|Direct Actions/Resistance Cases|
ELF/Trident Action in WisconsinIn another of a series of actions by a dedicated resistance campaign, on June 24 Bonnie Urfer and Michael Strong used a hand saw to cut down one of the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) transmitting poles in the Chequamegon National Forest in Wisconsin. ELF is used to communicate with Trident submarines. Urfer and Strong were held without bail for 72 hours. Wisconsin has dropped charges, but the US Attorney in Madison has indicted Urfer and Strong on a misdemeanor charge of depredation of property. Anabel Dwyer, LCNP board member, is one of the attorneys assisting with the defense, including on the basis that Trident is inherently incapable of distinguishing between civilians and military targets, a fundamental requirement of lawfulness identified by the International Court of Justice.
Pax Christi Closes Weapons Station
Led by Bishop Walter Sullivan, on July 31 150 Pax Christi USA members and friends closed Yorktown Naval Weapons Station in Virginia, reportedly a storage site for Navy Tomahawk cruise missiles and about 160 W-80 nuclear warheads used to arm the missiles. Protesters linked hands and blocked the main entrances to the Weapons Station, turning away several cars and tractor trailers, after a weapons of mass destruction inspection team, including LCNPs John Burroughs, was denied access.
(Photo by Jackie Cabasso)
Sacred Earth and Space Ploughshares Charges Dropped
On September 17, after spending a week in jail awaiting trial for felony and misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief, destruction of government property and conspiracy, five Catholic nuns aged 52 to 73 were freed after all charges were dropped. The nuns - Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson, Anne Montgomery, Liz Walters and Ardeth Platte - admitted entering Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs on September 9, 2000 and disarming a mock Milstar communications satellite and a Warthog A-10 aircraft by hammering and pouring blood on them. Calling themselves the Sacred Earth and Space Ploughshares, they said that the weapons systems and their use in US programs to militarize and dominate space, and in US military attacks on Iraq, are illegal and contrary to Gods will.
The nuns stated: "We reject the breaking of International Law, including the ABM Treaty of 1972 and the Outer Space Treaties. Above all we reject the breaking of Gods Law. We reject the vision of the Space Command that the way a nation makes wealth is the way it makes war. We reject that the United States must control space as critical to both military and economic instruments of power - the main sources of national strength. Our security is neither in wealth nor in war. It is in the God of the universe who calls us to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. "
International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space:
Report from Vandenberg
From the back of a flatbed truck, Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, was telling the gathering how the United States Air Force had brought Nazi rocket scientists from Germany after World War II to start the U.S. space program. At that moment, an enormous black "gunboat" helicopter appeared overhead, hovering ominously above the assembly, its thunderous engines drowning out the speakers.
This was the scene across the street from the main gate at Vandenberg Air Force base on Saturday, October 7, as approximately 200 people gathered to peacefully express their opposition to ongoing U.S. plans to deploy a "Star Wars" National Missile Defense program. Rally speakers included Medea Benjamin, Green Party candidate for U.S.
Senate in California, "Butch" Turk, representing Greenpeace, Carah Ong, Coordinator of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, and actor Martin Sheen.
After the rally, surprised nonviolent demonstrators, singing and holding hands at the main gate of the base, were met by camouflage-clad, baton-wielding security forces, dogs and a water cannon. A few people who were prepared to risk arrest by attempting to deliver a letter to the base commander were handled unnecessarily roughly, inspiring others to join them. By the end of the day 23 people (including Martin Sheen) had been arrested some of them literally grabbed off the sidewalk by military personnel. In an unusual and disturbing development, arrestees were read their rights and "interviewed" before being released. They also received letters banning them from the base along with trespass citations.
The Vandenberg rally and nonviolent direct action was part of an internationally-coordinated day of protest to stop the militarization of space. Demonstrations took place in 16 countries and 39 U.S. cities. Vandenberg Air Force Base is the U.S. launch site for Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) interceptor tests, firstike nuclear missile tests and military satellites. When President Clinton announced his decision on September 1 to delay deployment of a Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, he also mandated a "robust program of continued development and testing, including 16 more BMD tests at $100 million each. The next BMD interceptor test is planned from Vandenberg in January 2001.
- Jacqueline Cabasso, Exec. Dir., Western States Legal Foundation
Greenock: Lord Advocates Reference Begins
An extraordinary first week unfolded October 9-12 in the Lord Advocates Reference to the High Court of Scotland in Edinburgh of points of law raised by Sheriff Gimbletts Greenock acquittal of Trident disarmers Angie Zelter, Ellen Moxley and Ulla Roder.
Representing herself, Angie was able to engage the judges in probing discussion of the international law bases for the action. For example, one judge asked, "Start with direct Nuremberg Principles - people shouldnt carry on with the commission of a crime. You extend that to people not in any way concerned with the commission of a crime?" Angie answered, simply, "Yes", of course having in mind "mere" citizens, not themselves having their finger on the nuclear trigger, who act to resist the nuclear threat. Angie also had the judges closely studying the effects of a 100 kiloton bomb on Edinburgh, drawing their attention to hospitals, schools, churches, and the zones for heat and blast effects.
On October 12, the disarmers were treated to a reception by the City Council of Edinburgh! The case has been adjourned until November 14. LCNP, along with others, is providing assistance to Angie, and board member Ian Anderson is representing Ulla Roder. For more, see www.gn.apc.org/tp2000 .
Vengeance Disarmers Discharged
Nuclear disarmers Rosie James and Rachel Wenham were discharged on September 20 after the jury found them not guilty of spray-painting "Death Machine" and "Illegal" on the HMS Vengeance and was unable to reach a verdict on a second charge of hammering test equipment. The women had conducted their ploughshares actions against the HMS Vengeance in Barrow, UK in February.
Justice Humphries ruled on September 18 that two of the three proposed legal defenses those of necessity/duress and acting to protect property or life - could be heard before the jury, but that the defense of preventing a greater crime (in this instance the crime of genocide and the transgression of various international laws of war) could not be submitted to the jury. Justice Humphries justified this on his belief that the threat or use of Trident does not contravene existing English law.However, the fact that the women were found not guilty of the spray-painting action indicates that the jury felt that such action was necessary to protect property or life from the threat of nuclear weapons. The jurys indecision regarding the second charge of hammering test equipment could be due to the greater degree of damage done by this action. The prosecution had claimed that value of the damage was up to one million pounds.
Ms. Wenham said: "Despite the efforts of the UK government, this case has shown that the moral conscience of the British people is alive and kicking! An English jury has seen the truth about Britains nuclear weapons system and has questioned the moral and legal legitimacy of Trident."