge Rea ruled in favor of the U.S. prosecutor’s “motion in limine” which would severely restrict the evidence allowed as well as Katya’s personal testimony. Katya, who represented herself and was assisted by co-counsel, was not allowed to mention words like “nuclear missiles” or “first-strike.” The jury found her guilty of destruction of property on November 16, 1987. On January 11, 1988 Katya was sentenced to 5 years in prison. In addition Judge Rea ordered her to pay $500,000 restitution because he had heard that there might be a movie or book based on her action. Katya closely identifies with Sophie Scholl, a young German woman and member of the White Rose group during World War II, who was executed by the Third Reich for publicly opposing Nazi atrocities. On February 9, 1990 Katya was released from prison and placed on probation for the duration of her 5 year sentence.
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TRANSFIGURATION PLOWSHARES (WEST): On August 5, 1987 at 5:15 p.m., the exact moment (8:15 a.m. in Japan) when the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, Jerry Ebner, a member of the Catholic Worker Community of Milwaukee; Joe Gump, father of twelve and husband of the imprisoned Jean Gump of the Silo Plowshares from Morton Grove, Ill.; and Helen Woodson, acting as a “co-conspirator” from Shakopee Prison in Minnesota where she was serving a 17 year sentence for the Silo Pruning Hooks action, carried out the fourth non-violent disarmament of a minuteman missile silo controlled by Whiteman AFB in Missouri. They went to silo K-9 near Butler, Mo., and once inside the silo area, Jerry and Joe locked themselves within the fenced in area with a kryptonite bicycle lock. After pouring their own blood in the shape of a cross on the concrete silo lid, they used one eight and one three pound sledge hammer on the tracks used to open the silo lid. They also hammered on electrical connectors and other apparatus and cut various electric wires with bolt cutters. They then hung disarmament banners and sang and prayed while awaiting arrest. They also left at the site their action statement and indictment, signed by the three, as well as a photo of Jerry, Joe and Helen. In the interest of ’conservation’ they used the very same banners and bolt cutters used by the Silo Pruning Hooks and Silo Plowshares. A while later military police arrived in a vehicle armed with a machine gun and arrested Jerry and Joe. Explaining her involvement in the action, Helen stated she participated “in spirit” through a “conspiracy for life.” The three named themselves the “Transfiguration Plowshares” to commemorate the Transfiguration, the Christian feast celebrated on August 6 which recalls the revelation of Christ to his disciples as the Lord of heaven and earth and also represents a foreshadowing of Christ’s resurrection. At a mid-August court hearing they were charged with a two count felony indictment: conspiring to damage government property and destruction of government property – both federal charges. In a relatively open trial, the two were allowed to show a video film entitled “Hiroshima/Nagasaki: 1945.” This video, which the two carried into the silo with them, contained footage of the immediate effect of the bomb dropped on the two cities. Jerry was able to sing two songs to the jury which he first sang at the silo. Judge Howard Sachs, however, made it clear in his instructions to the jury that these things were ultimately irrelevant to the case before them. On October 22, the jury found them guilty. On December 11, 1987 Jerry Ebner and Joe Gump were sentenced to 40 and 30 months respectively in prison. Joe was released in November 1989. Jerry served more than two years in prison before being paroled. After being out of prison for a period of time he was jailed once again during the summer of 1990 for not cooperating with the conditions of his parole. He was released from federal prison on April 5, 1991 and remains on probation through 1994.
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TRANSFIGURATION PLOWSHARES (EAST): On August 6, 1987, Hiroshima Day and the Christian feast of the Transfiguration, Margaret Brodhead, a journalist; Dan Ethier, a former computer programmer and Catholic Worker; and Tom Lewis, artist and long-time peace activist – all from Worcester, MA – entered the South Weymouth Naval Air Station near Boston at dawn. They hammered and poured blood on the bomb bay doors and bomb racks of a P-3 Orion nuclear-capable anti-submarine plane which can use nuclear depth charges and homing torpedoes to attack submarines. They hammered as well on the magnetic anomaly detector of an S-H 2F LAMPS MK-l Sea Sprite helicopter. (These same types of aircraft are currently deployed by U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and are an integral part of U.S. offensive anti-submarine warfare strategy, which allows the Navy to project force in the Middle East as well as Central America). They also hung pictures of Hiroshima victims on the aircraft as well as a “Swords Into Plowshares” banner. In a signed statement and indictment they left at the site, they said “the blinding light of that first atomic bomb turned life into death, but the blinding light of the Transfiguration revealed that death would be turned into life in Christ’s Resurrection.” They further charged the “Nuclear National Security State” with contravening international and divine laws. They were taken into custody by base security shortly after their action as they knelt in prayer holding a banner that read “Christ Transfigured – Death Into Life.” The three were initially charged with unlawful entry, a federal misdemeanor. In December Dan plead no contest and was sentenced to six months probation and community service of 100 hours. Tom and Meg were convicted on March 4, 1988 after a 6-hour bench trial in Boston, where they presented testimony on the unconstitutional status of the arms race and the aircraft’s status as “instrumentalities of crime” under international law. On April 26, Meg and Tom were sentenced to six months probation and 100 hours community service.
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HARMONIC DISARMAMENT FOR LIFE: On August 16, 1987 the day of Harmonic Convergence, George Ostensen, a peace activist from the Northeast, in conspiracy with plowshares prisoner Helen Woodson, enacted a Plowshares action at the ELF Communication System Transmitter Site near Clam Lake, Wisconsin. Early in the morning, George entered the North ground of the ELF Trident communication system. Using a hatchet, saw, and other tools, he proceeded to cut down three ELF poles, notched two other poles, and cut some ground wires. He poured blood over the poles, hammered on ground-well electrical control boxes, placed photos of children and planted flowers inside the boxes and near the poles, and hung peace banners. In statements he carried on to the site George stated: “I act at the ELF Trident communication system in an attempt to stop these deadly messages from being transmitted. These Extremely Low Frequencies hurt our earth by subjecting all God’s creatures to highly unstable electromagnetic non-ionizing radiation and giving the Trident first-strike capability to destroy all life.” In reference to the Harmonic Convergence, the lining up of the planets on August 15 and 16, he stated the convergence is the beginning of the new age, the age of change, movement, spiritual consciousness, and harmony according to ancient Mayan, Tibetan and Hopi calendars. Following his action at the North Ground, George, undetected, went to the Terminal Control Center to inform the security guards on duty of his action. After spray-painting on the Terminal Center “Trident – ELF is in violation of International Law and God’s Law” and “Swords Into Plowshares” he spoke with a security guard who asked him to leave the site. George then crossed over a fence and proceeded to nearby air-conditioning units and shut them off. Security personnel then came out of a Computer Building and turned them back on. He then pulled what he thought was a fire alarm switch outside of the Power Distributor Building which set off the Fire Extinguisher System and an alarm. He then returned to the Air Conditioners and shut them off again before climbing back over the fence where he continued to cut at the center pole until the local sheriff arrived. Finally, George was arrested – some nine hours after he entered the site. On August 20, George was charged with two felony counts of sabotage – both state charges and each carrying a maximum penalty of ten years in prison if convicted. The indictment also listed Helen as aiding and abetting in the action and noted the ELF site had to be closed for 29 hours. On January 10, 1988 following a three day jury trial in Ashland County District Court, George was convicted of one count of sabotage and acquitted on the second count. On February 12, 1988 George was sentenced to 33 months. In July 1988 he was denied parole. On May 2, 1989 his appeal was denied by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and the court ruled that his sabotage conviction was valid. He was released from prison in September 1989 after serving two-thirds of his sentence. On October 2, Gandhi’s birthday, he returned to ELF with other friends and carried a Swords Into Plowshares banner up the road to the transmitter site. He was arrested and returned to jail. He waived a parole revocation hearing and was ordered to serve the remaining 11 months of his original sentence. On January 30, 1990 he was released from prison.
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AUSTRALIAN PLOWSHARES ACTION: On December 28, 1987, the feast of the Holy Innocents, Marie Grunke, a Blessed Sacrament Sister of Newtown; Joanne Merrigan and Anthony Gwyther, both of the St. Francis House, Darlinghurst; boarded the USS Leftwich during a public inspection while it was anchored in Sydney Harbor. The USS Leftwich is a nuclear-capable destroyer of the Spruance class recently deployed in the Persian Gulf. Recalling the innocents that were killed by King Herod and those children that continue to die from war and hunger, they poured their own blood on an ASROC anti-submarine nuclear depth charge launcher and a Tomahawk cruise missile launcher, weapons of first-strike capability. They hammered on these weapons to begin their disarmament and initiate their conversion into instruments of peace. After leaving their action statement on the ship, they were escorted off without being arrested or charged.
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NUCLEAR NAVY PLOWSHARES: On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1988, Philip Berrigan of Jonah House (and original Plowshares 8); Andrew Lawrence of the Community for Creative Non-Violence; Sr. Margaret McKenna, a Doctor of Theology and member of the Medical Mission Sisters in Philadelphia; and Greg Boertje, former Army officer and member of Trident II Pruning Hooks and Epiphany Plowshares; boarded the battleship Iowa at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. The four boarded the battleship as part of a public tour greeting the vessel on its return from service in the Persian Gulf. The four disarmed two armored box launchers for the Tomahawk Cruise Missile, hammering and pouring blood, and unfurled two banners: Seek the Disarmed Christ, and Tomahawks Into Plowshares. The four worked for two or three minutes before they were seen by security. When ordered to stop they did so: a “security alert” was sounded and the pier was vacated of all but naval personnel. Hundreds of people had come on Easter Sunday to visit the USS Iowa and the USS America which was also on display. Tours of both vessels were shut down. Andrew, Greg, Margaret and Phil were held for some time at the Naval Base, questioned by the FBI and then transported by the FBI to Virginia Beach. They appeared in court on April 4, were charged with criminal trespass – a charge which does not entitle defendants to a jury trial. Because of Greg’s status as a fugitive (stemming from his non-appearance at the sentencing for the Epiphany Plowshares) he was held on $25,000 bond. Though the others were offered a personal recognizance bond, they refused this bond as an act of solidarity with Greg. They were tried before a U.S. Magistrate on May 19, 1988 at the Norfolk Virginia Federal Court and convicted of trespass. In an effort to diffuse courtroom support, the sentencing of the 4 was set on different days during July 1989. Margaret was sentenced to time served (over 3 months), 2 years probation and 240 hours community service and prohibited from entering any military installation during her probation. She was then released. Andrew received a 4 month sentence. Greg and Phil each received the maximum sentence of 6 months. In March 1989 Margaret received a 4 month jail sentence for refusing to cooperate with the conditions of her probation. However she was credited with the time she already served before trial and ordered to jail for 20 days.
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KAIROS PLOWSHARES: In the pre-dawn hours of June 26, 1988 Kathleen Maire, a Franciscan sister of Allegheny, NY; Jack Marth, a member of POTS (Part of the Solution) in the Bronx, NY; Sr. Anne Montgomery, a participant in three previous plowshares actions; and Christine Mulready, member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY; approached the Trident submarine, USS Pennsylvania at EB in Groton, CT, with the intent of carrying out a symbolic act of disarmament. Paddling against the current in the midst of a fast approaching storm, they were spotted in their rubber rafts in the Thames River by EB security before reaching the Trident. Apprehended by EB security, they were held overnight in jail. They were arraigned on charges of trespass, conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, and criminal intent and fined $40 for failure to use a light on their raft. They were released on a PTA and the charges were eventually dropped.
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KAIROS PLOWSHARES TOO: On August 1, 1988 Kathleen Maire and Anne Montgomery, continued their Kairos plowshares process by entering the EB facility in Quonset Point, RI, where they hammered and poured blood on Trident submarine parts. They held a banner which read: “Trident D-5 Into Plowshares” and were quickly apprehended. They were charged with malicious mischief and trespass and then released on a PTA. On September 27 they were tried by a judge in S. Kingston, RI. In a trial that lasted only 90 minutes, they were convicted by the judge of the above charges. They were sentenced to 6 months supervised probation and ordered to pay $250 in restitution for the fence they cut. After Kathy and Anne told the judge that, for reasons of conscience, they wouldn’t pay the restitution or cooperate with probation, he changed their probation to “unsupervised” and fined them $250. To date they have not paid the finE.
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CREDO PLOWSHARES: On September 20, 1988 Marcia Timmel, of the Plowshares #4, mother and member of the Olive Branch Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C., entered the Sheraton-Washington hotel in D.C. – site of the Air Force Association Arms Bazaar. Once inside she hammered and poured blood on a Textron Defense System (TDS) MX missile display, thereby dismantling it, and was subsequently arrested. She left at the site a statement decrying the blasphemous theme of the Arms Bazaar, “Freedom: A Creed To Believe In,” and issued her own creed (credo) of life, faith and love for the human family. During her two day jury trial in D.C. Superior Court she used promotional literature of TDS, producer of the MX, to demonstrate the clear intent of TDS and the Air Force to prevail on Congress for the deployment of 50 new MX missiles. “We’ve been making $200 million a year for the last 10 years on this,” said a TDS employee. “She took that model down the first day of the exhibition and we couldn’t use it. She probably deprived us of a chance to persuade a couple members of Congress.” Under the constraints of a jury instruction that relieved the government prosecution of the need to prove evil intent, the jury convicted Marcia on November 18, 1988 of property damage. On December 29, she was sentenced to 90 days, 83 days suspended pending completion of probation (90 days), and ordered to serve 7 days beginning January 9, 1989.
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DUTCH DISARMAMENT ACTION: On December 8, 1988 the first anniversary of the INF Treaty, 12 Dutch peace activists, calling themselves “INF Ploughshares,” cut through fences to enter the Woensdrecht Airbase and made their way to cruise missile bunkers where they carried out the first disarmament action in Holland. In their action statement they declared: “The INF Treaty was signed to eliminate the ground launched cruise and Pershing missiles from Europe. But the amount of air and sea launched missiles for European battlefield is increasing enormously and NATO plans are ready to modernize nuclear forces in Europe. The bunkers of cruise missiles won’t be destroyed but given a new military destination. We oppose these new steps in the arms race¼ We have started demolishing the Cruise missile bunkers¼ by beating the bunker steel into ploughshares with sledge hammers. We demand that the money destined for new arms be spent instead on producing food for the hungry, detoxifying toxic waste dumps and cleaning polluted water.” They were subsequently apprehended and most were released by Dutch authorities after being held for thirty hours. Kees Koning was released after 8 days.
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NF-5B PLOWSHARES: On January 1, 1989, Kees Koning, an ex-army chaplain and priest; and Co van Melle, a medical doctor working with homeless people and illegal refugees; both of whom participated in the INF disarmament action, entered the Woensdrecht air base once again, and began the conversion of NF-5B fighter airplanes by beating them with sledge hammers into ploughshares. The Dutch planned to sell the NF-5B to Turkey, for use against the Kurdish nationalists as part of a NATO-aid program which involves shipping of 60 fighter planes to Turkey. They were charged with trespass, sabotage and $350,000 damage. They were detained in jail through their trial and received nationwide media attention. They were tried before three judges on February 9, 1989. Among those who were allowed to testify at the trial were a Kurdish lawyer, a former Dutch air force officer, and Phil Berrigan. They were convicted and given the following sentences: Co Van Melle was sentenced to 7 months in prison, 3 months suspended and 2 years probation; and Kees Koning was sentenced to 8 months in prison, 2 months suspended and 2 years probation. They were released pending appeal. Their appeal was denied on November 17, 1989.
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Other Dutch Disarmament Actions: On February 9, 1989 Dutch activists Ad Hennen and Rolland van Hell, who were inspired by the two previous disarmament actions, entered a Dutch military base and started the conversion of Hawk missiles with axes. Ad was released pending trial but was detained because of his previous record. On April 5, 1989 they went to trial and were convicted. They were sentenced to 6 months in prison, plus a 4 month suspended sentence and 2 years probation. Ad was released pending their appeal. Their appeal was denied on November 17, 1989. On Good Friday, March 24, 1989 Kees Konning, who had participated in the first two Dutch disarmament actions, entered a Dutch airbase and with a pick-axe began disarming a fighter plane destined for Turkey. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned. On May 31, 1989 Kees went to trial. The state prosecutor demanded 18 months imprisonment but had failed to observe that Kees had disarmed the same plane he worked on January 1, 1989. The judges ruled that he could not damage something he already damaged before and released him immediately. On July 16, 1989 the anniversary of the first nuclear explosion named “Trinity,” Kees Koning entered the Valkenburg Air Base in the Netherlands, and with a sledgehammer, began to disarm a P-3 Orion nuclear-capable airplane. Simultaneously, other Dutch activists entered the base and reclaimed the land by starting to cultivate it for life instead of death. Kees was arrested and imprisoned and began a fast which lasted until August 9, 1989. Following a trial he was convicted on September 12, 1989 and sentenced to 6 months in prison. He is appealing this case. On November 17th, following an appeal hearing for his January 1, 1989 action, Kees began a fast to demand an end to Dutch weapons sales to Turkey. He ended his fast on December 15, 1989. In the Spring of 1990 Kees was released from prison.
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STOP WEAPONS EXPORTS-PLOWSHARES 2: On February 16, 1989 the first Plowshares action occurred in Sweden. Anders Grip, a truck driver who works with a group providing material aid to the Third World, and Gunilla Akerberg, a consultant for organic farming, entered a railroad yard in Kristinehamn where weapons waited to be shipped to an Indian boat on the west coast of Sweden. They damaged the loading mechanism of the Haubits 77B mobile anti-aircraft missile launcher with hammers. This launcher was produced by the Bofors arms company. They then displayed a banner saying: “Disarmament has begun,” “We must dare to be disobedient,” “Violence and oppression depend upon our obedience and passivity.” When the police came a half-hour later, Anders and Gunilla had set up a dining table and invited the police to join them in a meal. They were placed under arrest. On their way to the police station several of the police expressed support for their action and advised them of another potential site for a plowshares action. They were released later that night. They were sentenced to pay $10,000 in restitution to Bofors which they refused to pay. As of last year, Bofors is no longer asking for restitution.
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THAMES RIVER PLOWSHARES: Early in the morning on Labor Day, September 4, 1989 Jackie Allen, artist and shelter worker of the Ahimsa Community in Voluntown, CT and member of Griffiss Plowshares; Kathy Boylan, mother, sanctuary worker and member of the Long Island Catholic Peace Fellowship; Art Laffin, member of the Isaiah Peace Ministry and Trident Nein; and Elmer Maas, member of the Isaiah Peace Ministry and participant of two previous plowshares actions; Anne Montgomery, participant in five previous plowshares actions; Jim Reale, arborist and member of Jonah House; and Homer White, husband and member of the Caritas Community in Chapel Hill, NC; swam and canoed up the Thames River to the USS Pennsylvania Trident submarine, docked at the Naval Underwater Systems Center in New London, CN. Jackie, Anne, Kathy and Homer swam to the Trident. In full view of armed security, Jackie and Kathy hammered and poured blood on the Trident near the conning tower, while Anne was detained at the Trident dock. Jackie also carved the word “death” on the Trident. After 30 minutes Jackie and Kathy, who were fire-hosed by sailors, were taken into custody by the Coast Guard. Heavy tidal currents forced Homer to return to shore and he was arrested upon entering the main gate of the Naval Underwater Systems Center. Simultaneously, Art, Elmer, and Jim canoed to the tail end of the Trident and, in full view of armed security, hammered and poured their blood on the side of the sub. They boarded the Trident, hammered several more times, and prayed, sang and read from St. John’s Gospel for 45 minutes. They too were fire-hosed before taken into custody. They left on the Trident a videotape of live footage of Hiroshima after the bombing, a Salvadoran cross, a banner, booklets documenting the nuclear arms race at sea and naval nuclear accidents, their action statement and “Call to Confession and Captivity.” Concurrently with this action, a 96 foot-long banner was dropped over the Gold Star Bridge in New London, proclaiming “Trident Is The Crime.” After being held overnight in jail, they were arraigned and released the next day on a PTA. Charges were later dropped against Homer, presumably due to insufficient evidence. During their 3 day trial in Hartford Federal Court, they focused on their “lack of criminal intent” and on the criminality of the Trident, despite certain restrictions imposed by the court. Citing a ruling made by the Silo Pruning Hooks judge, their trial judge, Judge Nevas, instructed the jury to disregard the defendants’ and their character witnesses’ religious, moral and political views about the U.S. nuclear weapons policy. On December 19, they were convicted by a jury of conspiracy to enter a naval reservation for an unlawful purpose. All, except Jackie, were acquitted of trespass with intent to injure and depredate U.S. property. In addition, Jackie was the only one charged and convicted of destruction of government property less than $100. (During the trial the government entered into evidence one photo of hammer marks on the Trident, where Jackie said she hammered. Kathy claimed responsibility for some of the hammer marks in the photo. Despite each of the Thames River Plowshares conveying to the jury and the Court that they should all be treated the same way for their community act of disarmament, Jackie still was convicted of these charges. On March 6, 1990 they were given the following sentences: Jackie, Kathy, Art, Elmer, and Jim were sentenced to 60 days in prison; Anne was given a 120 day sentence. On January 7, 1991 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District denied an appeal made by Jackie, Elmer, Jim and Art.
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PLOWSHARES ESKILTUNA: On March 20, 1990 three Swedish peace activists, Lasse Gustavsson, Linus Brohult and Johan Hammarstedt, entered the FFV-Ordinance weapons factory in Eskilstuna, Sweden and disarmed the “Carl-Gustaf” bazooka with hammers. Their hammers were covered with pictures of their families. Seeking to stop the deadly export of Swedish weapons, the activists disarmed the “Carl-Gustaf” bazooka because it had been used in Vietnam and was smuggled to Saudi Arabia via Great Britain during the 1980’s. The U.S. also buys these bazookas. In a statement distributed to employees explaining the purpose of their action, the plowshares activists write: “By living the way we do we support war and injustice. Swedish weapons are used in warfare all over the world. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to contribute to disarmament. By disarming Swedish weapons we hope to break through paralysis and powerlessness and instead help achieve peace and justice.” On March 5, 1991 they were tried and convicted in Eskiltuna’s District Court. They were ordered to pay $900 in restitution which they have refused to pay.
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UPPER HEYFORD PLOWSHARES: Early on March 21, 1990, the first day of Spring, British peace activists Stephen Hancock and Mike Hutchinson carried out the first British plowshares action. They entered the Upper Heyford U.S. Air Base and hammered on the outside of an F-111 fighter plane and then climbed into the cockpit where they also hammered on the nuclear weapons control panel. They left inside the plane a piece of the Berlin Wall and a statement that the INF treaty was a fraud because it eliminated no nuclear weapons. The F-111’s, made by General Dynamics, are nuclear capable supersonic strike fighter planes which were used in the bombing raids against Libya in 1986. Their low level navigation and weapons delivery capability allows bombing at night and in adverse weather. Both activists wore “Mickey Mouse” ears, as they explained, “to have a friendly silhouette” for Americans guarding the base and its material. They also wore sheets that said: “Mickey Mouse Fan Club – Peace Section.” They pinned on the side of the F-111 a banner that reiterated the message of their action and the statement “Isaiah was Here!” The two were arrested and held by the Ministry of Defense police and charged with “suspicion of criminal damage” amounting to 200,000 pounds. They were released on bail after serving 7 days in jail. On September 4, 1990 a jury found Mike and Steve guilty of damaging the aircraft and possessing mallets and fluid with intent to damage property. They were sentenced to 15 months imprisonment. They were released on parole on March 7th and were on probation through June 1991.
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DOVES OF PEACE DISARMAMENT ACTION: On April 3, 1990 Susan Rodriguez, a longtime peace and community activist from Hayward, CA, entered the Physics International Laboratory on San Leandro, CA, a company which uses computers to simulate nuclear weapons explosions and research their effects on military hardware. She proceeded through several computer labs, and used a small sledgehammer to disarm several computers. When finally confronted by the police, she stopped and was arrested. Susan had learned of PI’s relationship to the military industry in the course of her work for a computer repair company. On December 14, 1990 she was tried and convicted by a jury of two felony counts: burglary and malicious mischief (causing more than $25,000 worth of damage). On March 20, 1991 Susan was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended, 750 hours community service, three years probation and $1,000 restitution.
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ANZUS PEACE FORCE PLOWSHARES: Early in the morning on January 1, 1991 Moana Cole, a Catholic Worker from New Zealand, Ciaron O’Reilly, a Catholic Worker from Australia, and Susan Frankel and Bill Streit, members of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C., calling themselves the Anzus (Australia, New Zealand and U.S.) Peace Force Plowshares, entered the Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY. After cutting through several fences, Bill and Sue entered a deadly force area and hammered and poured blood on a KC-135 (a refueling plane for B-52’s) and then proceeded to hammer and pour blood on the engine of a nearby cruise missile armed B-52 bomber that could be used in the Middle East. They presented their action statement and an indictment to base security who encircled them moments later. Simultaneously, Moana and Ciaron entered the base at the opposite end of the runway, and made a sign of the cross with blood on the runway, spray-painted “Love Your Enemies – Jesus Christ,” “No More Bombing of Children in Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq, or Anywhere!” and “Isaiah Strikes Again.” For approximately one hour they hammered upon the runway chipping at two sections, one being nearly 5 feet in diameter, before they were detained. In their action statement they declared that they came together from three different countries to reclaim the acronym from the ANZUS Treaty and create a “new pact for peace, which is the way of the Lord.” They also asserted they were acting to prevent war in the Persian Gulf and called upon people to nonviolently resist war and oppression. In their indictment they cited the U.S. government for war crimes and violations of international law. All four were indicted on January 9th on federal charges of conspiracy and property destruction and faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. After being held in jail for over two months, they accepted pretrial release on March 6th. They went to trial in Federal Court in Syracuse in May and were convicted by a jury. On August 20th, they were sentenced to twelve months in prison and ordered to pay $1800 in restitution. After serving 10 months Bill and Sue were released from prison in mid-June 1992. Moana and Ciaron were released in late June on bail pending a deportation hearing. In October 1992, Moana returned to New Zealand following her court-ordered voluntary deportation. Ciaron returned to Australia on April 7th following his deportation hearing on March 29th.
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ARMS FACTORY PLOWSHARES: On March 1, 1991 three Swedish peace activists: Stefan Falk, Anders Grip and Per Herngren, of the Pershing Plowshares, entered with the morning shift at the Swedish Ordnance armaments factory in Ekilstuna, Sweden. Once inside, they disarmed with hammers two “Carl Gustaf” grenade throwers and one AK-5 automatic rifle. Their act of disarmament was met by workers, guards, and later the police, calmly and without violence. The three were placed under arrest, charged with unlawful entry and property damage, and later released. (Swedish Ordnance is a major producer of Swedish weapons and the largest share of its production is for export. The Carl Gustaf grenade thrower is distributed worldwide and was used extensively used in the Persian Gulf). They were tried and convicted in the spring of 1994. Per and Stephan were given fines while Anders was sentenced to 1 month in jail.
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AEGIS PLOWSHARES: Before dawn on Easter, March 31, 1991 Phil Berrigan, from Jonah House and participant in two previous plowshares actions; Kathy Boylan, member of the Thames River Plowshares and the Gulf Peace Team, from Long Island, NY; Tom Lewis, participant in the Transfiguration Plowshares East action from Worcester, MA; Barry Roth, psychiatrist and peace worker from Worcester, MA; and Daniel Sicken, an Air Force veteran and war-tax resister from Brattleboro, VT, boarded the USS Gettysburg, an Aegis-equipped Cruiser docked at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME. (According to the Navy, Aegis is “the most capable surface launched missile system the Navy has ever put to sea.”) They proceeded to hammer and pour blood on covers for vertical launching systems for cruise missiles. They also left at the site their action statement which said in part, “We witness against the American enslavement to war at the Bath Iron Works, geographically near the President’s home.” They also left an indictment charging President Bush, Secretary of War Cheney, the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff with war crimes and violations of God’s law and international law, including the killing of thousands of Iraqis. They spent nearly two hours on the ship and in the yard before turning themselves into a member of the security force. After rejecting unsecured bond in court on April 1st, all five were released unconditionally on April 3rd pending trial by the state of Maine on charges of criminal trespass. Without explanation, the state decided against prosecuting them and their charges were dismissed one day before their scheduled jury trial.
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DARWIN PLOWSHARES – Early on August 17, 1991, Anthony Gwyther, of the West End Catholic Worker in Brisbane, Australia, entered Darwin RAAF base. He poured blood on a U.S. B-52 bomber, in Darwin to participate in the “Pitch Black ’91” joint military exercises. He hammered on the bomb bay doors and inside the bomb bay area of the area of the aircraft beginning its conversion into implements to serve life. Anthony was then arrested by RAAF personnel to whom he gave his “Statement of Intent.” He was held at Berrimah Police Headquarters for questioning and was released on bail. His hammer, bearing the inscription “Everyone beneath their vine and fig tree, unafraid (Micah 4:4),” his banner reading “Beat Swords Into Plowshares,” and a copy of the video “Nowhere To Hide,” made in Iraq during the height of U.S. bombing by Ramsey Clark, were taken from him to be used as evidence in court. Anthony was charged with “criminal trespass” and “criminal damage” under the Northern territory Criminal Code and with “trespass on Commonwealth property.” He was tried and convicted in mid-December 1992 and was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of $4369.
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SOLDIER DISARMS RIFLE – On January 8, 1992, Magnus Eklund, a twenty-two year old Swedish conscript, disarmed his AK4 automatic rifle with a household hammer. Upon completing his action he told his officers he intended to refuse service and identified himself as a conscientious objector. He was held in the military barracks overnight before being reported to the civil police. In his statement he explained: “I want to put an end to my own violence and show my fellow soldiers that there are conscripted soldiers who don’t accept militarism… I wish we could be a little less frightened to disobey. We have to trust our own thoughts. Big structures, like militarism, do, after all, depend on single individuals.” He was sentenced to four months in prison.
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GOOD FRIDAY PLOWSHARES MISSILE SILO WITNESS – On Good Friday morning, April 17, 1992, about 50 people accompanied Fr. Carl Kabat and Carol Carson as they caravanned to the Missile Silo Site #N5 at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, the same silo the Carl and other members of the Silo Pruning Hooks disarmed in 1984. They cut through a fence and once inside, Carol used a sledgehammer on the concrete lid of the silo while Carl performed a rite of exorcism. A half an hour later, two Air Force security guards arrived in a jeep. They ordered Carol and Carl to leave the silo compound and to face away from their supporters and the silo. But the crowd of supporters calmly proceeded to link arms and lovingly surround Carl and Carol. When the two security guards tried to seperate them, small groups of people would return to the circle for song and prayer. Eventually the police arrived and Carol and Carl were arrested. Both were jailed and held until their court appearance on April 29th. At that time, Carol and Carl made a preliminary agreement with federal prosecutors whereby Carol and Carl would plead “no contest” to trespass in exchange for the property destruction charge being dropped. On May 15th, Carl and Carol were sentenced to six and three months in a halfway house.
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HARRIET TUBMAN-SARAH CONNOR BRIGADE DISARMAMENT ACTION: Before dawn on May 10, 1992, Keith Kjoller, a peace activist, graphic artist and cinema worker from Santa Cruz, CA; and Peter Lumsdaine, a father, peace worker, writer from Santa Cruz, entered a secure area of the Space Systems complex at Rockwell International in Seal Beach, CA, wearing Rockwell shirts and work clothes. They entered Building 86 where they used wood-splitting axes to break open steel-mesh reinforced windows and a door of two dust-free “clean rooms” containing nine NAVSTAR global positioning satellites, which were being readied for delivery to the U.S. Air Force. Delicate components in the seven uncompleted satellites were also exposed to potentially damaging unfiltered air as well as tiny fragments of metal and glass. One completed NAVSTAR was struck 60 times with an ax. (This satellite, awaiting shipment to the NAVSTAR launch complex at Cape Canaveral, had to be completely disassembled by Rockwell technicians to assess and repair the damage, which totaled $2.75 million). As they were about to ax another satellite, Peter was seized at gunpoint while Keith was assaulted and choked unconscious by Rockwell personnel– despite both activists declaring themselves unarmed and intending not to threaten or struggle with them. They were then taken into police custody. The NAVSTAR GPS system, is increasingly used for guiding advanced U.S. weapons and military/police assault teams to their targets — from bombers and cruise missiles during the Gulf War to counterinsurgency/search-and-destroy operations throughout the Third World. NAVSTAR is central to Pentagon preparations for launching a nuclear first-strike. Keith and Peter named their disarmament effort “The Harriet-Tubman Sarah Connor Brigade,” honoring the historical conductor of the “underground railroad” and the fictional nuclear resistance fighter of the popular movie Terminator 2: Judgement Day. In their action they sought to commit maximum damage, thereby challenging plowshares and the wider disarmament movement to go beyond symbolic witness in addressing the war machines key technologies. Unlike other disarmament or plowshares actions, they also intended to flee Rockwell if they were able to following their action. Held initially on $1 million bond and “preventive detention,” their case was assigned to an FBI “investigation and terrorism” agent; and they were charged with damaging property manufactured for the U.S. government, a felony carrying up to ten years. Choosing to direct resources toward resistance organizing rather than a trial by an unjust government, they entered into a “guilty” plea agreement. Their bond was reduced to $50,000 and they were released in mid-June for four weeks under electronic monitoring. On September 21, 1992, in accordance with the “guilty” plea agreement, Peter was sentenced to two years prison, and Keith to eighteen months: with three years probation and $15,000 restitution being ordered for each of them by U.S. Judge Gary Taylor, who acknowledged the historical legacy of civil disobedience in his courtroom. Keith was released on parole from Lompoc Federal Prison in late September 1993 and Peter was transferred to a halfway house in December 1993 and in March 1994 was released on parole.
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BAe PLOWSHARES: On January 6, 1993, feast of the Epiphany, Chris Cole, a Christian peace activist from Oxford, England, entered the British Aerospace (BAe) weapons factory in Stevenage, Herts, and used a household hammer to disarm a radar dome mold for the European Fighter Aircraft, a nose cone, a computer and the Hawk strike attack aircraft. He also poured blood on military equipment and carried two banners which said: “HEAL THE WORLD – HAMMER BAe SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES” and PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD – SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES.” The hammer and one of the banners were also used in the “Anzus Plowshares” action at Griffiss AFB in 1991. In a statement he left at the site he explained: “The Epiphany remembers when three men presented gifts to the infant Jesus. My gift of disarmament is for all the infants who are threatened with BAe weapons, from Northern Ireland to East Timor.” (BAe is a heavy supplier of Hawk fighter planes to Indonesia. These planes, in turn, are used against the people of East Timor). After being at the site for about an hour, during which time he entered several buildings, he was arrested and jailed. On January 7th, he was charged with having caused criminal damage in excess of 475,000 pounds (about $700,000). He was released from prison on 10,000 pounds in June 1993 and given strict bail conditions pending trial. On October 7, 1993, Chris was tried by a jury. Following eloquent testimony by Chris concerning BAe’s criminal activity and how he had tried a variety of methods to appeal to BAe to disarm, the judge instructed the jury that they must use their “conscience, common sense and common humanity” to decide their verdict. The judge also told the jury that “if what Mr. Cole says is happening in East Timor, it may amount to genocide, which is a crime against British and International law. On October 11th, the jury deliberated on the case for five hours and could not reach a verdict– at least three members of the jury thought Chris had done the right thing. Thus the trial ended in a hung jury. Four days later Chris had a new trial. This time he was convicted and sentenced to eight months imprisonment. He was released shortly after his conviction for he had already served the required time for this sentence.
