Seven Plowshares activists will enter a U.S. district courtroom in Brunswick, Ga. Monday morning, facing up to 25 years in prison for allegedly unlawfully entering and demonstrating at the Trident nuclear submarine base in Kings Bay.
Supporters have flocked to Georgia from all over the east from Alabama to Montreal. On Saturday, several dozen demonstrated outside the
Kings Bay base, greeting oncoming vehicles– some who responded with pleasant waves, others with revved engines and clouds of exhaust.
The gathering shifted to Brunswick by Sunday afternoon, for a “Festival of Hope,” the last chance the defendants could hug, laugh and sing with their supporters before the trial. Hope was a poignant descriptor.
The legal defense for the Kings Bay seven has been picked apart by U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia Judge Lisa Wood.
The group had hoped to be able to pose three arguments in the trial: oppression of their pacifist religious beliefs by nuclear weapons, the necessity of disarming nuclear weapons believing they pose an immediate threat to the world, and an international court ruling against nuclear weapons.
“Now we’re reduced to alleged vandals as we enter court tomorrow,” Patrick O’Neill, one of the defendants, told the crowd at the Festival of Hope.
O’Neill had noted that the group, unlike others carrying out plowshares actions, had been acknowledged by the judge to have met three of the five elements to demonstrate firm religious belief and a burden on their belief on behalf of the government.
The group has several more events planned throughout the week including daily vigils outside the federal courthouse during the trial. No events other than the vigils, lunch and dinner are scheduled past Wednesday.
On April 4, 2018, in coordination with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the seven activists used bolt cutters to open a lock and enter the Kings Bay base. There they covered the base’s insignia and wrote messages using baby bottles filled with their own blood.
This is the most recent Plowshares action since several activists broke into the Oak Ridge nuclear processing facility in Tennessee in 2012. The Plowshare movement is made up of anti-war activists which evolved from liberal-leaning Catholic-worker groups started in the 1960’s.