The Intercept: Anti-Nuclear Pacifists Get Federal Prison for Nonviolent Protest

The most dedicated peace activists you’ve never heard of are headed to federal prison amid a deadly pandemic.

Anti-war activist Carmen Trotta, a member of the Kings Bay Plowshares Seven, photographed at Mary House in New York City on Nov. 14, 2020. Photo: Elise Swain/The Intercept

EACH WEEKEND, WHILE New York City’s East Village packs into sidewalk tables for brunch, activist Carmen Trotta leads a vigil for ending the U.S.-backed war in Yemen in Tompkins Square Park. He only has a few more Saturday mornings before he must report to federal prison, along with fellow activists from Plowshares, the anti-nuclear, Christian pacifist movement. Despite a lethal pandemic ravaging prison populations, Trotta, Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady, and Patrick O’Neill are due to report to prison within the next few months for activism against a suspected nuclear weapons depot.

More than two years ago, Trotta and Hennessy, two of seven activists known as the Kings Bay Plowshares Seven, peacefully broke into the naval base in Brunswick, Georgia — risking their own lives to protest the suspected nuclear arsenal housed within. Armed only with vials of their own blood, hammers, GoPro cameras, spray paint, protest banners, and whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s book, the activists symbolically attempted to disarm the nuclear weapons located on the Trident submarines at the base.


Plowshares activist Carmen Trotta, center, leads a vigil for ending the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen at Tompkins Square Park, in New York City, on Nov. 14, 2020. Photo: Elise Swain/The Intercept

The nonviolent direct action took place on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Far out of the spotlight of major media coverage, all but one of the activists have quietly been sentenced in their faith-based battle with the U.S. government over the “immoral” possession of nuclear weapons. The activists were charged with three felonies — conspiracy, destruction of government property, depredation — and misdemeanor trespassing.

The sentencing — sending aging activists to federal prisons amid the coronavirus pandemic — fits squarely within the long history of the U.S. government throwing the book at people of conscience who dare to dissent. President Donald Trump’s acceleration of heavy-handed federal charges against protesters have drawn critical media attention.  Read more…


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  1. Well, I caught this when it came out, and it strangely overemphasizes the point of religion, when I constantly point out, that of the people that speak out against war, religion is the least represented group. Here, is a protest, that is sure to get very good publicity and very low causative effect, so I’m not impressed. It is actually a massive contradiction to claim adherence to a group that teaches, there will always be war, openly touts members as soldiers, and declares every sunday, that humanity is in a constant spiritual “war”. I applaud their efforts, and would say, their own religion strongly disagrees with their position, while antiwar activists usually find themselves at odds with church leaders. When will a red robe lead the march ? When it suits their infiltration, always has.

    • In a year where we have seen, millions spent to defend convicted pedophiles, and even funding from Peters Pence to promote the first major motion picture graphically depicting two men having sexual relations, we can easily see, that deeds speak louder than words. A billion for the cathedral, hundreds of millions for court cases, billions stashed away,…and check with anti-war activists to see what donations come from churches of any flavor. I can assure you , that article will not be forthcoming, as the companies like Raytheon and Haliburton sit in the front pews.

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