Pacific Life Community Annual Gathering

PACIFIC LIFE COMMUNITY

March 2 – 4, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada

FRIDAY: Check-In: 2 – 4 p.m. at Las Vegas Catholic Worker / Vigil at NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. (less than 2 miles from Catholic Worker) / 5:30 p.m.: Dinner / Evening Session

SATURDAY: Morning, Afternoon and Evening Sessions at Las Vegas Catholic Worker

SUNDAY: 9 a.m.: Liturgy at NNSS (Nevada National Security Site)
Public Concert in rented theater, 2 – 4 p.m.: “Eileen and the In-Betweens”
Dinner at 5:30 p.m. and Closing Ceremony

All meals from Friday dinner until Sunday dinner will be provided.
Housing options will be sent later.

Guest Speakers: Eileen Shaughnessy; “Building Youth Consciousness”, Carol Gilbert, O.P. And Ardeth Platte, O.P.; “Ban the Bomb Campaign”

Questions or to RSVP: mail@lvcw.org or call (702) 647-0728

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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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GZ 40th Birthday Party and Reunion

The 40th anniversary of the founding of Ground Zero is a good time for activists from all eras and each of GZ’s decades to get together to share experiences, review aspirations for GZ, reflect on accomplishments, and have some fun.

Everyone is invited! We expect folks from the Pacific Life Communities, Live Without Trident, Armistice, Agape, peace walkers, fence climbers, tracks vigilers, USS Ohio blockaders, Wednesday overnighters,pagoda builders, leafleters, potluckers, plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, Bangor workers and fellow travelers. It’s a chance to reflect on what drew us to GZ, to catch up with friends, and to create an oral history.


Bring photos, archives and artifacts. We will make time to visit the fence or gate. We all run into friends from time to time who have GZ connections, but don’t get the newsletter and haven’t been back in years. Please share this invitation with all your Ground Zero associates far and wide. Contact your affinity group, dig out your GZ tee shirts and buttons and plan to show up! The potluck starts at noon, but come early to explore the grounds and stay for dinner and music. Campers are welcome at GZ.

SCHEDULE
12:00 potluck lunch
1:00 panels:
1:00 to 2:30 Conceptualizing BGZ & Founding with first five years
2:45 to 4:15 Coming of the Ohio and Trains
4:30 to 6:00 Limbo: Reimaging, Reinvigorating, Restart; New Buiding to Present; and What Does This All Mean?
6:00 Potluck
7:00 Song

Click here to view, download and print the event flyer.

If you are coming from a distance and need a place to stay contact Mona Lee(mona_lee@centurylink.net)

For transportation from the Edmonds/Kingston ferry contact Mary Gleysteen (marygleysteen@gmail.com) by July 23.

If you have ideas for panel discussions or other activities, please contact Sallie Shawl (awestruckbigtime@gmail.com) and be sure to put GZ reunion in the subject field.

See you July 30th!

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From Trinity to Trident, and Beyond…

Dear Friends,

Today marks the anniversary of the Trinity test, where the United States detonated the first nuclear device. I ponder the perilous journey we have taken since that first test of a nuclear bomb in the desert of New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Since the United States dropped the first two bombs on Japan soon after Trinity, nuclear weapons have never been used by one nation against another, although we have neared that precipice numerous times. Since those first two bombs the U.S. built a total of over 70,000 nuclear warheads and bombs at astronomical costs, both economic and human.

As the United States and the Soviet Union fought the Cold War from their respective development laboratories and weapons factories, planners on each side continuously struggled to stay ahead of the other. Somewhere along the way, someone got the bright idea that submarines loaded with nuclear tipped missiles were the perfect way to keep the enemy guessing. After all, a sub bristling with nuclear weapons could sneak around the seven seas, ready to launch an attack, totally surprising the enemy.

Trident was the culmination of this demonic drive – the ultimate first strike weapon (even thought the US Government calls it only a second strike weapon); today some of the Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear submarines, loaded with Trident D5 missiles, silently roam the seas, ready to launch their deadly missiles on the order of the President of the United States. Just one of these submarines would, if it were to launch all its missiles armed with a full complement of 455 kiloton warheads (rather than the smaller 100 kiloton model), unleash the equivalent of nearly 7000 Hiroshimas (the Hiroshima bomb was between 12.5 and 15 kilotons), and could kill hundreds of millions of people. What madness is this?

Yet, while tens of thousands of people labored to develop and build this system of mass destruction (Trident), others worked to resist the madness – to let others know that we were preparing the seeds of our own destruction. For Trident, it all began with the early 1970’s when a missile designer named Bob Aldridge was at Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation working on the first Trident missile design. Bob recognized something about the maneuvering reentry vehicle that he was designing; it was designed “to home-in on underground missile silos in a nuclear first strike” (Ground Zero Newsletter, Vol. 7, Issue 3, July 2002). Bob’s conscience got the better of him (something that has not happened to the vast majority of nuclear weapon scientists or engineers), and after a family retreat following Christmas 1972 Bob submitted his resignation letter to Lockheed.

A year later Bob met with Jim and Shelley Douglass and told them of his remarkable journey from missile designer to student of nonviolence, and briefed them on the plans to create what would be known as Sub Base Bangor (West Coast home of the new Trident fleet) on the shores of the Hood Canal in Washington State, just 20 miles from Seattle. And so the seeds of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action were sown by a person with the courage to follow his convictions.

In 1977 Jim Douglass and John Williams found 3.8 acres of land with a small house right next to the Bangor fence. What a find! A year later (the first Trident missile was deployed in October 1979) Bob Aldridge sent Jim and Shelley Douglass an urgent letter warning of the first strike threat that Trident represented. First strike meant that Trident would likely be used to deliver a preemptive surprise attack of overwhelming force on the Soviet Union (not a pretty picture).

Jim and Shelley Douglass, and many others continued building the Ground Zero community (which was preceded by the Pacific Life Community) as they worked in common resistance to Trident; blocking the railroad tracks on which the “White Trains” brought the nuclear warheads, leafletting at the gates of Bangor and blocking the gate, and building awareness of the dangers (as well as the immorality and illegality) of Trident and all nuclear weapons.

Jim and Shelley Douglass

Jim and Shelley produced some wonderful writings along the way, including Dear Gandhi: Now What? Letters from Ground Zero, and JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters. The Douglasses received the Pacem in Terris Peace and Preedom Award in 1997.

Jim and Shelley will be joining others at Ground Zero Center to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Ground Zero on July 30th.  Everyone is invited! We expect fpeople from the Pacific Life Communities, Live Without Trident, Armistice, Agape, peace walkers, fence climbers, tracks vigilers, USS Ohio blockaders, Wednesday overnighters,pagoda builders, leafleters, potluckers, plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers, Bangor workers and fellow travelers. It’s a chance to reflect on what drew us to GZ, to catch up with friends, and to create an oral history.

Click here to learn more about the event.

It will also be a time to look within and ask, “Where do we go from here?” At seventy-two years of age, aren’t nuclear weapons due for retirement! 122 nations said “YES” to that question just over a week ago when the United Nations passed the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The culmination of decades of resistance and campaigning against nuclear weapons, the negotiations brought together diplomats and civil society to prohibit these horrific devices made by human hands that are capable of bringing about human extinction. Enough!

We, the people of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, are dedicated to the abolition of Trident and ALL nuclear weapons. This is no naive pipe dream. Humanity is at (or is nearing) a fork in the long road that began with Trinity. Which fork we take (and the future of humanity) will depend not just on the political actions of the leaders of the nuclear-armed nations – we can no longer wait for them – but very much on the hard work of people like you and me, and organizations like Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Please join us!

On the journey together,

Leonard

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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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