The Kansas City Plant Accountability Project
On this page:
- PeaceWorks members visit NM nuclear waste sites during meeting
- Father Carl Kabat persists at trial
- Carl Kabat’s KC trial set for Oct. 12—y’all come!
- Lu Mountenay gets community service + 1 year’s probation for resisting nukes
- Do ‘court support’ for line-crosser Lu on Aug. 1
- Fr. Carl Kabat splashes red paint on doors at KC’s nuke-parts plant
- Former KC Plant supervisor issues warning about new plant
- Nuclear weapons resister crosses line in KC for her grandchildren, all children
- PeaceWorks holds 5th walk/ride from old nuke-parts plant to new plant
- Join Memorial Day Walk/Ride/Die-in
- “Peace on Your Wings”
- Addicted to nuclear weapons?
- Exhibit, movies, talks:‘Hiroshima/Nagasaki: 70 Years Beyond the Bombings’
- Carl Kabat splashes paint on sign at KC’s new nuclear weapons plant
- Humanitarian Pledge to ban nukes
- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes to speak at August 9 Nagasaki commemoration
- 70 Years Beyond the Bombings: At What Cost?
- The Inertia of Goodness
- Die-in caps Memorial Day walk/ride to ban nukes
- Troubled Judges in Kansas City
- KC peace activist joins Bike Away the Atomic Bomb ride, going from D.C. to NYC
- Memorial Day walk/ride, plus die-in, re KC deaths from nuke-parts production
- Nuclear weapons case - How sweet it is: not guilty!
- Nuke resisters come to court in KC
- Georgia Walker’s sentence: probation for 1 year
Posted Nov 23, 2016
By Ann Suellentrop
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) is a network of dozens of groups of people who live across the US near nuclear weapons production and waste sites. Every fall ANA meets at and tours one of the eight major nuclear weapons production sites, and each spring ANA members lobby Congress and the administration offices.
PeaceWorks member Daniel Karam and I attended the Oct. 18-23 meeting of ANA in Jemez Springs, NM, near the birthplace of the bomb, Los Alamos. We toured the massive areas of waste there to see the cleanup efforts, which cost billions of dollars. We also viewed the movie “Nuclear Savage” about the atrocities committed through our country’s bombing tests in the Marshall Islands. We heard from a local panel about the horror of ongoing cancer deaths and birth defects caused by the first nuclear bomb exploded July 16, 1945, the “Trinity” bomb. A couple from the Navajo nation explained how uranium mining and the thousands of now-abandoned mines are killing their people.
The more I learn about the nuclear weapons industry, the more I become aware of the heinous evil involved.
ANA anti-nuclear activists have worked for decades towards nuclear disarmament and responsible cleanup of the radioactive and other toxic waste generated by the nuclear enterprise. ANA prioritizes intervening to stop new nuclear weapons ideas and factories and to curtail bad cleanup ideas.
Over the past 12 months, ANA has worked to achieve outcomes that it set at its 2015 fall meeting in Kansas City. There has been progress on MOX, a nuclear waste boondoggle at Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, with a slow but increasingly inexorable march toward shutting it down, and the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge, TN, which would make uranium for new weapons. ANA is ever vigilant, chipping away at the UPF’s size, capability, budget, and rationale. ANA met its goal of assuring continuation of the five-year funding freeze for the W78/88-1 “Interoperable Warhead” development, while challenging other so-called “Life Extension Programs” and the overall nuclear weapons “modernization” scheme of which LEPs are a major part.
ANA member and friend groups provided leadership in specific areas of international nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, particularly through supporting the Republic of the Marshall Islands in its Nuclear Zero lawsuits. ANA continues to build on its strong relationships with the administration, Congress, and partner organizations working on its issues. ANA “rocked” its annual DC Days (April 17-20, 2016) and released a new report that provided an alternative vision for US nuclear weapons and waste policies, Trillion Dollar Trainwreck. (See www.ananuclear.org, under Resources.)
—Ann Suellentrop is a member of the PeaceWorks Board of Directors and former ANA president.
‘Nuclear weapons are insane!’
Posted Nov 13, 2016
By Lu Mountenay
Members and friends of PeaceWorks, KC, gathered Oct. 12 to support Father Carl Kabat, 83, at Municipal Court in Kansas City, Mo. The charge: trespassing and destruction of property. Why would a Catholic priest do that? He said he feels “nuclear weapons are insane,” and he made his protest on July 4 by splashing blood-red paint on the door of the Honeywell plant in KC, where parts for nuclear weapons are made.
This is not new activity for Father Kabat. His history of protest began with Plowshares, a group of Catholic priests and lay persons, in the early 1980s. Since then he has been arrested at missile silos, defense and weapons sites for trespassing, malicious mischief, burglary, unlawful entry, destruction of property, and more. This was his third July 4 action and arrest at the new National Security Campus, replacing the KC Plant. His combined protests have earned him a total of 17 years in prison—a sacrificial act to bring attention to issues of war and weapons.
Would this year’s action land him in prison again? This is how the trial went down. Judge Katherine Emke had Father Kabat sign a waiver of counsel. She wanted him to understand he could get one to 180 days in jail. He answered, “Yes,” and said he understood and wanted to proceed without legal representation. The fine could be as much as $500. He said he wouldn’t pay.
Honeywell security guard Lt. John Falco testified that Father Kabat threw red oil-based paint on the door of the plant, causing $600 worth of damages. Falco said he phoned the KC police, who arrested the priest. When asked if signs were posted, Falco said, “Yes, they say, ‘No trespassing. Private property—subject to search and seizure.’”
Father Kabat questioned the witness: “Do you know the significance of the red paint?” The prosecuting attorney objected: “The witness is being asked to speculate.”
Father Kabat was thwarted many times thereafter as he tried to get his point across—that the red paint symbolized blood and that the plant was a place of death. Judge Emke said, “What the place makes is irrelevant.” She repeatedly said he could only ask questions, not make statements. When asked if he had further questions, he continued to introduce new testimony about how “we must stop this insanity. We have to call things what they are. I did it! We all should do it! And (to the judge) even YOU should do it!”
The judge found him guilty of property damage only and sentenced him to 30 days in jail—suspended. Two years’ probation meant he must stay away from the property. PeaceWorks supporters mumbled, “Good luck with that.” The judge told him he had the right to appeal, and Father Kabat said he wouldn’t sign or pay anything. After returning to his seat, he raised his hand to ask another “question!” The long-suffering judge had had enough. “Case dismissed!”
Father Kabat’s supporters, however, have not had enough. If he does civil resistance and comes to court again, we will abide at our hero’s side.
—Lu Mountenay is vice chairperson for the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors.
Note: Donald Bradley of The Kansas City Star was also in court to record the hearing and trial; a video by Keith Myers (http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article108665167.html) and Bradley’s story from the Oct. 17 issue (http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article108377742.html) are online.
Doin’ the Kabat Dance
Posted Aug 22, 2016
By Jane Stoever
Father Carl Kabat, OMI, has come to one more court after one more resistance crescendo in the last 40 of his 82 years. All to the tune of nuclear resistance.
Picture this. On July 3, Carl drives from his Oblates of Mary Immaculate retirement center in Belleville, IL, to KC, MO. On July 4, with an assist from Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House, Carl visits KC’s new nuke-parts plant, the National Security Campus (NSC). He sashays up a path for walkers and joggers. Not allowed to trespass on the prairie grass. But trespass he does, from legal path to illegal weeds to parking lot to main doors of the NSC, the five-building facility that makes 85 percent of the parts for nukes.
Splash! Oil-based red paint on a door. Splash! On other doors. Whoops! Guards. Pirouette to a police station. Carl tells cops that papers in his beat-up black bag were from earlier trials. The supervisor, who evidently looked at the papers, tells Carl he is a super-patriot and lets him go, with a court date. Fast forward to court, Aug. 15. Prelude: Early arrivers wonder where Carl is. Chrissy Kirchoeffer of St. Louis drops Carl at KC’s Municipal Court, but he takes time to mosey around the first floor. Eventually, Attorney Henry Stoever directs him to Courtroom C on the second floor.
Carl tells supporters he’s heard from a KC reporter. Can’t remember who. Nine days earlier, Eric Garbison of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House asked me why KC judges were so lenient to Carl and suggested stirring up media attention. I sent notices to the media, and one reporter cared. Comes to court. We shuffle spots in the courtroom pew so the reporter can sit by Carl. Do-si-do.
We take stabs at why/when Carl got into nuclear resistance. Carl hems, haws. Chrissy knows: “Was it being with the poor in Brazil and the Philippines?” Carl marshals dates: 1965-68, Brazil; 1969-73, Philippines. “I came back in 1973,” he declares. “There was a National Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Baltimore, and I decided to go to try to talk with one of the bishops.” At Jonah House, people were staging a protest at a cathedral event for the bishops. Carl joined in. They held signs saying what? “I don’t know!” says Carl. “I’m O-L-D. Probably ‘No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis!’” Did he talk to a bishop? Well, no. With time, he writes to each bishop.
Picture Jonah House, 1976: “They had tried to call Jimmy Carter, but they would flick them off. Carter was voted in, not yet sworn in. So they talked about going to Plains, GA, and I went with them. We got about one block from Jimmy Carter’s house, with our signs, and two cops showed up—that’s all they had in those days.” They were in jail a few days—Carl’s first arrest, prefacing 18+ years in prison for nuclear resistance.
The reporter asks, “What would you have told Jimmy Carter?”
No answer. Legato. The court clerk asks people to say “guilty” or “not guilty” when their names are called. As the alphabetical names drone on, at “Carl Kabat,” Carl calls out, “Present!” Stoever, across the courtroom, asks, “Do you plead guilty or not guilty?” Carl announces, “Not guilty!”
Judge Corey Carter, fairly soon, tells Carl he is charged with doing about $600 worth of damage and could have up to six months in jail. “Are you going to have a lawyer?” asks Carter. “I’m going pro se,” says Carl, as is his custom, his refrain. Carter asks him to fill out a form waiving his right to representation. “This is the arraignment, right?” asks Carl. “Yes,” Carter answers. “Can I have the trial today?” asks Carl, noting the cost of making the trip to and from KC. “No,” says Carter. “There’s only time for arraignments today.”
After conferring with the prosecutor and a guard for Honeywell, which operates the NSC, Carter sets Carl’s trial for Oct. 12, 3:30 pm, in Courtroom G—two days after Carl turns 83. “Is there any chance I could have the trial now?” asks Carl. “No,” the judge insists.
Grabbing the cane he left on the floor, Carl leaves the courtroom. The reporter asks why, in Carl’s opinion, nuclear weapons must be opposed. “You can’t kill women, babies, and old people like me indiscriminately,” says Carl. “This is insane. The world’s insane. When did you vote for nuclear weapons? Nobody ever did.”
The reporter parries, “One of the leading candidates for president just talked about giving more countries nuclear weapons.”
“They are insane,” says Carl. Then he divulges, “I intended to use a hammer, too,” on July 4. “The Old Testament said, ‘They shall beat their swords into plowshares.’”
The reporter asks, “You didn’t use the hammer?” Carl replies, “No. They were on me.”
His supporters marvel that he made it to the NSC main door. Carl shrugs them off, saying, “The Holy One does big things!” He reminds us that John 10 quotes Jesus as saying, “You are gods,” quoting the psalms. “And Jesus said we would do greater things (than he). Jesus never deactivated a nuclear missile silo. We had it deactivated for a month, in 1984,” he recalls.
Play it again, Carl!
Those who wish to join Carl for the next court dance should contact Henry Stoever, 913-375-0045, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted Aug 2, 2016
After half an hour of suspense Aug. 1, a judge in Kansas City, MO, Municipal Court sentenced Lu Mountenay to 50 hours of community service and one year’s probation. That was after advising Mountenay that her May 30 line-crossing at the KC, MO, nuclear weapons parts plant could get her one to 180 days in prison and up to $500 in fines. “Is this your first time?” asked Judge Katherine Emke. “Third time,” said Mountenay, “I’ve done the same thing at the same place.” Namely, she has crossed the property line on the driveway into the new plant.
Emke asked Mountenay to fill out a waiver form if she continued to want to represent herself instead of use a lawyer. Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister in Independence, MO, and vice chair of the PeaceWorks Board, filled out the waiver and waited. Emke repeated the warning about the sentence and then ordered, “90 days in prison (pause), suspended.” Next: “two years’ probation … no, one year—I read it wrong.” And finally, a fine of $48.50 and $120 for the supervision fee for probation.
Emke may have been reading an e-mail from the prosecutor during the sentencing. And the warnings about the severity of the sentence may have been standard procedure. However, Mountenay had expected her friends to do “court support.” That they did, but with a bitter dose of court suspense.
Before the court hearing, Mountenay told her supporters, “It was no coincidence that we protested on Memorial Day (May 30). The new plant, where I crossed the line, replaces a defunct, contaminated facility that poisoned its workers with toxic chemicals—according to the Department of Labor, over 2,000 chemicals.” She said the same thing was likely to happen at the new plant. Following a march to the courthouse, with signs seeking a nuclear-weapon-free world, Mountenay said, “We rally to keep in the public view the inherent danger of nuclear weapons, especially as we approach a national election.” She quoted Michelle Obama: “When you have nuclear codes at your fingertips, and the military in your command, you can’t make snap decisions.” Mountenay reflected, “One candidate doesn’t even know what the nuclear triad is—air, land, and sea launching capabilities. My grandchildren even know that. They are why I do this (civil resistance). We say, ‘Never again! No more Hiroshimas. No more Nagasakis. No more nukes!’”
—By PeaceWorks member Jane Stoever
Posted July 23, 2016
Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister in Independence, MO, crossed the property line at KC’s new nuclear weapons parts plant on May 30, 2016. More than 50 supporters cheered her on! The KC police processed her right on the driveway to the new plant and soon released her, giving her an Aug. 1 court date for her civil resistance.
Now it’s time for “court support” for Lu, the vice chair of the PeaceWorks Board of Directors. Her 1:30 pm hearing will be fairly quiet, with Lu being one of many coming for various infractions to Courtroom G in Municipal Court at Locust and 11th Street in KC, MO. To rally for freedom from nuclear weapons, PeaceWorks invites you to gather at 12:30 pm on 11th Street between Locust and Oak for snacks, a few words from Lu, and a march to the courthouse. For info, call Jane, 913-206-4088. Let’s witness as Lu receives, most likely, many hours of “community service” for her crime of resisting nuclear weapons... for the third time.
The federal government says it costs $900 million a year to operate the new plant, euphemistically called the National Security Campus. Before her line-crossing on May 30, Memorial Day, Lu referred to the old plant, “Bannister Federal Complex employees got sick, and many died from the contaminants. That’s who we’re here to memorialize.” Then referring to the new plant, she asked: “This plant—how many years? Seventy years, before it’s so contaminated they’ll shut it down, abandon it, and leave the contamination in its wake?”
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
Posted July 5, 2016
Father Carl Kabat, 82, early on July 4, 2016, splashed red paint on the doors of the Administration Building at the National Security Campus (NSC) in Kansas City, MO. The facility makes, orders, and assembles 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for US nuclear weapons. Asked why he defaced the doors, Kabat replied, “That place is bloody, and it was red paint--bright red paint.”
