Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2020-2021
Editor’s note: Prior to his sentencing hearing, Fr. Steve Kelly delivered the following letter to the court explaining his decision to continue his non-cooperation with punitive probationary restrictions and penalties regardless of the judge’s sentence.
Conscientious Objection to and Non-compliance with Post-incarceration Conditions
While still in chains, I, pro se defendant Stephen Michael Kelly, S.J., file this declaration in an attempt to remove any ambiguity and avoid all misunderstanding, come time of sentencing.
I assert the innocence of the Kings Bay Plowshares. But this statement is my own declaration. Both my conscientious objection and my Religious Freedom Restoration Act testimony are attempts to fulfill the mandate of the Nuremberg Accords. This witness has me confronting and engaged with the omnicidal policies of the US government. Recourse to appeal is futile, pathetic, and dangerous because all the judiciary’s rulings precluded our jury from hearing any defense. The circuit, appeal, the entire judiciary has thwarted redress that would fulfill the purpose and mandate of the signatories of the Nuremberg Accords. For this reason, I am a political prisoner of conscience for Christ. The judiciary has been unable to see the Isaian vision as a way out of this spiral of violence. The [Christian Bible’s] Isaiah 2:4 vision is an imperative to conversion. The judiciary dangerously legitimizes a nuclear holocaust in following previous rulings. The precedents, when followed, have functioned as a gag order. This court would not allow the jury, the triers of fact, to hear what was recognized in our Religious Freedom Restoration Act evidence; we were at the Trident base to preach against the sin that flourishes in weapons of mass destruction.
Given that situation, my participation in any aspect of supervised release [probation/parole] is to comply with and accommodate the US’s compelling interest [in] the nuclear weapons agenda. Compelling interest is a euphemism for 1,000’s of Hiroshimas and Nagasakis. And, as in the case of the citizens’ obligation to expose the Nazi concentration camps’ industrial scale genocide in Germany/Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, the Nuremberg Accords were/are both an appraisal and indictment. The nuclear weapons are flying extermination ovens. In conscience, I can’t let any court order or threat restrict me from imitation of the Good Shepherd, Jesus when he placed himself, laying down his life, between the wolf, the thief and the flock. In this case, the wolf is the Trident aimed at millions and the thief is the larceny from the poor predicted by Eisenhower in his Oval Office departure.
I answer to a higher authority in that my faith imperative, as outlined in the tenets of the Catholic Catechism, missions me to respond to the needs of the poor, oppressed, and disenfranchised in any locality and without any exclusion of those with felony records. I am indigent and itinerant. I will respond, should I be found worthy, led by the Spirit, to witness the prophetic vision offered in Isaiah 2:4 by fulfilling its embodiment.
I am aware that the imposition of supervised release is a [Justice Department] guideline option, not mandatory for this court. I point out that supervised release [probation or parole] was not intended for anti-nuclear activists. Consistent with the above, I will in conscience refuse any fines and restitution. This renders [the probation department’s] role to oversee collection pointless. In the wake of sentencing, I will be taken in chains to Federal Court in Tacoma, Washington to answer for the warrant that stemmed from my stating in open court in September 2016 that I refused supervised release. And I suggested [then] to the federal magistrate presiding to translate any term of supervised release into a period of incarceration. This has been consistent in all my previous Plowshares witnesses.
In closing this declaration, if it is not apparent that our nonviolent witness at the Trident base was to save not a few but a multitude of lives, then let this instrument serve to make that an explicit recapitulation of that intention. —Fr. Steve Kelly, SJ