Authors: Mary Bisson and Martin McGee
They break into secret military facilities with the aim of damaging the country’s most deadly weapons. The damage they do is largely symbolic. They wait peacefully at the site of the “crime” for their arrest. They are members of the Plowshare movement, who take their name from the Biblical description of peace: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4).
Seven members of the Kings Bay Plowshare group broke into the Kings Bay Naval Base, home to submarine squadron 20, with over 100 nuclear Tomahawk missiles, on April 4, 2018, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. They poured their own blood on an official seal of the base and hammered on a display of a Tomahawk missile. They were arrested on the base within 2 hours, jailed and charged with conspiracy, destruction of government properties, and trespassing. They were barred from citing religious motivations or the “necessity defense,” i. e., the commission of felonies was necessary to prevent the far more severe crime of nuclear war. They were found guilty, and three of them remained in jail for more than a year. One of them, Mark Colville, will visit Buffalo in November to share his experience, and explain the continuing importance of confronting the nuclear threat through any peaceful means.
The anti-nuclear weapon campaign has been a powerful driver of the anti-war movement since the horrors of nuclear weapons were seen at the end of World War II. In fact, the “inverted broken cross” symbol of the anti-nuclear campaign became the iconic symbol of the entire peace movement. The nightmare scenarios imagined with the wartime use of these weapons have, fortunately, never been realized.
Consequently, in the 21st century, the public attention to the dangers of nuclear weapons has been diverted to other concerns, such as the serious environmental problems that we face. But as Daniel Ellsberg wrote, “Nuclear weapons are used the same way a cocked gun is used, even if it is never fired.” Indeed, increased instability of nations, worsened by climate disruption, heightens the probability of nuclear war. Even if never deployed, the manufacture and testing of nuclear weapons is damaging to people, animals, and the environment.
Mark Colville and the Western New York Peace Center acknowledge the danger of nuclear weapons to peace and to the environment in the title of his talk at the Peace Center’s Annual Dinner: “Ending Nuclear Weapons for the People and the Planet.”
This talk will be held at the Buffalo-Niagara Convention Center, Friday, Nov. 12, doors open at 5:30. The public is invited to attend the dinner and talk, or to participate virtually. Click here for more information.
Lead image: Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) – Liz McAlister, Steve Kelly, Martha Hennessy, Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Carmen Trotta, and Mark Colville | Image courtesy the organization