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GOOD NEWS PLOWSHARES: Before dawn on Good Friday, April 9, 1993, Kathy Boylan, participant in two previous plowshares actions, Greg Boertje-Obed, participant in three other plowshares actions and Michele Naar-Obed from Jonah House, entered the Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA wearing badges identifying themselves as “disarmers.” After cutting through a fence they proceeded to the USS Tucson fast attack submarine. They scaled 80 feet of scaffolding, and climbed aboard. They then disarmed two Tomahawk cruise missile launchers by removing the inner metal casings and hammering on them with household hammers. They also poured blood onto these launchers as well as on a third Tomahawk launcher. The three spray painted “DISARM-CHRIST LIVES”, “LOVE”, and the sign of Christ’s cross. They also displayed signs and hung banners. They left at the site a five page indictment against the government for its war preparations and asserted that fast-attack submarines, which carry vertically launched, nuclear and conventional Tomahawk cruise missiles, are being illegally constructed at Newport News Shipbuilding. These missiles, carrying conventional warheads, were used during the U.S. massacre of Iraq and were responsible for much of the slaughter of Iraqi civilians and military. After they completed their action, they prayed, sang and explained the purpose of their action to a nearby worker whom they had encountered during their action. The worker called security and they were taken into custody and placed under arrest. They were charged with state charges of “wanton trespass,” a misdemeanor, and “destruction of property”, a felony which carries a five year maximum sentence, and taken to the Newport News City Jail where they were held on $1500 bond. On May 4, 1993, they were tried by a judge on the trespass charge and given a $100 fine. Their trial was held in closed session because the judge cleared the court when supporters applauded as Greg, Michele and Kathy entered the courtroom. On August 24th they were tried by a jury (this time on the property destruction charge), convicted, sentenced and released — all in one day. Despite attempts by the prosecutor and the judge to limit their testimony, the three were given some latitude to speak and offered eloquent testimony. However, in response to the judge trying to restrict Michele’s closing statement, Greg explained to the court that they could no longer continue with the trial and invited supporters to join with them in singing “Rejoice In the Lord Always.” Marshalls removed the three from the courtroom, along with 15 supporters, who were taken to holding cells in the courthouse. When the jury reached a decision about the verdict and the sentencing, the three returned to the courtroom. They were found guilty and sentenced to eight months and a $2,500 fine (which they refuse to pay). Supporters earlier taken into custody were released. And after serving 4 1/2 months in jail, Kathy, Greg and Michele were released for they had already served the required time for an eight month sentence.
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JAS INTO PLOWSHARES: On June 22, 1993 Swedish peace activists Pia Lundin and Igge Olsson entered a hanger at SAAB Military Aircraft factory in Linkoping, Sweden and proceeded to hammer on the bomb mountings underneath the wings of JAS (Hunting Attack Scanning), an attack reconnaissance plane. They sowed wheat on the factory grounds and awaited their arrest. When the police arrived to arrest them, they were offered cherries and invited to share bread and water with them, thereby symbolizing that the resources of the earth are enough for everyone when they are shared. Authorities alleged that there was $200,000 in damages. On July 16th they were tried and convicted of “malicious damage.” On June 24th, peace activists Thomas Falk and Hans Leander entered the SAAB plant, intending to hammer on three of the four remaining JAS planes (the last plane would be left as a symbol of the need for more people to come forward to disarm it). Upon entering the factory they were apprehended, and thereby unable to carry out their part of the action. They were charged with aiding and attempt to “sabotage” and convicted of aiding and attempting to do “malicious damage.” In October 1993, the four were sentenced to 1 year in prison and ordered to pay $80,000 in restitution to SAAB. They were released from prison in August and November 1994. Not wanting to give money to arms production, the group offered SAAB a deal where the group would raise the $80,000 and give it to a water well project in India instead of to SAAB. SAAB responded positively from the beginning but when it became clear to them that the activists would not stop the resistance until the factory was converted, they ended the dialogue and handed their request over to the “Kronofogde” (corresponds to IRS in USA). The group decided to resist the Kronofogde and is, as of this printing, in the process of raising the money to the water well project.
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PAX CHRISTI-SPIRIT OF LIFE PLOWSHARES: Early on the morning of December 7, 1993, Phil Berrigan, a participant in three previous plowshares actions; John Dear, a Jesuit priest, author, and peace activist who works with the homeless in Washington, D.C.; Lynn Fredriksson, a peace activist who works with the homeless in Baltimore, and Bruce Friedrich, a member of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in Washington, D.C., entered the Seymour Johnson AFB in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Coincidentally, the base was going through special wargame exercises and maneuvers on this anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Wading through water and crossing rough terrain, the four made their way past hundreds of Air Force personnel and approached a nuclear capable F-15E fighter plane. (The F-15E, which costs $40 million, is capable of carrying both nuclear and conventional weapons, and was the mainstay of the U.S.-led attack on Iraq). They proceeded to hammer on bomb pylons, the main bomb guidance antenna, the cockpit undercarriage, one guidance light, and the Lantern all-weather flight pod. Additionally, they removed the air intake covers and poured blood in the air intakes and over the side of the plane. They also placed on the ground their statement and an indictment charging the base and the U.S. government with crimes against peace and humanity along with their banner which read: “DISARM AND LIVE.” After several minutes, they were surrounded by hundreds of Air Force soldiers, some screaming: “This is the real world.” They were charged in Federal Court with destruction of government property, a felony. Stating that they could not comply with a court order not to return to the base they were held without bond. After being denied advisory counsel by their judge, and after having their trial date changed three times, the four appeared in Federal Court in Elizabeth City, NC on February 15th to begin their jury trial. Before the trial began, the prosecutor introduced an “Motion In Limine” which would prohibit the defendants from being able to speak about their moral and political justification for their action. When they were not allowed by the judge to finish their opening statement to the jury, they turned their backs to the judge as about twenty supporters joined them in saying Lord’s prayer and singing peace songs. Lynn, John and Bruce were held in contempt of court along with six supporters. (David Sawyer, an African-American supporter, was assaulted by U.S. marshalls and was, in turn, charged with assault. He spent three weeks in jail and was released bond — a plea agreement was later worker out). Meanwhile, the other six supporters were given six month sentences, however, five were released on March 9th and 10th and placed on 1 year supervised probation. Brad Sjostrom was imprisoned for three months and then placed on 1 year supervised probation. Judge Boyle later that afternoon declared a mistrial stating that the jury had been “contaminated.” The four plowshares defendants were sent back to jail. Seeking to deter possible further courtroom resistance, Judge Boyle ordered that the four be given separate jury trials. He also ordered that each defendant have standby advisory counsel. With the judge threatening the defendants in advance with contempt of court should they defy any of his rulings, the prosecutor and the judge strongly enforcing the Motion In Limine “gag order” on the defendants and the U.S. Marshalls tightly restricting supporters admission into the courtroom, defendants and supporters witnessed what were perhaps the most repressive plowshares trials to date. In each of the trials the four were repeatedly objected to by vindictive prosecutors and were constantly warned by the judge that the Bible, their religious views, the role of the F-15E fighter plane used to bomb Iraq and U.S. nuclear war preparations were irrelevant. Phil was the only one of the four to take the stand to testify. And after Boyle’s ruling that she could not give her opening statement to the jury because it was irrelevant, Lynn remained silent throughout her trial. Despite the court’s attempt to suppress the truth, each of the four were able to powerfully and creatively witness to the truth of their action. Each were found guilty with the juries taking 1 hour for Phil, 30 minutes for John, 20 minutes for Lynn and 6 minutes for Bruce to return their verdicts. On July 6, 1994, the four were sentenced to the following: Phil – 8 months in jail, 4 months house confinement; John – 7 1/2 months in jail, 4 1/2 months house confinement; Lynn – 14 months in jail; Bruce – 15 months in jail. Each were given credit for time already served. They were also sentenced to 3 years of supervised probation and ordered to pay $2700 in restitution.
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ANARCHIST PLOWSHARES: On January 27, 1994 activists Calle Hoglund and Karna Rusek entered the Satenas F7 base in Sweden as military exercises were being conducted. They proceeded to hammer on the nose cone of a Viggen-type military aircraft. The two were subsequently held in custody for five weeks. They They were both charged and convicted of sabotage, a felony offense. Calle was sentenced to 14 months in prison and Karna to 3 months. On appeal Calle’s sentence was reduced to 12 months. Ulf Lundblad, Mats Kolmisopi and Henrik Hoglund were also charged with aiding in this act of sabotage. Ulf and Henrik were sentenced to 8 months in prison and Mats, because he is under 18, was not given a prison sentence. Ulf and Calle began serving their sentence on November 27, 1995.
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GOOD FRIDAY- APRIL FOOLS DAY PLOWSHARES: At noon on April 1, 1994 (Good Friday and April Fool’s Day), Fr. Carl Kabat, still on parole for the Silo Pruning Hooks action, entered the Grand Forks Missile Field in North Dakota dressed as a clown. After cutting through a fence surrounding a Minuteman III missile silo (not scheduled to be deactivated under the START I agreement), he proceeded to hammer on a combination dial for the silo as well as the silo lid. He prayed, sang and hung a banner on the silo fence which said “Stop Nuclear Weapons.” After about a half-an-hour, a helicopter, a tank and 10 soldiers armed with machines guns arrived at the site and held him at the site for two hours. Meanwhile, Sam Day and Michael Sprong, who were outside the missile silo fence supporting Carl, were asked to leave. When they refused to do so they, too, were taken into custody and charged with trespass (this charge was later dropped). Carl was taken to the Barnes County Jail in Valley City, North Dakota. At a hearing the following Monday he was charged in State Court with trespass and malicious destruction of property — both felony charges — and was ordered held without bond. During his arraignment on April 13, Carl pled “no contest” to the charges against him and stated that his action was on behalf of the children of the world. On May 16th, Carl was sentenced to 5 years in prison and ordered to pay a $7,000 fine. At this writing he is serving his sentence at the North Dakota State Penitentiary, PO Box 5521, Bismark, ND. 58502
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JUBILEE PLOWSHARES – On August 7, 1995 six religious peace activists carried out coordinated plowshares actions to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The following is an excerpt of their statement: “The period of August 6 through 9 marks the 50th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan…Since August 1945 the entire world, led by the U.S. has been held hostage by nuclearism and the exponential rise of military violence. This violence permeates every level of society… Disarmament is the necessary first step to Christ’s Jubilee. We refuse to see violence as inevitable, injustice as the order of the day, and death dealing as the only way of life. Join us in this declaration for disarmament to announce the jubilee for the poor, relief for the children, and peace for us all.”
JUBILEE PLOWSHARES EAST – Before dawn, Michele Naar-Obed of the Good News Plowshares, Philadelphia activists Rick and Erin Sieber (father and son), and Amy Moose, a social worker and peace activist from New York City, entered Newport News Shipbuilding. They cut through a fence and walked to the USS Greenville fast attack submarine. They boarded the submarine and proceeded to hammer and pour blood on the soft metal casing inside four vertical launch tubes for the Tomahawk cruise missile. They also pasted pictures of the Hiroshima victims to the submarine and laid out their statement and indictment. After a period of prayer they then spoke with a shipyard worker about their action, who in turn called security. The four were arrested and jailed at Newport News City jail and held on $6,500 bond. (Rick was released on bond several weeks later). The four were charged by the State of Virginia with trespass and destruction of property — a felony. On September 19th the four were tried on the trespass charge. Despite attempts by the court to suppress the truth, especially during cross examination of Newport News personnel, the four were able to offer powerful testimony about their witness. They were convicted and immediately given the maximum sentence for this charge: 1 year in jail and a $2500 fine. The four decided to appeal and be tried again on the trespass charge during their jury trial on the property destruction charge. Erin, Michele and Amy were released on bond several weeks later. Following their release Amy accepted a plea-bargain agreement due to personal reasons. Shortly before their expected jury trial in December, they were notified that state charges were being dropped and that they would be indicted on federal charges. On January 19th Erin, Rick and Michele pled not guilty to the following charges: damage to national defense material, conspiracy to damage national defense material, destruction of government property (submarine and shipyard fence), and conspiracy to commit destruction of government property. These charges carry a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison and a $12 million fine. They will be tried by a jury on March 19, 1996.
