I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

August 6th Nuclear Resisters in the Courtroom: Their Statements

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was a good day in the courtroom.

Ten nuclear resisters from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action appeared in Judge Stephen J. Holman's courtroom at the Kitsap County District Court, along with a full complement of supporters (fifteen) to witness the proceedings.

We were there to speak on the public record as to our government's obligations to make sincere efforts toward nuclear disarmament, something that is not occurring based on the evidence, and is pushing the world (once again) toward the inevitable accidental or intentional nuclear war.

Each of us was there by choice as the result of our nonviolent direct action at the Main Gate of the Bangor Trident submarine base (Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor) on August 6th in which 16 of us blockaded the entrance with banners in both a symbolic gesture of closing the base and as a message of that need to people working on the base.

The August action was coordinated with a simultaneous leafleting action at the other Bangor base gate intended to reach people from the base with our message of peace, nonviolence and nuclear abolition.

Pre-hearing strategy session. from left: Mack Johnson, Tom Rogers,
Malcolm Chaddock and Elizabeth Murray
Two of the yesterday's defendants, Malcolm Chaddock and Bernie Meyer, contested the charge (all of us received citations for "Walking on roadway where prohibited").  Their testimonies were not restrained by the judge, even after an initial objection by the prosecutor to limit testimony on international law.  In the end both were found guilty, although the judge reduced their fines.

The remaining eight of us were there for mitigation hearings wherein we did not contest the charge, although we wished to make a statement to the court regarding our reasons for engaging in our action, knowing full well the potential legal consequences. 

from left: Rodney Herold, George Rodkey, Michael Siptroth, Bernie Meyer,
Betsy Lamb and Sue Ablao.  Rodney was videotaping the proceedings,
and Sue was an observer 
Each of us made a statement to the court, and each one was as unique as the makeup and life experience of this diverse group of peacemakers - teachers, retired submarine commander, public health professional, retired CIA political analyst, and more.  One of the lessons I have learned in this work is that any generalization about or marginalization of people involved in peacemaking (peace activists) is meaningless.

A portion of Elizabeth Murray's statement demonstrates this quite clearly.

Prior to retiring I served for 27 years as a political analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency. The last position I held was Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East at the National Intelligence Council. I am therefore keenly aware of the need to protect and safeguard our country.

However, the past 10 years - particularly in the wake of 9-11 - have shown that it is time to embrace a new paradigm of "strength through peace" - and that includes nuclear disarmament.

You can read Elizabeth's full statement at the link further on in this post.

The judge respectfully heard each of our statements, and when all was said and done he reduced each of our fines.  That in and of itself was, in some sense, a vindication of our actions.  Although constrained by the rules of the court, the judge recognized that we had acted in accordance with our conscience and our understanding of well established legal precedent, including the Nuremberg Principles.

Here are links to court statements of those who had statements prepared to read in court, listed by individual defendant.  Each link will take you to Google Docs, where you can read and download statement.  NOTE:  I will add people's statements as I receive them, so you may not yet see all eight listed.  I hope to have all available statements in a couple of days.


And so the cycle of resistance continues, thanks to a dedicated community of peacemakers.  Tomorrow people will come together at Ground Zero for the Annual Meeting, where we will reflect on the past year and plan for the future.  May the cycle be unbroken.

In Peace and Resistance,


P.S. - Coutroom video coming soon.

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