Wednesday, December 8, 2010

First day of Disarm Now Plowshares trial

News Release

December 7, 2010

For Immediate Release


December 7, 2010, Tacoma, Washington: Plowshares activists were in

court for the first day of their trial for entering a U.S. Navy

nuclear weapons storage depot.


The trial of the Disarm Now Plowshares five, who entered the U.S.

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 U.S.

District Court today.


During the morning's jury selection there was an animated discussion.

The U.S. Attorney asked if considerations of the defendants health and

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: 'Thou shalt not kill, and it doesn't say

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 U.S. Attorney

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 Tacoma and

around the world.  She then focused on the three central pillars of

their defense: the nuclear weapons at SWFPAC are horrendous; they are

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 Japan hearing the stories of survivors

of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He said the

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: Steven Leeper, Chairman of the

Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation; Angie Zelter, Scottish Plowshares

activist and founder of Trident Ploughshares; Dr. David Hall, former

president of the Washington State chapter of Physicians for Social

Responsibility; and Retired Colonel Ann Wright, who resigned from the

State Department over the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.


On Wednesday morning the trial will continue as the government

presents its case.


Trial updates at




Leonard Eiger

(425) 445-2190

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Poulsbo, Washington  98370





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