Jack Shows Up to Support Heroes

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Jack, pictured above, whowas present at the sentencing of anti-nuclear war activists said:

“Yesterday, five heroes were convicted to prison for exposing the major danger that the US military elects to present in our community. 73% of Americans oppose the two existing wars. Yesterday, our President went on TV to rationalize a third major military action by our country. In a single day we have been given a vivid representation of the disconnect between the US people and their leaders.”

Below is the report he forwarded to me from the Tacoma weekly:

Father Bix receives three months incarceration, six months home detention.

Five political activists, including two Catholic priests and a nun, were sentenced to prison on March 28 for entering Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest nuclear weapons at the installation.

Reverend Bill Bichsel, a Jesuit priest who lives on Hilltop, was sentenced to three months in prison and six months of home detention by U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle. The sentences were handed down in the federal courthouse at Union Station in downtown.

Reverend Stephen Kelly, a Jesuit priest from Oakland, Calif., was sentenced to 15 months in prison as was Susan Crane, a retired public school teacher from Baltimore. Lynne Greenwald, a social worker from Bremerton, received six months in prison. Sister Anne Montgomery of Redwood City, Calif. was sentenced to two months in prison and four months of home detention.

The five were convicted in December of conspiracy, trespassing and destruction of government property. They faced up to 10 years in prison. The conviction stems from an incident on Nov. 2, 2009. The five cut through a perimeter fence at the military installation during the middle of the night. They wandered about for approximately four hours, cutting through two other fences along the way.

Settle said the longer sentences for Kelly and Crane are because they have more extensive criminal histories. Bichsel has served about 20 years in federal prisons for prior acts of trespassing at Bangor and a facility in Georgia.

Several hundred supporters held a vigil in front of the courthouse prior to the sentencing. Jack Smith of Seattle has known Bichsel for 20 years. He said the five are considered heroes by peace activists in the region. “The judge is not a bad guy. He is just doing his job,” Smith remarked. “I am here to show I do not support nuclear war. The government is more sensitive to the needs of corporations than the needs of the people.”

“When an opportunity to hear the message of peace presents itself, I wish to hear it,” Tacoma resident Bill Evans said. “Their commitment is to peace. The message is easy to live. No more war.”

Supporters of the five defendants gathered for a ceremony at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Tacoma on March 27.

Dotti Krist-Sterbick told the audience that the five were fulfilling their baptismal vows to work for social justice. The five had their foreheads anointed with oil and were presented with prayer shawls.

“We are very touched by the presence of everyone,” Crane told the crowd of several hundred people. “We believe these weapons are illegal and immoral.”

“Change comes from the people. We cannot expect it to come from government leaders,” Greenwald remarked. She urged the supporters to carry on their campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.

“I am so deeply moved by this community,” Bichsel said. “Our struggle against nuclear weapons and war is a long one.”

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