Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2021
On September 29, 2021, Susan Crane, a Plowshares activist and member of the Catholic Worker community in Redwood City, California, went on trial in District Court in Cochem, Germany, charged with trespass and damage to the fence for go-in actions at the Büchel air base on July 15 and August 6, 2018. Crane’s trial was only the second time that a US resident has been brought to court, even though over two dozen US citizens joined nonviolent “go-in” actions during annual protests in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021. (Dennis DuVall formerly of Arizona was tried and convicted in 2019 but is now a German resident.)
Bench trials and appeals hearings are crowding the court calendar in the ongoing campaign of civil resistance against the 20 US nuclear weapons, known as B61 gravity bombs, stationed at base.
In her defense, Crane intended to present oral testimony and written documents, including a declaration by international law expert Anabel Dwyer of Michigan, and a written appeal to the base’s military personnel that was carried by the group on July 15, when 18 people gained entry to the base in broad daylight on a Sunday morning. In prepared testimony provided to Nukewatch, Crane intended to argue that “sharing” of the US thermonuclear B61 gravity bombs with Germany violates the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), among other international laws. We go to press before the trial, but judges in all similar cases in the “Büchel is Everywhere” campaign have ignored appeals to “crime prevention” defenses under international law and found the protesters guilty.
Nukewatch staffer John LaForge was convicted on the same two charges May 31, 2021, in the Cochem District court, and is now scheduled for a December 9 appeal hearing in the city of Koblenz, an appeal that Crane hopes to join as a co-defendant.
In the coming months, more than a dozen nuclear resisters from Germany, The Netherlands and the United States face trials in Cochem or appeal hearings in Koblenz, many on charges stemming from the 18-person July 2018 “go-in.” In one case, Margriet Bos of the Amsterdam Catholic Worker, who was convicted of trespass and property damage for joining the big go-in, has been informed that the fine imposed by the Cochem District Court has been transferred to the Dutch judiciary which will try and collect the $1,289 fine.