Saturday, October 9, 2010

Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Arraigned

News Release 10/9/2010


For immediate release


Disarm Now Plowshares Activists Arraigned


Tacoma, Washington – October 8, 2010 - The five plowshares activists

who entered the U.S. Navy's nuclear weapons storage depot in

Washington State in November 2009 had their initial day in court.


Over eleven months since they entered the U.S. Navy’s nuclear weapons

storage depot at Bangor, Washington to symbolically disarm the nuclear

weapons stored there, the five Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants

faced arraignment on October 8, 2010 in U.S. District Court, Tacoma,

Washington before Magistrate Judge Karen L. Strombom.


Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, Steve Kelly, SJ, Lynne Greenwald, Bill “Bix”

Bichsel, SJ, and Susan Crane were all present to enter their pleas

before Judge Strombom.


The government brought many serious charges against each of the Disarm

Now defendants for their peaceful November 2, 2009 Plowshares action.

They include Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval

Installation and Depredation of Government Property.


The major consequences for the various individual charges range

between 5 and 10 years in prison, and from $50, 000 to $250,000 in

fines, as well as up to 3 years of supervised release, and/or up to 5

years probation.


Additionally, the judge made it clear that should the defendants be

convicted on multiple charges, the court could order them to serve

consecutive sentences, thereby greatly increasing the number of years

they might spend in prison.


All defendants entered pleas of “not guilty”, to which each defendant

added a personal statement.


Greenwald called "for the end of all wars, and an end to the threat of

nuclear war."  Crane made “a plea for the abolition of nuclear

weapons, for the children of future generations.”


Bichsel made his plea “for those who are dying now because of nuclear

weapons because of funding going for weapons of mass destruction

instead of health care, education, housing, employment and nutrition.

I plea for those dying because of the uranium mining cycle connected

to nuclear weapons.”


Crane tried twice to enter a “Motion To Immediately Dismiss Charges

and Memo in Support”.  The judge said that she would not hear it, and

could not rule on it in these proceedings.  After the arraignment,

Crane filed the motion for dismissal, and two others, with the clerk

of court.


In their motion for dismissal the co-defendants conclude that,

“Because this case involves unjust and illegal weapons of mass

destruction, the use of which is a war crime under US and

international law, and defendants actions were taken to protect a

greater good and much higher law than the laws they are accused of

violating, this case should be dismissed immediately.”


They cite numerous laws to show that the Use of Nuclear Weapons is a

War Crime under US Law, and state that “Any threat or use [of nuclear

weapons] is categorically prohibited and constitutes a war crime,

crime against humanity or genocide as defined consistently by the U.S.

Criminal Code,” citing the statute for war crimes, 18 USC 2441.


They also reference Article 23 of the Hague Convention IV of 18

October 1907, which applies because nuclear weapons are incapable of

distinguishing between civilians and combatants and cause unnecessary



The Nuremberg Principles, 59 Stat 1544, clearly state that war crimes

are committed by anyone who “participates in a common plan or

conspiracy for the accomplishment of planning preparation, initiation

or waging a war of aggression or a war in violation of international

treaties, agreements or assurance.”


Their last reference used to substantiate that the use of nuclear

weapons is a crime under U.S. law is 18 USC 1091, which states that

“the use of nuclear weapons can also be considered genocide because

the weapons destroy, in whole or substantial part, groups of people,

in indiscriminate fashion, killing military and civilian alike.


The five Disarm Now co-defendants firmly believe that there is

sufficient legal doctrine substantiating their invocation of the

necessity defense, and that the “Defendants’ actions are just and not

at all illegal,” and therefore the case should be immediately



During the arraignment all of the Disarm Now defendants stated that

they look forward to the opportunity to discuss the illegality of our

nation’s production, maintenance and preparations for the use of

nuclear weapons during their upcoming trial.


Before the arraignment approximately 80 Disarm Now supporters gathered

in front of the Tacoma courthouse to stand vigil, hand out leaflets

about Disarm Now and participate in an interfaith service to bless the

Disarm Now co-defendants.


The judge set a trial date for December 7, 2010 at 9:00 AM in the

United States District Court, Western District of Washington at

Tacoma.  A pre-trial conference date is set for November 22, 2010.


There have been more than 100 Plowshares Nuclear Resistance Actions

worldwide since 1980. Plowshares actions are taken from Isaiah 2:4 in

Old Testament (Hebrew) scripture of the Christian Bible, “God will

judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many people.

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into

pruning hooks. And nations will not take up swords against nations,

nor will they train for war anymore.”


The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles west of Seattle,

is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the

U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.  In November

2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364

nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire

U.S. arsenal.  The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than

China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.


The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more

accurate Trident D-5 missile system.  Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a

Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455

kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive

force as the Hiroshima bomb) and costs approximately $60 million.  The

D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.  The

Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and

the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead



Leonard Eiger, 425-445-2190,

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

16159 Clear Creek Road NW Poulsbo, WA 98370


The Disarm Now defendants’ “Motion To Immediately Dismiss Charges and

Memo in Support” is attached to this release.


Also attached is a photo of the pre-arraignment interfaith service.

The photo shows Joan Staples, Director, Tahoma Indian Center, blessing

the five Disarm Now Plowshares co-defendants before their arraignment.

 Photo Credit: Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent

Action.  High resolution version available.


Further information on Disarm Now Plowshares is available at




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