December 7, 2010
For Immediate Release
December 7, 2010, Tacoma, Washington
court for the first day of their trial for entering a
nuclear weapons storage depot.
The trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares five, who entered the
Navy's Strategic Weapons Facility (SWFPAC), Pacific on November 2,
2009 in a symbolic act intended to bring light to the immoral and
illegal nuclear weapons stored and deployed from there, began in
District Court today.
During the morning's jury selection there was an animated discussion.
age, or the fact that they might be priest or nuns would hamper their
ability to render an impartial judgment.
Defendant Susan Crane started her voir dire questions by asking,
"Would you have convicted Rosa Parks?" One prospective juror answered
that she was not asked to judge the integrity of the law; it is not
like the movies or TV. Another answered, "I totally respect the rule
of law, but some laws are meant to be broken, and that is how laws are
changed. ... It is written
there are some conditions under which you would be able to kill.
Another 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."
Before the prospective jurors were seated, the defense had attempted
to counter the government's effort to limit their cross examination.
The defense asked the Judge to take judicial notice that nuclear
weapons are stored at SWFPAC and attempted to introduce documents
citing such evidence, but Judge Benjamin Settle stated the they had
not yet produced anything from the public record indicating that there
are nuclear weapons on the base. The defendants believe that the
presence of nuclear weapons at SWFPAC is central to their ability to
present any defense.
Opening statements began after the lunch recess. The
Arlen Storm's first words were, "This is a case about trespass and
damaging government property." The defendants have a different
Susan Crane started off her opening statement by introducing the
defendants and all the humanitarian work they have done in
around the world. She then focused on the three central pillars of
illegal; it is our duty as citizens to resist them.
The jury listened attentively as Crane described the medical and
environmental effects of nuclear weapons. She tried to convey to the
jury that the use and threatened use of nuclear weapons is a war
crime, and was interrupted as the prosecutor objected to the reference
to international law. Crane replied, "Alright, I'll go on, but it is
hard not to tell the truth."
In his opening statement, Father Bichsel's voice shook with emotion as
he described his experience in
of the atomic bombings of
greatest gift he brought back from his visit was the commission to
"please get rid of these nuclear weapons."
Bichsel explained the Disarm Now Plowshares state of mind as they
entered SWFPAC, where lethal force is authorized. They went "in
solidarity with half the people in our world, who are living under
authorized lethal force - without food, without housing, without
education, without the possibility of employment. The things that
they live under - it's lethal force. And it's authorized, it's not
just happenstance that they are living that way. It doesn't have to
be that way, and we have the power to change it."
In his opening statement Bichsel also explained how the consciences of
Disarm Now Plowshares have been formed by the people they hope to call
as expert witnesses in the coming days
activist and founder of Trident Ploughshares; Dr. David Hall, former
president of the
Responsibility; and Retired Colonel Ann Wright, who resigned from the
State Department over the
On Wednesday morning the trial will continue as the government
presents its case.
Trial updates at http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/