Kabat was quickly detained by security guards and then placed in custody by police, who estimated that he had done about $600 worth of damage with the oil-based paint. Released before noon, Kabat was ordered to appear in the KC, MO, Municipal Court, Courtroom C, at 9 am Aug. 15, Monday, for two ordinance violations: trespassing after earlier being told not to return to the NSC site, and knowingly doing damage there.
Kabat, a priest in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, lives at the OMI retirement center in Belleville, IL, where he moved after many years of living at the Catholic Worker home named for him in St. Louis. Following missionary work in the Philippines and Brazil, Kabat has devoted much of his life to resisting nuclear weapons. He led the first Plowshares action in 1980 and the first major resistance against Minuteman II missiles in Missouri in 1984 (for the latter, he received a sentence of 18 years in prison and served 12 years there).
Known for complaining of the $100 cost of gas and expenses for driving to and from KC, Kabat said July 3, “I don’t want to come, but someone’s gotta do it!”
His action after 8 am July 4 capped a string of civil resistances by Kabat at the nuclear weapons parts plant, during its construction or after it opened in 2014. His other actions at the site:
- July 4, 2011, cutting the fence and staying overnight on the property;
- July 4, 2012, staying overnight on the property and damaging the fence and a construction vehicle;
- July 13, 2013, stepping across the property line with 23 others, including his provincial superior;
- July 4, 2014, sloshing red paint (oil-based) on the huge sign for the new plant; and
- Aug. 9, 2015, sloshing red paint (water-based) on a sign at a back gate.
Kabat’s sentences have typically been time served (after he spent 2 days in jail).
The NSC, which the federal government says costs $900 million a year to operate, produces most of the non-nuclear parts for the US nuclear arsenal, including fuses, wires, radar, security devices, containers for tritium, and the bomb trigger mechanism.
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
Posted June 3, 2016
Maurice Copeland, a chemical stores supervisor at the Kansas City Plant where nuclear weapon parts were made, spoke to participants in the Memorial Day walk/ride from the old KC Plant to the new plant, the National Security Campus.
A 32-year employee of the old plant, Copeland said that in the mid-1970s, “We knew what we were doing. We used to write on the missile after-bodies I used to machine: ‘abortion’ and ‘cancer.’ These missiles were taking abortions and cancers to people”—to possible bomb victims.
“The lies that the complex (Bannister Federal Complex, BFC) was telling us became visible to us in 2000, when President Clinton told us that the U.S. contaminated us with the materials made for the bombs,” said Copeland. The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 provided compensation for those injured while developing nuclear weapons. But, said Copeland, “Then they told us, ‘You have to prove that we contaminated you. You have to prove that the brain cancers and all the respiratory problems—that we did this to you.’ So something the U.S. admitted, I have to prove it, while my people are dying all around me in the plant.”
Copeland later served on the local Community Advisory Panel, convened to propose future uses for Bannister Federal Complex. However, by now, said Copeland, “The government has said there will be no residency at 95th and Troost (the BFC location). No one can stay on that property for 24 hours at a time. What does that tell you, when that property was designated a landfill for the Atomic Energy Commission? The ground they put the (BFC) daycare on was designated as an atomic energy nuclear weapons landfill.”
Copeland warned, “When I leave this planet—you know how profitable America needs to be—we’re going to be building apartment buildings at 95 th and Troost, and we’re going to put your grandkids and your great-grandkids in those apartment buildings if you don’t stop them now and be diligent, and not let this government lie to you. The plant is a top-secret plant. It always has been. It always will be.”
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
Posted June 3, 2016
Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister in Independence, MO, on Memorial Day, May 30, crossed the property line at the National Security Campus, where Kansas Citians make non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons. She received a court date of Aug. 1, at 1:30 pm in KC’s Municipal Court. PeaceWorks members will gather at 12:30 pm that day at Locust and 11th Street, north of City Hall, for “court support.”
Before her line-crossing, she gestured to the massive facility down the entry road, saying, “The military-industrial complex, the profitable complex, tells us they make nuclear weapons to keep people from killing humans. It didn’t work in 1945 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
The National Security Campus, which the U.S. says costs $900 million per year to operate, opened for business in 2014. Referring to the old plant at Bannister Federal Complex, which made parts for nuclear weapons from 1949 to 2014, Mountenay said, “Bannister Federal Complex employees got sick, and many died from the contaminants. That’s who we’re here to memorialize.” Referring to the new plant, she asked: “This plant—how many years? Seventy years, before it’s so contaminated they’ll shut it down, abandon it, and leave the contamination in its wake?”
Mountenay unfurled a two-year-old list of 900 toxins identified at Bannister Federal Complex, a list recently updated to about 2,500 contaminants. She asked, “Will this be the same thing they’ll find at this plant when it closes?”
Then Mountenay asked, “What are we going to do about this?” She told the gathering of 52 protesters, “We can protest. We can write letters to the editor and Congress. We can elect Congress members who can speak truth to power, to change this.” She added, “We can do civil resistance,” saying she would soon cross the property line.
“The military-industrial complex doesn’t understand” why protesters do civil resistance, she said. “It doesn’t matter to them that ‘old granny’ is doing this, but it does matter to my grandchildren. They get it!” She thanked granddaughters Tori and Addy, who were present, and other children there, including Tiona, Eric, Josie, Shelbie, and Teegan. Mountenay closed with noting she was taking her step across the line for the sake of her grandchildren and children around the world.
She was processed by the police and soon released. Vice-president of the PeaceWorks board, she has now crossed the line at the new plant three times. Go, Granny!!!
--By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
Posted June 3, 2016
During its fifth annual Memorial Day trek from the old nuclear weapons parts plant to the new plant, PeaceWorks-KC called for a nuke-free world and held a die-in and civil resistance.
Eighteen walkers/riders began the day May 30 at Bannister Federal Complex (BFC), home to the old nuke-parts plant. The group swelled to 52 by the time it reached the entry road to the new plant, the National Security Campus. Seeing the walkers, drivers punctuated the 10-mile walk by responding to “honk for peace” signs.
At the floodwall blocking the road into the old plant, Henry Stoever kicked off the walk he initiated in 2012. “We are at war with ourselves,” he said, noting the deaths of many BFC workers from the old plant’s contaminants—in 2011, NBC Action News listed 154 dead from the toxins, plus some 250 ill (see the list at their website).
Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks board, cited resources the U.S. keeps pouring into nuclear weapons: “Our country has agreed to spend $1 trillion in the next 30 year to modernize these weapons of mass destruction. We say we are people of moral values and faith, yet these weapons violate all principles of affirming life, while many persons on this planet lack the basic needs to live in dignity.”
For the die-in at the new plant’s entry road, walkers read information on 26 dead BFC employees and then fell to the road. Among those memorialized:
Reflecting on other victims of nuclear weapons production, Ann Suellentrop said, “Across the state, they are still dying from the uranium and plutonium manufactured and refined in St. Louis in World War II. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) never told them (about the dangers of the waste). They got a letter from school saying there’s a fire in a dump nearby, and if the fire reaches the nuclear materials in another dump, we’ll keep your kids at school and give them their medicine, so we need their list of medicines now. They said, ‘What?!’ There’s been a big outcry.”
Suellentrop, a member of the PeaceWorks board and leader in Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, concluded, “This is the same story all across the U.S. People downwind, downstream, have been sick and dying. It will be in our genetic makeup forever. Nuclear materials don’t go away.” She urged the walkers to be “nuclear guardians” to prevent further spreading of the contamination.
Suellentrop also offered hope: “The vast majority of the countries that do not have nuclear weapons are becoming empowered, working through the U.N. to ban the bomb. We are not alone!”
Lu Mountenay capped the walk by stepping across the property line at the new plant (see accompanying story).
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
See more photos at flickr.com/photos/peaceworkskc.
Posted March 28, 2016
PeaceWorks expects more than 50 people to converge at the entry road to the new nuclear weapons parts plant Memorial Day, May 30, to stand up to nukes. Come join us!
We walk, for the fifth year, from the old KC Plant, at Bannister Federal Complex, at 8 a.m., and go on foot and/or riding along Holmes to Mo. Hwy. 150. We sing, we chat, we pray for peace. At about 11:15 am, we reach Prospect at Mo. Hwy. 150, where late-comers can park and walk the last of the 10 miles with us. Then, about noon, we reach the public entry road, at 14520 Botts Rd., just north of Mo. Hwy. 150, for our die-in.
Why on Memorial Day? Because of the many who died at Bannister Federal Complex (BFC) from the chemicals and gases released in making nuclear weapon parts there from 1949 to 2015. NBC Action News Channel 41 in 2011 listed 154 persons whose families said they died from illnesses related to BFC contaminants. Our die-in on the entry road—public property—memorializes their deaths. A trumpeter will mark their passing with "Taps."
"This is a solemn walk, a walk of repentance, a walk of hope," says Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks board. He started the walk in 2012. "Yes, we have weary feet. But we have joy in our action. We do this for the children, for the grandchildren, for the planet, for all of life."
Stoever also says our walk poses this question: "Why are we still making nuclear weapons, weapons of omnicide?"
On Facebook, at PeaceWorksKC, say you’ll join us!
Story and photo by Lu Mountenay
Posted February 12, 2016
The Truman Library in Independence accepted the gift of an original Sadako peace crane on Nov. 19. Guest speakers included Pres. Truman’s grandson, Clifton Truman Daniels, and Sadako’s brother, Masahiro Sasaki.
On hand to celebrate was PeaceWorks friend Gayle June (pictured here). He displayed over 1,000 origami peace cranes made in memory of his late mother, who survived the Nagasaki atomic bomb. The event was a step toward understanding and reconciliation between nations.
By Charles Reitz
Posted November 10, 2015
Are we addicted to nuclear weapons?
This was a key question posed by Montreal artist and activist Robert Del Tredici when he visited Kansas City, Mo., Oct. 4 and spoke stirringly on behalf of PeaceWorks to audiences at the All Souls Forum and at UMKC. His recommendation: “Take a look … and come to your own conclusions. See what it inspires you to do.”
Del Tredici founded the Atomic Photographers’ Guild in 1987, and the Guild’s exhibitions cover the nuclear weapons industry from the birth of the atomic bomb, its testing, mass-production, and deployment, to uranium mining, nuclear energy production, accidents, nuclear waste, and fallout. Photographs by Del Tredici and 18 of his internationally-acclaimed colleagues were on display during PeaceWorks’ commemorative exhibit “Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 70 Years Beyond the Bombings” from early August to early October at UMKC’s Miller Nichols Library.
Visiting Nagasaki some years ago, Del Tredici met with atomic-explosion-affected persons who told him: You can’t be both human and addicted to the nuclear bomb. He and his Guild colleagues have used their talents as artists to document and expose the world’s atomic atrocities of the past and the disturbing implications for the future. Del Tredici has compiled several volumes on these issues: At Work in the Fields of the Bomb and The People of Three Mile Island (published by the Sierra Club). His expressionist and engaged poster art in Floodgates of the Wonderworld illustrates the disquieting philosophical themes raised by Melville in Moby Dick--as these foreshadow our nation’s own contemporary obsession with monstrous destructive power. The world today still has 16,400 nuclear warheads at the ready. Civil resistance against nuclear weaponry and atomic power plants must be steadily built. PeaceWorks activists have done their part over the last several years in multiple actions at the old and new federal nuclear parts manufacturing complexes and at meetings of the City Council in Kansas City. Del Tredici’s photographic art vividly conveys the concerns and the vision of the PeaceWorks’ Hiroshima/Nagasaki memorial (coordinated by Amrita Burdick): “Remember the pain, reclaim the future.”
As I marveled at Del Tredici and his work, I was reminded of the classic warning by Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler, that “war is a racket … easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.” We must continue to challenge the tremendous amounts of money made by all of today’s war contractors and their militarist politician friends. As Richard A. Rubenstein has written, “the next time they try to define patriotism as a willingness to choose war, let our response be, ‘I’m from Missouri, show me!’”
—Charles Reitz is a retired social science professor from Kansas City, Kansas, Community College.
Multiple local events are drawing PeaceWorks members and others to do exactly what Art Laffin of Washington, DC, says we must do in recalling the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and resisting the build-up of the nuclear weapons arsenal:
Remember the pain. Reclaim the future.
From now till Oct. 4, anyone may visit the exhibit "Hiroshima/Nagasaki: 70 Years Beyond the Bombings," at UMKC Miller Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st St. A small group of exchange students from Japan, who are visiting the UMKC School of Education for three weeks, saw the exhibit Aug. 11, and several students wept quietly. Images from the UMKC exhibit, which opened Aug. 6, beckon us to the display.
A coordinator of the exhibit, PeaceWorks member Amrita Burdick, went to Iowa City in 2014 to give a talk as part of the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) exhibit at the University of Iowa, “Nuclear Neighborhoods.” Burdick said students there had heard about nuclear weapon plants and had read about the weapons in their history books, but it made no impact on them.
“Our young people are people of heart and concern for the future,” says Burdick. She came back to Kansas City envisioning an exhibit to teach young people and the public about the dangers of building, using, and storing nuclear weapons. Burdick, Henry Stoever, and Ann Suellentrop designed the new exhibit and also scheduled movies and talks.Free movies
The movies will be shown at 7 pm at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KCMO. White Light Black Rain, on Wed., Aug. 19, portrays the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. The Day After, on Wed., Sept. 16, is a 1980s movie made for TV about a nuclear attack on Kansas City and Lawrence, KS. Nuclear Savage, on Wed., Sept. 30, pertains to the U.S. nuclear bomb tests at the Marshall Islands.
This print, showing a drawing by a Hiroshima bombing survivor, depicts people coming to a reservoir to drink after the attack, not realizing the effect of the blast’s radioactivity on the water. Photo by Tom Fox of National Catholic Reporter; photo taken at UMKC exhibit Aug. 6.
On Sat., Aug. 29, at 7 pm, Bob Farquhar of Villa Park will give the talk “Duck and Cover” about his pictorial history of U.S. nuclear weapons, at the UMKC School of Education, Room 115, at 615 E. 52nd St., KCMO. This event is especially aimed at teachers of young people, or teachers in training, so please encourage any teachers you know to attend.
On Sun., Oct. 4, at 10 am, photographer Robert del Tredici of Montreal, founder of the Atomic Photographers Guild, will speak at The Forum, All Souls UU Church (address above). He will show photos of the nuclear age, covering both nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants. His books include The People of Three Mile Island and At Work in the Fields of the Bomb. At 7 pm Oct. 4, del Tredici will discuss photos he and others have taken, at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium, Atterbury Student Center, Room 245, 5000 Holmes.
On Sat., Nov. 21, at 7 pm, Steven Starr of Columbia, Mo., director of the University of Missouri clinical laboratory science program and a former PSR Board member, will present “Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear War” at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium (same address as Oct. 4 evening talk). Starr’s expertise covers the need to take nuclear weapons off high-alert status and the risk that nuclear war would cause acute climate change.
By Jane Stoever
Posted August 18, 2015
Early on Aug. 9 Father Carl Kabat, OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), continued his lifetime of anti-nuclear-weapon activism by splashing red paint, representing blood, on a sign at the new nuclear weapons parts plant in Kansas City, Mo. Kabat, detained about 30 hours, was released Aug. 10 from the Jackson County Detention Center in Kansas City, Mo.