JUBILEE PLOWSHARES WEST– Shortly after 8:00 a.m. Ukiah school-teacher and peace activist Susan Crane, and Steve Kelly, a Jesuit priest from Oakland, walked onto Lockheed-Martin Corporation in Sunnyvale, CA, builder of the first strike Trident II D-5 missile. They approached a large assembly building, and to their amazement, a large rolling door opened up. They walked into the building and proceeded to hammer and pour blood on missile casings. On a nearby desk, Susan found classified plans for the missile and poured blood on them. While Susan and Steve awaited their arrest they spoke with some of the workers displayed photos of nuclear victims. They were both taken into custody by state authorities and then released after 48 hours. Federal authorities then ordered them back to court on August 11. They pled not guilty to felony charges of destruction of government property and conspiracy. Bond was set at $75,000 for Susan and $50,000 for Steve. On November 28 they were tried by a jury in San Jose Federal Court. During her testimony, Susan attempted to introduce the Nuremberg Principles into evidence. When she was stopped for the third time, supporters in the courtroom successively stood up and read from the Principles and read from the Bible. Federal marshals proceeded to remove 8 supporters from the building. Susan was also removed from the courtroom. When Steve refused to proceed with the trial the jury was removed. Eventually resuming her testimony, Susan challenged the judge, “I do not accept your authority…I do not know why I am not allowed to speak the highest law of the land.” Steve also offered compelling testimony and both offered character witnesses. During cross-examination both refused to answer questions about who drove them to the site. Each received civil contempt charges. They were both found guilty and face a maximum sentence of 15 years imprisonment. They will be sentenced on March 13, 1996.
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SEEDS OF HOPE – EAST TIMOR PLOUGHSHARES: On January 29, 1996, borough councillor Joanna Wilson from Merseyside, gardener Lotta Kronlid from Sweden, and nurse Andrea Needham from Kirby, carried out the third British Plowshares action. In the early morning they entered the British Aerospace military site at Warton, Lancashire and proceeded to disarm a Hawk warplane. They hammered on the radar nose of the plane and on the control panel. When they were finished with their work they were able to make some phone calls from inside the South Hanger to tell their friends and the press about their witness. They were then arrested by the police. The Hawk ground-attack airplane that they disarmed (jet number ZH 955) was part of an order destined to Indonesia. Indonesia has since 1975 (when East Timor declared its independence) been waging a genocidal war against the people of East Timor. More than 200,000 people have been killed, which is about one third of the pre-invasion population. The group stated that there is substantial evidence that Hawks from previous deals have been used by the Indonesian military to bomb civilians. The arms export to Indonesia, and especially the Hawk deal, has been opposed by many people and groups all over Britain, the group says. But the government and BAe have refused to stop the sale. “These planes will soon be killing people in East Timor unless action is taken immediately to stop them”, the group says. Another member of the group, Angie Zelter, an environmental campaigner from Norfolk, publicly stated she intends to carry out a future ploughshares action at BAe to continue the process of disarmament there. The four women were held in remand until the trial in july, charged with illegal entry and criminal damage. During the seven-day trial , the women—three of whom defended themselves—said they were disarming the Hawk, not vandalizing it, claiming the action was justified because the plane was going to be used against the civilians of East Timor. (The Hawk was one of 24 sold by British Aerospace to the Indonesian dictatorship; similar planes previously shipped to Indonesia have been seen bombing and flying over East Timor—and dropping bombs there.) Surprisingly the four were aquitted! The jury of seven men and five women took just over five hours to reach their not-guilty verdict, which Wilson called a “victory for justice” and a “victory for the people of East Timor.” Zelter added, “We think we have a very good case to prove that British Aerospace is aiding and abetting murder.” After the verdict, British Aerospace said that “it operates in accordance with export licences granted by the [British] government.” The company then served injunctions against further trespasses on the four women, who publicly tore them up. Contact: Seed of Hope Ploughshares, e-mail: Ricarda@gn.apc.org; and East Timor Action Network, PO Box 1182, White Plains, NY 10602; (914)428-7299; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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LAURENTIAN SHIELD TRIDENT ELF DISARMAMENT ACTION: On April 22, Earth day, Donna and Tom Howard-Hastings used hand saws to cut down three poles supporting the ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) transmitter for the first-strike Trident submarine in northern Wisconsin. After the poles were cut they were decorated with pictures of children and posted with documents affirming various international laws and treaties. They also placed stakes to mark tree seedlings under the transmission lines that they say are “doomed to the cutting bar.” The two continued their protest by cutting off a section of one of the downed poles, carrying it to the nearby transmitter site where they turned themselves in to security personnel. They were then taken into custody by county sheriffs. Members of the media were invited to witness the action. A television crew from an ABC news affiliate, along with reporters from two public radio stations, were informed that a “robust” nonviolent protest was going to take place on Earth day. Both activists indicated that they wanted independent observers on hand to address what they were concerned would be a distorted view of their action by government authorities. Following the action there was excellent media coverage in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Both activists have been involved in ongoing nonviolent resistance to Project ELF. They were charged with sabotage and destruction of property and remain in jail awaiting trial on September 11, 1996. The name Laurentian Shield refers to the name of the granite rock geological formation at the ELF site.
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PRINCE OF PEACE PLOWSHARES: Before dawn on Ash wed., Feb 12, 1997, six people calling themselves the Prince of Peace Plowshares boarded the USS Sullivan at Bath Iron Works in Maine. The USS Sullivan is an Aegis destroyer commissioned to the Navy by the Bath Iron Works. The six are now in prison awaiting trial, tentatively set for 5 May, but is likely to be delayed. The activists were observed by security upon boarding the destroyer and, as he called for reinforcement, they fanned out to the Pilot House, the Bridge, the Helicopter pad, and the Missile Hatch Covers. On each they hammered and poured their blood. They then gathered on the deck, unfurled their banner – Prince of Peace Plowshares – “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” They were able to read their statement together before security levelled guns at them (including shotguns) and forcibly threw them on the deck. The Prince of Peace Plowshares are: Susan Crane – 52, mother of two sons, former high school teacher, resides at Jonah House a nonviolent resistance community in Baltimore. Steve Baggarly – 31, husband and father, lives with and serves the poor and homeless people in Norfolk VA with the Norfolk Catholic Worker. Philip Berrigan – 72, WWII vet, plowshares activist, author, member of Jonah House in Baltimore and father of three. Mark Colville – 35, husband and father of three young children, urban minister and member of Cesar Jerez Catholic Worker, New Haven, CT. Steve Kelly SJ – Jesuit priest, plowshares activist, member of Jubilee Plowshares West. Tom Lewis-Borbely – 56, artist, painter, printmaker, happily married, father of a 5 year old daughter, plowshares activist and 30 years of nonviolent resistance history including the Baltimore 4 and Catonsville 9.
PIT STOP Ploughshares, February 3, 2003, Shannon Airport, Ireland. Dierdre Clancy, Karen Fallon, Damien Moran, Nuin Dunlop and Ciaron O’Reilly poured blood on the the Shannon Airport runway that was servicing U.S. military flights, troops and munitions deployments to U.S. military bases in Kuwait and Qatar for the U.S./British war against Iraq. They then took up part of the runway with a mallet. They also painted “Pit Stop of Death” on a hanger door housing a U.S. Navy plane and began to disarm the warplane. This case resulted in two mistrials. In the third trial the group was acquitted by a jury.
NATO Ploughshares, February 9, 2003, NATO Airbase in Vokel, Holland. Barbara Smedema entered the base to protest the looming U.S. war against Iraq and the nuclear weapons stored there. She used a sledgehammer to damage three satellite dishes on the base. Smedema’s first trial ended in a mistrial but was convicted in the second trial. She was sentenced to 78 hours of community service, but because she served 6 weeks in jail, the court waived her sentence.
(#79) RAF Leuchars Disarmament Action
Danish plowshares activist Ulla Roder entered RAF Leuchars Air Base in county Fife, Scotland early on March 11, 2003 and peacefully damaged a Tornado fighter jet destined to duty in Iraq. Prior to Ulla’s action, early on Monday morning, March 10, two other anti-war activists had breached security at RAF Leuchars in order to inspect the base ahead of its likely illegal use in an attack on Iraq. With one of them in a wheelchair, the pair were able to inspect the base for over two hours before being discovered. Roder, from Odense in Denmark but currently living in Scotland, described how she went into a hangar at the Fife air base and discovered the plane completely unguarded. “I took my hammer to the nose-cone, the cockpit, the fuselage, the wings, the tailplane and other parts of the plane which it was safe to damage. I don’t see it flying again. I then sat down and waited for the security people to arrive. When the police came everything was calm and relaxed.” Following her action, Roder was held in prison and pleased that this particular aircraft will not be dropping bombs on innocent people in Iraq. She was released from prison on August 9th due to a procedural error by the Procurator Fiscal. Since then she stopped appearing at pre-court hearings, despite an arrest warrant being issued. It is her belief that she will not be given a fair trial under a Scottish legal system that is bound by the response given by the Scottish High Court to the Lord Advocate’s Reference.
(#80-81) RAF Fairford Disarmament Actions RAF Fairford, in western England, was a major focus for nonviolent direct action against the war, resulting in hundreds of arrests. B-52 bombers refueled there and military supplies and hardware regularly moved through. Steadily through the winter, citizen inspectors and thousands of supporters marched on the base. Once the fence was pulled down and scores of people swarmed onto the field beside the runway. Some established a plane-spotting peace camp before the invasion began.
* On March 13, 2003, Dr. Margaret Jones and Paul Arthur Milling entered the base and disabled 30 bomber support vehicles. They were jailed until March 24, and returned to Gloucester Crown Court May 23 to face charges of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and aggravated trespass.
* On March 18, 2003, Phillip Pritchard and Toby Olditch entered the base with the intention of disarming a B-52. They were apprehended fully equipped for the job as they hung photos of Iraqi people labeled “collateral damage?” on the perimeter fence. The men faced multiple charges. In the Fall of 2006, both groups of activists were finally tried but mistrials were declared after juries could not reach judgments.
(#82) Silo N-8 Plowshares Shortly before 8 a.m. on August 6, 2003 Carol Carson drove herself to the gates leading to nuclear missile silo N-8, near New Raymer, Colorado, the same silo where Fr. Carl Kabat was arrested the previous year. Hiroshima Day coincided with the Roman Catholic celebration of the Transfiguration of Jesus and Carson prayed from the liturgical readings for that day. “I had a white handkerchief, crystal plate, crystal goblet, bread and fruit juice, a candle, the bible, and crucifix. I blessed the bread and fruit juice… After praying I placed the items in a tapestry bag… then proceeded to take the hammer, wire cutters and bag, and I cut a hole through the gate…” Carson also cut through a second gate, then walked up to the silo and hammered on the lid as she recited the words of Isaiah from the Bible: “Beat your swords into plowshares and your spears into pruning hooks.”
Coming through the second gate, Carson accidentally cut her hand. With her forefinger, she took her blood and “made the sign of the cross in blood on top of the missile silo.”
Air Force personnel arrived soon thereafter. Carson was arrested and jailed overnight. She was released on her own recognizance the next day, charged in state court with criminal mischief to agricultural land and second degree criminal trespass. In Weld County Court in Greeley on October 5, Carson plead guilty to trespass and was fined $300 and ordered to pay restitution and court costs.
