Bay Plowshares Anti-Nuclear Activists Prepare for Trial
Posted Aug 15, 2018
On April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., seven Catholic activists carried out the 100th Plowshares protest action against nuclear weapons, this time at the Kings Bay naval station in Georgia, the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. Carrying hammers and bottles of their own blood, the seven symbolically attempted to “convert” the submarines that carry nuclear weapons. Plowshares actions take their name from the biblical imperative to beat swords into plowshares, and activists focus on non-violent direct action against nuclear weapons.
After spending a few months in jail, four of the Kings Bay Plowshares participants were bailed out to address personal issues and to organize support for their upcoming trial. Mark Colville and his wife Luz have run the Amistad Catholic Worker House in New Haven, Connecticut for the past 25 years. Colville has served more than a year in prison in the late 1990s for another Plowshares action. He’s one of three Plowshare activists who remain in prison.
Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Colville by phone in jail. After describing prison conditions – no activities or time outdoors, and very little opportunity for exercise – he talked about the Plowshares legal case and the arguments their lawyers will be bringing to trial.
MARK COLVILLE: There was a preliminary hearing – it’s called a motions hearing – both sides in the case present written motions to the court ahead of time and the hearing is an opportunity to argue those motions. Sort of the main motion that we had filed was a motion to dismiss the charges, based on six reasons. One is that nuclear weapons are illegal under U.S. law; number two is that nuclear weapons are illegal under U.S. and international law; third is therefore the property in question that we’re accused of damaging is not entitled to protection under the law. Fourth, there’s a religious freedom argument which is kind of interesting; basically that our necessity to go on the base is rooted in our religious faith. All seven of us are actually Roman Catholics, and we’re prepared to make an argument that what we did at Kings Bay is actually a requirement of our faith process. Then number five is that the government is engaged in selective and vindictive prosecution, which is related to the last point in that we’ve been charged with the same offense in more than one count.
For more information on the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, visit kingsbayplowshares7.org.
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