By Jane Stoever
Five protesters who crossed the property line May 28 in Kansas City, Mo., at the new nuclear weapons parts plant come to trial Friday, Dec. 7. The five were arrested and soon released on Memorial Day, during PeaceWorks’ annual remembrance of the more than 150 deaths from contaminants from the old plant for making parts for nuclear weapons.
On Dec. 6, the night before the trial, PeaceWorks will hold a Celebration of Hope from 7:30 to 9 pm at St. Mark’s Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, 3800 Troost. And on the trial day, Dec. 7, at 12:30 pm, the line-crossers and supporters will gather in the courthouse foyer for reflections before the trial, which begins at 1:30 pm in Court C of Municipal Court, Locust and 11th Street.
Both the Celebration of Hope and the trial may note the high cost of nuclear weapons, with the Department of Energy requesting a budget of $804 million for the KC operations for fiscal year 2019. DOE’s overall budget request for FY 2019 for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which operates the KC plant and other nuclear-weapon-related sites, is $32 billion.
Line-crosser Henry Stoever, the board chair for PeaceWorks, reflected recently on renewed calls from President Donald Trump for a build-up of nuclear weapons. “We are all more impoverished because of the arms race,” said Stoever. “What we need is a race of love, a race of brotherhood and sisterhood, a race to save our planet from further degradation, a race for simple living and corrective action.”
The other line-crossers coming to trial are Tom Fox, CEO and president of the National Catholic Reporter; Sunny Jordan Hamrick, a member of the Christian community Jerusalem Farm in KC; Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister in Independence; and Brian Terrell, a Catholic Worker in Maloy, Iowa, and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, based in Chicago.
During the Dec. 6-7 events, the resisters will say why their action was lawful and the build-up of nuclear weapons is unlawful. Before crossing the property line May 28, Hamrick said his brother and sister-in-law would soon have a son, Jackson. “I want Jackson to come into a world that tries to love its enemies,” he said, indicating he was risking arrest for the sake of peace.
In a report May 29, Fox called his line-crossing “a small step and a logical one, coming after decades of speaking out and writing about the life-threatening nuclear bombs issue.” He decided two years ago to take his protest to a new level, he said. “I wanted to take this step because I want my grandchildren to remember anti-war activism. It is my hope this act of civil disobedience might stand out in their memories.” He spoke with each of his and Kim Hoa Fox’s seven grandchildren in advance, telling them he wanted a world free of nuclear weapons and he would cross the line May 28 on their behalf. “They expressed their worries,” he said, “seeing me somehow in jail as a law-breaker. I had to explain it was unlikely I would end up in jail. I hoped to allay their fears but nudge my arrest into their collective memories.” He imagined them saying, “My grandpa got arrested because he was against nuclear weapons.” Fox reflected, “If that memory lingers on, the action is well worth the effort.”
Mountenay also has her mind on her grandchildren. “We have a threatening arsenal being upgraded and enlarged in our neighborhood, one-step-over-the-line-away,” she said of what she plans to tell the judge Dec. 7. “I won’t be around in the next 50 years to protect my grandchildren when the poison leaks from the land, but hopefully they will know that I stood on one side of the line and then crossed over for justice. It is all I can do.”
On Oct. 24, Terrell reflected on an observation of Phil Berrigan, an anti-nuke activist and Catholic Worker. Terrell e-mailed: “Phil Berrigan once said, ‘We shudder under the blows of a society permanently mobilized against peace. Duplicity, propaganda, media indifference, institutional betrayal mark our plight. Our people are confused and hopeless. Let us not give up. Let us continue to nourish each other by consistent and prayerful presence at military installations, in courts and lock-ups.’ Since I often leave Iowa to travel to the ends of the earth to join such communities of resistance, answering the call to join good friends in Kansas City at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s ‘campus’ on Memorial Day was an easy decision! The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ doomsday clock is now set to two minutes to midnight, and it is critical to speak and act now. I will go to trial on Dec. 7 because on Memorial Day we did not break the law. I will argue that, once again, the police arrested the wrong people.”
—Jane Stoever, of PeaceWorks, has been known to cross a line or two for peace.
Featured image at top of the page: Lu Mountenay, with the microphone, on May 28 calls her co-conspirators “thorns in the side of militarism” before they cross the property line of the National Security Campus. From left, the “thorns” are Sunny Jordan Hamrick, Tom Fox, Brian Terrell, and Henry Stoever.—Photo by Jeff Davis