December 13, 2010
For Immediate Release
Jury Reaches Verdict in Disarm Now Plowshares Trial
Tacoma, Washington, USA, Monday, December 13, 2010:
The federal criminal trial of five veteran peace activists that began December 7 ended
today after the jury found them guilty on all counts. The five
defendants, called the Disarm Now Plowshares, challenged the legality
and morality of the US storage and use of thermonuclear missiles by
Trident nuclear submarines at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside
missiles at Bangor are weapons of mass destruction; those weapons are
both illegal and immoral; and that all citizens have the right and
duty to try to stop international war crimes from being committed by
these weapons of mass destruction.
The five were charged with trespass, felony damage to federal
property, felony injury to property and felony conspiracy to damage
property. Each defendant faces possible sentences of up to ten years
On trial were: Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New
York; Bill Bischel, SJ, 81, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma Washington;
Susan Crane, 67, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore,
Maryland; Lynne Greenwald, 60, a nurse from Bremerton Washington; and
Steve Kelly, SJ, 60, a Jesuit priest from Oakland California. Bill
Bischel and Lynne Greenwald are active members of the Ground Zero
Center for Nonviolent Action, a community resisting Trident nuclear
weapons since 1977.
The five admitted from the start that they cut through the chain link
fence surrounding the Navy base during the night of the Feast of All
Souls, November 2, 2009. They then walked undetected for hours nearly
four miles inside the base to the Strategic Weapons Facility, Pacific
(SWFPAC). This top security area is where the Plowshares activists say
hundreds of nuclear missiles are stored in bunkers. There they cut
through two more barbed wire fences and went inside. They put up two
big banners which said "Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident Illegal and
Immoral," scattered sunflower seeds, and prayed until they were
arrested at dawn. Once arrested, the five were cuffed and hooded with
sand bags because the marine in charge testified "when we secure
prisoners anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan we hood them...so we did it
The eight Trident nuclear submarines home ported at Naval Base
Kitsap-Bangor each carry 24 Trident D-5 nuclear missiles. Each missile
carries up to eight warheads, each one having an explosive yield of up
to 475 kilotons, over 30 times the destructive force of the weapon
dropped on Hiroshima.
Additionally, Bangor is home to SWFPAC where nuclear warheads are
stored ready for deployment. Located just 20 miles west of Seattle,
it is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the
U.S. arsenal, housing more than 2000 nuclear warheads.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the 2,364 nuclear
warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S.
arsenal, more than the combined nuclear warheads than China, France,
Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan.
The jury heard testimony from peace activists who came from around the
world to challenge the use of Trident nuclear weapons by the U.S.
Angie Zelter, internationally known author and Trident Ploughshares
activist from the UK, testified about the resistance to Trident
weapons in Europe.
Stephen Leeper, Chair of the Peace Culture Foundation in Hiroshima,
told the jury, "the world is facing a critical moment" because of the
existence and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Though prohibited from
testifying about the details of the death, destruction, and genetic
damage to civilians from the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima, he
testified defendants "have a tremendous amount of support in
Hiroshima." When asked if he had encouraged the Disarm Now
Plowshares defendants in any way he said, "Yes, I told them, 'Yes, do
anything you possibly can to bring this to the consciousness of the
world, because Americans more than any other people in the world are
unconscious of what's going on.' "
Retired US Navy Captain Thomas Rogers, 31 years in the Navy, including
several years as Commander of a nuclear submarine during the Cold War,
said of Trident, "strategic nuclear weapons on submarines... are kept
on alert, deployed, and if ever used, they are released with a coded
message that's authenticated on board the ship, and the commander of
the ship shoots the missiles, delivers the weapons. Which, in my
opinion, in my knowledge, is contrary to the law of armed conflict
which says a commander is responsible for - - is responsible for
following the rules and principles of humanitarian law, and for not
indiscriminately hurting noncombatants and for not causing undue
suffering or environmental damage, and that commanding officer is
powerless, and it's an awful feeling.
The peace activists represented themselves with lawyers as stand by
counsel. Attorneys Anabel Dwyer and Bill Quigley also assisted the
defendants. Dwyer is a Michigan attorney and Board Member of The
Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), and an expert in
humanitarian law and nuclear weapons. Quigley is the Legal Director
for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and Professor at
Loyola New Orleans.
Prosecutors said the government would neither confirm nor deny the
existence of nuclear weapons at the base, and argued that "whether of
not there are nuclear weapons there or not is irrelevant."
Prosecutors successfully objected to and excluded most of the defense
evidence about the horrific effects of nuclear weapons, the illegality
of nuclear weapons under U.S. treaty agreements and humanitarian law,
and the right of citizens to try to stop war crimes by their
The Disarm Now Plowshares defendants tried to present evidence about
the presence of nuclear weapons at Bangor despite repeated objections.
At one point, Sr. Anne Montgomery challenged the prosecutors and the
court, "Why are we so afraid to discuss the fact that there are
There were many indications that the jury found it difficult to
convict the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants. Jury questions,facial
expressions, body language and post-trial conversations all gave this
impression. One of the jurors said that from what he could tell, no
one was ready to convict right away.
After the verdict was read and the Judge Settle was about to dismiss
the jury, Steve Kelly stood and announced that the defendants would
like to bless the jury. Steve and all of his co-defendants stood with
their hands raised in blessing as he said, "May you go in peace and
have a safe, happy holiday."
Sentencing is scheduled for March 28, 2011 at 9:00 am.
For more information on the trial and the Plowshares peace activists
please see the site for Disarm Now Plowshares http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com/
or Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action http://www.gzcenter.org/index.html
Contact: Leonard Eiger (425) 445-2190
Media & Outreach Coordinator
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
subversivepeacemaking [at] comcast.net