Anti-War Group Convicted of Breaking Into Kitsap-Bangor Navy Base, Hanging Anti-Nuke Banner

Two priests, a nun, a nurse and an activist cut through a chain-link fence at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base and hang up a banner that says nuclear weapons suck. The U.S. government says "you're going to jail, hippies!"

But seriously folks, five anti-war activists loosely associated with the ultra-religious Jonah House in Baltimore, Md. were just found guilty of trespassing, felony damage to federal property, felony injury to property and felony conspiracy to damage property at a federal court in Tacoma today.

As reported by the Huffington Post and Associated Press, the case stems from a 2009 infiltration of the Navy base, in which the group of radicals clipped its way through the base's fence and into an area where thermonuclear missiles are stored for use by Trident submarines. Once there, they put up a huge banner reading: "Disarm Now Plowshares: Trident Illegal and Immoral," they scattered some sunflower seeds and prayed until they were arrested in the morning.

When marines on the base found the group, they handcuffed and hooded them, because, as they later said at the trial "when we secure prisoners anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan we hood we did it to them."

In court, the group of activists argued their case along three main points: that nuclear missiles are weapons of mass destruction, that weapons like that are both illegal and immoral, and that all citizens have the right to try to stop international war crimes, in this case, crimes they felt were assured to be committed eventually using the weapons at the base.

The court, however, wasn't having it and the group was barred from presenting evidence about nuclear weapons' morality and legality. Instead, prosecutors were able to narrow the case toward whether or not the group broke in to a federal base and away from whether nuclear weapons are housed at the base (they are, lots of them) or whether that's a good or a bad thing.

The trial saw peace activists from around the world show up and testify on behalf of the defendants and of nuclear disarmament.

The crew of fence-cutters are looking at up to 10 years in prison and include Fr. Bill Bischel, 81, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma; Sr. Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New York, Susan Crane, 67, a member of Jonah House community, Lynne Greenwald, 60, a nurse from Bremerton and Fr. Steve Kelly, 60, a Jesuit priest from Oakland, Calif.

According to information from the group Subversive Peace Making, at the end of the trial, after each of them was found guilty, Fr. Kelly insisted on standing up and "blessing" everyone in the court, apparently saying: "may you go in peace and have a safe, happy holiday."

Will do, Father. Same to you, especially considering that you and your friends are likely heading to prison for several years.

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