August Resisters Have Their Day In Court

by Mack Johnson

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL MITIGATION HEARING AFTER ANTINUCLEAR ACTION BY GROUND ZERO ACTIVISTS

On November 7, 2017, Kitsap District Court was the setting for the latest in a series of mitigation hearings by members of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

Seven activists had entered the roadway during a vigil against nuclear war and promoting the end of the trident nuclear weapons system: Charley Smith of Eugene, OR; Sarah Hobbs of Portland, OR; Phil Davis of Bremerton, WA; Benjamin Moore of Bainbridge Island, WA; Susan Delaney of Bothell, WA; Ryan DeWitt of Olympia, WA; and Mack Johnson of Silverdale, WA. The last four people chose a mitigation hearing to explain the circumstances and reasoning behind their action.

(l to r) Benjamin Moore, Mack Johnson, Susan Delaney, and Ryan DeWitt

Judge Kevin Kelly presided; he had observed previous mitigation hearings and listened attentively. Defendants gave powerful prepared statements attesting to their acts of conscience. Susan presented evidence of dozens of military nuclear-weapons accidents during the Cold War; Ben spoke of Thoreau’s call to resist unjust laws; Ryan highlighted the contrast between the few nuclear states’ drive to maintain nuclear stockpiles and the desire of the overwhelming majority of nations and billions of individuals for a world free of nuclear weapons. Mack followed with evidence that nuclear weapons violate several treaties the USA has signed (and enforces selectively around the world!) and a few facts about the immense power of these bombs that should make their use unthinkable. Judge Kelly acknowledged the mitigants’ commitment and sincerity, found that they had committed the
infraction, and lowered the fines of all four from $68.00 to $25.00, the lowest amount he could legally assign. There have now been several years of mitigation hearings by GZ activists, with all resulting in reduced fines and one outright dismissal of charges in October 2016.

It was a very positive and moving experience for the participants, their supporters, and even the courtroom staff. The court clerk stated afterwards that she had been clerk during GZ’s first white-train trial in 1985, and that she had been moved to tears then when she read that jury’s verdict (not guilty).

Ground Zero members expect to continue their efforts to inform the public about nuclear weapons through direct action and mitigation in the future.

Click here to read about and see photos of the August nonviolent direct action that was the subject of these mitigation hearings.

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CNV ACTION: VIGIL AT TRIDENT SUB BASE BANGOR

Join Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in a legal vigil on September 19th at the Bangor Trident Base (Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor) as workers enter the gate.

We also invite you to join us at a potluck dinner, movie and sleepover starting at 6pm Monday the 18th.

If you don’t join us the evening of the 18th, please arrive at Ground Zero by 5:45 am on Tuesday morning.

The vigil is an event coinciding with the 2017 Campaign Nonviolence (CNV) Week of Actions. Since 2014, Campaign Nonviolence has organized an annual action week in September, where marches and rallies calling for a culture of peace and nonviolence have taken place in all 50 states and a growing number of countries. Last year, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in 758 Campaign Nonviolence marches, vigils, rallies and other forms of public witness calling for a nonviolent culture.

For more information on our vigil contact Michael Hill at 360-492-3016

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PLC Six found guilty of trespass on west coast nuclear weapons base

Editor’s Note: Thanks to Nick Mele for his stellar onsite reporting of the Federal trial of the PLC Six. Click here to read more about the March 7, 2017 nonviolent direct action that led to yesterday’s trial.

Tacoma, Washington, September 6, 2017: Nuclear resisters were found guilty in US District Court of criminal trespass for their nonviolent protest at a US Navy nuclear weapons installation in Washington State.

In a trial of six nonviolent activists who conducted an act of civil resistance on March 7, 2017 at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington, Magistrate Judge David W. Christel found the PLC Six (Mary H. Mele, Karan Founds-Benton, Charles Smith, Betsy Lamb, Steven Kelly SJ, and Alexandria Addesso) guilty of trespassing. The defendants had all stipulated to the Navy’s version of the facts in the case but pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal trespassing. Their motion to include international law and necessity in their defense had previously been denied at the request of the prosecution.

The six resisters had crossed the marked property line onto the Bangor Trident base while reading 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.

They were part of a demonstration at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington on March 7th at the conclusion of the Pacific Life Community’s (PLC) annual gathering. The Bangor submarine base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. If Washington state were a sovereign nation, it would be the third-largest nuclear-weapons state in the world.

All were sentenced to 100 hours of community service and charged a total of forty dollars in mandatory processing fees and fines. All but Lamb were placed on probation for one year; Lamb was given two years probation because of a prior probation violation.

The judge permitted each defendant to testify about their state of mind at the time they crossed the line at the entrance to Bangor Naval Base. In moving testimony, many spoke of their personal conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral; two pointed out that the president of the United States has sole authority to launch nuclear attacks without any consultative process or review.

Charley Smith of the Eugene, Oregon, Catholic Worker, carried a copy of the Nuremberg Principles when he crossed the line, as did the others; asked to explain their significance to him, Smith replied, “Very simply, if we remain silent or do not challenge the evils of society we are complicit in those evils just as much as those giving the orders to commit crimes against peace, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.”

Alexandria Addesso, the youngest of the defendants spoke movingly of nuclear disarmament as a right to life issue for her and her generation. She noted the many threats to younger people, from climate change to economic stagnation, and said, “I might not have ten, twenty or thirty years of life ahead of me, and I want to work with my peers to end the threat of nuclear annihilation.”

In his closing argument, defense attorney Blake Kremer cited legal precedent to challenge the judge to change the framework of his thinking and temper his verdict based on the facts of the case with his sense of justice.

Before sentencing, Lamb invited Judge Christel to collaborate with the defendants in concluding the trial with an outcome that would be both creative and just. She concluded “I want to quote just two lines from a favorite piece of music of mine, the fourth cantata of Johan Sebastian Bach. Freely translated they read ‘It was an awesome war when life and death contended./The victory remains with life, the reign of death is ended. Alleluia.’ This is my hope.”

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Activists blockade west coast nuclear base in plea to de-escalate nuclear crisis with North Korea

Activists blockaded the West Coast nuclear submarine base that would likely carry out a nuclear strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) should President Donald Trump give the order.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the US. More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on the eight ballistic missile submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at the Bangor base.

Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action held a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Bangor base on August 14th, several days after the 72nd anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Participants briefly blockaded the base during the morning shift change by carrying banners onto the roadway at the main entrance gate.

(left to right) Nuclear resisters Susan DeLaney, Philip Davis and Charles (Charley) Smith

All were removed from the road by Washington State Patrol Officers, cited for being in the roadway illegally, and released on the scene.

Those cited were Philip Davis, Bremerton, WA; Susan DeLaney, Bothell, WA; Ryan DeWitt, Olympia, WA; Sarah Hobbs, Portland, OR; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Ben Moore, Bainbridge Island, WA; and Charles (Charley) Smith, Eugene Catholic Worker, Eugene, OR.

One of the banners implored the Trump administration to stop its incendiary rhetoric toward North Korea. It read, “No Nuclear Strike On N. Korea!”

(from left to right) Sarah Hobbs, Ben Moore and Ryan DeWitt

Ground Zero spokesperson Leonard Eiger said, “No one knows where this escalating rhetoric of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will end. To take either leader at his word, a nuclear holocaust is an acceptable event. There is no acceptable military solution to this nuclear standoff. Diplomacy is the only way out of this mess.”

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. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Click here to see photos of the action, as well as events that took place on the Sunday prior to the action. You are welcome to download and use photos (taken by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action).

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If We Can Risk Nuclear War, We Can Risk Nuclear Disarmament

Save the Dates: August 12th through August 14

Ground Zero Center will hold its annual remembrance of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a full weekend of events.

Starting on Saturday, August 12th we will have the second annual Boats By Bangor in which a full flotilla will sail by the Bangor Trident submarine base. Boats will launch from King Spit, and following the flotilla will be a beach picnic, followed by an evening concert at Ground Zero Center by folksinger Tom Rawson.

On Sunday, August 13th we have a full day that will include nonviolence training, updates on nuclear weapons issues, music, and preparation for Monday’s action.

On Monday morning we will have a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Bangor base.

Ground Zero will also participate in the annual From Hiroshima to Hope lantern ceremony at Seattle’s Green Lake on August 6th.

Click here to view and download the full-page event flyer. A quarter-page version is also available, and is great for handing out. Click here for the quarter-page version. 

Send your questions to info@gzcenter.org.

Ground Zero August 2017 SCHEDULE
IF WE CAN RISK NUCLEAR WAR, WE CAN RISK NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
72nd Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombings

Wednesday, August 2
Peace Fleet greets US Navy on Seattle waterfront; noon on the water; 1:00 PM on land; location TBD

Sunday, August 6
From Hiroshima to Hope, Green Lake Park, Seattle

Friday, August 11
6:00 PM – GZ Center house open; BYO dinner
7:00 PM – Private screening of Helen Young film “The Nuns, the Priests, and the Bombs” for cast, crew & GZ community

Saturday, August 12 “Boats By Bangor”
9:00 Continental breakfast
(Activity managers oversee watercraft transfer from Ground Zero Center to Kings Spit, Old Bangor)
10:00 Welcome, registration, review of safety procedures for “Boats By Bangor” activity; sign-up list for GZ House chores
11:00 Welcome gathering for arriving Peacewalkers
11:30 Potluck lunch
12:30 Carpool to Kings Spit
1:00 Launch kayaks with powerboat support
4:00 Kayaks/boats return to Kings Spit; barbecue picnic
5:30 Post-picnic cleanup & packout
6:00 Move boats off beach
6:30 Coffee and dessert at Ground Zero Center
7:00 Tom Rawson concert
Post-Concert: Collective Cleanup

Sunday, August 13
9:00 Breakfast & registration
10:00 Welcome & orientation to Ground Zero by Marianne Mabbitt
10:10 Briefing by Ground Zero and WPSR member Dave Hall on Trident issue
11:00-11:45 Keynote speech: Video presentation by author/antiwar activist David Swanson with follow-on discussion moderated by Elizabeth Murray
12:00 Lunch
12:45 Cleanup
1:00 Nonviolence training
2:00 Choosing roles, discernment & action planning for those considering risking arrest
Letter-writing, sign-making, or peace crane-folding, possible vigil in Silverdale (TBD)
4:00 Role-playing scenarios to rehearse for action
5:00 Affix peace cranes to fence bordering naval base
5:30 Dinner & cleanup
6:30 Hank ‘n Claire concert

Monday, August 14
5:30 Light breakfast & cleanup
6:15 Check-in for those risking arrest
6:30 Gathering Circle
7:00 AM Action at naval base
9:00 AM Closing circle/debriefing

 

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