"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Summer of Nuclear Resistance: 24 arrested at Kansas City nuclear weapons parts plant

For immediate release July 13, 2013 Contacts: Henry Stoever, 913-375-0045, and Ann Suellentrop, 913-271-7925  PeaceWorks, Kansas City 4509 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64111

Protesters at new Kansas City facility seek to open a door to a nuclear-weapons-free world. 

On July 13, about 80 persons sang and prayed at the entry road to a new facility in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. By 10:15 a.m., two dozen protesters had crossed the property line and were soon arrested. The five-building facility, the Kansas City Plant, at 14510 Botts Road in KC, Mo., will by next year house the operations of the current KC Plant (at Bannister and Troost in KC), where 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for U.S. nuclear weapons are made or procured. During a brief ceremony, the 80 persons pledged “to strive for peace within myself and seek to be a peacemaker in my daily life … to persevere in nonviolence of tongue and heart … to work to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.”

photo by Bee Lloyd

With the assembly singing “Open the Door,” written for the occasion, 24 persons stepped through a door marked “Open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free world,” the rallying call of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. These are the 24 who then crossed the line separating the public road from the facility’s property:

Those arrested were:

 --Fr Carl Kabat of St. Louis CW, Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), who had entered the property and been charged with destruction of property in July 2011 and July 2012;

 --Fr William Antone, OMI, of Washington, D.C., the OMI order’s U.S. provincial superior;

 -- From the Kansas City area, including Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Cele Breen, Jim Everett - Independence MO, Lauren Logan, Notre Dame Sister of Omaha Theresa Maly, Community of Christ minister Lu Mountenay, Holy Family CWers Christian Brother Louis Rodemann and Nehemiah Rosell, Kelsey Schmidt, Jane Stoever, Ann Suellentrop, and Georgia Walker;

 -- Frank Cordaro, Ed Bloomer, and Jessica Reznicek - Des Moines IA Catholic Workers

 --Fr William “Bix” Bichsel SJ - Taoma WA CW

 --Mary CW House, Oxford WI, Cassandra Dixon of Madison, WI,

 --Paul Freid of Lake City MN CW Farm --Betsy Keenan - Strangers and Guest CW Farm, Maloy IA

 --Chrissy Kirchhoefer St Louis CW and Anneliese Stoever of St. Louis,

 --Janice Sevre-Duszynska, a Catholic womanpriest of Lexington, KY,

 --Jerry Zawada, a Franciscan priest of Milwaukee, WI.

The 24 line-crossers were arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and then detained in the Jackson County Police Department. Some were released July 13, some July 14, and some will be released July 15. The resisters received different trial dates, but lawyer Henry Stoever said he would try to secure a single trial date for them.

photo by Bee Lloyd

Zawada, when asked why he crossed the line, said, “It’s the children! And the future of the world. People are blind, people are deaf, to the fact that we’re producing these horrible bombs and creating an atmosphere of fear. It threatens the whole world.” He quoted a statement from deceased Jesuit Richard McSorley: “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon.” Zawada also said he wanted to accompany Kabat in this action; Kabat has spent 17 years in prison for acts of civil resistance to nuclear weapons. Referring to Kabat and the whole worldwide community of people seeking a nuke-free world, Zawada said, “It takes passion. And perseverance.”

Maly reflected, “I hope people that have positions of power, the ability to make decisions about nuclear weapons, hear our message.”


End Notes: This blog post is the complete news release from PeaceWorks.  Read a National Catholic Reporter article on the Kansas City action by Kate Simmons here.  Click here to see the Facebook page for the action.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Butterfly and the Submarine

Editor's Introduction: Shelley Douglass and her husband Jim Douglass were among the co-founders of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, which purchased 3.8 acres bordering Bangor’s Trident nuclear submarine base in 1977. As members of the Pacific Life Community, founded in 1975, they began a campaign of nonviolently resisting the Trident nuclear weapons system. They were inspired by Robert Aldridge’s resignation as a missile designer for Lockheed-Martin (the manufacturer of the Trident submarine launched ballistic missile) following a crisis of conscience as he recognized the first-strike capability and accuracy of the Trident missiles. The Douglasses currently live at Mary’s House Catholic Worker in Birmingham, Alabama, offering hospitality to homeless families and acting for nonviolence and peace.

As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, Shelley offers us a reflection inviting us to nurture our nonviolent heart, and discover (and celebrate) our interdependence.  Happy Interdependence Day to all.

The Butterfly and the Submarine

By Shelley Douglass

This morning I’ve been remembering the beginning of the campaign against Trident submarines in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.  Can it really be almost 40 years ago?  Such a raggedy band we were, twenty or so activists, burned out after our work against the war in Vietnam, not wanting another issue to address – and challenged by Bob Aldridge, who had helped to design the Trident missile.  Bob had left his job because he could no longer in conscience help build Trident.  It was his analysis of the arms race that informed us, but it was his moral action that inspired us.