At 7:19 a.m. Aug. 9, the 70th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki, Kabat called lawyer Henry Stoever, saying, “The deed is done. I came to the back gate—there was a (security) car at the main gate.” Kabat mentioned splashing paint on a sign and then hung up because “two guards are coming,” reported Stoever. “He sounded happy,” added Stoever.
Kabat, 81, used a can of red spray paint and a baby bottle filled with the paint to deface a sign, about eight feet high, at the service entry to the National Security Campus. For a year the National Nuclear Security Administration has directed the making and procuring of non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons at the “campus,” the new home for the facility that from 1949 to 2014 did its work at a location that became contaminated from materials for the bombs.
On July 4, 2014, Kabat had “sloshed” oil-based red paint from baby bottles on the huge sign at the main entrance to the National Security Campus. His action this Aug. 9 follows his civil resistance work since the first Plowshares action in 1980 against nuclear weapons. It also follows Kabat’s actions in July in the past four years on the property of the new plant. The facility, which the federal government says costs $900 million a year to operate, makes or orders 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for the WMDs, including fuses, wires, radar, security devices, containers for tritium, and the bomb trigger mechanism.
After he “sloshed” the paint on the sign this year, said Kabat, “I thought I might have to walk to the front and say, ‘Check your back side.’ Ha-ha!” Instead, the guards came to him, calling out, “Carl Kabat, is it you?”
Kabat asked this reporter, “Did you get a picture of it (the sign)?” When he heard someone went to the site for a picture but found no evidence of red paint, Kabat said with regret, “Unfortunately, I used water-soluble paint. They probably washed it off.” A federal judge told Kabat this April that his 2014 work with oil-based paint cost $8,000 to repair. Unwilling to put Kabat in jail, where he might be endangered, the judge asked him, next time, to use water-based paint.
Kabat said on Aug. 11 that the municipal judge in TV court (inmates in detention appear before a judge via videocamera) decided Aug. 10 to “turn him loose” on time served. He has no court date. “As far as I know, I’m clear and clean and everything else,” said Kabat, laughing. “I guess I’m through with Kansas City until next year. I’m not scheduled for anything except July 4 next year or something like that, huh?”
By Jane Stoever
Posted August 18, 2015
Hope springs anew in the Humanitarian Pledge, formerly the Austrian Pledge, to outlaw nuclear weapons. By mid-August, 113 nations had signed the pledge. No nation with nuclear weapons has signed it, but the international commitment to ban nuclear weapons is gaining steam. The tenets of the pledge include:
- Understanding that the immediate, mid- and long-term consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion are significantly greater than it was understood in the past …
- Recognizing the complexity of and interrelationship between these consequences on health, environment, infrastructure, food security, climate, development, social cohesion and the global economy …
- Aware that the risk of a nuclear weapon explosion … is indeed increasing with increased proliferation, the lowering of the technical threshold for nuclear weapons capability, the ongoing modernization of nuclear weapons arsenals …
- Mindful that no national or international response capacity exists that would adequately respond to the human suffering and humanitarian harm that would result from a nuclear weapon explosion in a populated area …
- We pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, States, international organisations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movements, parliamentarians and civil society, in efforts to stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.
Posted July 17, 2015
On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki, Japan, became the second city destroyed by an atomic bomb. Will its legacy one day also record that it was the last city to meet such a fate?
That hope, and a path toward its fulfillment, will be explored during a 70th anniversary commemoration to be held 2:00 pm, Sunday, August 9 in the sanctuary of the Community of Christ Temple, 1001 W. Walnut, Independence, MO.
“Remembering Nagasaki: Propagating Hope” will be the theme of the observance, featuring keynote speaker Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the seminal history, The Making of the Atomic Bomb. For more than three decades the Kansas City. Kansas native has chronicled the history of nuclear weapons. Once described in The Kansas City Star as “the undisputed oracle of the atomic age,” Rhodes has authored four books on the topic, the latest of which is also the title of his Aug. 9 address, The Twilight of the Bombs.
Summarizing his presentation, Rhodes said: “Seventy years ago this summer, two atomic bombs destroyed two Japanese cities in the last days of a long and brutal war. None has been exploded in anger in all the years since. Yet nuclear weapons have proliferated as if they were little more than conventional explosives, their deterrent effect dependent on massed arsenals. Since the end of the Cold War, the two nuclear superpowers have reduced their stockpiles by more than half, but even a limited regional nuclear war has been shown to risk world-scale climatic effects that would kill millions and starve several billion more. Is it possible to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals? If so, how might such a millennial change be accomplished?”
Of historical note, Rhodes will discuss these questions 70 years to the day marking the Nagasaki bombing, in the hometown of the U.S. President who authorized it. Yet he expresses the personal conviction that his grandchildren will live in a world freed from weapons of mass destruction.
Following his address, the assembly will move outside to the World Plaza, where the earth’s continental shapes are formed by paving stones. Orange cones placed symbolically to represent current nuclear arsenals will be removed by children and placed at the foot of a “swords into ploughshares” sculpture symbolizing the hope for a world free of nuclear weapons.
Songs of peace will be sung as the processional moves to the nearby United Nations Peace Plaza, where Independence’s historic links to the United Nations will be explored, and a “survivor tree” planted in memory of those who died in the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
The event is open to the public and offered without charge. Sponsors include the Peace and Justice Team of Community of Christ and PeaceWorks Kansas City, in conjunction with other area peace organizations. The event can also be joined on Facebook.
For further information, please contact Jim Hannah, 816-719-5583, email@example.com.
Posted June 12, 2015
To explore the tragic costs of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings 70 years ago, and of the care and feeding of nuclear arsenals since then, PeaceWorks and Physicians for Social Responsibility are sponsoring a library exhibit, “Hiroshima-Nagasaki: 70 Years Beyond the Bombings.”
Place: UMKC Miller Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st St.
Dates: Aug. 6-Oct. 4
Special materials: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum books and posters, including images of bombed persons—photos not allowed to be shown in the U.S. after the bombings; written personal accounts by hibakusha (survivors); photos from the Atomic Photographers Guild; information on the Humanitarian Pledge, being signed by countries this year to make nuclear weapons illegal; and documents and pictures on current national and local nuclear issues, including the production of non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons in KC since 1949.
Opening night: Thursday, Aug. 6, 5:30-7 pm, with a short film at 6:15. Enjoy the opening ceremony! (The library closes at 7 pm that night.)
Speakers: On Sat., Aug. 29, at 7 pm, Bob Farquhar will speak in Room 115, UMKC School of Education, discussing themes of his book Duck and Cover, a pictorial history of U.S. nuclear weapons. On Sunday Oct. 4, at 7 pm , Robert del Tredici will conclude the exhibit with a talk on "Photos of the Nuclear Age" at Pierson Auditorium in the UMKC Atterbury Student Success Center (Rm 245). This presentation will cover his two books of photographs on nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, starting with the radiation leak at Three Mile Island. Del Tredici formed the Atomic Photographers Guild, including photographers of Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. Continuing the energy of the exhibit after its closing will be Steven Starr, a senior scientist with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), an expert on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear war. He will speak on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 7pm at Pierson Auditorium in the UMKC Atterbury Student Success Center (Rm 245).
Additional events include three films to be shown at 7 pm at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KCMO: White Light Black Rain on Aug. 19, The Day After (what if a nuclear bomb hit KC and Lawrence?) on Sept. 16, and Nuclear Savage (on U.S. nuclear bomb tests at the Marshall Islands) on Sept. 30. Another movie, Message from Hiroshima, a documentary with testimony of survivors and computer generated images of life before the bomb, will be shown at 11:30 am on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Tivoli Theater, 4050 Pennsylvania Ave.
PeaceWorks appreciates a generous contribution ($1,500) from PSR to help make the exhibit and presentations possible. We are also grateful to the UMKC History Department, which is cosponsoring the three speakers, and to UMKC University Libraries for hosting the exhibit. Invitations to the Farquhar talk (plus a DVD from Farquhar) have been sent to all area public school districts and private schools to encourage attendance at the exhibit and the presentations. Please join us at this and other events observing the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki tragedies and seeking to abolish nuclear weapons.
View the exhibit and events calendar here.
by Ron Faust
Posted June 12, 2015
Ferocious spins fluff off debris A spiral of dark clouds dip To form a vortex of agitation As the tornado chases fleeting cars And calmness tip-toes behind To balance this tense whirlwind.
And life plays out amidst tensions And sometimes it turns deadly evil If you can imagine the whine of drones then the screams then the silences or the loss of your child by the staccato of pop corn gunfire or the burning flesh of Hiroshima victims or the clanging crash of “by chance” cars or the explosion of a wandering weapon but no one is responsible for any of this it’s just a job so subtle in its ordinariness that it has sometimes been called the banality of evil.
People learn to avoid the pain of evil By insulating their hides with fat cells Or by distracting themselves to death Through entertainment or attachments Like play toys or nice sips of Cabernet Wrapped in comforts of personal pleasure Whatever it takes to develop the good life Until we roll out the meaning issues And wonder if our lives count for something And if we could have done something To prevent the pain of another Yet the road is littered with good intentions And we slow down with all the stoplights That seem to indicate an inertia of goodness And a loss of mojo we have looked at the stars And realized our insignificance.
Michael, Megan and Greg are Transformed Now Plowsharers released from prison after two years In the greatest breach of defense systems When all they were worried about was protesting Weapons leading us down the path of destruction The point being that they confronted The banality of evil and the inertia of goodness And they acted.
For us, maybe not that way, but when will we Find a big enough vision And a willingness to risk something To become the next Don Quixotes, Not necessarily tilting windmills, But acting to make a difference.
(On occasion when news came that the Transform Now Plowshares of Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertjie-Obed were released on 5/15/15 ahead of their 5 years sentence since it was determined that they were not a threat to society, but maybe to its insanity.) 5/22/15
Posted May 29, 2015
“It felt important,” said Monarc, reflecting on the fourth annual PeaceWorks walk/ride from the old to the new plant in Kansas City, Mo., for making parts for nuclear weapons.
Monarc was there Memorial Day, May 25, when the 10-mile walk/ride began. At 8 am, she stood at the entry road to Bannister Federal Complex, including the old plant where non-nuclear parts were made for nukes from 1949 to 2014, and where contaminants led, over the years, to a reported 154 deaths. “This march reminds me,” said Henry Stoever of PeaceWorks, “of many people who were truth-tellers. This march is about our safety. This is about the world’s safety. This is global patriotism.”
Maurice Copeland told the 25 people ready to walk and ride, “You get the body count of every war. I’m a Vietnam vet. There were 58,000 (from the U.S.) dead from that war. The U.S. did not say anything about the body count from the Cold War.” Copeland worked at the old plant for 32 years as a machinist and supervisor. At one point he attended a funeral every three weeks for his co-workers or their family members. “People are dying from this plant,” said Copeland. “The Cold War continues from this plant to the new plant. The body count continues.”
Tom Fox told why he brought the American flag: “In the Vietnam War protests 40 years ago, we learned to carry our flag,” to lay claim to being patriots. “We do this for our children, for our grandchildren.”
The group received a fact sheet on the new plant, the National Security Campus—it cost $687 million to construct, and its operating costs are $900 million per year.
Lu Mountenay explained that, when the group reached the new plant, they would do a die-in in memory of KC workers who died from the Bannister complex contaminants. She had made cloth cut-outs of dead bodies that the die-in participants could lay down as they fell to the ground. “When the bombs went off (in 1945), when they blasted the people, an imprint was made on the stone,” she said. The imprint, the “thermal shadow,” was all that remained of the evaporated bodies.
The group trudged up the hill along Bannister Road and walked or rode 8 miles south along Holmes. They got honks from drivers seeing their signs, “Honk for peace,” “Honk to ban nukes.”
Turning east on Mo. Hwy. 150, the walkers took to the sidewalk that runs alongside the new plant. Passing the Administration Building, they waved goodby to nuclear weapons, the gesture part of a “global wave” at sites dealing with nukes. In mid-May, during the five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, people likewise waved, and 107 nations by May 24 signed the Humanitarian Pledge to prohibit nuclear weapons.
Reaching the entry road into the new plant, the walkers and riders, by then numbering about 50, met security guards and received cold water from them as a welcome. The peace activists listened to former Bannister complex workers and a son of two workers. Delmira Quarles said she worked for the Marine Corps Finance Center at the complex and had been an “atomic baby”—her father helped load the bombs that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and he died of many diseases—and she believes her illnesses are related to her father’s exposure from World War II and to toxins at the complex. Otha Gilliam said his parents worked at the Bannister complex, and he is learning about the hazards that may have caused his father, Buster Reed, to die of pancreatic cancer and his mother, Betty Reed, to die of heart disease. Marty Smith, a contract employee, said his chronic beryllium disease comes from his days as a roofer at the Bannister complex.
About 20 peace protesters took turns reading information about persons who died after exposure to contaminants at the Bannister complex. Then, with 10 holding “thermal shadows,” they fell to the driveway near the massive National Security Campus sign. Monarc participated, reading, “Jeanette Johnson, who worked at the IRS, was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 41.”
Finally, taps rang out over the fallen bodies and the hushed observers, including the guards.
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
by Jack Cohen-Joppa
Posted May 29, 2015
The prosecution of nuclear abolitionists in both city and federal court in Kansas City is presenting moral challenges for their judges.
81-year-old Oblate Fr. Carl Kabat was back in federal court April 23 for sentencing on his conviction for destroying government property, to wit: splashing red paint on the large corporate sign at the entrance to the new factory for nuclear weapons parts last July 4. It was the fourth summer in a row he’d been arrested at the plant site, three times on the Fourth of July.
The probation office suggested 30 days in jail, while the prosecutor asked only for five years’ probation, including the provision that Kabat not go near any military base.
“What is your wish?” Magistrate Robert Larsen asked Kabat.
“To get rid of all nuclear weapons,” he replied.
Kabat reminded the court that July 4 was just around the corner. “If nuclear weapons did not exist, then I would comply with all requests. This is insanity, for nukes would kill old people, children and women.”
“What do you recommend? You have a long list of offenses,” the judge reminded the priest.
“Non-violently shoot me,” Kabat replied. “I work for the reign of the Holy One on this planet.”
Exasperated, Larsen told Kabat the priest was too old to “keep doing this.” He recalled having Kabat in the dock before him more than two decades earlier (presumably for post-conviction proceedings after his trial and initial 18-year sentence for the 1984 Silo Pruning Hooks action).
And next time, pled the judge, protest peacefully, and use a water-based coating because it cost the government over $8,000 to remove the oil-based red paint.
Kabat returned to his theme that these bombs belong to us, and we are all responsible. He spoke of the failed responsibility of the German people to address the holocaust in their midst.
Larsen, concerned for Kabat’s health, did not want to send him to an institution where he would be exposed to danger. “Will you protest lawfully?” he asked again.
“I’m just a nut-ball,” Kabat replied. Again he mentioned the German people, that we all have to take responsibility, and that he wanted to advance the realm of the Holy One.
“I am in a BOX!” Larsen confessed, “because you say you will not comply.”
