Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson:
Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares..."
- Isaiah 2:4
Dressed in white mop-up suits, with "Citizens Weapons Inspection Team" printed on the back and "Disarmament Specialists" on the front, Dominican Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson entered Minuteman III silo N-8 near Greeley, Colo., on Oct. 6, the anniversary of the bombing of Afghanistan.
They cut single links in the chains securing the gates in the outer and inner fences surrounding the silo. They left the gates open and peeled back a section of the fence, opening it to reveal the presence of a weapon of mass destruction.
They poured their blood, in the form of a cross, six times on the 110-ton silo lid and on the tracks that carry the lid to the firing position. Then, in a ritual of prayer and symbolic disarmament, they used household hammers on the silo and the tracks.
The nuns were arrested, jailed, charged and convicted of obstructing the national defense,
which is listed under sabotage and destruction of govenment property — felonies that carry up to 30 years in federal prison. They refused an offer of personal recognizance, knowing that they could not in conscience abide by conditions of their release (which forbid civil resistance) as this nation prepared to mount another war.
The nuns hoped to bring attention to the weapons of mass destruction covering more than 1,950 square miles of Colorado farmland (33,700 square miles in other states). The 49 nuclear-armed missiles in Colorado had recently been refitted with W-87 nuclear warheads, each with an explosive power of 300 kilotons (about 25 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb).
The trial, which began March 31 in a Denver federal court, was preceded by a hearing Feb. 21 at which defendants' motions for dismissal were denied. The sisters could not defend their actions using international law or the Nuremberg war crimes trials as a defense during their trial.
At their trial, the prosecution offered many witnesses from F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. They testified that the nuns did nothing to interfere with national defense or the mission of the base and that neither the bloody crosses nor the pinging of their hammers damaged, contaminated or destroyed the cement or rails. Testimony on the value of property damaged could not meet the $1,000 required for felony destruction. Yet Judge Robert Blackburn denied defense motions, for a directed verdict of acquittal.
Stripped of every other defense, the nuns testified that their intent was to uphold national and international law (which they couldn't discuss) and to call for the disarmament of weapons that inflict unspeakable, unconscionable and indiscriminate devastation and death. They were simple and eloquent in their orange jail suits.
They were convicted of two felonies: obstructing national defense and damaging government property.
From media interviews with jurors after the verdict, it was clear that jurors understood that the nuns had done something wrong and that they were required to bring back a guilty verdict. The jury had no sense of the seriousness of the charges. Federal sentencing guidelines require that the Judge sentence them to between 72 and 97 months in prison.
As the United States seeks to find Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, it becomes clear that exposing America's own weapons of mass destruction is difficult and costly.
The Minuteman III in silo N-8 is a weapon that is illegal under international law. Its use would
kill combatants and noncombatants indiscriminately. It would poison the Earth for generations. The nuns believe disarmament Is essential, and that even the threat to use nuclear weapons is illegal. They acted to try to stop an ongoing crime.
Sister Platte, who represented herself, said in her closing argument: "Sister Carol and I left Jonah House Community in Baltimore, where we feed hundreds, where we grow food to share with those In need. We carried tools that were not threatening, In obedience to the Biblical mandate: 'They shall beat their swords Into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nations shall not pick up swords against natiorr, nor train for war anymore.' We are all brothers and sisters. When, we ask, are we going to practice this?"
The nuns are living a faith that teaches love- of enemies. The nuns are calling us to our senses — reminding us that violence never works and that military spending, at the rate of $11,000 a second, results In far-reaching Impoverishment.
CONVICTION is a Zero to Sixty Production documentary that explores their plowshares action at the Minute Man III missile silo, the role of religion in politics, the role of nuclear weapons in national defense and the role of International Law in the Federal Courts.
the documentary is a product of the hard work of Brenda Fox.
Sr. Carol Gilbert, Sr. Jackie Hudson, and Sr. Ardeth Platte travel to Colorado on April 1, 2006 to meet with Federal Probation Officer Phillips in an attempt to resolve the issue of restitution.
(more) (to order)
Imprisoned for peace
Sharon Dunn April 5, 2006
Images from Resisters at N-8
Images from Buckley Air Force Spy & Space War Base
Sr. Jackie Hudson released from Victorville Federal Prison Camp 3/4/05
Jackie Hudson and Carol Gilbert: both told they cannot return to their homes December 2004 more
Conviction and Sentence of Dominican Sisters Upheld
Marcia Good, from Catholic Information Center, interviews Carol, Ardeth and Jackie
Dominican nun does heavy time for non-violent action at a 'kairos moment in history.'
by Douglas Roche
Mothers Acting Up Calendar 2005
including the story of the nuns
Habits hard to break for jailed nuns
Listen to a song about Carol, Ardeth and Jackie
Janet Bates and the Instruments of Change
Sisters of Sacred Earth and Space:
a song about Carol, Ardeth and Jackie and their plowshares witness
Words and Music: Holly Gwinn Graham 2004
Chorus: Vitale and Zaragoza 1990
Letters Written from Prison
Sister Ardeth Platte, OP
#9, #10, #11, #12, #13. #14, #15 #16, 7/04 picture, special visit , letter of December 2004 , 1/05, 2/05, 3/05, 4/05,
6/05 , 7/05 , 8/05, 9/05 , 10/05, 11/05
Sister Carol Gilbert, OP
9/03, 9/03(second) 10/03, 11/03, 12/03, 1/04, 2/04, 3/04, 4/04, 5/04, 6/04 , 7/04, 8/04, 9/04, 10/04, 11/04, picture 1, picture 2 , letter of December 2004 (letter about the government's refusal to let Carol return home to Jonah House in Baltimore, Maryland), 1/05, 2/05, 3/05 , 4/05, 5/05, 6/05 , 7/05 , 8/05 , 11/05
Sister Jackie Hudson, OP
5/04 9/04 12/04 (letter about the government's refusal to let Jackie return to her home in Bremerton,Washington) 3/05
Updates on The Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares Action:
Nuclear-Free Future Award Given to Three Imprisoned Dominicans
By Diane Zerfas, OP
An Act of Peace
Baltimore Sun Op-Ed July 6, 2003
For much more information, go to : Grand Rapids Dominicans:Hill Connections-Linking faith with action
Poem for Carol Gilbert, Ardeth Platte, and Jackie Hudson
Patrick Stanley wrote the poem the day after their sentencing for the Earth and Space Plowshares II, from Maxwell Federal Prison Camp where he was serving a ninety day sentence for his actions at the School of the Americas.
Sentencing Statement--Ardeth Platte
Sentencing Statement--Carol Gilbert
Sentencing Statement--Jackie Hudson
Judith Hilbing, North American Co-promoter of Justice, Peace, and Care of Creation Reports on the Sentencing of the Three Sisters
Jinah Kim reports on the sentencing
Judge Denies All Motions - posted 3/26/03
Nuns Who Raided Silo Stand Firm
By Howard Pankratz, Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer
Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares
An Invitation to Stand in Solidarity
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) - PDF 60KB
(Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) - PDF 90KB