By Jane Stoever
“Emotionally powerful.” That’s how Bennette Dibben, a PeaceWorks Board member, describes the rally, die-in, and civil resistance that PeaceWorks-KC sponsored May 28, Memorial Day, in Kansas City, MO.
By the end of the three-hour witness, five persons had crossed the property line at the new nuclear weapons plant. They were arrested, processed, and released on the spot. They will go to Municipal Court at a date still to be set. After his release, resister Brian Terrell, of Maloy, Iowa, told the crowd the charge was trespass, and he will plead not guilty, seeing his action as necessary to try to prevent a nuclear war. A leader of the national Community for Creative Non-Violence, he said that in court, “I will answer to these false charges!”
Some 65 persons participated in the rally, a record; this was the group’s 7th consecutive Memorial Day protest of nuclear weapons.
About 25 of the protesters gathered at 10 am at the blocked entry to the old KC Plant, where parts were made for nuclear weapons from 1949 to 2014. Speakers called for an end to nuclear weapon production in KC, mourning the deaths of the 154 persons whose families have told NBC Action News TV that their loved ones died from contaminants at the old plant.
Then participants drove 8 miles south, to a sidewalk that skirts the new nuclear weapons plant, the National Security Campus (NSC). About 50 protesters walked more than a mile in sweltering heat—a record 94 degrees—their chants including, “I’m gonna lay down my atom bombs, down by the riverside. I ain’t gonna study war no more!”
By 11:45 am, the walkers and others convened at the NSC entry road. Around 12:30 pm, Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister in Independence, MO, asked, “Do peace activists like myself bother the military-industrial complex in the least?” She said she used to think not, but she’s beginning to change her mind. This is the fourth time she’s crossed the line, she said. “My grandchildren understand why I go to jail. I do it for them. They get it, even if the military-industrial complex doesn’t.” Turning to the four men ready to commit civil resistance with her, she said, “Here I stand with four thorns in the side of militarism.” The 65-strong protesters laughed, and she reflected, “I, too, am a bothersome weed on the property of death, perhaps a dandelion—hear me roar!” She led the crowd in cheering “no more nukes!” as the five crossed the purple property line.
Attorney Henry Stoever, saying why he planned to cross the property line, quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world.” Stoever, the chair of the PeaceWorks Board of Directors, said he was stepping across the line for the third time, partly because “the world is in ever greater peril of a nuclear exchange or the use of one or more nuclear weapons than in the past.” He insisted, “We, the people, have never voted upon the production and use of nuclear weapons. We, the people, must say, ‘Not in my name!’” The crowd repeated his rallying cry.
Tom Fox, a former editor and publisher of the National Catholic Reporter, noted that Pope Francis said last November that the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral—against the will of God. “It stands, then, as clear as a thunderclap on an open plain in Kansas that the building of these weapons is equally immoral,” said Fox. He asked, “Do we have any choice but to speak out against these perilous weapons? I think not.” He added that, by stepping on the federal property, he was crying out in protest on behalf of his children Daniel, Christine, and Catherine, and of his grandchildren Kai, Bodie, Nora, Tommy, Rose, Judah, and Asha. His action might seem insignificant to some, Fox added. “To me it is a way to preserve a modicum of personal integrity. Whatever the consequence, I will sleep in peace tonight.”
Sunny Jordan Hamrick, of the Christian community Jerusalem Farm in Kansas City, 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. Calling to the police and security guards across the purple property line, Hamrick said, “In our back yard, we grow rye. I have three slices of rye bread here (not grown at “the Farm”), and I want to break bread with you after crossing the line.” Soon, they accepted his offer, and he shared the remaining bread with the protesters after he was released.
Next step: Municipal Court. When? Keep posted.
Link to this story in more detail https://www.facebook.com/peaceworks.kc/
Photography and Editing by Mark A Semet and Jenny Semet
Photographer’s Assistant: Jenny Semet
Guest Photography of photo “Lu Mountenay, with Sunny Jordan Hamrick, Tom Fox, Brian Terrell, and Henry Stoever chose to do civil disobedience. Mike Murphy of KKFI Community Radio, 90.1 FM, is in foreground, at right” was by Kim Hoa Fox