About 250 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse Monday for the sentencing of two Jesuit priests, a nun, and two octogenarians who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest submarine nuclear weapons.
Two priests, a nun, and two other women in their 60s who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest submarine nuclear weapons were sentenced Monday to prison terms ranging from two to 15 months.
U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle sentenced Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly, 61, of Oakland, Calif., and retired teacher Susan Crane, 67, of Baltimore, to 15 months in prison, the News Tribune reported.
Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel, 82, of Tacoma, was sentenced to three months in prison and three months’ home monitoring. Sister Anne Montgomery, 84, of Redwood City, Calif., got two months in prison and four months’ home monitoring, and social worker Lynne Greenwald, 61, of Tacoma, got six months in prison.
The judge ordered Kelly to be taken to prison immediately. Settle was going to allow the other defendants to report to prison next month, but when they told the judge they might not show up, he also ordered them to be taken to prison immediately.
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A federal jury convicted the five anti-war demonstrators of conspiracy, trespass and destruction of government property in December. They had face up to 10 years in prison, and prosecutors recommended sentences ranging between six months and 36 months.
Court documents say the group cut through fences on Nov. 2, 2009, to reach an area near where nuclear warheads are stored in bunkers. The protesters put up banners, sprinkled blood on the ground, scattered sunflower seeds and prayed until they were arrested.
The Bangor base, about 20 miles west of Seattle on Hood Canal, is home to 10 Ohio-class submarines, eight armed with Trident ballistic missiles and two with conventional weapons.
About 250 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse before Monday’s sentencing. Some demonstrators carried signs saying, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” according to Seattle radio station KOMO.
Kelly told KOMO before the sentencing that he was prepared to go to prison.
“I think it’s really worth it. I have the solace of my conscience, as I think this is just one little step against nuclear weapons and someday we’ll be free, and maybe not in my lifetime, but I have hope.”
The five defendants said nuclear warheads stored at the base and on submarines there are illegal under international, national and humanitarian law, but a judge prohibited them from using international law and the lethality of nuclear weapons as a defense. The trial hinged on straightforward charges relating to trespassing and property damage.
Montgomery said in a sentencing document filed last week that she and others have taken responsibility for their actions. She wrote that they trained for the action and went over every aspect, including discussing that a Marine might shoot one of them.
“We accept personal responsibility for bringing attention to the policies of our government, and for the responsibility of protesting nuclear weapons,” she wrote. “We know that the manufacture and deployment of Trident II missiles, weapons of mass destruction, is immoral and criminal under International Law and, therefore, under United States Law.”
Information from: The News Tribune, http://www.thenewstribune.com