December 31, 2015 -- Talked to Jess today on the phone. She is in good spirits and anxious to get her message out. She will not have access to stamps, paper, pens until early next week... the pace of jail store stuff...
In the meantime we are just starting this campaign. More, much more to come... Happy New Year. Frank Cordaro
Published on National Catholic Reporter (http://ncronline.org)
Peace activists arrested on grounds of Neb. defense contractor
Patrick O'Neill | Dec. 30, 2015
A security guard's encounter with an anti-war protester who was holding a sledgehammer in one hand and baseball bat in the other led to the arrests of four peace activists Sunday night on the grounds of defense contractor Northrop Grumman in Bellevue, Neb.
At their first court appearance Tuesday, large bonds were set for Michele Naar-Obed, Jessica Reznicek, Frank Cordaro and Mauro Heck. The four were each charged with felony burglary and felony criminal mischief after police encountered them on Northrop Grumman property. Some windows were broken, and the damage was estimated at $8,000.
Reznicek, 34, who was holding the bat and sledgehammer, told television station KETV that she alone did the damage. She was given the highest bond at $100,000. Naar-Obed, Heck and Cordaro were each given $20,000 bonds. Naar-Obed, Cordaro and Heck were released Tuesday after posting a percentage of their bonds. Reznicek remains in jail.
"My intention was to be on the property and to do property destruction, that's what I wanted to do," Reznicek told a KETV reporter via a jailhouse phone interview. "I didn't want to hurt anybody. I didn't want to scare anybody."
Michele Naar-Obed's husband, Greg Boertje-Obed, told the television reporter that the four were engaged in an anti-war protest at Northrop Grumman.
"We oppose nuclear weapons as Catholic Workers," said Boertje-Obed, a long-time anti-war activist who was released earlier this year after serving a two-year prison sentence for a Plowshares protest with two others at the Y-12 weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn. "We oppose the making and selling of weapons for profit."
Following their arrests Sunday, the four were booked into Sarpy County Jail. In a telephone interview following her release, Michele Naar-Obed, 59, told NCR she had only gone along for the car ride to Northrop Grumman to support Reznicek, who, along with Cordaro, is part of the Catholic Worker community in Des Moines, Iowa.
"My role in all this was to be with the group that drove her there," Naar-Obed said. "I had no intention of going in or participating in the action itself."
Naar-Obed and her husband Greg Boertje-Obed are members of the Duluth, Minn., Catholic Worker community. Cordaro, 64, is a former Catholic priest and another long-time peace activist. Heck is a photographer and long-time Iowa peace activist.
Recalling the events, Naar-Obed said Reznicek was planning to be the lone actor in an attempt to "disarm" computer equipment at Northrop Grumman, but after dropping her off, the group -- concerned for her safety -- stayed behind and waited for things to unfold.
Heck also took a picture of Reznicek shortly before her arrest. His camera was confiscated, Naar-Obed said. By the time the trio decided to drive off, the police had already been called. When a police car spotted a lone car leaving the Northrop Grumman property, the three were pulled over and detained.
Naar-Obed, who, like her husband, has also spent time in prison for anti-war activities, said Reznicek's action was a "disarmament" action, but not a traditional "plowshares action" in which the actors cite Isaiah 2:4: "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore." Plowshares activists often give a name to their actions and write a statement explaining their motives. Naar-Obed said Reznicek did write a statement, but it was lost or misplaced en route to the protest.
Heck told the KETV reporter that he was not involved in the planning process with Reznicek, but he did say he drove the group to Northrop Grumman "in hopes of raising awareness on government spending."
"We have to be conscious of how people's taxes are spent," Heck told the reporter. "People are not even aware."
In court Tuesday, Reznicek said: "I assure you I did all the damage. I will not back down from that statement."
Reznicek said she had no plans to post bond. She also told the television reporter she used a sledgehammer to break the glass as part of a research project for a grant.
"She wanted to get in, and she wanted to hammer on the computers if they became available to her," Naar-Obed said. "She didn't have a specific plan other than to get in and see what things there might be available for her to do this kind of disarmament action."
Naar-Obed said Reznicek had decorated her bat.
"The baseball bat had some slogans on it like, 'Drones are immoral, illegal' -- 'Stop killing' -- 'Stop war' -- kinds of stuff," she said.
The four are scheduled to be back in court in January.
Patrick O’Neill is a longtime NCR contributor.
"It's the Hammer of Justice" by Michele Naar-Obed <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As the word of Jessica Reznicek's action is getting around, I thought I might add a bit more substance to the story.
I've known Jess for a little while now. I know she's lived in Central America. She's lived with Occupy Des Moines, and now with the Des Moines Catholic Worker. She's seen poverty and despair. She's seen the suffering of people in small nations as they deal with the oppressive and deadly interactions from the empire building nations. Now, in researching out the weapons systems contracted out from the Pentagon to private developers like Northrop-Grumman and used out of places like Offut Airforce base and STRATCOM, she put all of this together and a spark ignited in her spirit to cry out loud and clear; ENOUGH.
Intending to take full responsibility for her action on the night of Dec. 27, 2015, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Jess took hammer and baseball bat with the intention of entering the Northrop-Grumman office building in Bellevue, Nebraska to dismantle and disarm the computer systems that hold the contracts and plans for a variety of illegal and immoral weapons systems. She fully intended to adhere to the principles of nonviolence in that she was committed to making sure no person was injured, harmed or felt threatened by her action. She intended to hammer out a message that lethal danger to humanity exists on those computers and it needs to be stopped. She intends to give up her freedom by remaining in jail so that the rest of us might continue ringing the bell of freedom from the captivity of fear mongering generated by the weapons developers and researchers. She intends to sing out the song of love between our brothers and our sisters from behind the jail cell wall and hopes that our song of love will join with hers and amplify this message.
I had the privilege of driving Jess to the site where this action would be carried out. I knew very little of the plan but I felt I knew enough of Jess's heart to, at the very least, help with transportation to the site. I had no intention of doing anything but that. The act itself was Jess's. That's what she made clear to all of us that she wanted.
The act, however, leads us to a bigger challenge which is to ignite the spark and get the fire of passion burning in all people of good will to say ENOUGH to death and destruction, ENOUGH to fear and hatred, ENOUGH to war and killing, ENOUGH, ENOUGH, ENOUGH.
I know people have raised questions about the tactics used in this action. Some might see the use of the baseball bat and hammer as tools of destruction by smashing the windows. Maybe another way to look at it is the windows are now open to allow us to see the horror of the plans developed in that building. Her intention to dismantle and disarm the computer systems might also be viewed as a means to clearing out the communication system of death and opening up a space to communicate love and hope.
I for one, thank Jess for the challenge and the opportunity. As time goes on, I'm sure we will hear more from Jess directly. Until then, I hope we can hammer out justice, ring the bell of freedom and sing the song of love between our brothers and our sisters all over this world.
Please feel free to write Jess:
Sarpy County Jail
1208 Golden Gate Dr, Papillion, NE 68046
Previous posting: "If witnessing the Witness is a crime, than I am Jessica Reznicek" - Mauro Heck, Michele Obed & Frank Cordaro out on bail, Jessica Reznicek "The Witness" remains in jail ..
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs