Friday, October 25, 2019, was the end of a week-long trial in Brunswick, Georgia for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) for breaking into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base where each Trident submarines is capable of carrying 20 D5 first-strike nuclear weapons with enough explosive power to destroy the human race many times over is housed.
The Jury found them guilty on charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation of government property, and trespassing. They will be sentenced in the next 90 days and face more than 20 years in prison.
“The Pentagon has many installations – and we just walked out of one of them. It’s a place where they weaponize the law. They wield it mostly against the poor, the people who have all the redlined neighborhoods in this country know that very well,” Mark Colville, one of the defendants, said.
HOW IT ALL STARTED
The spiritual quest of the KBP7 started over 18 months ago on April 4, 2018, when, seven committed Catholic Plowshare peace activists cut through a security fence and entered the Naval Base at St. Marys, Georgia – home of one of the largest known collections of nuclear weaponry in the world.
They believed in the prophecy of Isaiah that people “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Carrying only hammers. red spray paint, and baby bottles of their own blood, they proceeded to symbolically “beat swords into plowshares” in the hope of raising public awareness of Trident’s first-strike nuclear ability to end human life on Earth.
They broke into three areas of the base: the administration building, the D5 missile monument installation, and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers.
For two hours they went undetected inside the naval base. They wrapped several areas in crime scene tape, spilled their blood on Trident signs, sprayed other areas with red paint, and posted an indictment charging the military with crimes against peace, citing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
They hung banners reading: “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide (a statement by Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr.), “Nuclear weapons: Illegal-Immoral” and “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide.” This refers to human extinction through nuclear warfare.
After about an hour, the KBP7 sat and prayed to wait for security to discover their nuclear disarmament message and arrest them. Initially, they were all denied bond but at a later date, a bond was set for six of the seven.
Steve Kelly was not offered bond due to a pending case at the naval submarine base in Washington State. Martha Hennessy, Carmen Trotta, and Patrick O’Neill chose to accept the bond and were required to wear an ankle monitor and home confinement. Liz McAlister, Clare Grady, and Mark Colville chose to continue organizing from within the Glynn County Jail in Brunswick, Georgia while waiting for trial.
This is the latest of 100 similar actions by Plowshare activists around the world beginning in 1980 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
(*I planned to attend the KBP7 trial but had a cold and spent that week sick in bed. Fortunately, www.kingsbayplowshares7.org sent out a daily summary of the trial to interested parties. Most of the information on the trial comes from that source.)
On Monday, October 21, 2019, the historic trial of the KBP7 began in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in Brunswick, Georgia.
Jury selection resulted in nine women, and three men.
The KBP7 were charged with one misdemeanor and three felonies which included conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation of government property, and trespassing. The penalties for these charges totals over twenty years in prison.
Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said she would not allow expert witnesses Daniel Ellsberg, Prof. Frances Boyle, and Prof. Jeannine Hill-Fletcher, and Bishop Kopacz. This included most of the defense’s arguments regarding international law, moral and religious objections.
Defense attorney, Bill Quigley, described how each of the seven defendants have devoted their lives to voluntary poverty, feeding and serving the poor, and working for peace.
On the second day of the trial, the government presented its case against the KBP7. The government showed videos that two of the defendants made to document their actions.
They made no effort to hide their activities because they were trying to put the nuclear weapons industry on trial for crimes against humanity by exposing one of the largest storage of nuclear weapons in the world – capable of ending human life on Earth.
One video showed Patrick O’Neill swinging a hammer at a monument to the Trident II D5 missile, other videos showed them spray-painting and spilling blood on Trident signs. The prosecution presented cell phone messages and photos sent by the defendants during the action.
Once arrested the KBP7 went peacefully and no one was hurt and nothing of importance was destroyed, except a few signs and a “missile shrine” monument to the Trident.
On the third day, defendants spoke about their strong faith motivations and their knowledge of the horrible effects of nuclear weapons. Martha Hennessy read from the indictment that they posted at the base that nuclear weapons are always illegal.
CarmenTrotta testified that he went to the naval base because it has one-quarter of the US deployed nuclear weapons and that it cannot be legal to destroy nearly all life on Earth.
Clare Grady testifies that the consequences of global nuclear war are so atrocious they necessitate the creation of the word, “omnicide.”
Mark Colville wrote “idolatry” on one of the missile replicas, he explained in court that the Bible urges us to remove, even smash idols.
O’Neill representing himself explained that Catholic workers take nonviolent action and break the law like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, and Dr. King to bring social change. He brought international law into the courtroom as he mentioned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, according to a KBP7 daily summary.
“The government thinks they can judge how we practice our religious beliefs. We’re saying you’ve granted us that we have firmly held religious beliefs, but you cannot tell us how or when we practice them,” Grady said, as reported in Crux, a Catholic news service.
The defendants were barred from mounting a defense that their lawbreaking was necessary to prevent the far greater crime of a nuclear war.
Their message to the world is that nuclear weapons are an immediate threat to the extinction of humanity – that is the crime, not their actions.
In conclusion, the KBP7 has been found guilty of having a conscience and acting on their conscience.
This is not over, we will hear more from the Kings Bay Seven in the coming months and years.
by Gloria Tatum