(#83) F-16 Plowshares
With a hammer purchased in Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, Italian-born activist Turi Salvatore Vaccaro has carried on the 25-year-old tradition of direct actions for nuclear disarmament known as Plowshares on August 10, 2005. Vaccaro gave flesh to the Old Testament prophecy of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks when he climbed the fence at Woensdrecht Air Force Base in the Netherlands, entered a maintenance hanger and caused significant damage to the cockpit control panels of two F-16 warplanes. The F-16s are the delivery system for an estimated 20 U.S./NATO nuclear weapons stored at Holland’s Volkel Air Force Base. Vaccaro was caught in the act and reportedly gave police a full account of acting with intent to disarm the aircraft in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The hammer was purchased in Assisi because St. Francis had inspired him to live a very sober life, with respect for people and the environment. For this reason, the action was carried out very carefully, to ensure that no one felt threatened as he caused damage estimated in court at five million euros. Vaccaro carried an old map of the base, from a time when he provided support outside the fence for Kees Koning, a Dutch Plowshares activist. In jail and fasting since his arrest, Vaccaro was brought to trial in Breda on September 1st. He did not speak in court, but communicated with his two attorneys in writing, and acknowledged supporters with waves, sign language and song. His attorneys argued that prosecutors had failed to take into consideration the context of Vaccaro’s action, which was to prevent the commission of a grave crime against international law. Because the prosecution did not consider the fact that the Dutch government is involved in committing such crimes by having nuclear weapons in its country and training Dutch pilots to use them, the charges are unreasonable and should be dropped. The prosecution would only reply that international law did not have a place in the lower court. Vaccaro’s lawyers asked the judge to force the prosecution to give a better answer than that. When the judge refused, he was formally accused of being partial to the prosecution. A panel of three other judges was then consulted on the point, and they sided with the trial judge. Lawyers then asked that reasons for the decision be put in writing. When the judge refused this request, he was again challenged. Court was then adjourned, and a week later the review panel upheld the judge’s decision, and told defense attorneys they could not again challenge the judge in this manner.
Turi confounded the Dutch prosecutor with his lighthearted clowning at several court sessions during the fall. But at a final hearing on October 27, the judge paid no heed to Vaccaro’s demeanor nor his anti-nuclear motivation. The 52-year-old activist was convicted of causing €750,000 in damage to two F-16 nuclear bombers at Woensdrecht Air Base. Vaccaro was then sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay the full amount of damage or serve an additional year in prison.
(#84) Riverside Plowshares On May 25, 2004, four Catholic Workers, calling themselves the Riverside Ploughshares, joined the public tour aboard the USS Philippine Sea during the 16th Annual Fleet Week hosted by the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Sr. Susan Clarkson, Mark Colville, Brian Buckley, and Joan Gregory left the tour line to pour their blood and hammer on the missile hatches that hold Tomahawk cruise missiles. Photos of Iraqi children killed and maimed by American bombing were held up for other tourists to see, as their disarmament action was also videotaped by supporters. The Navy arrested the four, detained them for several hours, and then released them without charges. From their statement:
“We seek to stop the injury of war on the human family and to heal our communities by living nonviolently and seeking justice for all. The peace and security that comes from an empire wielding weapons of war and intimidation are false and illusory. With hammers we disarm this weapon of mass destruction and with blood we reveal its purpose.”
(#85) Weapons of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares On the morning of June 20, 2006, three men dressed as circus clowns walked on to the Launch Facility E-9 Minuteman III nuclear weapon of mass destruction site in McLean County, North Dakota, on the Fort Berthold Reservation of the Cheyenne Nation. The group wrote the following account from jail:
“We three—Father Carl Kabat, O.M.I., Greg Boertje-Obed, and Michael Walli—proceeded to do the works of peacemaking that God had called upon us to do. Banners were fastened to the outside of the fence that enclosed the launch facility. These banners read:
• Weapon of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares
• Swords into Plowshares, Spears into Pruning Hooks – Isaiah
• Nuclear Disarmament Begins at Home
• It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon
We laid one banner on the ground inside the launch facility which read, “Why do you do this evil thing? Your brother’s blood cries out from the ground.” We cut the chain on the gate with a pair of bolt cutters. We then entered and did various works: The entry hatch cover was found unlocked and we hammered the inside dial lock. The concrete silo lid was chipped in one spot by hammering. Blood was poured on the silo lid and the white upright motion detector, and it was visible from the road. Spray painting was done on the lid. Some of the spray-painted messages read:
• Stop nuclear terrorism here
• Disarm weapons of genocide
• Disarm our hearts
-Disarm now • It is a sin to build a nuclear weapon • God is not the author of confusion
• Peace is the fruit of justice
• The truth shall set you free
• Oppose the Culture of Death –Pope John Paul II
• If you want peace, work for justice –Pope Paul VI
In addition, various items were left as evidence near the silo lid and around the site:
• Two New Testaments
• Two rosaries
• One copy each of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution
• A folder of legal documents pointing to the criminality of U.S. government noncompliance
with its own binding obligations under the U.S. constitution.
About 45 minutes after our arrival, a military helicopter was sighted. It cautiously approached and we could see a machine-gunner in the copter. While it continued to scour the surrounding farmland, a ground vehicle approached. At this time we put bread and wine (in a bottle) on the ground, knelt, joined hands, blew whistles, and sang “Vine and Fig Tree” and “Peace Is Flowing like a River.” About 20 heavily armed U.S. Air Force employees approached us – unarmed and nonviolent Christians – and we complied with a slow, tedious arrest procedure.”
In their trial they planned to present to the jury that because the Minuteman III is a weapon of mass destruction it is illegal under international law. They hoped to share with the jury testimony from the Mayor of Hiroshima about the effects of nuclear weapons. They asked to have Professor Francis Boyle testify about the illegality of nuclear weapons. And they planned to introduce the 1996 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice outlawing nuclear weapons. They hoped to put on evidence that a nuclear bomb launched from a Minuteman silo produces uncontrollable radiation, massive heat and a blast capable of vaporizing and leveling everything within miles. But the judge ruled the jury was not permitted to hear this evidence.
The “Weapon of Mass Destruction Here” Plowshares defendants were sentenced November 16 in federal court in Bismarck, North Dakota, for destruction of government property. Kabat was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison, Boertje-Obed was sentenced to 12 months, and Walli received an eight month prison term. The men were jailed since their arrest at the site, and were given credit for time served in local jails.
(#86) Waihopai Ploughshares On April 30, 2008, the Waihopai Ploughshares – Adrian Leason, Fr. Peter Murnane and Sam Land – entered the grounds of the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) / US National Security Agency spy base at Waihopai and punctured the dome covering one of the two antenna in protest of the role of the base – part of the US government’s global spy network – in the ‘war on terror’. Their statement is available at
The Waihopai Ploughshares were charged with burglary and intentional damage, and their trial started on March 8, 2010. Their defense was based on ‘claim of right’ (widely misreported as a necessity defense). On March 17, 2010, the jury acquitted the three defendants. An overview of the trial with links to more information is available at: http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/plupdate.htm.
On April 7, 2010, the Attorney-General announced that the government would not appeal the verdict, but was considering suing Waihopai Ploughshares for (at that time) $1.1 million. In October 2010, the Attorney-General lodged a civil claim, on behalf of the GCSB, for $1.2 million. This claim was dropped in February 2014.
(#87) Trident Ploughshares Sylvia Boyes and Erica Wilson, both long-standing peace activists and members of the nonviolent direct action group Trident Ploughshares, attempted to hinder activities at the Fylingdales Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station in North Yorkshire on August 6, 2008, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. They were cutting the fence and using red paint to symbolize the bloodshed threatened by U.S. military policy when Ministry of Defense police arrested them, preventing completion of their work. They took the action to highlight the increasingly important role of the base in the U.S. National Missile Defense (Star Wars) project. Satellite communications through the base are vital both in any first-strike nuclear war scenario and for U.S. plans to put weapons in space under the guise of Missile Defense. Fylingdales puts Britain on the front-line in future U.S. wars.
The pair were held overnight at Scarborough police station and charged with criminal damage. Boyes said, “Since I believe that my government is acting unlawfully and immorally, I as a citizen have a duty to uphold the law and try to right a terrible wrong. Having lived all my life under the threat of nuclear mass murder and destruction, I do not intend to stay silent about the dangers into which the USA and its aggressive policies are leading us.” The magistrates hearing their case in October rejected the argument that their action was a serious attempt at disarmament because Wilson said it was justified by the experience of Hiroshima. By referring to Hiroshima, the court concluded that the action was simply a protest, and a criminal one, at that. The women were found guilty of criminal damage, and sentenced in November to 150 hours of community service. Due to her refusal to participate in “community punishment” with 150 hours of unpaid labor, Boyes was re-sentenced on December 18 to three months in prison.
(#88-91) Avrusta! Disarmament Campaign Direct disarmament in the Plowshares tradition, using hand-tools and accepting personal responsibility, continued in Sweden during fall, 2008, with the debut of Avrusta! (Disarm!), a new campaign to stop Swedish weapons exports.
* Shortly after midnight on Thursday, October 16, anti-tank missile launchers and other armaments were damaged after activists broke into factories belonging to leading European weapons manufacturers BAE Systems and Saab. In two simultaneous nonviolent actions, four people used hammers to damage arms bound for export to the United States, India and other countries. Two days later, their spokesperson was also arrested after entering one of the factories to continue the work. Anna Andersson and Martin Smedjeback used hammers and bolt cutters to enter the Saab-Bofors Dynamics production unit in Eskilstuna, near Stockholm. A video at their website shows them at work, hammering and scratching inside the barrels of 14 Carl Gustaf anti-tank grenade launchers, one of the most widespread weapons of the world, before they alerted police of their presence inside the supposedly high-security establishment. Saab-Bofors later claimed damages of at least $141,000. Andersson and Smedjeback were charged with trespass, criminal damage and trespass at a place of national security, and were then released.
*Sixty miles away, also before dawn, Catherine Laska and Pelle Strindlund had entered the BAE Systems plant at the Bofors industrial site in Karlskoga. They forced open a door to an assembly building and posted a sign on the door, “This factory produces arms used in war – disarmament underway.” Once inside, they proceeded to damage parts for weapons, including the Howitzer 77 artillery, clearly labeled for shipment to India where the guns have been used in the disputed Kashmir region. The two were jailed on charges of trespass and criminal damage.
*At noon that same day, Annika Spalde, a deacon in the Swedish church and the fifth member of the group, held a press conference in Karlskoga. “When your government supports an illegal war and sells arms to dictatorships, it’s time for ordinary citizens like us to take action,” she said. After inviting media to join her, she made a public attempt to enter the Bofors site but was ushered away by police. Early Saturday morning, Spalde returned. She cut her way through the fence and hung a banner encouraging more disarmament actions. Before she could get inside the factory, Spalde was again arrested. She was soon released, facing possible charges of criminal damage and trespass at a place of national security.
*Meanwhile, Andersson and Smedjeback returned to the factory area of Eskilstuna Saturday morning, and were taken into custody by police as they planned how to resume their action. They told police of their intentions, but were again released after a few hours. The pair returned a third time early on Sunday, cut three holes in the fence and placed a welcoming sign at each: “The door is opened- you’re free to start disarming.” Inside, they left a number of letters for the employees with an invitation to dialogue. Then they called the police, and subsequently were again arrested on suspicion of trespassing and criminal damage. After three trips to jail in four days, both activists were again set free Sunday evening. Laska and Strindlund remained in custody until their trial began on November 5. The only witness called to the stand was the security director at the BAE Systems Bofors, who had earlier acknowledged to the press that, “This will have an effect on our deliveries.” They were both convicted and sentenced to three months in prison. Both are now free pending appeal and retrial in a higher court.
While this action was underway in Lapland, the first of three jailed Ofog activists was released from prison on June 11. Pelle Strindlund served 80 days of a four month sentence for the March 22 Avrusta! (Disarm!) action at Saab Aerospace Systems in Linkøping. Along with Annike Spalde and Martin Smedjeback, he entered the plant intending to damage fighter jets bound for export. The three were convicted of attempted sabotage and other charges. Smedjeback, sentenced to five months, was released from prison on July 2, and Spalde, serving a six month sentence, was due out July 22. For more information, some in English, visit ofog.org.
