Seven Catholic plowshares activists were detained early on the morning of April 5, 2018 at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia. Kings Bay Naval base opened in 1979 as the Navy’s Atlantic Ocean Trident port. It is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world. There are six ballistic missile subs and two guided missile subs based at Kings Bay.
They entered on Wednesday night, April 4. Calling themselves Kings Bay Plowshares, they went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command: “beat swords into plowshares”. Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction.
The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing the triplets of militarism, racism and materialism. In a statement they carried with them, the group quoted King, who said: “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.”
The activists at the nuclear weapons storage bunkers were Elizabeth McAlister, 78, Jonah House, Baltimore, Fr. Steve Kelly SJ, 69, Bay Area, California and Carmen Trotta, 55, New York Catholic Worker.The activists went to three sites on the base: The administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers. The activists used crime scene tape, hammers and hung banners reading: “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide, Dr. Martin Luther King”, “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide” and “Nuclear weapons: illegal – immoral.” They also brought an indictment charging the U.S. government for crimes against peace. No one was injured. This is the latest of 100 similar actions around the world beginning in 1980 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
The activists at the Administration building were Clare Grady, 59, Ithaca Catholic Worker and Martha Hennessy, 62, New York Catholic Worker.
The activists at the Trident D5 monuments were Mark Colville, 55, Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Connecticut and Patrick O’Neill, 61, Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, North Carolina.
All activists were detained and They are currently charged with three Georgia state crimes – misdemeanor criminal trespass and two felonies: possession of tools for the commission of a crime and interference with government property. The KBP7 trial guilty verdict came on Oct. 24th, 2019. Sentencing was originally set for January 2020, but delayed several times.
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Statement from the Kings Bay Plowshares
We come in peace on this sorrowful anniversary of the martyrdom of a great prophet, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Fifty years ago today, April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee as a reaction to his efforts to address “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism.”
We come to Kings Bay to answer the call of the prophet Isaiah (2:4) to “beat swords into plowshares” by disarming the world’s deadliest nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine.
We repent of the sin of white supremacy that oppresses and takes the lives of people of color here in the United States and throughout the world. We resist militarism that has employed deadly violence to enforce global domination. We believe reparations are required for stolen land, labor and lives.
Dr. King said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world (today) is my own government.” This remains true in the midst of our endless war on terror. The United States has embraced a permanent war economy.
“Peace through strength” is a dangerous lie in a world that includes weapons of mass destruction on hair-trigger alert. The weapons from one Trident have the capacity to end life as we know it on planet Earth.
Nuclear weapons kill every day through our mining, production, testing, storage, and dumping, primarily on Indigenous Native land. This weapons system is a cocked gun being held to the head of the planet.
As white Catholics, we take responsibility to atone for the horrific crimes stemming from our complicity with “the triplets.” Only then can we begin to restore right relationships. We seek to bring about a world free of nuclear weapons, racism and economic exploitation.
We plead to our Church to withdraw its complicity in violence and war. We cannot simultaneously pray and hope for peace while we bless weapons and condone war making.
Pope Francis says abolition of weapons of mass destruction is the only way to save God’s creation from destruction.
Clarifying the teachings of our Church, Pope Francis said, “The threat of their use as well as their very possession is to be firmly condemned … weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, create nothing but a false sense of security. They cannot constitute the basis for peaceful coexistence between members of the human family, which must rather be inspired by an ethics of solidarity.”
Nuclear weapons eviscerate the rule of law, enforce white supremacy, perpetuate endless war and environmental destruction and ensure impunity for all manner of crimes against humanity. Dr. King said, “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide.” We say, “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide.” A just and peaceful world is possible when we join prayers with action. Swords into Plowshares!
Stephen Kelly S.J.