Kabat suggested a fine. “But you’ve taken a vow of poverty!” the judge exclaimed.
Finally, Larsen sentenced Fr. Kabat to one day in jail, asking that he be processed immediately and released. The judge waived the usual $25 processing fee and required no probation, no conditions of release, and no supervision.
Kabat’s trial had taken place in December and ended with the judge delaying his verdict until April, “befuddled by what to do with an 81-year old priest who will most likely do this again.”
While Larsen deliberated, Kabat’s advisory counsel Henry Stoever (who provided the story of Kabat’s sentencing) was in Kansas City municipal court January 16 to defend himself on a charge of trespassing at the plant with two others last August.
In a pre-trial motion and in court, Stoever put forward several affirmative defenses. In closing, he quoted the 1966 dissenting opinion from U.S. Supreme Court Justices William O. Douglas, William Brennan, and Abe Fortas in Adderley vs. Florida: “We do violence to the First Amendment when we permit this ‘petition for redress of grievances’ to be turned into a trespass action.”
After the 90-minute trial, Judge Elena Franco gave her verdict (from the notes of Jane and Anneliese Stoever – wife and daughter of Henry):
“You may have better forums than Municipal Court” for bringing forth a petition against government actions, Franco advised Stoever.
“I disagree (with using the court as a forum) and still, that said, I respect your right (to express your views) and your commitment to peace. I admire your desire to not be silenced. I am envious of that. I happened to be on the other side of the Cuban missile crisis, in Cuba, not here.” She expressed thanks for the peacemakers’ ongoing efforts.
“I could say you have a ‘claim of right’ and you had a right to be there (on the plant property); I am too weak to do that,” said Franco. “Maybe a portion of my brain has been so focused on ‘the legal’ … maybe when I leave the bench in 20 years, I can approach this issue from the other side of my brain. You aren’t going to like this: there is a technicality. The mens rea (criminal intent) is not there. And I believe the line for the trespassing hasn’t been shown. I don’t know that you were trespassing; maybe. The mens rea is iffy. I have to find you not guilty.”
This was the first not guilty verdict from some 120 arrests since 2010 at the sites of Kansas City’s old and new bomb-part factories.
For more information, visit PeaceWorksKC.org.
—Story by Jack Cohen-Joppa of The Nuclear Resister, based on reports from Henry, Jane, and Anneliese Stoever
Video of the Memorial Day walk/ride. By Marc Saviano.
by Nehemiah Rosell
Posted April 27, 2015
Ann Suellentrop, a leader of PeaceWorks-KC and Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, joined the Bike Away the Atomic Bomb ride from Washington, D.C., to New York City April 21-24. Organized by Bike for Peace, Mayors for Peace, and the ATOM project, the ride was created to raise awareness about nuclear disarmament before the UN Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, which started April 27. The bike ride was followed by a host of other events in NYC against nuclear weapons.
Participating in the Bike Away the Atomic Bomb ride were about a dozen people from Norway, Kazakhstan, and the United States. Riders included Tore Nærland of Norway, co-founder of Bike for Peace; two Norwegian mayors; and Karipbek Kuyukov, a famous Kazakhstani artist who was born with no arm as a result of radiation from a nuclear weapons test site. The riders met with elected officials and youth in cities along the way to talk about nuclear disarmament. Suellentrop said the motto for the ride was “bike for peace and friendship,” highlighting the importance of forming relationships. “The average person does not want nuclear weapons,” stated Suellentrop. “Who wants them? The people making money off of them.”
In NYC the group participated in the International Peace & Planet Conference as well as an anti-nuclear-weapons march on April 26 that was attended by 10,000 people from all over the world including 5000 from Japan. Suellentrop said that there were plans for several April 28 nonviolent direct actions, including a blockade of the U.S. Mission to the UN, demanding immediate nuclear disarmament.
Nehemiah Rosell is Masters of Social Work student at KU and the webmaster for PeaceWorks KC’s website.
Photos from the Bike Away the Atomic Bomb ride.
Photos by Ann Suellentrop and Madelyn Hoffman.
Posted April 17, 2015
Join PeaceWorks on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, for the fourth annual walk/ride from the old nuclear weapons parts plant (the KC Plant) to the new plant at the National Security Campus.
Why the 10-mile walk/ride on Memorial Day? Well, because many workers at Bannister Federal Complex, home of the old plant, have died from contaminants there. The National Nuclear Security Administration released a report March 20 to Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks, in reply to her Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The NNSA says the complex’s “primary contaminants of concern” include petroleum compounds, volatile organic compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), beryllium, and lead-based paint. In addition, says the NNSA, “other chemicals and conditions of concern may exist,” including radioactive materials.
A 2011 report by NBC Action Now (Channel 41) listed 154 persons whose families said they had died from toxins at the complex, plus about 250 others injured from contaminants there. The list indicates the employees’ employers, and only 82 of the 154 worked at the KC Plant, with the others working elsewhere in the complex.
Times/places for the walk/ride and die-in:
8 a.m., gather at the entry to the old KC Plant on Bannister, east of Lydia (park on Lydia);
8:15 a.m., begin walk/ride west on Bannister, go south on Holmes, go east on Mo. Hwy. 150;
11:15 a.m., begin last mile of walk at Mo. Hwy. 150 & Prospect (drivers park on Prospect), go east & then north to 14510 Botts Road (the entry to the new National Security Campus);
11:30 a.m. or so, hold a die-in at the entry to the new plant. Commemorate those who have died. Seek an end to the death-dealing production of nuclear weapons.
Questions? Call Henry Stoever, 913-206-4088.
Nuclear weapons case
How sweet it is: not guilty!
Posted January 25, 2015
After a 90-minute trial Jan. 16 at the Kansas City, Mo., Municipal Court, Judge Elena Franco found that the City had failed to prove that Henry Stoever had the mens rea (guilty mind, or criminal intent) for conviction of trespass at the new nuclear weapons parts plant in KCMO. Franco also found that the City’s witness had failed to prove where the property line was at the new plant.
Stoever, a lawyer and chair of the PeaceWorks-KC board, had earlier filed with the Court and Prosecutor a 12-page pretrial notice, making nine “claim of right” points for crossing the supposed property line at the new plant Aug. 22, 2014. Stoever summarized those points at his trial. Tapping U.S. history, Stoever said one purpose of the Constitution was to “chain the dogs of war” through the separation of powers, with war to be declared by the House of Representatives, funded by Congress, and managed by the president. Stoever called nuclear weapons “a direct threat to all life on Earth.” The new plant violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ratified by the Senate in 1970, Stoever contended. Further, he said he does not enter into the “suicide pact” the government is engaged in by producing and maintaining nuclear weapons.
Speaking from the witness chair to Franco, Stoever said, “I do not dispute that I walked over the (property) line. I do not know whether that is the true property line, but I won’t quibble about that. If it was 20 feet or 30 feet further, I would have walked over it.” He also said, “You have thousands of vehicles (on the entry road where he walked), and no one stops them. I’m arguing there’s some selective prosecution involved in these (resistance) cases.”
Noting steps he has taken other than the line-crossing, Stoever said, “We in PeaceWorks worked on four petitions and got one placed on the voters’ ballot. I was part of a lawsuit concerning the environmental assessment for the new plant. I went to New York City for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review.”
Stoever added, “My claim is that the world is in jeopardy” from the existence of nuclear weapons. Franco is an immigrant from Cuba, and Stoever mentioned the Cuban missile crisis—the embargo against Cuba, ships coming within range of Cuba from Russia with nuclear weapons, and actions by the U.S. and Russia that were “extremely reckless and could have damaged the world.”
In his closing statement, Stoever said, “Part of the oath an attorney takes is to reform the law and to serve the underserved.” He said he felt it was his duty as a lawyer to speak up. … He also dissected the word property, referring to the new nuclear weapons parts plant, asking, What is proper property?” He added, “If someone threatened us with a nuclear weapon, we would call that terrorism.”
Stoever quoted a dissenting opinion from Supreme Court Justices William O. Douglas, William Brennan, and Abe Fortas in 1966, in Adderley vs. Florida: “We do violence to the First Amendment when we permit this ‘petition for redress of grievances’ to be turned into a trespass action.”
“You may have better forums than Municipal Court” for bringing forth a petition against government actions, Franco advised Stoever. “I disagree (with using the court as a forum) and still, that said, I respect your right (to express your views) and your commitment to peace. I admire your desire to not be silenced. I am envious of that. I happened to be on the other side of the Cuban missile crisis, in Cuba, not here.” She expressed thanks for peacemakers’ ongoing efforts.
“I could say you have a ‘claim of right’ and you had a right to be there (on the plant property); I am too weak to do that,” said Franco. “Maybe a portion of my brain has been so focused on ‘the legal’ … maybe when I leave the bench in 20 years, I can approach this issue from the other side of my brain. You aren’t going to like this: there is a technicality. The mens rea is not there. And I believe the line for the trespassing hasn’t been shown. I don’t know that you were trespassing; maybe. The mens rea is iffy. I have to find you not guilty.”
The supporters in the courtroom, about 30 of them, cheered. Franco said, “You are all free to leave the courtroom.” Stoever shook the hands of Judge Franco, Prosecutor D.J. Pierre, and Lt. Bill Birkner, the City’s witness. Celebrating with supporters, he wiped away tears of joy.
During the past four years, about 120 times, a person has crossed the property line at KC’s new nuke-parts plant, sometimes a person alone (namely, Father Carl Kabat, OMI), sometimes in a group (from 3 to 53 persons). The Jan. 16 trial marks the first “not guilty” verdict.
—By Jane Stoever, Henry’s wife, with notes by Anneliese Stoever, their daughter
Posted October 31, 2014
Two folks who crossed a forbidden line, all to say they oppose nuclear weapons, came to Municipal Court in Kansas City, Mo., for a hearing Oct. 21. Mark Bartholomew, of Holy Family Catholic Worker House, pleaded “guilty” of stepping across the line, and Judge Elena Franco sentenced him to 40 hours of community service. Henry Stoever, peace lawyer, pleaded “not guilty,” and Franco will try him for his resistance Friday, January 16 at 1:30 PM in Courtroom D.
Mark and Henry spoke to about 20 supporters at the rally before the court hearing.
Explaining why he did not bail out after being arrested for trespass Aug. 22 at KC’s new nuclear weapons parts plant, Mark said, “I work with folks who don't have the resources to bail out.” At Holy Family he feeds the hungry, befriends them. As he was being driven to the downtown police station to be held overnight in the summer heat, police asked him, “Are you sure you want to go there?” It was as if he didn’t belong there, as if his life were more valuable than those of others to whom police would never pose that question.
Likewise, said Mark, “We fly drones because of threats to ourselves. Who are we to say our lives are more important than theirs?” And similarly, with a nuclear weapons parts plant “in our back yard,” Mark asked, “Who are we to say our lives are more important than theirs, and we have the right to strike first?” People say they hope they never have to use the weapons, said Mark. “In our investing billions of dollars—plus time, energy towards upgrading and maintaining them—we are saying we are still willing, very willing, to use them.”
In court, after giving Mark 40 hours of community service—longer than any other KC nuclear weapon resister has received—Franco lifted all his fees. “That was worth about $200, right?” asked Brother Louis Rodemann after the hearing. The money aside, Mark commented, “Guess I can’t resist doing community service!”
During the rally, Henry welcomed people, including those from PeaceWorks, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, and friends of Holy Family Catholic Worker. He said, “It matters what we are doing here! These weapons have consequences!” Duty and truth are essential focuses of a court, he said, and attorneys are supposed to elevate the law and improve the practice of justice. “There’s no disputing the facts” of the line-crossing, he said. “Yet there’s no acknowledgment by the city that these are weapons of mass destruction, part of a global threat,” that producing these WMDs violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and that making these weapons has consequences of illness and death from the contaminants involved. “Only through activism will we bring truth to the public,” he added.
After hearing Mark and Henry, Louann Stahl, a longtime All Souls member, told them, “Gandhi once said, ‘I have yet to meet a real Christian.’ I wish Gandhi could have met you!”
By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
Posted October 3, 2014
The judge and prosecutor wanted to consider only a line-crossing. Civil resister Georgia Walker and her lawyer wanted to expose the evil of nuclear weapons, the scourge of contaminants from making the weapons. The verdict: guilty of trespass May 31, 2014, at Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City, Mo., where parts were made for nuclear weapons from 1949 to 2014. The sentence: only a year’s probation, including avoiding the old and new sites in Kansas City, Mo., for making nuclear weapon parts, sites both managed by Honeywell for the Department of Energy.
Why no trespass fine, no community service, no jail time? “I am familiar with Ms. Walker and her work,” Municipal Judge Anne LaBella said during the Sept. 26 trial.
Despite the light sentence, Walker’s trial—after a short rally (video here) Sept. 26—was fraught with frustration.
Henry Stoever, defense attorney, questioned the defense’s first witness, Maurice Copeland, about his knowledge of toxins at Bannister Federal Complex from his work there for the nuclear weapons parts plant for about three decades. “You are familiar with the dumping (of toxins) in the lagoon, the sludge site, dumping on the grounds, and the daycare center?” asked Stoever. The prosecutor objected that the question had nothing to do with the line-crossing, and LaBella soon insisted, “Stick to whether there was trespass.” Asked about the property, Copeland noted the public road beyond the guard shack, with both the road and the shack farther onto the siVidte than the property line. But when Copeland tried to discuss his work on the Community Advisory Panel concerning the future of the contaminated property, Copeland ran into another “Objection!” and had to step down from the witness stand.
Walker was allowed to say she lives with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in midtown, is a former member of the sisters, still keeps vows, has a doctoral degree in sociology, and is completing her doctoral program in ministry. And when Henry Stoever, defense lawyer, asked Walker to describe her work, Walker said, “I’m executive director of an organization that works with men and women coming out of prison. I’ve accompanied a number of clients who’ve come before you (Judge LaBella).” After Walker gave the name of her midtown organization, Journey to New Life, the prosecutor objected that Walker did not need to say more. Stoever countered that witnesses commonly describe their work, as the Honeywell officer had just done at the trial. LaBella said to limit questions to the line-crossing.
Stoever, however, proceeded, “Do you have more to say about Journey to New Life?” And Walker explained, “We help people who have mental illness, a history of addiction. … We help them get off the street and into a new life.” Walker said she serves on the PeaceWorks board. Then Stoever asked, “How do you know Bannister Federal Complex?”
Walker replied, “Two of my aunts worked for IRS (at the complex), in a building very contaminated. They did not know that. They died at 61 and 62.” Walker fought back tears, and LaBella offered her some tissues. Walker said, “Sorry!” LaBella quietly said, “It’s all right.”
Walker, knowing anything might draw the prosecutor’s objection, said, “The reason for my action is I think more people should become aware of what has happened.”
Stoever took a different tack, saying, “The judge will not let us talk about the 898 toxins found on the property.” The courtroom, with 20-some supporters there, erupted in laughter.
Walker seemed to take heart, saying, “I don’t understand one fact: Trespassing laws surely were passed because there was property to be protected. I took steps to call attention to an issue that should concern all Kansas Citians: What’s going to happen to that property? The agency that managed that property (Honeywell) should be on trial. They should be prosecuted. I don’t get it. In this case, “protecting” that property was a way of limiting the amount of public discourse. It’s a misapplication of city resources to charge me (with a crime). We weren’t going to do anything to that property.”
Stoever reminded Walker she used the word complicit in earlier statements.
Walker explained, “As a matter of faith, I cannot be complicit in making parts for nuclear weapons by not speaking out. We could be silent. We could ignore it. We could be violent. Or we could take the way of faith and let people know what’s really going on with that property. It’s speaking truth to power. Some people have got to do it. They (the government) won’t stop. They hide behind the legitimacy of national security. I think they create world insecurity.”
When Stoever invited Walker to say more about the property, the prosecutor objected. Stoever told LaBella that his pretrial notices included the rights of the Constitution—freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. The prosecutor again objected, with LaBella again sustaining the objection.
“Your Honor, she (Walker) is going to be sentenced. Her intent, purpose, motive come into play,” argued Stoever, choking up. But LaBella said, “You can step down, Ms. Walker.”
The prosecutor’s closing statement was short: “You (LaBella) heard the defendant’s testimony that she crossed the property line after being instructed not to. She was warned twice.”
Stoever said in closing, “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1968 to reduce nuclear weapons until they were all eliminated. We continue to upgrade these weapons, to build more parts. We have violated the law. Earlier this week, The New York Times described improvements to nuclear weapons and submarines and planes, which over three decades will cost $1 trillion. Only by confronting things in our midst, only then will things change. … We have laws about trespass, throwing things down, dumping things down. What Georgia Walker did is raising up humanity, for our survival. … If there’s a fire, we find justification for going in, finding persons, finding animals. I’m asking the court not to look narrowly on this, but to look at the broad sphere of justice—movements such as abolition of slavery, voting rights, gay rights, the women’s movement. Georgia’s act is an act of justice and conscience. … Georgia upholds the spirit of the law, not a narrow interpretation.”
“I understand your effort to call attention to your concerns,” LaBella told Walker. “My concern is that the law doesn’t get broken again.” Walker had, on July 13, 2013, crossed the property line at the site for the new nuclear weapons production plant in KC. “I find you guilty,” LaBella said, giving Walker a year of probation, adding, “Stay away from the Honeywell and Department of Energy property.”
After the trial, Chris Wade, Walker’s colleague and director of the Justice Project, told Walker, “I’m down here (at court with clients) a lot. She didn’t want to find you (Walker) guilty. She knows what you do. She wouldn’t give you community service.”
Then came a surprise: On Sept. 29, LaBella called Stoever on Sept. 29 with a good word: She was dropping the 500-foot restriction. No explanation why; just a softening.
Notes: Ann Suellentrop took the video “Georgia Walker Speaks before her Trial,” Mike Nickells edited and posted it, and Jane Stoever wrote this story.
Posted September 9, 2014
Court news re Georgia Walker, Kathy Kelly, Henry Stoever, Mark Bartholomew, Jim Hannah, Carl Kabat
Court proceedings come in many colors.
On Sept. 26, at 1:30 pm, Georgia Walker will come to trial in Municipal Court in KC, MO, where she will give testimony to Judge Anne LaBella in Court F. Georgia had a court appearance earlier, where she pleaded not guilty to trespass at Bannister Federal Complex (BFC), the former home of the nuclear weapons parts plant called the Kansas City Plant. All are invited to court for Georgia’s trial, where she’ll explain her line-crossing May 31 at BFC.
Next comes the hearing (arraignment) for Kathy Kelly and Georgia on Oct. 2, time TBD, at Whiteman Air Force Base. Supporters may or may not be allowed to attend this hearing. The charge: trespass at Whiteman AFB June 1, a line-crossing to protest the remote-control drone warfare conducted at the base. It’s possible a trial may later occur, where Kathy (co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, based in Chicago) and Georgia (director of Journey to New Life, in KC) could say why their actions were justified, necessary. Want to attend the Oct. 2 hearing? Contact Jane, 913-206-4088, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next comes the hearing (arraignment) Oct. 21 for Henry Stoever and Mark Bartholomew for crossing the property line at the new nuclear-weapons-parts plant Aug. 22, at the “DEADication to Death” demonstration, countering the dedication of the new KC Plant. Henry will plead not guilty Oct. 21, at 1:30 in Municipal Court, Court D, and he will receive a trial date TBD. Mark will be asked how he wants to plead--guilty or not guilty. Jim Hannah, the third person arrested at the DEADication, has already pled guilty and was given 40 hours of community service, court costs, and two years’ probation. Because Jim will be on a trip Oct. 21, he wanted his case resolved early.
Finally, the unexpected. Carl Kabat, 80, a priest in the Order of Mary Immaculate, sloshed red paint (signifying blood) on the huge entry sign at the new site for the KC Plant on July 4, capping a series of anti-nuke actions that have landed him in prison for about 17 years. Despite the damage to the entry sign July 4, no charges have been filed. Someone, somewhere, may not want Carl in court, huh?! Carl remains puzzled by the lack of a charge to appear in court for his July 4 action. Henry says Carl should accept this as part of God’s grace to him.
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks
Prayer to the Earth
by Lu Mountenay at the new nuclear weapons facility Aug. 22, 2014
Posted September 6, 2014
I’m sure you’ve heard it pondered many times by past presidents, patriots, and poets alike—“Where are all the weapons of mass destruction?”
We know where they are … we know where their parts are born.
We stand on the guilty ground. This earth did not choose to birth these weapons. It would rather grow soybeans.
So we could ask, “Where have all the soybeans gone?” Gone to weapons, every one!
Or this earth might want to grow sunflowers—symbols of a nuclear-free world.
Oh, when will we ever learn?
I invite you to bow or kneel and touch and bless this earth, this grass, one last time before it is dedicated to death—before it is contaminated for life … and in perpetuity.
Creator Spirit, bless this earth. Forgive us for what will happen here. We know it is not your will. Amen.
We did all we could to stop this course of destruction, and we will continue our work—because Peace Works!
Greed has won … for now. The Temple of Doom is erected. They’re over there right now glorifying this huge facility. They’re cutting ribbons, and as they do, they’re cutting our lifeline to a healthier earth. It promises threats and bullying politics, at best … suffering and death at worst. Today, we can make one more small attempt toward healing—the healing of sunflowers, and our prayers and protests that we plant with them. The seeds are small, but remember the mighty mustard seed. We have faith in our vision: A healthy world of justice and peace, without war and these weapons. We will not be silent; we will not be complicit.
Repeat after me: Ashes to ashes, death to death, toxins to toxins.
May the earth rest in peace. Amen.
Someday, the sunflowers will bloom at the Temple of Doom.
(Then the people scattered sunflower seeds on the ground.)
By Bill O’Neill
Posted September 1, 2014
Funeral procession vs. new nuke-parts plant
On Aug. 22, a 90-degree day, peace activists marched in procession through a former soybean field mourning the “DEADication” of the new nuclear arms plant in Kansas City, MO. Meanwhile, invited dignitaries, including representatives of the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration, dedicated the new National Security Campus, now home to the Kansas City Plant that makes and procures parts for nuclear weapons. The official ceremony was closed to the public that foots the billion-dollar bill.
Fifty-five dedicated peace workers marched with a cardboard coffin, sang songs, listened to truth tellers, prayed, and spread sunflower seeds to renew the earth from radioactive destruction. They supported three civil resisters who stepped onto the publicly owned property leased to the nuclear arms industry and dedicated to producing weapons of mass destruction.
Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks board, said the government is “living a lie,” claiming to downsize the number of nuclear weapons while spending $50 billion each year researching, producing, and maintaining the bombs and delivery systems. “This is a trespass on us,” Henry proclaimed, saying nuclear weapons and their threatened use trespass on our economy, our freedoms, and our very existence on this earth.
Jim Hannah, a PeaceWorks Board member, said, “Some may call what we do here today theater of the absurd. … But what is absolutely absurd is the belief that by terrorizing the whole world, we will all somehow be safe.”
Mark Bartholomew, of Holy Family Catholic Worker House in KC, said this narrative permeates our nation: “Better them than us.” Whether it is the country’s embrace of gun “rights,” drone strikes, wars outside our borders, or incarceration rates far above those of other nations, the overriding belief is: “Better them than us.” Mark said he determined to cross the weapons plant’s property line to oppose this narrative. He affirmed: “Better me than someone else.”
Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister, offered this prayer:
“Creator Spirit, bless this earth. Forgive us for what will happen here. We know it is not your will. We did all we could to stop this course of destruction, and we will continue our work—because Peace Works!
“Greed has won … for now. The Temple of Doom is erected. … (But) We have faith in our vision: A healthy world of justice and peace, without war and these weapons. We will not be silent; we will not be complicit.”
Maurice Copeland, who worked at the former Kansas City Plant for 32 years for Honeywell (which manages the plant), said, “This plant has told you it is a non-nuclear plant. … We do deal with nuclear materials. We don’t mix them, but we do deal with them. (The government) is trying to see how much radiation we’ve been exposed to.”
Ron Faust, a PeaceWorks board member, read his poem “Dedication to Death,” including this passage:
Dignitaries attend these ceremonies and keep smiling,
And can’t imagine that moral principles are at stake.
So they go along in a bubbly world that instills violence,
But we are here to stand up against this death wish.
Henry, Jim and Mark approached the line on the entry road to the plant—the line between a culture of life and one of death. Henry assured the peace officers waiting to arrest them at the direction of the Honeywell Corporation, “We respect you. We respect the work you do. We love you. We love your families. We witness in peace and love.” The three resisters then walked across the line and were arrested as their witnesses sang, “We are a gentle, angry people, And we are singing, singing for our lives.”
As the police van pulled away, Peace Officer Jiminez distributed ice-cold water bottles to the protesters and, in this simple human act of compassion, reaffirmed that we are all members of this one community and this one race, the human race, if only for a little while longer.
—Bill O’Neill serves on the PeaceWorks-KC board.
Slideshow from the DEADication
Photos by Jim Hannah
by Ron Faust
Posted September 1, 2014
Here lies the building that makes nuclear weapons
And our eyes are glazed over by its enormity
But today’s private dedication might fail to mention
Any consequences that could cause moral discomfort
We hear Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, over, over and over again
As the number one reason for building this plant
But does anyone ask if these are “Good Green Jobs”
Which offer constructive rather than destructive results?
What if this building participates in a culture of violence
That links into the Military Industrial Complex
And spreads the myth that only the strong survive
And have the right to threaten and beat up the weak?
And while you may have problems with that notion,
What about accepting responsibility for the price tag
When we are told that we have economic restraints
The officials form suspect coffers to darken the coffin.
And never mind the high risks of all those good jobs
Because it’s just a matter of hiding the cancer casualties
And no matter that humans are vulnerable to radioactivity,
They say it’s only a slight problem, worth all the money.
Dignitaries attend these ceremonies and keep smiling
And can’t imagine that moral principles are at stake
So they go along in a bubbly world that instills violence
But we are here to stand up against this death wish.
On occasion of protesting the dedication of the new nuclear plant with a coffin march on August 22, 2014
Posted August 1, 2014
Saturday, August 9, 2014 PeaceWorks-KC will hold the annual Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembrance ceremony. Come to the Loose Park Lagoon, 53rd St. and Wornall Road, to recall the tragedies of 69 years ago. We will recommit to saving Earth from nuclear weapons.
We will also remember those who became sick and those who have lost their lives due to exposure to toxic chemicals at the Bannister Federal Complex where nuclear weapons parts were produced.
7:30 lantern floating
upcoming peace actions
reflections on peace
All are welcome!
Posted July 7, 2014
Carl Kabat, 80, a priest in the Order of Mary Immaculate, splashed paint on the huge entry sign at the National Security Campus at 10 a.m. July 4. This was Kabat’s fourth July “interdependence action” in successive years at the so-called campus, the new home for the Kansas City Plant (in KC, Mo.), where the National Nuclear Security Administration now makes and procures non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons.
In a phone call to friends at 10:03 a.m., Kabat said, “This damned plant has got to be closed somehow, some way.” He chose red paint to signify blood, he said, and “sloshed” the paint from plastic baby bottles instead of paint cans to avoid being charged with using a tin can as a weapon.
The new $687 million facility replaces the KC Plant at Bannister Federal Complex, also in KC, Mo., where the federal government has documented about 900 toxins--the legacy from radioactive and other substances used at the old plant. The KC Plant makes parts such as wiring, fuses, guidance systems, security devices, and the trigger for nuclear weapons.
Kabat was released from the KC Police Department holding cell July 5. He was ordered to appear in Municipal Court, 1101 Locust, KC, Mo., at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 3 for a hearing.
About noon on July 4, lawyer Henry Stoever took pictures of Kabat’s handiwork, but by 6 p.m., when Jane Stoever went for more pictures, the sign was under cover. Both Stoevers were warned to leave or be charged with trespass.
In a statement Kabat prepared before an earlier July 4 resistance action, he said, “One of our Minuteman III’s could kill approximately three million of our sisters and brothers. … We have perfected the ‘art’ of killing and burning. … Four Minuteman III’s could kill 12 million of our sisters and brothers. … The opinion of the International Court in 1995 states that nuclear weapons are a Crime Against Humanity!”
In 1980, Kabat became one of the first Plowshares, following Isaiah’s mandate to “beat swords into plowshares.” He has spent about 17 years in prison for resisting nuclear weapons. In his phone call this July 4, Kabat signed off, “God bless! Peace on you!”
—By Jane Stoever of PeaceWorks-KC
From this side ………….. or from this side ………….. the truth cannot hide!
Photos by Jane and Henry Stoever
Posted June 15, 2014
Trifecta Resista, about 65 people strong, went to the old Kansas City Plant for making parts for nuclear weapons on May 31. Our demand: comprehensive cleanup of the toxins there. The contaminants have poisoned workers at the KC Plant and other federal agencies at Bannister Federal Complex. Our hope: opening the door to a nuclear-weapon-free world by 2020.
After we formed a circle in the KC Plant driveway, Lu Mountenay of PeaceWorks, with a flourish, unrolled a list of almost 900 toxins the federal government has found at the plant.
Deb Van Poolen of Montana and Michigan, the artist who painted the “Nuclear Continuum of Death” panel, said the “mine to bomb” process has killed thousands of people, from mining through production and maintenance cycles to the horror of nuclear holocaust.
Two persons were arrested for trespass: Georgia Walker of KC, Mo., a PeaceWorks Board member, and Ethan Hughes of the Possibility Alliance at LaPlata, Mo. Georgia was bailed out late May 31, and her court date is July 10, 1:30 pm, at Municipal Court, 1101 Locust, KC, Mo. Y’all come! Ethan was released on time served June 2, with court fees waived. Bravo! See a video of the action and arrest. The slide-show photos were taken by Jim Hannah.
Before stepping through the PeaceWorks door marked “Open the door to a nuclear-weapon-free world” and crossing onto KC Plant property, Georgia said a few words, fighting back tears: “I enter this door in the name of Lillian Spieler and Georgia Taylor, who died because of this site, working for the IRS. They died at 61 and 62. They were my aunts.”
Georgia’s tears signified the suffering of the 154 families whose members were named in a 2011 NBC Action News list as having died from contaminants at the complex.
Ethan Hughes challenged us: “Because love sweeps through us right now, I don’t want to focus (solely) on this plant, to focus on the nuclear industry.” Referring to his work in Ecuador with indigenous people, he noted that 10,000 people have died because of the banana operations. He said as many chemicals pour down our drains as are applied in the chemical-industrial-agricultural system. “Let love pierce through our hearts,” Ethan implored. “We are complicit, and love can transform us. Go home and empty the chemicals under your sink. Go home and choose every action towards peace. We need to stand up to empire and transform it with love.”
He turned from the activists’ circle to the police, saying, “It’s hot. Thank you for your patience. Blessings to you and your families. Thank you for your beautiful lives,” and he led the circle in applauding the police. Before entering the door, Ethan announced, “I walk for all of life—the koalas, the hedgehogs, the ants, and my beautiful daughters.”
By Jane Stoever and Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks
Video of Action at Bannister Federal Complex
by Lu Mountenay
Posted December 26, 2013
No probation, no fine, no community service, no jail time—just essays. Amazing! Nine defendants represented by Henry Stoever, and cheered on by 27 supporters, spoke out in Municipal Court of Kansas City, Mo., about why they had stepped onto property in KC leased to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Protesting the continued production of nuclear weapons parts that will occur at the new plant on the property, 24 activists on July 13 refused to obey the security guard’s warnings to leave the property. They were arrested. Some of them pled “not guilty” at hearings so they could have their say in court, and nine of the 24 stood trial on Dec. 13 (Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, from Tacoma, Wash., was represented in absentia by Henry).
Judge Ardie Bland granted Henry’s request to make the group’s “door” a physical exhibit for the defense. This is the door through which activists pass to a “nuclear-weapons-free world” during demonstrations against the plant. Judge Bland agreed to wait to start the trial until the door was placed in the courtroom for all to see.
Prosecutor Kendrea White called William Birkner, a Honeywell security guard. He testified that security at the plant had been notified ahead of time about the protest. He gave no trespass warning until the protesters crossed the property line. After a prayer service, 24 went through the door and onto the property. Birkner read the warning twice. He told the judge he had been there to protect personnel, property, and classified material from the peace activists, and that under the Atomic Energy Act, he had authority to have them arrested. He agreed that the activists did not stop traffic, but said that Honeywell was the victim.
Cross-examination by Henry disclosed that Honeywell is not the owner, but the operator of the plant. And, no, the property is not subject to military rule (no check points), and other vehicles drive up to the buildings without being challenged by guards, as the activists were.
Henry presented the entire 10-minute video created by Marc Saviano from the July 13 line-crossing as another exhibit for the defense. Birkner agreed the video was accurate.
First witness for the defense was Jane Stoever, Henry’s wife. She said the city ballot results in April showed that 23% of the voters asked for no further city involvement in financing the new plant. She said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is being violated by the plant, and she expressed concern about contaminants at the current plant site at Bannister Federal Complex. She said the purpose of crossing the line was “to put ourselves on the right side of humanity.” As a Catholic Worker House volunteer assisting the homeless and hungry, she said the funds to produce parts for nuclear weapons could be used for better things.
Prosecutor White noted that the NNSA would challenge the defendants’ method of protest. She said there are other ways to get a message across to the public.
The next defendant, Lauren Logan, said she is a concerned citizen who wants to draw attention to the nuclear weapons issue, she is a Buddhist who takes a peaceful stance, and she won’t cause pain and suffering to any creature. The prosecutor asked if Lauren couldn’t reach more people with her message in another manner. Lauren said she was reaching people in the court, and has indeed informed people by writing letters and articles and being interviewed on the radio (KKFI-FM, 90.1).
Janice Sevre-Duszynska, ARCWP, a woman priest, used the witness stand to paraphrase words from Daniel Berrigan, SJ (she held his book The Feminine Face of God in her hand)—“We are a people parched in the wilderness of the death and destruction caused by nuclear weapons. … We suffer from amnesia. Are we putting God to the test? Have we forgotten where we come from?” She insisted, “Our God is a God of abundance. Nukes are evidence of insanity.” She called the KC Plant “a place of death and destruction.”
Carl Kabat, OMI, testified about the immorality of nuclear weapons. He reviewed the history of his anti-nuclear-weapons activism and serving time for peace (about 17 years in prison). He said that the Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council urged resistance to violence against humans, and he has participated in Plowshare activities. He compared peace activism to the civil rights movement. He declared, “I’m 80. I’ve got a conscience!”
Cele Breen, SCL, told the court about her family’s patriotism and closeness to Harry Truman, her father’s captain during World War I. She said she wants to make sure Hiroshima and Nagasaki never happen again! She added that she works with the poor and doesn’t understand how a beanfield could be labeled “blighted” in the process of obtaining property for the new plant. She cited the recurring theme that money for weapons could be better spent. “I am guilty of being so late in putting my body and my voice on the line,” she stated.
Jerry Zawada, OFM, described nuclear weapons abolition as the number one issue in his heart and spirit. He has witnessed children dying of hunger, he said, repeating that the money for nuclear weapons production could be better spent. He added that he feels blessed to be associated with peaceful resisters. Some 25 years ago, he trespassed five times at missile silos in Missouri. Zawada said, “We are a family of people with a conscience. … My bone of contention is with people who are making money from nuclear weapons.”
Betsy Keenan informed the court, “No other city in the world has welcomed nuclear weapons parts builders within its borders. It is death-dealing work.” She said she grieves that her country has used nuclear weapons against humans.
Georgia Walker, who works with former prisoners, helping them to find work and housing, said nuclear weapons resistance is a personal issue for her. She has two aunts who worked at the IRS office at Bannister Federal Complex, where the current nuclear weapons parts plant has been since 1949, and the aunts died at ages 61 and 62 from “strange cancers,” said Georgia. City council gave Honeywell a new place to devastate, she charged. Of 650 claims concerning workers’ compensation, only 75 workers have been compensated, she noted. “Stand up against injustice,” she urged. “Don’t repeat the same mistake of endangering employees at the new plant.”
In answer to the prosecution’s repeated question about the means of getting their message across, all defendants agreed that nothing matters like putting your body on the line.
In summation, Henry talked about the location of the line-crossing being an open road; nobody else gets stopped or checked there. He pointed to a copy of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed by our country. “These weapons indiscriminately kill noncombatants, civilians, all life. ... Everybody is ignoring the elephant, the monster, in the room. It's a moral imperative (to oppose nuclear weapons). I think it’s a legal imperative.” He asked, “Would we convict George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson? They were called revolutionaries. We are agents of change.”
The prosecutor argued that trespass is the only issue; it’s not about freedom of speech.
Judge Bland decided all defendants were guilty as charged for infraction of the municipal code by trespassing on private property and that the Honeywell representative had authority to call for the arrests. The judge said he understood the argument of the defendants and appreciated Mr. Kabat’s reference to Rosa Parks’ refusal to obey an unjust law, but that Parks was willing to suffer the consequences, just as peace activists must be. Moreover, in civil disobedience cases, those who act out of conscience are willing to accept the punishment as a sign of their sincerity in their just cause, the judge said. “The world was changed because of what they did. Now I can sit up here before you as a black man doing justice.” He added that he took the case “because I've done this before with Mr. Stoever. I think you are educating, because every time I learn something.”
His surprising sentence was to give each defendant the opportunity to continue their stories. They must write a full-page essay answering each of six questions he put forth (see “Sensible Sentence” below).
The applause in the courtroom was appreciation for Judge Bland’s wisdom as well as for the defendants.
Lu Mountenay serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors.
Photos from December 13, by Jim Hannah and Max Obuszewski
Judge Ardie Bland posed six questions to nuclear weapons resisters on trial Dec. 13, and he sentenced the nine defendants to writing a one-page essay on each question within a month. The judge spoke quickly in framing the sentences and gave no written copy to the defendants, but by Dec. 26, lawyer Henry Stoever, the prosecutor, and the judge had come to agreement on the questions, which follow.
1. If North Korea, China, or one of the Mideast countries dropped a nuclear bomb on a U.S. city tomorrow, would that change your opinion (about nuclear weapons)?
2. If Germany or Japan had used nuclear weapons first in World War II, would your opinion change?
3. What would you say to those who say, “If we (the USA) do not have the big stick, that is, if we get rid of our nuclear weapons, and other countries develop nuclear weapons, then we do not have the opportunity to fight back”?
4. You defendants say you are Christians and one is a Buddhist. Father (Carl) Kabat says you disobey a law that is ungodly. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for slavery and the Crusades killed millions?
5. How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue their religion is to crush others into dust with nuclear devices?
6. Who determines what “God’s law” is, given the history of Christianity in the USA and the world?
by Jane Stoever
Posted December 7, 2013
Join civil resisters on Friday, Dec. 13 (the lucky 13th), at a rally right before their Municipal Court trial in KCMO. At the courthouse entry, step through the resisters’ door marked “Open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free future!” Say why you oppose nuclear weapons, why you’re one of millions around the world working to free the Earth from these weapons of mass destruction. Specifics:
Noon rally at the park at 11th and Locust, KCMO—light lunch, then a march past City Hall to Municipal Court, both also at 11th and Locust
1:30 pm trial, Courtroom B
“Crime”: crossing a property line July 13 at the new nuclear weapons parts plant (the Kansas City Plant) to be operated by Honeywell in southern KC, at 14500 Botts Road, by Missouri Highway 150
Defendants: Local resisters Cele Breen, Lauren Logan, Jane Stoever, Georgia Walker; other resisters Carl Kabat, OMI, of St. Louis; “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, of Tacoma, Wash.; Betsy Keenan of Lamoy, Iowa; Jessica Reznicek of Des Moines; womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska of Lexington, Ky.; Jerry Zawada, OFM, of Burlington, Wis.
Among the defendants, Lauren Logan spent more than 24 hours in a holding cell July 13-14 before being released. An administrative specialist in integrated communications for the Community of Christ, based in Independence, Mo., Lauren says she will plead not guilty by reason of sanity. Every creature is naturally loving, peaceful, oriented to community, says Lauren. The new plant will contribute to the destruction of our environment and of people, and therefore is illegal, she says. “We are law-abiding. We shouldn’t be criminalized or punished” for objecting to the plant. She is Buddhist, and the Buddhist beliefs in the sanctity of each living being and in opposition to violence are basic to all world religions, she says.
Another defendant, Georgia Walker, is a community organizer helping provide homes to the homeless and build understanding among midtown KCMO apartment residents. Georgia says the word “trespassing” usually involves laws to protect property, and the line-crossers did no damage to the land and had no weapons. “I am outraged,” she says, that the city of Kansas City arranged for the acquisition of the property, a good beanfield, and now it has five buildings on it for making WMDs. Two of Georgia’s aunts worked for the IRS at Bannister Federal Complex, home to the current KC Plant, and the family believes their deaths from cancer at ages 62 and 63 were caused by exposure to contaminants from the KC Plant.
For more info, see PeaceWorksKC.org or call Jane Stoever at 913-206-4088. The resisters encourage people to join the rally, step boldly through their door, and attend the trial. Y’all come!
By Jane Stoever of the PeaceWorks Board
by Jane Stoever
Posted November 21, 2013
An entity independent of Kansas City—the city’s Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, with commissioners all appointed by the city’s mayor and needing all their actions approved by the City Council—holds the title to the new KC Plant at Botts Road and Mo. Hwy. 150. The city’s municipal bonds were sold to private investors in a public-private plan to fund the new KC Plant. Meantime, questions abide about the current plant at Bannister Federal Complex in KC, Mo.
A document from Honeywell, the manager of the current and new plants, said cleanup would cost about $270 million, while city reports indicate only $20 million, added Coghlan. “My questions are: Who’s going to clean it up? Who’s going to pay for it?”
The lead contender for buying Bannister Federal Complex from the federal government is CenterPoint, the developer (based near Chicago) that joined forces with Zimmer Real Estate to create the plan for the new KC Plant. Coghlan and three PeaceWorks board members visited the Lee’s Summit office of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on Nov. 7 to discuss contamination issues vis-à-vis sale of the property. The plume in groundwater beneath the complex includes PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls.
“Kansas Citians should make sure that, before a private enterprise takes over the complex, funds are available for cleanup,” Coghlan told his audiences in KC and Independence.
A person who has worked for 20 years at Bannister Federal Complex and asked not to be named said during the Q&A with Coghlan Nov. 7, “I am quite familiar with the plume of contaminants under the complex. It’s already in the Blue River and goes into our drinking supply. Plutonium and (depleted) uranium have been found at the complex. And there was a nuclear reactor there. Most of my co-workers from 20 years ago died from strange cancers. I wonder: If they do demolish buildings, what type of toxins will that put in the air?”
by Jane Stoever
Posted November 21, 2013
“The nuclear weapons business is booming—pardon the pun!” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, speaking Nov. 6 and 7 in Kansas City, Mo., and Independence. For 25 years, Coghlan has fought the U.S. care and feeding of nuclear weapons. “If you wonder why the middle class is eroding and so many people are in poverty, it’s because the money’s going to military contractors,” said Coghlan.
The public thinks nuclear weapons are losing ground in the U.S. arsenal of weapons, he noted. “I’m here to puncture that illusion.”
In the last two decades, Department of Energy (DOE) funds for nuke production escalated each year. Only because of budget constraints is the FY 2014 budget for nuclear weapons production expected to stay at or just below the 2013 level—about $7 billion, even though the administration requested $7.8 billion for 2014. In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) spends about $30 billion annually on nuclear weapon delivery systems—by air, land, and sea.
In 2010 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that the United States would never endow existing weapons with new military capabilities. Coghlan said, “I contend we are doing just that.”
For example, the Kansas City Plant, which makes and procures non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, is producing new arming, firing, and fusing sets with new “heights of burst” for W76 warheads on Trident submarines. “If you get burst above the surface of the earth, you get more destruction,” explained Coghlan.
The Pentagon plans to add a tailfin to the B61 bomb, creating the world’s first “smart” bombs (guided bombs), and future super-stealthy F-35 planes will drop them, said Coghlan. President Obama in late June, in front of the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin, called for “bold reductions” in nuclear weapons. “But look what he does!” said Coghlan. For example, the administration’s FY 2014 budget request for the B61 life extension program was $537 million, an increase of 45 percent from FY 2013.
“The DOE says, ‘We are the We-Be’s. We be here before you, and we be here after you,’ irrespective of who is president,” said Coghlan.
Admitting he’s not an overnight abolitionist, Coghlan said abolishing nuclear weapons has to be done progressively, verifiably. Until extinction, the weapons should be maintained by replacing “limited life components” for safety’s sake. But the life extension programs that are now the backbone of the KC Plant’s work, said Coghlan, typically go far beyond maintenance and lead to new-fangled nukes. “DOE comes up with ever wilder schemes,” he said. Projections indicate the life extension programs from now to 2038 could cost $60 billion.
Coghlan’s audiences numbered about 40 at each talk, the first at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in KCMO, the second at Walnut Gardens Community of Christ in Independence. “What if terrorists had used a nuclear bomb on 9/11?” Coghlan asked. “Nuclear weapons are our greatest threat. We have to lead globally in getting rid of them.”