(#92) SAAB Microwave Becoming2 Ploughshares
Per Herngren and Ulla Røder climbed over the fence at SAAB Microwave’s test range at Mölndal, Sweden on June 24 and 26, 2008, and planted fig trees in the area around the factory. Using blacksmith hammers, they started to disarm military radar and parts of the test range.They spoke to workers and guards about their intent until police arrived and arrested them half an hour later. On April 1, 2009, Roder and Herngren were given a trial date for disarming parts of the test range and a military radar. “We beat swords into ploughshares”, stated Røder. “We build. We do not protest against the fire system of Microwaves, even being told this is the fifth largest company producing war radars. We chose no protest because protest becomes reactive and negative. It is about time to interfere and be creating, and live the society we want.” “We call it post protest”, Herngren explains. “We do not use protest! No ‘No’, No ‘Stop!’ Instead, we try to live and create the community we want to live in. To beat swords into ploughshares with hammers is creating, not an attempt to say ‘no’, to halt. The inspiration are taken from the philosophers Nietzsche and Deleuze’s argument: To be against drains force and energy from our creativity. Moreover, the protest points to leaders and wants them to solve the problems, making them the subject. We wish to inspire, to spread like an ‘infection’ from person to person. Deleuze would have called it ‘starting a chain of innovations and repetitions.’
“At the court we propose to conspire, multiply, and organize together as resistance communities. Here there are to be no spectators in the ‘Becoming2 Ploughshares’ trial, becoming resistance and justice, becoming justice and becoming resistance. According to Nietzsche we are all law makers – not only the government.” During the trial, English, Danish and Swedish ploughshares held a two day Hope and Resistance festival, affirming that “trials are for conspiring and partying.” For their creative act of resistance, Herngren and Røder were convicted and fined about $250.
(#93) SAAB Ploughshares Witness (Continues) Yet another export arms production plant in Sweden has been entered by direct action campaigners intent on exposing, disrupting and ultimately ending their country’s role as a major arms exporter. On March 22, 2009, just days after nonviolent direct action Avrusta! (Disarm!) campaigners Martin Smedjeback and Anna Andersson were sentenced to four months in prison, and while they were free on appeal, Smedjeback was joined by two other Avrusta! activists at the Saab Aerospace Systems facility in Linkøping. Police responded and arrested Smedjeback, Annika Spalde and Pelle Strindlund early that morning, soon after they had cut through the fence surrounding the area and entered a production hangar. They were equipped with hand tools to disarm Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets stored there and intended for export to South Africa, India, and Thailand.
In 1999, Saab sold 28 Jas-39 Gripen jets to South Africa. South African social movements condemned bribery and corruption involved in the $206 million deal. Furthermore, critics claim that this weapon affair is taking resources from fighting poverty and HIV in South Africa. In the fall of 2007, the Thai government ordered six Jas fighters and Erieye, a Saab radar surveillance system. The chief of the Thai air defense publically declared that the planes will be used against armed rebels in southern Thailand. In 2010 the Indian air force will order 126 fighter jets. Saab is vying for the contract, with full support from the Swedish government. If Saab gets the contract, Swedish jets could be loaded with India’s nuclear weapons. The disarmers hung pictures of prominent nonviolent activists from across the globe on the Saab fence before going inside. One depicted Indian activist Elsey Jacob, and another the former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who seeks cancellation of the Jas-39 Gripen contract.
On March 16, Smedjeback and Andersson were convicted of gross malicious damage and acting against a national security installation during the first round of Avrusta actions last fall. The two broke into a Saab/Bofors Dynamics factory in Eskilstuna where they scratched and dented more than a dozen Carl-Gustaf anti-tank rocket launchers. During their trial one week earlier, the judge allowed all of their testimony as they presented the case that their action was a way to safeguard the official Swedish policy barring arms sales to warring states. “It is my duty to intervene due to the gross criminal damage and death that Saab causes around the world. Others who get in the way of Swedish weaponry, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan, pay a substantially higher price,” said Andersson. While sentencing the pair to four months in prison, the judge also rejected Saab’s claim for over $125,000 damages. Following the March 20 action, the three activists were jailed pending trial, which came quickly on April 14 in Linkøping. Facing one count each of attempted sabotage, the three accused peace workers defended themselves, demanding to be acquitted because they acted to prevent the suffering and death caused by the fighter jets around the globe. Smedjeback and Spalde faced an added charge from last summer for violating “the law protecting areas essential for society” at Karlskoge, while carrying out a preliminary weapons inspection for Avrusta!. Spalde also faced a charge for unlawful entry during a solo disarmament attempt in October.
“When the government and companies cooperate to export weapons to poor countries and conflicts it is up to us regular citizens to act. The civil obedience is a far worse problem than the civil disobedience,” said Strindlund. Nine days later, the verdicts were guilty on all counts, and sentences were announced. Strindlund was sentenced to four months in prison, Martin Smedjeback got a five month sentence on his two counts, and Spalde must serve a six month term for her three convictions. The disarmers were also ordered to pay damages of about $17,000 to Saab.
In November, a Swedish judge ordered Andersson and Smedjeback to pay over €50,000 to Saab Bofors Dynamics, the nation’s biggest arms producer, in compensation for damages to export-bound conventional weapons during their October, 2008 action. Speaking from prison where she was serving a four month sentence for the action, Andersson said, “Arms made in Sweden cause wanton destruction overseas, hence it is the manufacturers who ought to be paying repairs.” Andersson completed her prison sentence in December. Neither activist intends to pay for the disarmed weapons.
(#94) Nuclear Weapons Here Pruning Hooks On the morning of August 6, 2009, the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Fr. Carl Kabat used a bolt cutter to snip the heavy wires of a chain link fence, one by one. Just through the fence, the Colorado prairie is pierced by a deep underground silo, capped with a thick slab of reinforced concrete. It conceals a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile with nuclear warhead. This silo, N-8, rests in the ranch-land about 30 miles northeast of Greeley, Colorado. It’s one of hundreds of nuclear missile silos still scattered across the American plains. President Obama had declared “America’s commitment and desire to seek the peace and serenity of a world without nuclear weapons,” and Kabat was going “to do my little bit,” towards that goal, starting with this missile. Kabat, 75, was also observing the 50th anniversary of his vows into the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic order. His early years as a priest included missionary work overseas amidst great poverty. For the last three decades, his digging at the American roots of the misery he observed abroad has resulted in more years in prison than on the streets. Kabat first literally struck a blow for nuclear disarmament in September, 1980, at a warhead factory in Pennsylvania. He was one of the Plowshares Eight, who used simple hand tools to enact the biblical mandate of beating swords into plowshares and sparked a continuing series of nonviolent direct actions for disarmament known as Plowshares. At silo N-8, the priest was dressed as a clown – the disarming garb he’s donned for several other similar silo actions since 1994. His appearance confirmed that he’s a “fool for Christ,” as the apostle Paul wrote about. But this fool knows true crazy. “I thought, ‘What a beautiful place this is except for this damnable thing in the ground that could kill two or three million people,’” he explained to a New York Times reporter. “It’s insane.” Once he’d cut the wires and pushed an opening through the fence, Kabat hung banners, prayed, and tried to break open the hatch into the silo. Alerted by a remote detection system, Air Force security personnel arrived about 45 minutes later and took Kabat into custody. A Weld County sheriff’s deputy was summoned to the scene and arrested Kabat on misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief and trespassing. Kabat was held on $5,000 bond, pending trial. At arraignment he plead not guilty to state charges of trespass and criminal mischief.
On December 21 he was tried in the Weld County Courthouse in Greeley, Colorado. After the first day in court, Kabat permitted friends to post bail, and he joined supporters for dinner before his trial concluded the following day. After his public defender helped select the jury and introduced his case, Kabat released her so he could better represent himself. When it was time to take the stand and tell the jury why he took action against these “simply insane” weapons, the prosecutor repeatedly objected to Kabat’s narrative. Exasperated, Kabat finally declared, “I wish you objected more to nuclear weapons than to me.” The jury returned a guilty verdict after less than an hour of deliberation. Kabat was sentenced to time served, 137 days, plus court costs of about $250. He told the court he would make no such payments for his prosecution, as that would be supporting nuclear weapons. Kabat, who has spent more than half of the last three decades in prison for opposing nuclear weapons, caught a ride with supporters.
(#95) Disarm Now Plowshares In the early morning hours on November 2, 2009, All Souls Day, five peacemakers entered Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in the early morning hours with the intention of calling attention to the illegality and immorality of the existence of the Trident weapons system. During the action they held a banner saying…“Disarm Now Plowshares : Trident: Illegal + Immoral”, left a trail of blood, hammered on the roadway and fences around Strategic Weapons Facility – Pacific (SWFPAC) and scattered sunflower seeds throughout the base. They gained entry to the secure nuclear weapons storage facility known as Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific (SWFPAC) where they were detained, and after extensive questioning by base security, FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), cited for trespass and destruction of government property, given ban and bar letters and released. Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, of Redwood City, California, Fr. Bill “Bix” Bichsel, 82, of Tacoma, Washington, Susan Crane, 65, of Baltimore, Maryland, Lynne M. Greenwald, 61, of Bremerton, Washington, and Fr. Steve Kelly, 61, of Oakland, California, each face up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the government’s charges of “conspiracy, trespass, destruction of property on a naval installation, and depredation of government property.” Their five-day trial, which began on December 7, was sandwiched between nightly public Festivals of Hope that brought the defendants, their legal advisers and supporters together as a community for a shared meal, fellowship, talks and music. People packed the main courtroom every day. More followed the trial via audio hook-up in an adjacent overflow courtroom. Susan Crane, representing herself as each defendant did, included in her voir dire of the jury pool the question, “Would you have convicted Rosa Parks?” One prospective juror, who is herself a lawyer, called Parks “courageous”, and said she would feel “conflicted” if asked to come to a verdict on her case. There are the facts of the case, she said, and then, “there are things in our society that are just wrong. It would be very difficult for me.” Another prospective juror was excluded from the trial because, when asked whether he would follow the instructions of the judge in this case, said, “I totally respect the rule of law, but some laws are meant to be broken. That is how things change.”
Once the twelve-person jury and alternates were sworn in, the trial began. Crane opened by introducing the defendants and all the humanitarian work they have done in Tacoma and around the world. She then focused on the three central pillars of their defense: the missiles are weapons of mass destruction; the weapons are both illegal and immoral; and that all citizens have the right to try to stop international war crimes being committed by these weapons of mass destruction.
The jury was sent out Friday afternoon. After some deliberation, they sent a question back, asking about the definition of “malicious” related to one of the charges. Late in the afternoon, the jury asked what to do if unanimous agreement could not be reached on one charge. The judge asked them to keep trying, but after the weekend. Deliberations resumed Monday morning, and the verdict was announced before noon. After the verdict was read and Judge Settle was about to dismiss the jury, Kelly stood and announced that the defendants would like to bless the jury. The defendants stood with their hands raised in blessing as he said, “May you go in peace and have a safe, happy holiday.”Crane and Kelly were each sentenced to 15 months prison and one year supervised release. Greenwald was sentenced to 6 months prison, 1 year supervised release, and 60 hours community service. Bichsel was sentenced to 3 months prison, 6 months electronic home monitoring, and 1 year supervised release. Montgomery was sentenced to 2 months prison, 4 months electronic home monitoring, and 1 year supervised release. The group as a whole was ordered to pay $5300 restitution.
(#96) Tiger Ploughshares Action
For over two months Bryan Law publicly declared he was going to disarm a military attack helicopter during the Talisman/Sabre U.S./Australian military exercises, as an act of nonviolent resistance to the Afghan war.
On July 21, 2011 at 9 a.m. Graeme Dunstan, a military veteran, helped Law cut the lock on a perimeter fence at Rockhampton Airport and Law, despite very poor health from diabetes, rode his tricycle onto the tarmac and hammered on the helicopter with a garden mattock. Both men were arrested and held overnight on 4 and 5 different offenses respectively, before release on bond the next day. Law was taken immediately to the hospital to treat his diabetes. “I can sleep with myself and with my conscience during this abominable war. The Tiger helicopter is a malicious weapon – the same sort of attack helicopter as the Apache gunship the US’ers use. The main cause of civilian deaths is when helicopters misfire on civilians when searching out ‘insurgents’ in operations – this is why I chose this helicopter.”
Bryan had previously said that he would target a U.S. helicopter, but the U.S. has hidden their machinery away from the public eye during this TS11 – even Samuel Hill Airbase has not been used for aircraft. This seems to be a direct response to the threat of protest intervention. The Tiger helicopter is worth $40 million: only 2/3 what Australian taxpayers spend daily on military equipment, operations and personnel.
