Byron Clemens, a longtime resister of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, gained “diversion” instead of a stiffer sentence Sept. 5 in the Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court. He was charged with trespassing July 4 at KC’s National Security Campus (NSC), where 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for US nuclear weapons are made or procured. Clemens’ attorney Ed Ford negotiated Sept. 5 with the prosecutor, and Clemens was able to avoid community service by promising not to return to the NSC for six months.

“That leaves me plenty of time to return later,” Clemens said over a late lunch after paying the $300 diversion fee. At age 67, he’s retired from 30+ years of teaching journalism in a mid-town St. Louis public high school. Resisting nuclear weapons is what his July 4 action was all about. Clemens accompanied famed Plowshare activist Father Carl Kabat that day while Kabat, 85, splashed red paint on the huge NSC entry-road sign. Kabat, charged with trespass and destruction of property, has moved from his Belleville, Ill., residence to a retirement center in San Antonio and has no plans to come to court in KC.

Clemens said he had reason to be Kabat’s companion July 4. “The current administration in DC has abrogated just about every anti-proliferation treaty from Gorbachev and Reagan on,” Clemens said. “And if we don’t get a new president, we won’t have the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) either.” The New START is scheduled to expire about two weeks after the president elected in 2020 takes office (early 2021). Furthermore, Clemens added, “This president has said he wants smaller nuclear weapons, more ‘usable’ ones, and recently suggested the US might be able to use a nuclear weapon on a hurricane. Everyone should be concerned about that!”

Clemens also expressed concern about the current workers at the NSC, a facility opened in 2014 after the former KC facility had been found to have some 2,500 toxins during its 1949-2014 history of making parts for the country’s nuclear arsenal. “They said they didn’t have radioactive elements at the Bannister plant (the former plant),” said Clemens. “That wasn’t true. The employees at the NSC—who’s looking after their best interests? Who’s looking after their health?”

—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC