About two hundred fifty people gathered at the courthouse to
support the Plowshares activists with their presence, song, and prayer. After
the trial, they sang peace songs and processed out as a group, celebrating the
beacon of hope the five activists have been for their community.Roman Catholic
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and others
testified on behalf of the defendants. Bishop Gumbleton, retired bishop of
Detroit and founding president of the peace group Pax Christi, testified that
the Catholic Church has spoken out very strongly against nuclear weapons,
saying that no use of nuclear weapons can be justified morally. "We must
abolish these weapons before the earth is destroyed." Ramsey Clark, U.S.
Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson, testified that never in
life has he encountered such unselfish people as those who participate in the
Plowshares tradition of direct action against nuclear weapons. Regarding their
decision to live a life of civil resistance, he said, "Their consciences tell
them they have to do it. God will bless them for it and the courts of the
United States should too."
Speaking as part of the Disarm Now Plowshares legal team, Anabel Dwyer and
Bill Quigley laid out the broader legal picture of the case. "The problem is
that nuclear weapons and the rule of law can't exist side by side," Dwyer
"The other problem is, we cannot disarm nuclear weapons unless through the
of law. We are in a conundrum here." Quigley submitted that lawyers are
obligated to "understand difference between law and justice and to narrow that
gap." He encouraged the judge to look back one hundred years and consider how
many of the laws of that time were "legal but manifestly unjust." Dwyer is a
Michigan attorney and Board Member of The Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy
(LCNP), and an expert in humanitarian law and nuclear weapons. Quigley is the
Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and
Professor at Loyola New Orleans.
Each of the five co-defendants, Bill "Bix" Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Lynne
Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, read statements in
court. They focused on the personal responsibility they feel to disarm nuclear
weapons, and their desire to prevent pain, suffering, and death for "those
deprived by our wars and military budget of a human way of life."
Character witnesses spoke to the defendants' solidarity with Native people,
children, working people, and the wider Tacoma community. Rosella Apel, age
said in her character witness for Steve Kelly, "I have a clear image that when
I grow up I'm going to do the exact same thing that these five
While this may be the end of the legal road for the Disarm Now Plowshares,
it is only the beginning, as this last statement testifies, of the lasting
impact their action will have on future generations and the anti-nuclear
movement as a whole.