To carry out this action, a mattock was chosen to evoke the imagery of Isaiah – that we should turn swords into ploughshares. The mattock is a garden tool that is usually used to prepare the soil for planting and new growth.
Graeme was charged as an associate in the act and therefore with the same offenses. Above all, both hope that others will find inspiration in their actions and seek their own ways of directly resisting this permanent state of war that Australia finds itself in. A trial date was set for August 19, 2013.
On April 8th Bryan Law, who had been in poor health, died from the effects of diabetes and heart disease. On August 19th Dunstan was tried by a jury.
Following a four day trial, Dunstan was found guilty of wilful damage to a Tiger Attack helicopter and given a two year suspended sentence on a three year good behaviour bond. This included $2000 reconnaissance and 162K in reparations, however payment was not expected given Dunstan’s financial circumstances. Judge Samios stated that the costs were not insignificant and he would have to take this into account when sentencing Dunstan. The Tiger helicopter was $45 million and rendered inoperable for a period of 4 months. Dunstan responded that four months out of action was a blessing to the world.
The Prosecution made submissions of a custodial sentence because of Dunstan’s lack of remorse but also as a personal and general deterrent: to send a message to like-minded members of the community that deliberate acts of vandalism to government property would not be tolerated. Dunstan responded, “It was an act of civil disobedience and I am not ashamed.” Judge Samios imposed a custodial sentence but suspended it immediately.
(#97) Crane Pruning Hooks Fr. Carl Kabat entered the construction site of the new nuclear bomb factory in Kansas City, Missouri late the night of July 3, 2011. By dawn on the Fourth of July, the plowshares veteran had once again demonstrated his independence from America’s idol. A small handmade sign placed near one of several broken windows on the cabs of large cranes at the site declared “Nuclear Weapons are a Crime Against God and Humanity.” Kabat eventually left the crane and crawled under a fence near the gate and approached a security shack just outside. Guards noticed him and after some conversation, he was taken into custody while police were summoned to the site. Kabat was arrested and taken to the downtown Kansas City, Missouri jail, charged with trespass and released at 4 a.m. the next morning. He took the bus home to St. Louis. Kabat was in court again August 16, where he entered a plea “for children and sanity”. He’ll return for a bench trial on October 18. This is the statement he released before entering the site:
“I, Fr. Carl Kabat, OMI, have been pondering an appropriate way to celebrate the fourth of July, commonly called Independence Day. Today it would be more appropriate to call it Interdependence Day since all of us live on this small planet Earth. To show my patriotism and love for my country and the good of my country, I have decided on a pruning hook action in Kansas City, Missouri. The opinion of the 1995 World Court is that weapons of mass destruction are a crime against humanity. Christian churches have said that it is a sin to build a nuclear weapon. Churches have declared that nuclear weapons are a crime against The Holy One and humanity and are to be condemned unreservedly! Some have further stated that the manufacturing, deployment or use of nuclear weapons must be condemned unreservedly. The Nazis during WWII killed and burned 6 million of our Jewish sisters and brothers and 5 million sisters and brothers (who were communists, priests, Gypsies, enemy combatants, homosexuals, people with disabilities, etc). Now 4 of our Minuteman III’s could, in 30 minutes, go half way around the world and kill 12 million of our sisters and brothers. We have become very sophisticated and efficient in our killing and burning. We have more nuclear weapons than all the rest of the world combined and at one time could kill everyone on this planet fifteen times over. Eighty five percent (85%) of the parts for nuclear bombs are made by the people of Kansas City. May The Holy One have mercy on us all! By my action I wish to enflesh the reversal of our insane actions and hope that we will start to celebrate an interdependence and rid ourselves of nuclear weapons.”
On October 18, he was tried and convicted of trespass and fined $150 plus court costs that he refused to pay.
(#98) Transform Now Plowshares In the early morning of July 28, 2012, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice, SHCJ (82), Greg Boertje-Obed, (57), entered the Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear facility. Calling themselves Transform Now Plowshares, they hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF), splashed human blood and left four spray painted tags on the recent construction which read: Woe to the empire of blood; The fruit of justice is peace; Work for Peace not for War; and Plowshares Please Isaiah. Under the cover of darkness they intermittently passed beyond four fences in a walk for over two hours through the lethal force zone. “We feel it was a miracle; we were led directly to where we wanted to go” said Boertje-Obed. After navigating through the complex they came to a long, white, windowless building marked HEUMF. “It was built like a fortress”, Boertje-Obed said describing the four guard towers. Unimpeded by security, they attached two banners to pillars of the building. “Transform Now Plowshares” read the first with a green and black icon showing part bomb part flower. A second stated “Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks–Isaiah”. In addition, between the pillars they strung crime tape. When confronted by a guard they read aloud their statement. “He was on his walkie-talkie but he heard it” Rice confirmed. Before receiving orders to halt they had opportunity to offer guards bread, and display a bible, candles and white roses. Though initially forced to endure a kneeling posture for an extended period, guards responded to complaint and allowed the activists to stand off and on. Meanwhile they continued singing. Following their arrest, they were given supervised release pending trial. Due to security concerns, the action prompted authorities to close the Y-12 facility for almost three weeks. On May 8, 2013, following a two day trial, the Transform Now Plowshares were found guilty by a jury of damaging over $1,000 of government property at the Y-12 site as well as injuring, interfering with, or obstructing the national defense, a felony charge that falls under the “sabotage” section of the law and is considered a violent crime. The two felony charges carry a combined sentence of up to 30 years in prison. They were arrested and held in area jails awaiting sentencing. Prior to sentencing, more than sixteen thousand cards, letters and petition signatures were delivered to the Judge urging a downward departure in recognition of the nonviolent nature of the defendants and their argument (inadmissible at trial) that their action conforms to US obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the responsibilities places on citizens by the Nuremberg code. The Transform Now Plowshares action was carried out at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge where the United States continues to produce core components for thermonuclear weapons and plans to build a new $19 billion bomb plant, called the Uranium Processing Facility. According to federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account previous records and the nature of the offense in determining a “sentencing range” to serve as a guideline for the sentencing judge, the recommendation for each of the three is different. Megan faced a sentencing range in excess of five years; Boertje-Obed faced a sentence exceeding six and a half years; Walli faced a sentencing range that begins at eight years.
On January 28, 2014, Walli, Rice and Boertje-Obed appeared in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee to be sentenced by Judge Amul Thapar. Convicted in May 2013 by a jury of charges including depredation of property and sabotage, the three were scheduled to be sentenced on January 28, but the hearing was interrupted by snow; the courthouse was closed, and the sentencing date was moved to February 18.
On February 18, Walli received a sentence of 62 months on each count, to be served concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised release. Boertje-Obed received a sentence of 62 months on each count, to be served concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised release. Rice received a sentence of 35 months on each count, to be served concurrently, followed by 3 years of supervised probation. They were also ordered to pay $ 52,000 in restitution (although the exact amount was disputed by the defense as a fabrication). On May 8, 2015, in a remarkable turn of events, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned sabotage convictions of Transform Now Plowshares activists, vacating their sentences on the other charges and returning the case to the trial court for resentencing. They were all ordered to be released on May 15, 2015.
On September 15, after hearing arguments from both sides during a teleconference sentencing hearing, Judge Thapar sentenced each to two years of “unsupervised” supervised probation with only three conditions: they must not commit any local, state or federal crimes; they may not enter any US nuclear facility; and they must report any arrests for any reason to their probation officer. There are no other restrictions on their activities. When defense attorneys asked if they retained their first amendment right to protest nuclear weapons at facilities, the judge said, “Absolutely, as long as they don’t enter the facility.” The judge also declined to reduce or drop the demand for $52,000 in restitution to the taxpayer.
(#99) MUOS Plowshares Action in Sicily On November 11, 2015, pacifist Turi Vaccaro, who has been previously involved in a plowshares actions in the Netherlands, climbed over a fence and entered the U.S. military satellite installation in Sicily and for about half an hour was free to move, since the American staff had not noticed his entrance. He proceeded to climb 40 metres onto one of the huge satellite dishes which – considered “instruments of war and death” – and began to hit it with a hammer. The MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) is a military telecommunication system of the U.S.A. Navy. A constellation of five satellites covers the whole world, whereas ground communication is granted by four stations, one of which is located in Niscemi, Sicily. Each ground station hosts three parabolic antennas, about 18.4 metres wide, and two elicoidal antennas about 149 metres high. The MUOS will be used to coordinate and command all USA military systems around the world, especially drones, the unmanned aircrafts that will be hosted in Sigonella, Sicily. They are especially critical to US war making in in the Middle East and Africa. Vaccaro remained on the dish for 34 hours, damaging the electrical systems for radio transmitting and illumination at an estimated cost of $800,000. He was arrested and processed at the court of Gela and was released with an order to remain in the province of Caltanissetta. Vaccaro chose instead to stay in the “Peace Pagoda” in Comiso, the home of Buddhist monk Morishita, his personal friend.
On August 9, 2018, Vaccaro was arrested and jailed in Sicily to begin serving an 11-month, 27-day sentence. Acting on a warrant issued in November, 2017, DIGOS, the Italian special police, determined that he would attend the annual summer NO MUOS protest camp near Niscemi. Police observed Vaccaro among hundreds of others on the big August 4 march, where some demonstrators tried to bring down a section of chain-link and barbed-wire fence only to be rebuffed by police firing tear gas. The next day, as protesters relaxed and broke their camp, police decided to execute the warrant for Vaccaro’s arrest and imprisonment on a criminal damage conviction from 2015. Hours later, as police pursued him, he was arrested as he hid in thick vegetation less than a mile away. For more information, visit nomuos.info.
(#100) BAE Disarmament Witness
Early on the morning of January 29, 2017 Reverend Daniel Woodhouse, a Methodist minister in Leeds, and Quaker activist Sam Walton entered BAE Systems’ Warton site intending to disarm warplanes bound for Saudi Arabia and were apprehended shortly before they were able to do so. The fighter jets were due to be shipped from the base in the next few weeks. A Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out devastating airstrikes in Yemen since 2015.
The two were arrested and held overnight “on suspicion of criminal damage” in Blackpool. After being released on bail, Woodhouse and Walton said: “BAE security found us just meters from war planes bound for Saudi Arabia. We’re gutted that we couldn’t disarm a plane and stop it being used to carry out airstrikes in Yemen. We could have saved lives by preventing Saudi war crimes in Yemen. “The U.K. government has blood on its hands and we need to do everything we can to stop the transfer of weapons and show these sales are illegitimate. By providing weapons and support Britain is deeply complicit in Saudi war-crimes, and it’s vital that we bring an end to this immoral, abhorrent trade.”
They were formally charged on April 27 with two counts of criminal damage under £5,000 to a perimeter fence and hangar door at the British Aerospace factory and their trial was held in late October 2017. At the conclusion of the trial, East Lancashire District Judge James Clarke said that in his judgement, the defendants honestly believed that their action was justified for the immediate protection of property and lives, and proceeded to find them not guilty of all charges. Their aim had been to stop the jets, which had Saudi markings painted on them, from going to Saudi Arabia where they would be used to support the ongoing bombing of Yemen. Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015, the U.K. has licensed the sale of £3.8 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. Woodhouse and Walton successfully argued that their intention was to save innocent lives and prevent war crimes, by physically disabling the warplanes. The court heard evidence about how they broke through a fence and got within five feet of the warplanes before being stopped by security. There was testimony about the scale of the brutal bombardment, and the many serious accusations of war crimes committed by the Royal Saudi Air Force. In a joint statement, the two men said: “We did not want to take this action, but were compelled to do so in order to stop the U.K. government’s complicity in the destruction of Yemen. Thousands of people have been killed in the brutal bombardment, while companies like BAE Systems have profited every step of the way. “This vindication from the Court is further evidence of the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy that underpins so much of U.K. foreign policy. It is time for the government to stop putting arms company profits ahead of human rights. We do not regret taking action, and would do it again in a heartbeat. The only thing we regret is that we were not able to finish the job.”