Thursday, August 8, 2019

BALTIMORE NAGASAKI COMMEMORATION/Federal Judge Hears Kings Bay Plowshares' Motion to Dismiss Charges Under RFRA

  For the 35th year, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee will remember the atomic bombings of Japan on August 6 & 9, 1945, which killed more than 200,000 people. It has been 74 years since these awful events occurred. Other organizations involved in the commemorations will be Homewood Friends Meeting, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Prevent Nuclear War/Maryland and the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.

NAGASAKI COMMEMORATION on Friday, August 9, 2019
5 to 6 PM Join the Friday peace and justice vigil organized by Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218.
6:15 PM Savor a potluck dinner with members of the peace and justice community in the basement of Homewood Friends Meetinghouse.  Bring a dish to share, and consider reading a poem or performing some music. Remember the work of Dr. Dick Humphrey.
7:15 PM Les Bayless of the Silver Spring Three will speak on the 50th anniversary of a remarkable draft board raid. Patrick O’Neill, a member of the Kings Bay Plowshares, will discuss the current legal situation for the seven Roman Catholic activists, including Elizabeth McAlister, arrested at a Trident Submarine Base in Georgia on April 4, 2018. McAlister has been imprisoned since the arrest. The evening will be dedicated to showing the link between an earlier time’s draft board raids and today’s anti-nuclear Plowshares movement.  
RSVP at mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net or 410-323-1607.

AUGUST 7, 2019

CONTACTS: Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca, NY, 607-280-8797,  Bill Ofenloch, NYC, 212-369-1590,

Federal Judge Hears Kings Bay Plowshares' Motion to Dismiss Charges Under RFRA

BRUNSWICK, GA – The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 in federal court today made oral arguments concerning the denial of the pre-trial motions to dismiss the charges against them.  Appearing for the first time before Judge Lisa Godbey Wood, who will be the trial judge, four of the pro-se defendants and two of the lawyers spoke about why they felt Magistrate Benjamin Cheesbro had improperly ruled against them after two days of hearings last November. The main focus of today’s hearing was the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which is being used for the first time in a case like this.

Defendants were only given 90 minutes for all arguments. The government used 30 minutes of its allotted time.  The courtroom was packed with more than 60 supporters inside, including actor and activist Martin Sheen, and 25 were kept outside for lack of space. 

It was the first time this year that the three defendants still incarcerated in the Glynn County jail for 16 months, Mark Colville, Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ, and Elizabeth McAlister, saw their codefendants.  They have been prevented from in-person legal preparation since last November.

Stephanie McDonald, attorney for Martha Hennessy, began by arguing that the government failed to meet its obligations under RFRA. The law requires that there be specific and individual consideration for each defendant’s beliefs and actions.

Defendant Clare Grady said that the government’s attempted criminalization of the defendants' religious practice is not only an undue substantial burden but is also a violation of RFRA, the law of the land. Mark Colville, Patrick O’Neill, and Carmen Trotta also spoke in court.

Bill Quigley, attorney for Elizabeth McAlister, began the closing argument by reminding the court of the bedrock religious belief “Thou shalt not kill.” He summed up his comments by noting that the atrocities committed by Hitler and Stalin would pale in comparison were the Trident nuclear weapons ever used.  He said, “In 30 minutes after launch millions of innocent people would be killed."

The judge invited additional motions be submitted within a week to arguments made today. She indicated that she would give thoughtful attention to these complex issues, and if necessary, would promptly schedule a trial.


EMAIL: Media:
Mary Anne Grady Flores
Ithaca, NY 14850 1-607-280-8797
Ithaca Catholic Workers  /  Los Obreros Catolicos de Ithaca

No comments: