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Nuke-plant protester champions civil resistance

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By Jane Stoever

Jordan Schiele is at odds with his judge.

Municipal Court Judge Martina Peterson has found Schiele guilty of trespass. Schiele considers his action justified as civil resistance.

The judge sentenced Schiele, and 14 co-defendants, to community service and a fine for what she calls trespass at the National Security Campus, KC’s new facility (since 2014) for making parts for nuclear weapons. The defendants, on Memorial Day in 2019, crossed the property line at the NSC, opposing the weapons manufacturing, the country’s threats with the weapons, and the deaths of hundreds of employees at Bannister Federal Complex—deaths caused by contaminants there from the old nuke-parts facility. Not to mention opposing the expense: about $1 billion per year now, from taxpayers to maintain the new NSC.

Many of the co-defendants said, in Municipal Court in November 2019, that they did not commit a crime. But they did their 10-50 hours of community service and paid their fines. Not Schiele. As he wrote lawyer Henry Stoever in April 2021, “I believe the developing of nuclear weapons is a criminal and immoral act, and our action in 2019 in remembrance of lives lost at the old Bannister plant due to toxic work conditions and in resistance to the further development of nuclear weapons was justified.”

On March 15, 2021, the judge told Schiele he faced up to 6 months in jail if he did not comply with the sentence. She asked him to read a document presenting civil resistance as “a clear danger to the rule of law.” Martin Luther King Jr. in his earlier years practiced strict nonviolent resistance, the document held, but the “radicalized King of the second phase” supported disruptive, disorderly, disobedient protests. Schiele read the document and left the courtroom to talk with his wife and children, ages 7 and 9. Schiele wrote Stoever, “My wife and kids all agreed that I should continue to speak out against the development of nuclear weapons, despite the potential consequences.”

Back in the courtroom, Schiele told the judge he recognized laws are necessary. However, he added, the development, use, and potential use of nuclear weapons violate Christian laws of loving God and neighbor, and violate the tenet that all persons have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Schiele told the judge he was not opposed to community service—the community he and his wife established in 2012, Jerusalem Farm, is an intentional Christian community offering assistance in their low-income neighborhood in KC, MO. Jerusalem Farm invests around $100,000 in their area in materials and supplies for home repair per year. They also invest more than 20,000 volunteer hours per year, calculated at more than $500,000 worth of labor.

In November 2020, Schiele wrote Stoever, “It is not about the hours … I spend my entire life serving the community. … My issue is that there is a plant here in KC that develops parts which are used in nuclear weapons, and that the judge thought it appropriate to find us guilty and sentence us for our clearly nonviolent liturgy that brought attention to the immoral and threatening activities of that plant.”

Schiele’s next hearing is in June.

—Jane Stoever, a PeaceWorks-KC member, was a co-defendant with Jordan Schiele in 2019.

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