Sunday, April 29, 2018

Catholic Peace Activists- " Plowshares: Who are they? What do they want?"by Jill Helton

Our beloved Judy Beaumont RCWP, who died on Jan 1st was also a Plowshares Activist doing something similar and a bit more risky in TRIDENT-Nein in 1981. Risking all comfort and prison-Judy served about seven months in RI and CT prisons for her actions- they stand FOR true peace and against weapons of mass destruction. I am glad to see the  legacy of the Berrigan's and the Plowshares activists lives on. She knew Liz McAllister and admired her as well.  Thanks and blessings, Judy Lee RCWP

(Appeared in Tribune & Georgian, St.Marys, GA newspaper)

It could have been a dinner party at any Camden County home.

As southern Georgians do, they opened their potluck gathering on Friday evening with prayer. With plates of hors d’oeuvres and half full glasses of wine, the guests assembled around the living room for some engaging conversation.

Yet these party guests may not have been welcome in every Camden County home.

This was a gathering for members of the Kings Bay Plowshares, who visited the area to support the anti-nuclear protestors who were arrested at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base earlier this month. They are part of an international Plowshares movement that wants to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

The full verse from Isaiah 2:4 (KJV) states, “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more..”

Seven of their members, all Roman Catholic, remain in jail this week after bond was denied in Camden County Magistrate Court. They illegally entered the base on April 4 and staged protests into the early morning hours of April 5 at three areas of the installation: the nuclear weapons storage bunkers, the D5 missile monument and the administration building.

Carrying bottles full of their own blood and hammers, they “attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction,” according to a press release from the organization. The activists defaced the properties with what appears to be their blood, spray-painted messages like “love one another” on sidewalks and pounded with their hammers in a symbolic gesture.

Mark Colville, 55, of New Haven, Conn.; Clare Grady, 59, of Ithaca, N.Y.; Martha Hennessy, 62, of Perkinsville, Vt.; Steve Kelly, 69 of Los Gatos, Calif.; Elizabeth McAlister, 78, of Baltimore, Md.; Patrick O’Neill, 61, of Garner, N.C.; and Carmen Trotta, 55, of New York City; were charged in Camden County Superior Court with interference with government property, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, both felonies, and criminal trespass, a misdemeanor. No federal charges have been filed.

Several Camden County citizens have voiced their outrage on social media because they feel the group wrongly characterizes its demonstrations as non-violent.

“I am all for freedom of speech and expression but there is a time and place. Entering without authorization and vandalizing is not part of it,” said Andrew Bellendir of Kingsland, whose letter to the editor was published in a recent edition.

The Tribune & Georgian Facebook page also elicited mostly negative comments about the seven offenders and their detention at the Camden County jail.

Various peace groups have protested the nuclear weapons on base since the early 1980s with few incidents and appear to be mostly tolerated as they picket at the front gate of the base.

The Plowshares’ actions drew a stronger response, in part because laws were broken, but also because blood can contain disease-causing pathogens and hammers can be used to cause grave bodily injury.

However, they don’t put much into the idea that Camden County citizens, even those who live on base, might be legitimately disturbed or fearful of their safety because of the protest.

Plowshares’ member Bill Streit said he was sorry for anyone who truly felt threatened by the demonstrators, but questioned how one could be fearful of a hammer but not the destructive power of the missiles at Kings Bay. He said it shows how skewed and numb people have become about weapons of mass destruction.

“(The hammers) are not used against any human being,” he said. “Our souls are messed up when we are more afraid of Christians with bolt cutters,” Streit said.

When a reporter suggested that others don’t know what there intent might be, group members emphasized that the hammer was an essential element of this symbolic action.

“Hammers are also used to build things,” added Beth Brockman from Durham. N.C.

In the book, “Religion and War Resistance in the Plowshares Movement,” Plowshares activist Mary Sprunger-Froese explained why they use human blood.

“War has been sanitized … because we mostly do it through our technology and satellite surveillance. Back when people [fought] hand to hand, you would see the blood and gore and you would see the consequences,” she said. “Now we’re so far removed and we watch war coverage on TV like it’s a miniseries. That’s so desensitizing, deadening. So when we use blood, it has a very powerful effect. … The blood is very real, very arresting, shocking, and in your face. It says, ‘This is what we’re talking about — human life.’ All this technology is made to destroy it, to spill human blood.”

The activists realize that some of the blood that is spilled may be their own.

Group members said those who demonstrate spend up to a year preparing with prayer, fasting, political analysis and other rituals before attempting to breach sensitive areas that are often guarded with armed Marines.

The group shared the thoughts of Elizabeth McAlister, one of those arrested, on their Facebook page after the demonstration:

“We raise our voices in a cry to dismantle the weapons — all of them — and we risk life and limb and our future hopes to make this plea: ‘dismantle the weapons.’

“Admirals at Kings Bay, you must know as well or better than we, that the payload of your six Tridents is more than enough to obliterate all life on Earth. We plead with you to examine your priorities. Is this really what you want to be about?

“How can you look at your children and grandchildren and continue to grease the wheels of destruction. Turn it around before it is too late …”

The Plowshares organization has protested at about 100 installations around the world and some of the support team members have themselves been arrested in similar operations. If the trial for the seven base protestors is set in Camden County, the Plowshares said many more peace activists will come to the community in a show of support for the accused.

The Plowshares’ press release said they selected the Georgia base as a demonstration site because April 4 was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.

Robert Randall, a support team member from Glynn County, said Dr. King was also characterized as radical or even violent because of his actions during the early days of the civil rights movement. He preached nonviolence through sit-ins and marches.

“We want to make sure that message does not get lost,” Randall said.

Streit said he understands that abolishing nuclear weapons is an unpopular proposition in a community where the economy is so heavily dependent on that military program.

“To them, it would be a radical way of thinking,” he said. “We are hoping to reach hearts.”

Brockman said the money spent on the nuclear weapons program could address an endless list of public needs, such as hunger and homelessness.

It seemed to matter little that the group would be fighting an uphill battle to grow its membership in Camden County.

They point to the teachings of Jesus Christ and question how any Christian could feel differently. To them, this is just following the path upon which their faith has placed them.

“We’re not really in charge,” Streit said. “We just do what is right, just and good and then we leave it in better hands than ours.”

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Kings Bay Plowshares posted news stories and up dates so far....

April 5 - Kings Bay Plowshares: 7 Catholic Peace Activists arrested at Kings Bay Naval Base Georgia ... all dear friends and CWers!

April 5 - 7 PROTESTERS DETAINED AT NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE IN KINGS BAY, First Coast News
April 5 - Full Report: Seven Kings Bay Plowshares activists arrested inside Trident nuclear submarine base, Nuke Resister

April 5 - "Plowshares activists arrested for action at Georgia naval base" by James Dearie, NCR
https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/plowshares-activists-arrested-action-georgia-naval-base


April 5 - "Seven Plowshares Activists Arrested Protesting at U.S. Nuclear Sub Base" Democracy Now Headlines

April 5 -  "Seven Peace Activists Arrested After Entering Nuclear Submarine Base in Georgia" by Jon Queally, Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/04/05/seven-peace-activists-arrested-after-entering-nuclear-submarine-base-georgia


April 6 - "Catholic peace activists face charges after detention at submarine base" Catholic Philly

April 7 - "Bond Denied for 7 Catholic Protesters Who Prayed on Nuclear Submarine Base in Georgia" Sojourners mag

April 8 -  "How Do You Tell the Kids that Grandma Is in Jail for Resisting Nuclear Weapons?" by Frida Berrigan, Truth Out
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/44097-how-do-you-tell-the-kids-that-grandma-is-in-jail-for-resisting-nuclear-weapons 

April 9 - "Seven anti-war activists raid Georgia nuclear submarine base with hammers, bottles of blood" by Leslie Eastman, Legal Insurrection
https://legalinsurrection.com/2018/04/seven-anti-war-activists-raid-georgia-nuclear-submarine-base-with-hammers-bottles-of-blood/
April 10 - Update on King's Bay Plowshares from .Bill Ofenloch
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/ej3FeG8ZyfM
April 12, - "Article in the New Haven Register about Kings Bay Plowshares" forward from Luz Catarineau-Colville

April 13 - "Armed with a hammer and blood in a baby bottle, Garner man arrested at nuclear submarine base" BY ANNE BLYTHE, News & Observer, RALEIGH
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/bCqlQmmN6iY

April 13 - Kings Bay Plowshares "Tridents must be dismantled" forward message from John Linnehan, passed on by Rosalie Riegle with note.
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/BT6z1R9PD58

April 14 - Kings Bay Plowshares - Clare called today!! .... message from Mary Anne Grady Flores
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/F5LQuQNh4po

April 15 - Kings Bay Plowshares - Patrick called this morning .... message from Mary Rider, Patrick O'Neill's wife and fellow Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker Garner NC
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/9Vq44sF60z4

April 17 - Kings Bay Plowshares update ... message from Luz Colville

April 17 - Kings Bay Plowshares short reflection from Clare Grady ... forward from Ellen Grady

April 18 - Legal team update for Kings Bay Plowshares ... message from Luz Colville
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/OVItJ1dLFwM

April 21 - Support the Kings Bay Plowshares ... forward by Max Obuszewski
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/MBC8thiJjEs

April 21 - Kings Bay Plowshares "A Reflection by Martha Hennessy" .... forward by Kings Bay Plowshares Support Comm
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