Rally, March & Hearings for Mothers Day Nuclear Resisters July 25th

Join us on July 25, 2017 for a rally and march to support the activists who were arrested for blocking the gate to Bangor Naval Base on May 13, 2017.

Their mitigation hearings take place at the Kitsap District Court 614 Division Street Port Orchard, WA 98366. The rally begins at noon in the park at Givens Community Center, 1026 Sydney Road Port Orchard 98366. We will march a short distance from there to the Kitsap District Court, arriving there by 1:00 pm. Hearings begin at 1:30 pm. All are welcome to witness the court proceedings. Your supportive presence and participation helps to bring attention to the ferocity of weaponry that can never be used, yet costs billions of dollars to produce and maintain, at the expense of health care, social services, education of our youth . . .

Please watch this beautiful and powerful music video (with music written by Margarita Muñoz, one of the participants in the May 13th nonviolent direct action. Click on this link for “Just Beneath Our Clouds of Grey” music video http://seattlepeacechorus.org/about/ae/just-beneath-our-clouds-of-grey/

Directions to rally: From the “Givens Community Center (1026 Sydney Road) drive north 1/2 block to Kendall, turn left, drive two short blocks to Austin. Parking available at the corner of Kendall / Austin next to the playground.

Proposed walking route to Kitsap County Courthouse: From Kendall / Austin, we will walk north on Austin two blocks to Taylor, turn left, walk one block to Cline, turn right, walk two blocks to Division, turn right and we will arrive to the front of the Kitsap County Courthouse across from the Kitsap County Administration Building.

What… Rally and March to support activists arrested on May 13, 2017
for blocking the gate to Bangor Naval Base

When… July 25, 2017

Time… 12:00 p.m. (rally)
12:30 p.m. (march)
1:00 p.m. (arrive at courthouse)

Where… Rally: Givens Community Center Park (1026 Sydney Road)
March: To Kitsap District Court (614 Division Street Port Orchard, WA 98366)

Questions: Email outreach@gzcenter.org

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PLC Six Arraignment Follow-up (Betsy’s Detention Hearing)

As previously reported, the “PLC Six” were arraigned in a Tacoma Federal Courtroom on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 before United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel.

The six resisters had crossed the marked property line onto Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state on March 7, 2017 and were charged with trespassing.

After their arraignment on June 7, Betsy Lamb of Bend, OR, was taken directly to the SEATAC Seattle-Tacoma federal jail/prison for standing firm in her statement to the judge that between now and the Sept. 6 trial for the PLC Six, she would make every effort to not undertake any action that might violate the law — but not without adding that she would do so only “as her conscience and faith permitted”.  Judge Christel refused to accept this caveat she had written in as a provision, and she refused to sign the statement without it.

Despite Lamb’s assurances that she had always appeared in Court at the appointed time and would do so on Sept. 6th, Judge Christel ordered that she be remanded into custody, noting that she had violated her probation terms. He rejected her offer to wear an ankle monitor and report regularly to a probation officer until Sept. 6th.

She was jailed, pending a detention hearing Monday, June 12th, where she made the following statement:

Lamb was only a few weeks away from the end of her 1-year probationary period for the August 2016 “die-in” at Trigger Gate (in which she participated along with seven other nuclear resisters who sprinkled ashes around each other over the “Blue Line” to commemorate the mass civilian deaths at Hiroshima) when she chose to participate in the March 2017 PLC action at Bangor Gate; despite the risks, she had said her conscience wouldn’t allow her to do otherwise. Judge Christel had been the one that imposed the probation order along with the 100 hours of community service for each of the “Bangor Eight.”

Many supporters stood up to salute Lamb for facing down the system’s enforced legality of indiscriminate mass murder weaponry (and its punishment of nonviolent resisters) as she was led away from the courtroom. The judge and prosecution appeared to take note of the number of supporters who filled the back benches of the courtroom.

STATEMENT OF BETSY LAMB AT HER DETENTION HEARING in Tacoma, Monday, June 12th:

The situation in this country that precipitated and led to the violation in question and my present incarceration remains unchanged.

Even so, as a nonviolent resister, I believe that if an action that I take has consequences, I should accept those consequences.

I believe that my willingness to be incarcerated these past days has adequately demonstrated my commitment to be faithful to God and my conscience.

I want this court to know that I understand and take seriously the conditions of release on the proposed Appearance Bond, and that it is my intention to observe those conditions.

The fire in my heart [Jer. 20:9] for the welfare and well-being of all God’s people and for a nuclear-free world will be channeled in lawful directions.

Being released to go home will allow me to follow up on some medical issues and to prepare for the trial with my co-defendants on September 6th.

At this time I feel I am prepared to sign the signature bond offered me, and would appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Thank you.

After referencing her co-defendant, she referred to the presence of some of them as well as her spouse and the numerous other supporters present.

After obtaining her signature and assuring that she had not added any conditions to those prescribed, the judge decided she could be trusted to show up for trial with the others on September 6th.

An interesting “PS” from Betsy:  When I passed through the door into the “reception” area of the SEATAC prison, apparently informed in advance of our “cause,” corrections staff greeted me with a resounding and prolonged, “NO NUKES!  NO NUKES!  NO NUKES!…”  They seemed to have known well and appreciated the previous presence of our Plowshares friends!

Trial date for the PLC Six is set for September 6, 2017, at the Tacoma federal courthouse, details TBA.
Photo by Fumi Tosu

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Standing Firm at PLC Six Arraignment

The “PLC Six” were arraigned in a Tacoma Federal Courtroom on Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 before United States Magistrate Judge David W. Christel.

Alex (Alexandra) Addesso, Los Angeles Catholic Worker, Los Angeles, CA; Karan Founds-Benton, Los Angeles Catholic Worker, Los Angeles, CA; Steve Kelly, SJ Oakland, CA; Betsy Lamb, Bend, Oregon; Mary Helene Mele, Bellingham, WA; Charley Smith, Eugene Catholic Worker, Eugene OR are charged with “trespassing” on a U.S. military installation.

The six resisters crossed the marked property line onto Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington on March 7, 2017 at the conclusion of the Pacific Life Community’s (PLC) annual gathering.   They read sections of the Nuremberg Principles out loud before being arrested by military police. They were charged with trespassing and received ban and bar letters before being released.

At the arraignment Betsy Lamb of Portland, OR was taken directly to the Tacoma jail for standing firm in her statement to the judge that between now and the Sept. 6 trial for the PLC Six” – she would make every effort to not undertake any action at a military base that might violate the law – but that if her conscience and faith so dictated, she might be compelled to do so. She stated that she would agree to the conditions of release “as my conscience allows.” Judge Christel refused to accept this caveat she had written in as a provision, and she refused to sign the statement without it.

Despite Lamb’s assurances that she had always appeared in Court at the appointed time and would do so on Sept. 6th, Judge Christel ordered that she be remanded into custody, noting that she had violated her probation terms. He rejected her offer to wear an ankle monitor and report regularly to a probation officer until Sept. 6th.

She is jailed until her detention hearing Monday, June 12th at 11:30 AM (at the Tacoma Federal Courthouse, Courtroom C). A judge will decide then if she can be trusted to show up for trial with the others on Sept 6.

Lamb was only a few weeks away from the end of her 1-year probationary period for the August 2016 “die-in” at Trigger Gate (in which she participated along with seven other nuclear resisters who sprinkled ashes around each other over the “Blue Line” to commemorate the mass civilian deaths at Hiroshima) when she chose to participate in the March 2017 PLC action at Bangor Gate; despite the risks, she had said her conscience wouldn’t allow her to do otherwise. Judge Christel had been the one that imposed the probation order along with the 100 hours of community service for each of the “Bangor Eight.”

Many supporters stood up to salute Lamb for facing down the system’s enforced legality of indiscriminate mass murder weaponry (and its punishment of nonviolent resisters) as she was led away from the courtroom. The judge and prosecution appeared to take note of the number of supporters who filled the back benches of the courtroom.

Hopefully Lamb will see a good show of support when she appears before the judge again on Monday morning. She was to be incarcerated at the Sea Tac detention facility and will have it rough the next four nights (at minimum).

Trial date for the PLC Six is set for September 6, 2017. Details will be posted at the gzcenter.org Upcoming Events calendar.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Sue Ablao, Mary Gleysteen and Elizabeth Murray for contributing their reports from the arraignment.

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“Know where you stand, and stand there”

The Trident Three were found guilty in Federal Court on charges of “trespassing” on a U.S. nuclear submarine/weapons base last May.

