Nukewatch Quarterly Summer 2020
On Friday, May 22, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the Southern District Federal court of Georgia in Brunswick, assigned new dates for seven defendants according to the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) lead attorney, Bill Quigley. Many of the defendants had asked the court to postpone their May 28 and 29 court dates to accommodate their right to be sentenced in person in court, not by video, witnessed by the public and press. The seven were convicted of three felonies and one misdemeanor on October 24, 2019 for their nonviolent, symbolic disarmament act at the Kings Bay Trident submarine base.
The defendants had also asked for home confinement during this time of Covid-19, as entering prison could be a death sentence. Their request was denied by the prosecution. Elizabeth McAlister, 80, the eldest of the KBP7 defendants and widow of Phil Berrigan, was notified that her court date was changed from May 28 to June 8. She is to be sentenced by video while she stays at her home in Connecticut. McAlister served over 17 months before trial. The US attorney is asking for three to five years of probation and restitution. [Update: McAlister was sentenced to time served and three years supervised probation on June 8.]
Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, was granted an adjournment and given a new date on June 29, 3:30 pm, in Brunswick, Georgia. Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Mark Colville, Carmen Trotta, and Fr. Steve Kelly also asked for an adjournment and were given June 29 and 30 as their new dates to appear with no times yet specified. They were not told whether they’ll be allowed to be sentenced in person in open court or whether they’ll have to travel to Brunswick to be sentenced remotely by video once they get there. [Update: On September 3, Carmen Trotta is scheduled for 9 am, Steve Kelly 1 pm, and Clare Grady at 4 pm. On September 4, Mark Colville 9 am, Patrick O’Neill 1 pm and Martha Hennessy at 4 pm.]
The sentencing recommendations call for up to 45 months for Steve Kelly (already served over two years) and up to 27 months for the others. Supervised probation and restitution are also requested. Judge Godbey Wood is free to sentence upward or downward from these guidelines.
As they wait for sentencing each of the defendants and their families continue to serve as their communities’ human needs grow exponentially during this Covid-19 pandemic. The defendants call for the release of people in prisons, in federal and state prisons, county and city jails, especially the elderly, the infirm and all non-violent offenders.
On April 4, 2018, acting on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 used a bolt cutter to enter a remote gate at Naval Base Kings Bay in St. Mary’s, Georgia, and walked two miles through swamp and brush. They then split up, prayed, symbolically poured blood, and spray-painted demands to disarm nuclear weapons and to love one another. They hammered on parts of a shrine to nuclear missiles, hung banners quoting Dr. King’s, “the ultimate logic of racism is genocide,” and another naming the ominicidal logic of Trident. The seven then waited to be arrested.