[Ppnews] Blood-Pouring Anti-Nuke Clowns Sent to Prison

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Nov 17 19:39:57 EST 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/quigley11172006.html

November 17, 2006


Blood-Pouring Anti-Nuke Clowns Sent to Prison


Weapons of Mass Destruction Protected!

By BILL QUIGLEY

Three men protesting the presence of weapons of 
mass destruction in North Dakota were sentenced 
to federal prison terms of over three years and 
ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution by a 
federal judge in Bismarck. The three dressed as 
clowns and went to the Echo-9 launch site of the 
intercontinental Minuteman III nuclear missile in 
rural North Dakota in June 2006. They broke the 
lock off the fence and put up peace banners and 
posters. One said: "Swords into plowshares - 
Spears into pruning hooks." They poured some of 
their own blood on the site, hammered on the 
nuclear launching facility and waited to be arrested.

The Minuteman III missile has over 20 times the 
destructive power of the bomb dropped on 
Hiroshima and can reach a target within 6000 
miles in 35 minutes. The men called their action 
the "Weapons of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares."

Dressed in faded black striped prison uniforms 
and blue cloth slippers, they appeared before the 
federal court for sentencing. Fr. Carl Kabat, 73, 
a catholic priest from St. Louis with a life-long 
history of resistance to nuclear weapons was 
sentenced to 15 months in prison. Greg 
Boetje-Obed, 52, a former Navy officer living 
with his family in the Catholic Worker community 
in Duluth Minnesota was given a 12 month and one 
day prison sentence. Michael Walli, 58, also with 
the Loaves and Fishes Catholic Worker in Duluth 
received 8 months. All were ordered to pay $17,000 restitution.

During their trial, the men openly admitted try 
to disarm the nuclear weapon. They pointed out to 
the jury that each one of these missiles was a 
devastating weapon of mass destruction, a killing 
machine precisely designed to murder hundreds of 
thousands. Testimony by experts about the 
illegality of these weapons of mass destruction 
under international law and their effects were 
excluded by the court and never heard by the jury.

The 40 ton Minuteman III site they damaged lies 
deep in rural North Dakota, at a site called 
Echo-9 about 100 miles north of Bismarck. Coiled 
beneath the surface of a bland concrete bunker, 
it is clearly visible from the gravel road. In 
fact, the otherwise pastoral countryside of farms 
and silos is full of nuclear weapon silos. One 
nuclear weapon launching site lies just across 
the road from a big farmhouse, another just down 
the road from a camp for teens. There are 150 
other such nuclear launching facilities in North Dakota alone.

At the sentencing, Father Carl Kabat, who has 
already spent 16 years in prison for peace 
protests, spoke simply and directly to the court 
and prosecutor. "I believe that you, brother 
judge and brother prosecutor, know that the 
Minuteman III at E-9 is insane, immoral and 
illegal, but your actions protected that 
insanity, that immorality and that illegality. 
Brother judge, you could have possibly been a 
Rosa Parks, but your actions said "no." We all 
can openly and publicly condemn North Korea for 
nuclear bombs. We can openly and publicly condemn 
Iraq for nuclear weapons and go to war with them. 
We can openly and publicly condemn Iran for 
nuclear buildup, but we do not publicly condemn 
the United States for the same?"

Fr. Kabat then challenged all of us, "What is the 
use of post marking our mail with exhortations to 
"Pray for Peace" and then spending billions of 
dollars on atomic armed submarines, thermonuclear 
weapons and ballistic missiles?"

Michael Walli reaffirmed his continuing 
conviction of the illegality and immorality of 
these weapons. He pointed out that Irish Courts 
allowed juries to hear about international law. 
Recently, after learning that US jets were 
stopping at Shannon Airport to refuel on their 
way to bomb Iraq, the Pitstop Plowshares went 
onto the runway, poured their blood on it and 
started to take up the tarmac to prevent 
additional flights. After two mistrials, these 
peace protestors were acquitted on all counts 
earlier this year by an Irish jury who heard an 
expert on international law and other witnesses 
explain the illegality of the U.S. actions. To 
conclude his sentencing statement, the Peace 
Prayer of St. Francis was read into the record.

Greg Boetje-Obed appealed to the judge to 
consider the testimony of the mayors of Hiroshima 
and Nagasaki about the horrific effects of a tiny 
nuclear weapon on their communities, testimony 
the court would not allow the jury to hear. He 
asked the judge to re-consider expert testimony 
from Professor Francis Boyle about the 
criminality of nuclear weapons under 
international law and the UN resolutions calling 
for nuclear disarmament, evidence also kept from the jury.

The judge challenged Greg Boertje-Obed's decision 
to take actions that risked a year in prison 
instead of staying home with his family. "Why 
would one leave a wife and daughter at home to 
engage in juvenile acts of vandalism to protest 
nuclear weapons? I would think your commitment to 
your family should far outweigh your calling to 
such actions." Greg's wife, Michelle Naar Obed, 
was in the courtroom during this exchange. After 
the sentencing was over, Michelle shook her head 
and said, "If Greg had left us his for a year and 
risked his life to go to war to kill people, no 
one would question him ­ they would call him a 
hero! But, because he risked time in jail to act 
out his convictions for peace, people question 
his commitment to his family. That is a tragic."

What does it say about our society that personal 
sacrifices to go to war to kill people in war are 
praised, while personal sacrifices for peace are 
condemned? What does it say that intentional 
destruction of cities and communities and 
families and individuals are considered totally 
legal, while actions trying to dismantle weapons 
of mass destruction send people to prison? Until 
those interested in peace are willing to make the 
same sacrifices as those interested in war, peace 
will not prevail. These three men have proven 
they are willing to pay the price for peace. 
Their courage and sacrifice challenges us all.

While these men serve their time in prison, one 
hundred fifty weapons of mass destruction sit 
peacefully free and protected in the fields of 
North Dakota. The law protects these weapons and 
finds those who try to protect the world from 
their holocaust criminals. If the weapons are 
ever used, the people of North Dakota will not 
need the news to tell them. The thunderous fiery 
launch of these weapons will signal the failure 
of justice and the end of life as we know it.

For more information about the men contact the 
Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth at 
218.728.0629 or Nukewatch at 715.472.4185. Copies 
of some pleadings in the case, pictures, updates 
and addresses for the men are posted on the Jonah 
House website <http://www.jonahhouse.org/>http://www.jonahhouse.org

Bill Quigley is a human rights lawyer and 
professor at Loyola University New Orleans 
College of Law. Bill and Dan Gregor assisted the 
defendants in this matter. You can reach Bill at 
<mailto:Quigley at loyno.edu>Quigley at loyno.edu


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