Larry Kerschner, Gilberto Perez and Bernie Meyer, aka: the Trident Three, appeared in United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Tacoma on Wednesday, April 12th. Magistrate Judge David C. Christel presided over the proceedings. A large number of supporters were in the courtroom to witness the trial.

(from left) Bernie Meyer, Larry Kerschner, Gilberto Perez

The defendants had their cases consolidated, meaning that their cases could all be tried at the same time. Attorney Blake Kremer, who has supported and represented many nuclear resisters, represented Larry Kerschner, and acted as standby counsel for Meyer and Perez.

All parties had already agreed to and signed the “statement of facts” that defined the events that occurred on May 7, 2016 when, during a vigil held by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the three demonstrators engaged in a peaceful protest, entering the main highway and briefly blocking traffic on the federal side of the Main gate at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington. The three demonstrators carried an illustration of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, revered anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons priest, with a statement by Fr. Berrigan: “Know where you stand and stand there.” They also carried a colorful banner with symbols linking nuclear weapons and climate change.

The nonviolent direct action was held in honor of Mother’s Day, which, in the United States was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe as a day dedicated to peace. Howe saw the effects on both sides of the Civil War and realized destruction from warfare goes beyond the killing of soldiers in battle.

The three resisters were arrested by base security, booked, and released. They received citations pursuant to Title 18 USC Section 1382 for trespass on a military installation.

The court, as it has done in every case involving nuclear resisters at the Bangor base, granted the government’s motion in limine, which disallowed presenting any defense involving the necessity defense, international law regarding the use of nuclear weapons, and the policies of the U.S. government regarding the use of nuclear weapons. At Blake Kremer’s request, however, the court agreed to give some leeway in the defendants’ testimony.

Gilberto Perez and Senji Kanaeda holding photo of a Japanese boy bringing his dead younger brother to a cremation pyre after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki

Kremer noted to the court that the defendants have lived lives of service to humanity, and that they are united in the belief that nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral.

On the stand, Gilberto Perez spoke of how he prayed as he and the other defendants crossed the blue line onto the Bangor base. During their action he carried a framed etching of Fr. Daniel Berrigan with one of Berrigan’s famous quotes, “Know where you stand, and stand there.” When asked by Kremer what he would do for the cause of Peace, he replied that, “I would be willing to give my life; to spend the rest of my life in jail.” Perez noted that is willing to sacrifice himself to get across the message that we can use diplomacy with Russia, North Korea and China and prevent nuclear war. Click here to read Perez’ statement that was entered into evidence.

Larry Kerschner said that people do not consider the implications of the use of nuclear weapons and their effects. “We tried to wake people up to what Trident can do – the indiscriminate killing of mass numbers of people.” Click here to read Kerschner’s formal court statement.

On the stand, Bernie Meyer said that, “the experts are warning us… we have to give up business as usual,” and that there must be “trust” among world leaders in order to solve the existential problems we face, particularly nuclear weapons and climate change. He also quoted former Secretary of Defense William Perry who recently said that it is up to the people to speak out and demand action on nuclear weapons. Click here to read Meyer’s Nexus Follow Up Trial Statement, which he was not allowed to present to the court.

In part of Blake Kremer’s closing statement he said, “These defendants have knowledge that some courts and legal scholars believe they have a right and even an obligation to bring their message of peace and nonviolence to the base commander and the government, and that the importance of this message makes it necessary and legally justifiable for them to stand on base while attempting to deliver this message.” Sadly, the court made it impossible for the defendants to use any defenses that have been recognized in other courts! Click here to read Kremer’s full closing statement.

When all was said and done, the judge ruled against the defendants based on the “facts”, and found all three guilty of trespassing. The government asked for one year of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service, referring to the defendants “unrepentant” attitudes. The judge agreed with the sentencing request and in addition to probation and community service, assessed the defendants a $10 mandatory court assessment plus a $25 processing fee.

(from left) Blake Kremer, Michael Siptroth

In a final irony, Judge Christal also noted, in accordance with the government’s request, that the 100 hours of community service must be completed in organizations “unrelated to the prevention of nuclear proliferation.” The judge did, however, note before handing down his decision that the defendants are “highly principled people with deeply held values…”

As much as the defendants attempted to bring light to the real crime – the continuing threat of use of Trident against other nations – justice was not served in the courtroom on this day. Instead, the National Security State protected its narrow interests rather than upholding the Constitution of the United States along with the rights of all humanity to live free of the threat of nuclear annihilation.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor employs the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. and is the home port for 8 of the Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear powered submarines. More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at the Bangor submarine base.