He said he has been amazed at the success of his work against nuclear weapons over the years. “Go to Congress!” said Coghlan. “Talk to their staffs. Pressure your local politicians. It pays to have face time with them! And write letters to the editor—congressional staffs tally who writes pro or con on a topic.”
The way it was:
July 13 resistance to nuclear weapons
By Lauren Logan
Posted November 4, 2013
The morning sun peered down with gentle rays on a peaceful scene. Twenty-four people stood side by side, arms linked to form a chain of solidarity. The police faced us from behind dark glasses. My shaking hands kept tempo with my rapid heartbeat.
“This is the final warning,” blared the bullhorn, heard also by about 60 supporters on the street who cheered us on. I tried to comprehend the ironic scene playing out before me: we were about to be arrested for peacefully standing at the gate of a facility designed to produce parts for nuclear weapons. The people’s protectors were actually protecting the makers of weapons of mass human destruction. The production of which also contaminates the Earth, our home. The peacekeepers protected the nuclear weapons parts plant from the peacemakers!
One by one, the police gently disconnected each singing link from the chain, arresting us. Courage entered my heart with every peacemaker loaded onto the bus. I was in the company of brave souls.
At the police department, an officer directed us to line up at the wall in front of the elevator. We humbly obeyed.
“I think it’s great what you guys are doing,” a young officer muttered to us as we stood waiting, “and I agree with your cause, but it’s just our job ...” I smiled and nodded. When the elevator doors opened to prisoner processing, the fear came flooding back.
Our group of peace activists sat in a hallway close to a drunk man and brothers who weren’t sure why they were there. They continually caused trouble for the officers. The officers, unlike those who arrested us, were cold and showed no emotion. We sat for hours being processed. I was desperate for the restroom, but was made to answer questions first. I was finally able to make it to the bathroom in the holding cell. It was at this time that I saw where I would spend my night.
A wall of concrete blocks encased four cells, each with four blue metal bunkbeds, one metal toilet, and a sink. The only thing blocking the sight of my bare bottom from the rest of the women was Lu Mountenay, who stood as a privacy barricade in front of the toilet.
They finished processing me with fingerprinting and mug shots—a beautiful photo, I’m sure, in my blue paper jumpsuit and my hair in disarray because they confiscated my hair clips. We protesters then sat and talked with each other in the holding cell and invited other inmates to the table.
We met Shay (I’ve changed the names), who works hard and has two sons. They moved after her son witnessed a murder just outside their home. She worried about losing her job. She had made a poor choice to shoplift, and worse, to run from the cops.
Jolene, a sweet woman with an obscene tattoo on her face, was there because her abusive boyfriend called the cops on her. We talked to her about going home to her mother and kids who lived out of state. One of the protesters offered her a ride on her way home later.
Katelyn, who was pregnant, was walking across the street when she was arrested—for what, we never found out. Dana, a loud, drunk woman, said her mother called the cops on her after they got into a drunken altercation at a party; she was taken in on warrants and not allowed to make a phone call to have her kids picked up.
Justice and freedom
We protesters and the other inmates talked about everything from current events to the cause that brought us to the holding cell. Several protesters posted bail and left before nightfall, but I felt God was still with us in the cell.
The guards came by once in a while to hand out bologna sandwiches (no alternatives for me, as a vegan—not even plain bread was offered). When the guards were gone, we continued talking. I was concerned when I heard some of the women were denied their rights to a phone call. As a woman of ethnicity, I am sensitive to racial issues in our judicial system, and now saw and heard officers committing injustices in front of my eyes.
I laid down on one of the hard metal beds and allowed myself to drift off. Cold and hungry, I tried to forget where I was. I told myself, “No one, guilty or innocent, should ever be treated as inhumanely as this.” My heart took on a heaviness that night—knowing the extreme inhumanities that exist in this world today.
I expected to be incarcerated until Monday, but on Sunday the guard told me I was being discharged. I was overjoyed to be free of the dreary cell, but sad to leave the others behind without knowing what would happen to them.
After I changed and called my fiancé, officers guided me back through the garage and out to the street. I wasn’t sure where I was, but I didn’t care—the sun was caressing my face like a mother caresses the face of her newborn. I reeked of urine and sweat, after spending 24 hours treated like a caged dog. I was free to be a human again. I sensed peace, knowing I had acted for peace.
I will take action again!—when I’m off probation.
Lauren Logan was the last protester to leave the women’s holding cell after PeaceWorks’ July 13 resistance to KC’s new nuclear weapons parts plant. She is an administrative specialist in integrated communications for the Community of Christ, based in Independence.
By Megan Fincher, NCR Bertelsen intern
Posted September 10, 2013
Des Moines, Iowa, Catholic Workers Frank Cordaro and Ed Bloomer shook up court proceedings when they pleaded guilty and refused to pay court fees.
The city prosecutor said Cordaro and Bloomer should be held in contempt of court, but Judge Anne J. LaBella balked at sending them to jail, saying, "It costs $68 a day to house and feed prisoners." The judge said she needed time to consider their request and ordered Cordaro and Bloomer to wait for her to process the 89 other cases on her docket...
"I see a problem paying any fines or fees to the court when the money could go to homeless services," he [Bloomer] said.
By Jane Stoever
Posted September 3, 2013
Twenty-four peace activists crossed the property line July 13 at the new nuclear weapons parts plant in Kansas City, Mo., and were detained by police for periods ranging from six hours to a few days. Three local resisters whose Municipal Court hearings were Aug. 26 were not given the chance to speak there. They later discussed their experience.
First-time line-crosser Ann Suellentrop mentioned wearing her Holy Family Catholic Worker T-shirt to court. When she stopped at the water fountain, one of several family members of a young man in a “Detention” shirt saw Suellentrop’s shirt and said, “Holy Family! They’re really good. My sister stayed there. She was safe there.” Suellentrop told the family about the new nuclear weapons plant. She explained that the government should use funds “to help all of us”—to meet people’s needs instead of making nuclear weapons. She reflected, “The family had dressed up to look presentable, in their Sunday best. I could feel their support for the young man. They were a sign to me that the meaning of life is goodness, the community of goodness.”
Suellentrop mused, “Deep human needs for trust, belonging and hope are what we all struggle for ... as individuals, as families and as countries. Like the back of the Holy House T-shirt says, ‘The only solution is love.’ Distrust, alienation and hopelessness: that is what nuclear weapons are made of.”
Suellentrop, a PeaceWorks-KC Board member and president of the national Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, added, “The judge was reasonable, intelligent, amiable. I was delighted that after my case was handled, he said, ‘Good luck to you!’”
The resisters waited an hour for their cases to come up, while others conferred with Judge Joseph Locascio about matters such as marijuana possession, traffic violations, and breaking parole. “Observing in the court today,” Lu Mountenay said that evening, “I feel more and more the disparity between the rich and the poor. Most of the other people there, besides us, were there because they’re poor. They don’t have money for transportation to better grocery stores with lower prices; they have to shop at stores with higher prices for inferior food. The more money you have, the more breaks you get. We chose to be there, we chose to be arrested. We’re privileged. They were there because they had to be—poverty has a lot to do with that.”
Theresa Maly of the Notre Dame Sisters of Omaha referred to multiple efforts to oppose the new nuclear weapons plant. She said, “When our words of protest are not heeded, maybe our actions will speak more clearly.”
Among the resisters slated for the Aug. 26 hearing, some “appeared” through lawyer Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board. He told the judge that Janice Sevre-Duszynska of Lexington, KY, and Jerry Zawada of Tucson, AZ, sought a trial where they could explain their “not guilty” pleas. Their cases were continued to Oct. 7 for a “status conference,” where one trial date with one judge may be set for all pleading “not guilty.” Other line-crossers’ hearings were scheduled for Sept. 4 at 1:30 pm and Oct. 7 at 1:30 pm.
The judge didn’t budge Aug. 26 from the prosecutor’s recommended penalty of a $250 fine or 25 hours of community service for first-time line-crossers pleading “guilty,” and $500 or 50 hours’ service for second-timers. Suellentrop, a first-timer, will do 25 hours of community service. Mountenay and Maly, double-dippers, will do 50 hours, although Lu already works full-time for her church, the Community of Christ, and Theresa works part-time at the Christian Foundation for Children and the Aging and is “Grandma” or “Mom” to guests at Holy Family.
On Aug. 27, Stoever wrote a defendant, “I hope and believe that God is smiling” on this resistance process. “All of this reminds me of 50 years ago Aug. 28, the March on Washington, with Martin Luther King Jr. and 250,000 persons gathering nonviolently. Afterwards, President Kennedy met with the 10 speakers at the White House, and in shaking MLK Jr.’s hand, Kennedy said, “You have a dream.” As the saying goes, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ We strive to be part of that vision.”
By Andi Hinnenkamp
Posted July 23, 2013
One quote sums up the recent gathering to protest nuclear weapons: “Do what you can do, and then sing and dance.” These words from Carl Kabat, OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), capture the tone of the July 12-13 weekend in KC. From the colorful, poignant banners to singing, linking arms, and praying, we were reminded that the spirit of nonviolence brings us joy and love even as we protest their antithesis: nuclear weapons.
The weekend began with nonviolence training and people sharing why they came to the event. Though most of the talk was about the immorality and lack of common sense in producing nuclear bombs, Father Carl, 79, brought us back to a tenet of the Catholic Worker (CW) movement and nonviolent actions: we can do little on our own, but we are called to do that little with joy and love. In this view, people cannot fail as long as they are still in action.
Nehemiah Rosell set us on the track of “singing and dancing” with his song inspired by the theme, Open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free world. Hearing about 80 voices singing was a joy. The size of the group inspired energy and hope. We brought a door to the protest site, through which we entered the symbolic new nuclear-weapons-free world. We stepped through the door singing, laughing, emanating peace. Even as the 24 were being arrested, they sang and danced.
We provided a vision of nonviolence at its best. We hoped to touch a chord with others now and years down the road. The police were respectful. One even kindly asked what our sign reading Resist the 85% meant, our witness that 85% of the non-nuclear parts for U.S. nuclear weapons will be made or ordered at the new plant.
By surprise, more people came to support the line-crossing than expected, suggesting that the message of opposing nuclear weapons is spreading. The weekend reminded us that nonviolence honors people on both sides of an issue and that even in moments of grave concern, life should be joyful.
Andi Hinnenkamp interned recently at Holy Family Catholic Worker House in KC, Mo.
Posted July 23, 2013
See video and online pictures from the July 12-13 weekend to resist nuclear weapons. A sampling from the bag of tricks:
http://youtu.be/RD-mkPFEUgg -- video by Marc Saviano
http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/protesters-arrested-kansas-city-nuclear-plant -- story & photos by Kate Simmons, National Catholic Reporter
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zebuyak/sets/72157634674073888/ -- photo slideshow by Christopher Zebuyak
Picture slideshow from the July 13 action
Posted July 22, 2013
After people left detention at the Kansas City Police Department, several explained why they had done civil resistance against the new nuclear weapons parts plant in KC, Mo.
“My brief overnight in the municipal holding cell afforded me the time and environment to reflect and be in solidarity with thousands of guests to Holy Family Catholic Worker House over the years,” said Christian Brother Louis Rodemann, who devoted 28 years of his life to service at the house.
Franciscan Father Jerry Zawada, when asked why he crossed the line, said, “It’s the children! And the future of the world. People are blind, people are deaf, to the fact that we’re producing these horrible bombs and creating an atmosphere of fear. It threatens the whole world.” He quoted a statement from deceased Jesuit Richard McSorley: “It’s a sin to build a nuclear weapon.”
Zawada also said he wanted to accompany Kabat in this action; Kabat has spent 17 years in prison for acts of civil resistance to nuclear weapons. Referring to Kabat and the whole worldwide community of people seeking a nuke-free world, Zawada said, “It takes passion. And perseverance.”
Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska shared these thoughts: “The United States idolizes nuclear weapons. Their production is idolatrous—offensive to our loving, life-giving God. Nuclear weapons cause fear, and their production contaminates people and destroys creation. These weapons, the very essence of insanity and evil, diminish our lives. How much saner it would be to use our federal budget for what is life-giving, by providing for the needs of the people and protecting creation.”
Notre Dame Sister Theresa Maly reflected, “I hope people that have positions of power, the ability to make decisions about nuclear weapons, hear our message.”
The Kansas City Star quoted lawyer Henry Stoever, adviser to the line-crossers, on July 14: “These weapons are depriving people in need, those who are hungry, those who lack shelter. People around the world should receive these resources rather than the military.”
Jesuit Father Bill “Bix” Bichsel commented: “This action in mid-America highlights the growing resistance to the nuclear-weapon cycle that is taking place across the U.S., from the east—in Oak Ridge, TN, where nuclear weapons are refurbished with refined, high-energy uranium—to the west—at the Trident submarine base in Bangor, WA, where the refurbished nuclear warheads are placed on the missiles that can fire with deadly accuracy from the Trident subs.”
Noting how hampered people’s spirits and the economy are by nuclear weapons production, Bichsel added, “To be a free people, we must act to resist the bondage which imprisons us.”
‘Open the door’ to nuke-free world
24 arrested for civil resistance at new nuclear-weapons-parts plant
Posted July 20, 2013
On July 13, about 80 persons sang and prayed at the entry road to a new facility in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. By 10:15 a.m., two dozen protesters had crossed the property line and were soon arrested. The five-building facility, the Kansas City Plant, at 14510 Botts Road in KC, Mo., will by next year house the operations of the current KC Plant (at Bannister and Troost in KC), where 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts for U.S. nuclear weapons are made or procured.
During a brief ceremony, the 80 persons pledged “to strive for peace within myself and seek to be a peacemaker in my daily life … to persevere in nonviolence of tongue and heart … to work to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.”
With the assembly singing “Open the Door,” written for the occasion, several dozen persons stepped through a door marked “Open the door to a nuclear-weapons-free world,” the rallying call of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The demonstrators crossed the line from the public road to the facility property. Among those arrested for refusing to return to the public road were:
--Carl Kabat of St. Louis, 79, a Catholic priest in the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), who had entered the property and been charged with destruction of property in July 2011 and July 2012;
--William Antone, OMI, of Washington, D.C., the OMI U.S. provincial superior;
--resisters from the Kansas City area, including two Catholic sisters and a brother, a Community of Christ minister, and eight others; and
--11 resisters from other areas beyond KC.
The 24 line-crossers were arrested, fingerprinted, photographed, and then detained in the Jackson County Police Department. Released between July 13 and 15, the 24 received different trial dates, but they will seek a single trial date.
PeaceWorks organized the resistance action in conjunction with the local Physicians for Social Responsibility, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Occupy KC, Veterans for Peace, and the Peace Planters coalition, including local Catholic Worker houses, Catholic sisters (Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Loretto Network for Peace and Justice, Benedictines for Peace, and Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet).
Posted July 20, 2013
On a night of symbols—from the common table for the 6:30 pm potluck, to the floating lanterns on the Loose Park lagoon; from the gong marking 68 years since the Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, bombings, to the promise of peace cranes—we will gather Sunday, Aug. 4, to yearn together for peace on earth.
Attach the name of peace person (living or dead) to a lantern before the 7:30 pm program starts. Hear heartfelt words from speakers and lift up your voice in song. Ponder posters from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Step through a door “to a nuclear-weapons-free world.”
