On March 4, 2013 during the Pacific Life Community Retreat, 20 people carried banners onto the road in front of the US Naval Base in Bangor, Washington. The base is the home port of Trident submarines that carry nuclear warheads. The Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific, which has the largest stockpile of nuclear warheads in the country, is in the center of the base.
Six were arrested on the State side part of the highway, and 14 were arrested a few feet away just a couple of feet into what the Navy calls their side of the highway.
Besides the banners, they were carrying a letter that they hoped to deliver to the commander of the base. The letter outlined the
illegality of nuclear warheads and the impact of the weapons on the environment.
Those arrested on the state side of the highway either paid a fine ($65.) and didn’t go to court or went to court, talked about the
nuclear weapons, and were eventually given a fine (ranging from $25. -$65).
Of the 14 arrested on the federal side of the highway, 7 were summoned to federal court for an arraignment on a single charge of trespass.
This is the first time in many years that the peace activists have been brought to federal court for these announced, nonviolent,
line-crossing actions at the Bangor Trident Naval Base. According to Sue Ablao, of Ground Zero, there haven’t been any peace people brought to federal court for line-crossing at the base in the last 20 years.
The 7 were told that they needed to have a lawyer, since jail time might be requested by the US Attorney. The process of assigning
lawyers and holding a Farretta hearing for those who wanted to defend themselves took a good part of the morning. Magistrate Judge Tsuchida set up a legal team of attorney Blake Kremer (who assisted pro-bono with the plowshares defense) and Attorney Paula Deutsch, who is with the Public Defender’s Office.
In the interests of saving money, both for the government and for those traveling long distances to court, defendants asked if they
entered a plea of nolo contendere what sort of sentence were they facing. The defendants were met with silence and no answers other than a statement that the US attorney would only accept a plea of guilty or not guilty.
All the defendants pled not guilty.
The trial is set for October 21 in the Tacoma Federal Court in Tacoma, Washington.
The defendants are: Bill Bichsel, Susan Crane, Ed Ehmke, Betsy Lamb, Denny Moore, Mary Jane Parrine, and Jerry Zawada.
The Tacoma Catholic Worker community hosted the defendants for the arraignment. Good prayer, good company, good conversation, good food. Thanks to all who came to court with us.
Thanks Tacoma Catholic Worker!!!
Susan Crane <firstname.lastname@example.org>