These 7 peace activists face 25 years in prison for taking peaceful action at a U.S. nuclear submarine base

Courtesy of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 | sight magazine
Courtesy of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 | sight magazine

On August 7, 2019, the seven Catholic Peace activists facing up to 25 years in U.S. prison for their symbolic, non-violent action in the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in April 2018 are scheduled to appear in federal court for oral arguments. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons reiterates the call for all charges against these peaceful activists to be dismissed.

“What kind of world are leaving our children? Now is a good time to say, ‘Don’t go to sleep. Don’t think these weapons are props.’ We’re on alert 24/7.”- Patrick O’Neill, one of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists.

What did the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) do, and why?

KBP7 defendants after their hearing

On April 4, 2018—the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination—a group of 7 Catholic Peace activists  broke into the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St Marys, Georgia, USA, which houses six Trident submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear weapons. Many of these weapons have up to 30 times the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. Once inside, the group defaced symbols and a monument to nuclear warfare and spray-painted anti-nuclear weapon slogans before peacefully giving themselves up to security personnel.

Read more about the action here.

Watch the Democracy Now interview with 4 of the KBP7 here. 

The KBP7 based their action on a sense of moral conviction and a sense of urgency to end nuclear weapons, drawing inspiration from Isaiah 2:4: “And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” This action continues a long history of similar non-violent symbolic actions around the world. Members of the Plowshares movement have symbolically “disarmed” nuclear weapons on at least 100 separate occasions since the 1980s.

As such, the KBP7 invite everyone to join global coalitions working to promote governments’ adherence to – and full implementation of – the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and other efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons, such as divestment campaigns.

Who are the KBP7?

The 7 activists are all known as caring, generous members of their communities, aged between 55 and 78, they have spent decades standing up for the social good.

The KBP7 consist of Elizabeth McAlister ,78, of Jonah House, Baltimore; Fr. Steve Kelly SJ, 69 , of Bay Area, California; Carmen Trotta , 55, and Martha Hennessy , 62,  of the New York Catholic Worker; Clare Grady, 59, of the Ithaca Catholic Worker; Mark Colville , 55, of the Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Connecticut; and Patrick O’Neill , 61, of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, North Carolina.

Ahead of their hearing, and on the day after, they will be holding vigils outside the sites in Brunswick and Kings Bay Submarine to mark the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Read this powerful family history by Frida Berrigan– the daughter of  Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister, members of the plowshares movement.