Kitsap County District Court Judge ruled in favor of four nuclear resisters in a recent ruling.
Elaine Hickman, Tom Rogers, Bert Sacks and Carlo Voli blocked entry to the main gate at the Navy’sWest coast Trident nuclear submarine base in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons on May 12, 2012.
The activists were part of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action’s peaceful vigil at the main gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Wash. in which about 50 people protested the U.S. government’s continued deployment and upgrading of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
The four protesters walked onto the roadway and unfurled a banner, which read, “Give PEACE a chance. No, seriously.” They were cited for “Pedestrian in Roadway Where Prohibited” (a traffic offense) and released at the scene.
Each of the four appeared before Judge James Riehl at the July 31 mitigation hearing to explain their motivations for participating in an act of civil resistance.
Hickman, who had her thyroid removed after living downwind from the Hanford Nuclear site, warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons both in their potential use and in their production and disposal.
Rogers is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, who commanded an attack submarine and was responsible for nuclear weapons. Rogers said he felt it was his duty as a citizen to oppose their use and the threat of use as a violation of the 1996 International Court of Justice ruling.
|(from left) Bert Sacks, Carlo Voli, Elaine Hickman and Tom Rogers.|
Voli also cited international law and protested, as a hard-working citizen, the use of 59 percent of his taxes without his consent for defense and war spending, including upkeep of our unnecessary nuclear capability.
Sacks, a long-time member of Ground Zero, presented several documents to the court to support his premise that the government knowingly uses war tactics that cause deaths to civilians.
Judge Riehl accepted all the defendants’ testimony and deferred his decision until after reviewing the documents presented by the defendants.
The defendants received Judge Riehl’s mitigation ruling, signed on Aug. 23. The ruling reduces the defendant’s fines based on their intention(s), and reads:
On May 12, 2012, each of the above Defendants was cited by law enforcement of the above civil infractions with a penalty of $56.00. Each Defendant requested a mitigation hearing, thereby admitting they committed the infraction but requested the Court to mitigate the cost of the civil penalty based on the reasons they committed the infraction.
Unlike most defendants who commit this infraction, the Defendants in these cases did so with intent of bringing attention to their goals of eliminating nuclear weapons. The Court has reviewed all of the material submitted by the defendants as well as considering their presentations at the court hearings. Consistent with the previous decision of this Court, (the Court) is satisfied that the appropriate civil penalty , in each of these cases, is $25.
Dated 8/23/12 Judge James Riehl
Tom Rogers responded to the Judge’s ruling by saying that ”It is a formal acknowledgment from the court of the propriety and legitimacy of our civil disobedience in using the court to bring attention to our goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.”
Another group of resisters who blocked entry to the Bangor Main Gate on Aug. 6 are currently awaiting confirmation of their November hearing date(s). Of the 16 people cited, most have chosen mitigation, although one or more will contest the charge. Details will be available as soon as hearing date(s) is/are confirmed.
Leonard Eiger is on the Media and Outreach Committee for Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Read his blogs at Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone www.psnukefree.