One Trident SSBN submarine at Bangor is estimated to carry about 108 nuclear warheads. The W76 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force. One submarine deployed at Bangor is equal to more than 1,400 Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs.

The nuclear warheads at SWFPAC and on submarines based at Bangor have the combined explosive power equivalent to more than 14,000 Hiroshima bombs.

A March 2017 report from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists shows that the U.S. has been upgrading the W76 warhead, and has developed a “super-fuze” that makes the refurbished warhead three times as lethal as before. This huge increase in kill capability makes it appear as if the United States is preparing for a decapitating nuclear attack.

Larry Kerschner has a passion for poetry, and his powerful, poetic indictment of Trident titled On the blight of Trident was entered into evidence in his trial. Click here to read it.

Before the trial, supporters vigiled in front of the Tacoma Union Station Courthouse carrying signs that read, “Abolish Nuclear Weapons”, and and handed out leaflets about the trial.

 

In statements (prior to their trial) of the reasons for their collective action against nuclear weapons the Trident Three said the following:

Bernie Meyer: “We are at a juncture, a juncture that we created, that is of our own doing. We created nuclear weapons, nuclear power, a whole system of radiation dispersal. We created a way of life that spews carbon dioxide, methane, and more chemicals into the atmosphere which circulates into the oceans and onto the continents and heats them up beyond our accustomed tolerance. What do we do? What will you do?”

Gilberto Perez: “A moral consciousness is needed in realizing love and compassion for all. The revolution of the heart melts away the walls of hate, and war. We must love each other, or nuclear annihilation is inevitable. We are not alone.”

Larry Kerschner: “Twenty miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. It is clear that the actual use of nuclear weapons would grossly violate the international laws of humanitarian armed conflict under any conceivable circumstances. How can the US threaten the use of nuclear weapons without violating international law? The Nuremberg Principles absolutely proscribe crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. How can the US Government lawfully establish a threat to commit such heinous offenses?” Click here to read Kerschner’s Op-Ed, Will Federal Court Protect International Laws?, in The Chronicle (Lewis County).

And may we all “know where we stand, and stand there.”

The Trident Three after their trial

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

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Resisters’ “Charges dismissed in the interest of justice”

In an extraordinary decision yesterday, Friday, September 30, 2016 a Kitsap County Court Judge dismissed charges against two nuclear resisters.

Sue Ablao and Mack Johnson appeared before Judge Marilyn Paja in Kitsap County District Court on charges of being in the roadway illegally stemming from their nonviolent direct action on August 8th during a vigil at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Sue Ablao and Mack Johnson blocking the roadway on August 8th

Sue Ablao and Mack Johnson blocking the roadway on August 8th

During the vigil, Ablao and Johnson carried a banner onto the roadway, blocking traffic entering the base. The banner was identical to the bus ad currently running on Seattle Metro Transit buses that reads, “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.” The banner included a map with a line drawn from Bangor to Seattle.

Both were subsequently removed from the roadway by Washington State Patrol officers and issued citations for being in the roadway illegally before being released.

Both Ablao and Johnson appeared in court to mitigate their charges.

At the courthouse; Sue Ablao (l) and Mack Johsnon (r).

At the courthouse on September 30th.

In her statement to the court, Ablao said (in part):

Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren deserve better. They deserve a life. They deserve a nuclear free world. And that is why I stepped in the road to say, never again, no business as usual, at this base.

Ablao also quoted from a recent Op-Ed in the Seattle Times by David Hall and Leonard Eiger of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action:

The use of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law and humanitarian law – unusable because there is no way to limit escalation, are exorbitantly expensive, and are a massive diversion of human talent and resources away from resources, diplomacy, foreign assistance, innovation and public health.

After listening to each defendant’s testimony, Judge Paja dismissed the infractions for both Ablao and Johnson “in the interest of justice.”  She also thanked them both for their service and action.

And we also thank our fellow resisters for their service and (nonviolent direct) action. Through our continuing and concerted actions may we hasten the day when there will be a totally different, peaceful and sustainable “business” at what is now the Bangor Trident ballistic submarine base.

Click here to read Sue Ablao’s full statement to the court.

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