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Line-crossers at KC nuke plant come to court

By Kristin Scheer

On June 28, Ann Suellentrop and Kimmy Igla of the PeaceWorks KC Board and Rylan Scott Keeling, communications director of Poetic Underground KC, answered when Judge Shayla Marshall read their charges aloud in the Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court. The three resisters had crossed the property line of the National Security Campus on Memorial Day, when PWKC gathered to rally against nuclear weapons production done on-site. Before the line-crossing, we read the names of some persons whose lives were lost due to toxic contamination from the former nuke factory at the old Bannister Federal Complex, closed in 2014. 

On June 28, the three defendants’ originally assigned judge was absent, and they were sent to the courtroom of Judge Marshall. She asked them to return to the courtroom of their original judge on Aug. 17 for a second procedural hearing. The defendants say they plan to plead not guilty to trespassing and will request a trial. They face consequences of up to a $500 fine and/or up to 180 days in jail.

For the hour leading up to court time, PWKC allies gathered outside the courthouse to share information, conversation, and community, while providing support for our resisters.

“The National Security Campus, where nuclear weapon parts are made and procured here in Kansas City, is expanding its operation to double production in the coming years,” said Suellentrop. “They are embarking on a new arms race. But we, too, are increasing our efforts. More people are getting involved. More people are learning of this dangerous business our city is home to. We, too, are drawing more energy,” she declared. And she led us in an uplifting chant. “Surf’s up!” we cried. “The peace wave is coming!”

Rylan Keeling also shared their perspective on the nuclear industrial complex, saying, “This is all security theater, to make us think we are safe. But assured nuclear destruction is not security.”

In solidarity they will bear witness to our legal system that the danger posed to our community by these weapons is evil, as these weapons are poised to end existence as we know it. Ann shared this reflection leading up to court: “The thought that we could destroy millions of lives is insanity and should not exist in the human mind.”

Kimmy Igla, center, speaks outside the court. Listening are, from left, Rylan Scott Keeling, Ann Suellentrop, and note-taker Kristin Scheer.

Kimmy Igla said, “We have no other avenue to voice our dissent against nuclear weapons production in our city. We must put our bodies on the line. Hopefully,” she said, “this trial will change things.”

Bless our brave witnesses! We hope even more people will join us next year! And follow us on our social media to hear when the trial will be. We will stand again to support their courage, speaking truth to power. We will be raising funds for their legal fees and court costs. Please contribute what you can. Go to PWKC.org to contribute and note that you are donating to help cover the defendants’ legal costs. You can also send donations through Venmo: @peaceworkskc

–Kristin Scheer is a leader on the PeaceWorks Board.

Man hanging origame peace cranes.