By the July 4th weekend in 1976, we had done months of research, self-education, and public speaking.  We had formed a small community, which we called Pacific Life Community.  Our commitment was to learn how to live nonviolently, with the campaign against Trident as the political arm of that commitment.  We had all suffered from the personal violence of our own activism – our marriages had suffered, our frantic activity had drained us.  We had all been inspired by some of the people who were on the other side of the issue – like the Air Force men who asked us to raise the issue of targeting civilians during the bombing in Vietnam.  We wanted to struggle against our own complicity in violence at all levels, and to emphasize that everyone is part of the problem and part of the solution – that we can only live, or perish, as one.

The Trident issue made obvious what is deeply true:  none of us are actually independent.  Trident is home ported at Bangor Washington. To cruise the oceans it needs to leave the Strait of Juan de Fuca through Canadian waters, returning on the US side of the border.  The Trident system is a product of years of research and effort that escaped our notice as peace people living within miles of the proposed base.  It was a Trident missile designer who raised the issue for us all.  Trident cruises the Pacific, the same ocean used for testing of nuclear weapons by the US and the French – testing which prompted a movement for a Nuclear Free Pacific.  Deploying Trident is an international project; stopping it is also.  (Since those early years of the Trident campaign, Scotland has become a center of opposition as well, to the British Trident.)

A very early demonstration against Trident saw an international community gathered at Peace Arch Park, the border crossing between the US and Canada just above Blaine, WA.  We gathered from the US and the Canadian sides of the border to celebrate INTERdependence Day during the 4th of July weekend. Citizens of the US and Canada and perhaps other countries began by affirming interdependence at the border, and continued by going to the site of the base itself and reclaiming the land for all people.  Of course, there were arrests and trials and some jail time, which further raised the issue.

Interdependence:  a good thing to celebrate, especially at this time of fracture and hostility.  During the years that have passed since the Trident campaign began, it has only become clearer that the issues are not national but global.  Corporations and governments think globally; more and more often, movements do, too.  In this sense we’re living into Dr. King’s vision.  King’s hope for the Poor People’s Campaign was that as poor people tied up DC calling for legislation to end poverty, the peace movement would encircle the Pentagon calling for peace, and then that peoples around the globe would join in similar nonviolent blockages until global peace and justice became a possibility. 

I was having a good time at morning prayer this morning remembering those early actions of ours, and thinking that our commitment to nonviolence as a way of life and our understanding of interdependence are both as valid now as they were then.  The ubiquitous butterfly fluttered into my mind – you know, the one that changes the weather in Bali by fluttering its wings in England?  Interdependence is a scientific fact now too.  Life is a mystery, and so is our linkage to each other, yet that linkage is there, strong as life.

It occurred to me that the linkage symbolized by the butterfly, or more grossly by the Trident navigating global waters, is the basis for the hard sayings of Jesus that we’ve been reading in church over the last few weeks.  What if not only my actions but my thoughts affect the world, just as the butterfly’s wings do?  What if my hatred or impatience or fear affects the “weather” in other people’s psyches?  I have certainly experienced those effects in a local way – when someone in the house is grouchy or touchy, for example, everyone’s spirits are affected badly.  What if that’s just as true on a larger, less visible level?

As I sit thinking, it becomes obvious – ill will generates ill will, distrust generates distrust.  Lack of respect calls forth an answering lack of respect.  I see it in our political arena all the time, as civility and reason fly out the window.  I feel it in my own heart, where I battle cynicism and hostility daily as I read the paper or watch the news.  All too often my interior response to hostility is a mental “back atcha” or  “so’s your mama”.  It doesn’t get said, but it has an interior effect, a kind of gunk of the soul, that stays with me for hours.  What if the hostility that I harbor affects not only the people here in the house, but the web of life in the world?  What if my ill will helps impel a Syrian soldier to pull a trigger?

All of which brings me back to the spiritual disciplines represented by morning prayer or scripture reading or examination of conscience.  Jesus wasn’t telling us to love our enemy so that we would be nice people, or even so that our enemies would be nice people.  He was setting out for us the very difficult way to change in the world.  Those examinations of conscience that require us to list our lies, or lack of charity, our hateful actions – perhaps they aren’t so much intended to guide us to personal perfection as to point out to us the ways in which we ourselves foment war and injustice.  Perhaps it isn’t so much that my anomie or my resentment hurts me (although it does), but that it hurts us all.  It fosters disturbance in the delicate balance that would be peace in the world, peace in our minds.

Gandhi told people to BE the change they wanted to see in the world; Peter Maurin observed that if everyone would be what they wanted the other person to be, the world would be a better place.  What if we took an examination of conscience seriously, not as a litany of our sins, not to be perfect in following rules, but as a guideline to the ways in which we ourselves are responsible for the evil in the world?  What if we took our own sin seriously?

The butterfly’s wing, the hateful thought, the submarine, the hands across a border – all signs of our interdependence, which could be our salvation.

Shelley & Jim (at right) with friends at the Y-12 Complex in July 2010