Monday, December 13, 2010

Jury Reaches Verdict in Disarm Now Plowshares Trial

News Release


December 13, 2010


For Immediate Release


Jury Reaches Verdict in Disarm Now Plowshares Trial


Tacoma, Washington, Monday, December 13, 2010: The federal criminal

trial of five veteran peace activists that began December 7 ended

today after the jury found them guilty on all counts. The five

defendants, called the Disarm Now Plowshares, challenged the legality

and morality of the US storage and use of thermonuclear missiles by

Trident nuclear submarines at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside

Bremerton Washington.


In their defense the peace activists argued three points: the nuclear

missiles at Bangor are weapons of mass destruction; those weapons are

both illegal and immoral; and that all citizens have the right and

duty to try to stop international war crimes from being committed by

these weapons of mass destruction.


The five were charged with trespass, felony damage to federal

property, felony injury to property and felony conspiracy to damage

property. Each defendant faces possible sentences of up to ten years

in prison.


On trial were: Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New

York; Bill Bischel, SJ, 81, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma Washington;

Susan Crane, 67, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore,

Maryland; Lynne Greenwald, 60, a nurse from Bremerton Washington; and

Steve Kelly, SJ, 60, a Jesuit priest from Oakland California. Bill

Bischel and Lynne Greenwald are active members of the Ground Zero

Center for Nonviolent Action, a community resisting Trident nuclear

weapons since 1977.


The five admitted from the start that they cut through the chain link

fence surrounding the Navy base during the night of the Feast of All

Souls, November 2, 2009. They then walked undetected for hours nearly

four miles inside the base to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific

(SWFPAC). This top security area is where the Plowshares activists say

hundreds of nuclear missiles are stored in bunkers. There they cut

through two more barbed wire fences and went inside. They put up two

big banners which said "Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident Illegal and

Immoral," scattered sunflower seeds, and prayed until they were

arrested at dawn. Once arrested, the five were cuffed and hooded with

sand bags because the marine in charge testified "when we secure

prisoners anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan we hood we did it

to them."


The eight Trident nuclear submarines home ported at Naval Base

Kitsap-Bangor each carry 24 Trident D-5 nuclear missiles. Each missile

carries up to eight warheads, each one having an explosive yield of up

to 475 kilotons, over 30 times the destructive force of the weapon

dropped on Hiroshima.


Additionally, Bangor is home to SWFPAC where nuclear warheads are

stored ready for deployment.  Located just 20 miles west of Seattle,

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

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


According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the 2,364 nuclear

warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S.

arsenal, more than the combined nuclear warheads than China, France,

Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan.


The jury heard testimony from peace activists who came from around the

world to challenge the use of Trident nuclear weapons by the U.S.

Angie Zelter, internationally known author and Trident Ploughshares

activist from the UK, testified about the resistance to Trident

weapons in Europe.


Stephen Leeper, Chair of the Peace Culture Foundation in Hiroshima,

told the jury, "the world is facing a critical moment" because of the

existence and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Though prohibited from

testifying about the details of the death, destruction, and genetic

damage to civilians from the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima, he

testified defendants "have a tremendous amount of support in

Hiroshima."   When asked if he had encouraged the Disarm Now

Plowshares defendants in any way he said, “Yes, I told them, ‘Yes, do

anything you possibly can to bring this to the consciousness of the

world, because Americans more than any other people in the world are

unconscious of what’s going on.’ ”


Retired US Navy Captain Thomas Rogers, 31 years in the Navy, including

several years as Commander of a nuclear submarine during the Cold War,

said of Trident, "strategic nuclear weapons on submarines... are kept

on alert, deployed, and if ever used, they are released with a coded

message that's authenticated on board the ship, and the commander of

the ship shoots the missiles, delivers the weapons.  Which, in my

opinion, in my knowledge, is contrary to the law of armed conflict

which says a commander is responsible for - - is responsible for

following the rules and principles of humanitarian law, and for not

indiscriminately hurting noncombatants and for not causing undue

suffering or environmental damage, and that commanding officer is

powerless, and it's an awful feeling.


The peace activists represented themselves with lawyers as stand by

counsel.  Attorneys Anabel Dwyer and Bill Quigley also assisted the

defendants.  Dwyer is a Michigan attorney and Board Member of The

Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), and an expert in

humanitarian law and nuclear weapons.  Quigley is the Legal Director

for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and Professor at

Loyola New Orleans.


Prosecutors said the government would neither confirm nor deny the

existence of nuclear weapons at the base, and argued that "whether of

not there are nuclear weapons there or not is irrelevant."

Prosecutors successfully objected to and excluded most of the defense

evidence about the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, the illegality

of nuclear weapons under U.S. treaty agreements and humanitarian law,

and the right of citizens to try to stop war crimes by their



The Disarm Now Plowshares defendants tried to present evidence about

the presence of nuclear weapons at Bangor despite repeated objections.

 At one point, Sr. Anne Montgomery challenged the prosecutors and the

court, "Why are we so afraid to discuss the fact that there are

nuclear weapons?"


There were many indications that the jury found it difficult to

convict the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants.  Jury questions,facial

expressions, body language and post-trial conversations all gave this

impression.  One of the jurors said that from what he could tell, no

one was ready to convict right away.


After the verdict was read and the Judge Settle was about to dismiss

the jury, Steve Kelly stood and announced that the defendants would

like to bless the jury.  Steve and all of his co-defendants stood with

their hands raised in blessing as he said, "May you go in peace and

have a safe, happy holiday."


Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2011 at 9:00 am.

For more information on the trial and the Plowshares peace activists

please see the site for Disarm Now Plowshares

or Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action


Contact: Leonard Eiger  (425) 445-2190

Media & Outreach Coordinator

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action





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