Update (10/25/19, 3:05pm): This article has been updated with new information from a press conference held by the defendants on Oct. 24.
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7, a group of Catholic activists who broke into Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in April 2018, were found guilty this afternoon. All were convicted of three felonies and a misdemeanor each, including trespassing and defacing federal government property. The Kings Bay Naval Base is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.
According to Bill Quigley, who represented Elizabeth McAlister during the trial, sentences for the Plowshares activists will be handed down in 60 to 90 days. All of the defendants will be free to return home during that time, with the exception of Jesuit Father Steve Kelly, who has refused bail. The group faces up to 25 years in prison.
“[The activists] have told the truth, despite the cost. They have taken their actions, despite the risk.”
“[The activists] have told the truth, despite the cost. They have taken their actions, despite the risk,” said Mr. Quigley, in a statement made outside the courthouse immediately following the verdict.
“The nuclear weapons submarines at Kings Bay have 3,800 times as much destructive power as the weapons that were used at Hiroshima,” Mr. Quigly said. And so “after two years of prayer...they came together and took action to preach the word: the word of life, the word of love, the word of peace. And they are paying a huge price for it.”
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 includes Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day and a member of the New York Catholic Worker community; Carmen Trotta, also a New York Catholic Worker; Elizabeth McAlister, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore and wife of the activist Philip Berrigan; Steve Kelly, S.J.; Patrick O’Neill, a founder of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House in Garner, N.C.; Mark Colville, a member of the Amistad Catholic Worker in New Haven, Conn; and Clare Grady of Ithaca, N.Y., who participated in her first Plowshares action in 1983.
"We are called to keep trying. We will do this together. We have no other choice.”
Despite the ruling, the activists remained committed to pressing on with this legal battle.
“It’s not over yet,” said Martha Hennessy. “The efficiency of the state can never be underestimated, yet, we proceed in humility. The weapons are still there, the treaties are being knocked down one after the next, but we are called to keep trying. We will do this together. We have no other choice.”
The activists also expressed their gratitude for those who had attended the trial in support.
“Thank you all for your caring, thank you for your presence, thank you for your work with justice and peace,” said Elizabeth McAlister. The other defendants echoed this sentiment.
On the night of April 4, 2018, the group illegally entered three areas of the naval base, including an administrative building, an installation that features a model of the Trident D5 missile, and bunkers that store nuclear weapons. They hung crime scene tape and signs with anti-nuke slogans including “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide” and hammered the missile model to symbolize the verse from the prophet Isaiah, “They will beat their swords into plowshares.”