Wednesday, December 23, 2009 5:10 PM
From Frank Cordaro
*Fr Carl is in route to
December 23, 2009
"Protesting priest guilty, free, defiant"
Sharon Dunn email@example.com
In the end, a jury had no choice but to convict.
The Rev. Carl Kabat, 76, was photographed at the N-8 missile silo in
There was a hole in the fence surrounding the facility, and he was
waiting inside for his eventual arrest.
Kabat had breached nuclear missile facilities like these for the past
two decades, and had 17 convictions behind him in his quest to do his
small part to rid the earth of nuclear weapons, which the Catholic
Church has deemed a crime against humanity.
But the members of the jury had to look beyond the message. After one
hour of deliberations, they convicted him of the two misdemeanor
criminal mischief and trespassing charges.
“We understand what he was standing for,” said jury member Ben
Salgado, 56, of Windsor, after the verdict. “We just wish he would
have chosen a different forum.”
As the jury was dismissed, Kabat applauded them, some walking out with
tears in their eyes. One said as she left the courthouse: “It was very
already served behind bars — 137 days — though deputy district
attorney David Skarka asked for the maximum of one year for each of
the misdemeanors to be served back to back. The county already had
shelled out roughly $7,950 to keep him in jail for almost five months,
based on a cost of about $58 per day per inmate. Had he been sentenced
to Skarka's request, the county would have paid $26,000 more to keep
him for a remaining 456 days.
“It's unfortunate that they didn't have any significant stance,” Kabat
said as he left the courthouse. “I understand because these people are
ordinary people, and they don't realize the power they have ... or the
insanity (of those weapons) in the ground.”
Weld County Court Judge Dana Nichols opted not to fine Kabat but did
impose standard court costs totaling $254.50 and gave the prosecution
time to file a notice of restitution to Warren Air Force Base for
damages. Kabat promised more civil disobedience.
“I will not make restitution, or pay fines or make any payments. That
will be supporting nuclear weapons,” Kabat vowed.
That capped a two-day trial that brought with it one big twist: After
his attorneys presented to the jury a multitude of banners he had hung
up at the silo facility, Kabat fired them — a move he'd planned months
ago so he would have the freedom to say what he wanted to say in
But Kabat's testimony on his own behalf didn't go quite the way he
planned, as evidenced by the prosecution's objections to him
continually bringing up arguments about the destructive power of
weapons of mass destruction.
“I wish you'd object to nuclear weapons,” Kabat said.
After several attempts by Nichols to get Kabat to focus on the
evidence against him, Kabat decided it didn't matter what he said.
The jury members, however, immediately wrote down their questions.
One juror asked why he wouldn't rather just protest peacefully outside
the perimeter of the fence.
“Why in the civil rights (era) did they march down the street when
they said, ‘You can't march down the street?' Because it's wrong,”
Kabat answered. “I guess I think it's up to us to try to get rid of
Skarka asked him simply, “Are you above the law?”
Kabat replied: “All wrong law, yes. God's law is above all these
During his closing arguments, Kabat quoted Albert Einstein and Ghandi,
and he beseeched the jury to be the conscience of a nation.
“I don't know you, but you are my sisters and brothers,” Kabat said.
“We're all God's children, and we have to look after one another. We
have to be significant actors. How many times have you written to your
senator, to your congressman? ... For some of us, (it's been)
Salgado, of the jury, a postal worker by trade and a former military
man, said the potential sentence did weigh on the jury's mind.
“That really weighed on all of our hearts,” he said. “It wasn't an
aggressive (protest), and he wasn't in there to really damage things.
It was just a political statement.”
He said the trial was an eye-opener, however. Some on the jury, he
said, didn't even know there were silos in
wouldn't be surprised to see Kabat protesting again someday. Kabat had
earlier said he'd be happy to die in prison for peace.
“I think he's the type of guy that stands for his faith and what he
believes,” Salgado said. “I wouldn't be surprised at all, actually.”