Yes, take hope! Why? For starters:
—On March 4-5, representatives from 127 countries (not the U.S.) convened in Oslo, Norway, to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. “This movement to abolish nuclear weapons, led by Norway and Switzerland, is growing and strengthening, even though countries with nuclear weapons are trying to kill it,” says Steve Leeper, former chair of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.
—In May, a new United Nations working group began meeting in Geneva to develop proposals for multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.
—On June 19, President Obama in Berlin urged negotiations with Russia to reduce deployed, strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third further than required in the New START treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).
—On June 24, the U.S. Conference of Mayors unanimously called for the U.S. to take the lead in global elimination of nuclear weapons and redirection of military spending to domestic needs.
Even though the temperature may hover near 100 degrees, we often have 50-80 people at this annual PeaceWorks remembrance at the Loose Park lagoon. Mark your calendar.
Note: Gayle June, whose mother survived the Nagasaki bomb, asks us to bring peace cranes Aug. 4 that he can place on his mother’s grave in the KC area Aug. 9. “My son had wanted to do something special to honor his grandmother,” says June. “We knew the story of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes. My mother taught me to make paper cranes. I can do them blindfolded. I sent out the announcement requesting cranes in my mother’s honor. From June 10 to July 11, I’ve gotten about 600 cranes from around the world—Japan, Europe, China, Russia.”
Posted June 21, 2013
PeaceWorks’ third annual trek from the current KC Plant to the plant’s new south KC home memorialized lives sacrificed in the crucible of nuclear weapons production. The plant, planned to transfer to the new site in 2014, makes and orders non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons. The rainy walk/ride, with 24 participants, captured media attention May 27.
“A hardy group of protesters marked Memorial Day … with a rain-soaked march,” began KMBC’s report on Channel 9. Reporter Mike Mahoney said participants walked about half the way, then rode to the new National Security Campus for a closing. Mahoney quoted Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board, as saying, “The rest of the world is trying to get rid of nuclear weapons. Here we have a plant that constructs nuclear (weapon) parts.”
“PeaceWorks is embroiled in a feud with City Hall,” said Mahoney. “There have been claims that chemicals under the old plant on Bannister Road led to health problems for workers—claims the company (Honeywell) disputes. An anti-nuclear referendum on the April ballot was soundly defeated by Kansas City voters.”
The written report quotes Stoever—although the telecast words were actually spoken by Rachel MacNair, coordinator of the ballot campaign—as saying, “We are a social movement. Social movements are long-lasting things. They always look weak because they’re always butting heads against the more powerful.”
Before the media came, the walk/ride began at the current plant with words from former KC Plant employee/supervisor Maurice Copeland. The city should dedicate the floodwall in front of the plant as a Cold War memorial, declared Copeland. Later, he said, “That wall could be the nation’s first wall for the hundreds of thousands who’ve died from the making of nuclear weapons.” He said scientists suggest more persons have died from the producing and storing of nuclear weapons than died from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings (an estimated 200,000 deaths in Japan).
The rain prevented walk/ride participants from reading names of the deceased on a list by NBC Action News, Channel 41, dated April 13, 2011. The list has 154 persons dead from exposure to toxins at Bannister Federal Complex, and about 250 persons sick from the toxins.
The walk/ride closed in the pounding rain with a poem by Ron Faust, a PeaceWorks Board member.
By Ron Faust
Posted June 21, 2013
We gather together in a single journey of destiny
To remember those who resist injustices
As we press our feet into the ground
And feel connection to a Memorial march.
Enslaved to the patriotic spirit of the homeland,
Many are inspired by their love of country
Even to the point of dying for pointless wars
Because it is easier to believe in toughness.
But some march to a different and gentler rhythm,
while willing to raise questions about war
and our preeminence as a nation and
whether the world is really our battlefield.
Our tender feet step softly on this hard earth
To protest a cavalier attitude that we somehow
Have the right to invade other people’s privacy
And to kill from a distance
with sociopathic drones.
We are marching to seek an alternative route
Where we cease weapons of mass destruction
And we quit making people suffer from poisons
And we stop dumping problems on the poor.
We are on this exodus to recognize our slavery
To a society cracking under the weight of empire
As we wish to suffer no more, yearning
For the promise of freedom and justice for all.
(On the occasion of the Memorial Day march from Bannister plant to the modernized plant, 5/27/13, read to people huddled under umbrellas in a deluge of rain, standing by the massive National Security Campus entry sign)
Posted June 19, 2013
“Delighted. But disappointed!” is how Henry Stoever described the news that the city had dropped its cases against him and Midge Potts of Springfield, Mo., and they would not have a jury trial June 10. They were charged with trespass on April 14, 2012, at the site for the new Kansas City Plant, a nuclear weapon parts plant. Convicted in municipal court last fall, Stoever and Potts were appealing their cases at the state level. The “cases dismissed” decisions June 7 took away their public forum, said Stoever. “A jury would have heard the cases, supporters would have filled the gallery, and hopefully, some press coverage would have resulted,” explained Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks-KC Board.
The KC Plant, operated by Honeywell for the National Nuclear Security Administration, makes or procures 85 percent of the non-nuclear parts of U.S. nuclear weapons—parts including radar, fuses, firing mechanisms (triggers), guidance systems, tritium containers—parts to turn plutonium and uranium into weapons of mass destruction. The plant, located since 1949 at Bannister Federal Complex, is moving by next year to 14510 Botts Road, south of Grandview.
“All of life is in jeopardy from these weapons,” said Stoever after his case was dismissed, referring to the environment, to KC workers who died from bomb-part contaminants, to uranium miners, to those the U.S. threatens to bomb, and to “the poor who are robbed of basic essentials” because of the cost of nuclear weapons. For example, the Obama Administration 2014 budget request (in part) for the KC Plant was $579 million, compared with $500 million allotted in 2012.
PeaceWorks’ next line-crossing has preparatory events Friday, July 12—nonviolence training at 3 pm, potluck at 5 pm, and a festival of hope 6:30-8 pm—at Linwood United Church, 3151 Olive, KCMO. Father Carl Kabat, OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate) of St. Louis, who has trespassed at the new plant site twice before, will lead a group across the line guards will spray-paint on the new plant’s entry road on Saturday, about 10 am. “Resist the 85%” is the theme of this resistance action; both supporters and line-crossers are invited!
Asked why he crossed the line last year, Stoever reflected, “The beautiful part of this witness is that it focuses my mind on one of the great issues of the day, it focuses me on spirituality and going outside of my small world, and it creates a community of concern and love.”
Among persons planning to cross the line are Father Bill Antone, OMI (Kabat’s provincial superior), Des Moines Catholic Workers, and local PeaceWorks members, including Ann Suellentrop, Brother Louis Rodemann, Lu Mountenay (a Community of Christ minister), Mark Bartholomew, and Jane Stoever. Among cosponsors of “Resist the 85%” are PeaceWorks, Occupy KC, and the Peace Planters coalition, including Catholic Worker houses, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Benedictine Sisters, and Loretto Network for Peace and Justice.
Posted June 3, 2013
Each spring, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability sponsors “DC Days” to train activists for lobbying and to support them as they meet with congressional aides. Ann Suellentrop of the PeaceWorks Board, the ANA Board president, says she gained new insights into the nuclear weapons complex during “DC Days” this April.
“Despite the fiscal constraints restricting other programs, the Obama Administration’s FY 2014 budget requests $7.87 billion for (nuclear weapon) production activities, an increase of 13 percent over FY 2013 sequester spending.”
—Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
“The number of nuclear bombs the U.S. makes is going down, but the budget keeps going up,” says Suellentrop. “It’s corporate welfare. Besides, about 10 companies, including Honeywell (manager of the Kansas City Plant, where employees make parts for nuclear weapons), didn’t pay any taxes last year. We’re being screwed by these corporations.”
Acronym time: The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) maintains the U.S. nuclear arsenal. NNSA operates eight weapons production and research facilities, including the KC Plant, and is adding new features and military capabilities to nuclear weapons through Life Extension Programs (LEP). ANA materials explain, “Expanding nuclear weapons production is not necessary to meet 21st-century national security challenges. It inhibits America’s ability to lead international nonproliferation efforts and costs more than taxpayers can afford.” The KC Plant is heavily engaged in LEP work, says Suellentrop.
She lobbied at offices including that of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. She shared information from the recent environmental assessment of the current KC Plant, highlighting the possible transfer of the property to a company that may tear down the buildings. That might disrupt the “impermeable membrane” that prevents the leaking of underground contaminants to the air, says Suellentrop. If the buildings are demolished, she adds, rain could flush the toxins to the nearby waterways. Besides that, “No funds are allotted for cleanup,” she says.
Suellentrop compares the DOE to an octopus with tentacles wrapped around the nation’s people. “The Kansas City Plant is one of five places that helps manufacture nuclear weapons, and hundreds of sites feed into that process,” she says, noting that at the same time, people are suffering from lack of housing, food, education, and health care.
“Lobbying’s not hard; it’s doable,” says Suellentrop. “We need more people coming to DC to meet with anti-nuke leaders from across the country and to lobby where the spigot for the cash flow for nukes is located!”
ach spring, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability sponsors “DC Days” to train activists for lobbying and to support them as they meet with congressional aides. Ann Suellentrop of the PeaceWorks Board, the ANA Board president, says she gained new insights into the nuclear weapons complex during “DC Days” this April.
“The number of nuclear bombs the U.S. makes is going down, but the budget keeps going up,” says Suellentrop. “It’s corporate welfare. Besides, about 10 companies, including Honeywell (manager of the Kansas City Plant, where employees make parts for nuclear weapons), didn’t pay any taxes last year. We’re being screwed by these corporations.”
Acronym time: The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) maintains the U.S. nuclear arsenal. NNSA operates eight weapons production and research facilities, including the KC Plant, and is adding new features and military capabilities to nuclear weapons through Life Extension Programs (LEP). ANA materials explain, “Expanding nuclear weapons production is not necessary to meet 21st-century national security challenges. It inhibits America’s ability to lead international nonproliferation efforts and costs more than taxpayers can afford.” The KC Plant is heavily engaged in LEP work, says Suellentrop.
She lobbied at offices including that of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. She shared information from the recent environmental assessment of the current KC Plant, highlighting the possible transfer of the property to a company that may tear down the buildings. That might disrupt the “impermeable membrane” that prevents the leaking of underground contaminants to the air, says Suellentrop. If the buildings are demolished, she adds, rain could flush the toxins to the nearby waterways. Besides that, “No funds are allotted for cleanup,” she says.
Suellentrop compares the DOE to an octopus with tentacles wrapped around the nation’s people. “The Kansas City Plant is one of five places that helps manufacture nuclear weapons, and hundreds of sites feed into that process,” she says, noting that at the same time, people are suffering from lack of housing, food, education, and health care.
“Lobbying’s not hard; it’s doable,” says Suellentrop. “We need more people coming to DC to meet with anti-nuke leaders from across the country and to lobby where the spigot for the cash flow for nukes is located!”
By Jim Hannah
Posted June 3, 2013
“Where are the Christians?” some ask, as the global movement toward a nuclear weapons-free world has begun to find traction once more.
In the 1980s, many denominations issued statements reflecting public fear of nuclear Armageddon, calling for The Bomb’s curtailment and eradication. But the so-called “end of the Cold War” seemed to cool the fervor of many Prince of Peace followers, silencing their voice as public opinion moved on to other concerns.
Thankfully, some faith movements—most notably Roman Catholic affiliates like Pax Christi, and traditional “peace churches” such as the Friends and Mennonites—have kept up the drumbeat of nuclear weapons opposition.
And now a more widespread revival is stirring. The National Association of Evangelicals in recent years declared, “Nuclear weapons, with their capacity for terror as well as for destruction of human life, raise profound spiritual, moral and ethical concerns. We question the acceptability of nuclear weapons as part of a just national defense. The just war tradition admonishes against indiscriminate violence and requires proportionality and limited collateral damage. ... The very weapons meant to restrain evil could potentially destroy all that they were intended to protect.”
Similarly, United Methodist Council of Bishops in 2010 issued a strong pastoral letter concerning God’s New Creation, maintaining “the firm commitment of the 1986 Council that ‘nuclear deterrence is a position that cannot receive the church’s blessing’ (p. 15).” The document connects the dots between pandemic poverty, environmental degradation, and the arms race, urging all people of goodwill and faith to address this inter-related triple threat. Nuclear weapons are singled out in particular, hearkening back to the Council’s 1986 pastoral letter, saying that the nuclear crisis threatens “planet earth itself.”
In April, yet another voice joined the renewed chorus. The Community of Christ, headquartered in Independence, Mo., also revisited and further strengthened its 1980s statement on nuclear weapons. Renewed “Action Toward Nuclear Weapons Abolition” was approved by 78 percent of the 2,800 international delegates, representing 50 nations at the denomination’s triennial World Conference.
In sum, the legislation “affirms nuclear weapons pose a grave threat to the Earth and existence of life,” and calls upon Community of Christ to “join the global voices seeking to halt nuclear weapons production, support prudent action to minimize the threat or use of nuclear weapons, and urge renewed efforts toward eradication.” Further, the church resolved that “wherever practical, Community of Christ convey its support for the responsible reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons, urging policy to that end by all nations.”
To help ensure that the legislation has follow-through, a number of implementing steps for education, training, networking, and action are included, with progress towards these aims to be reported to the 2016 World Conference, plus recommendations for further initiatives.
Only time will tell whether these good intentions will lead to action. But the three-year process by which the legislation came to pass is en-couraging. The global Peace and Justice Team that crafted the resolution included both peace activists and active military, meeting by conference call across six time zones. Passionate views on both sides of the issue were melded through a process of respectful listening, arriving at a consensus affirmed by the World Conference.
As the legislation was moved on the conference floor, there was one particularly poignant reminder that nuclear weapons remain a clear and present danger. The team chair is a native of Australia, a nuclear weapons-free zone. But he lives in Seoul, South Korea, threatened with nuclear destruction that very week by its neighbor to the north. His appeal made personal what is so often lost in the unthinkable casualty count of nuclear weapons. He could die, and his wife, and his two young children. Today. In an instant.
And so could we. But it need not be so.
Let us each one lend our voice to the growing chorus of hope that one day shall be heard.
--Jim Hannah is the secretary of the PeaceWorks Board.
Posted May 20, 2013
On Memorial Day, Mon., 5/27, 8 a.m., begin the annual walk/ride from the current nuclear weapons parts plant to the new plant. Park on Lydia, east of Bannister & Troost, and walk to the KC Plant (Bannister & Wayne) for prayer/song. Walk south on Holmes to Mo. Hwy. 150 (about 8 miles), go east to the new plant, arrive about noon. Have a closing prayer, then feast at a restaurant. Why this walk? To remember those who died from making nuclear weapons parts at the KC Plant, to remember the thousands who’ve died from nuclear bombs and their contaminants, and to pray for peace! For info, contact Henry Stoever at 913-375-0045, email@example.com.
Photos from the Memorial Day walk 2012 by NCR's Tom Fox:
By Lu Mountenay
Posted May 14, 2013
So what! if Question 3 didn’t pass. The huge success lies in that we did pass in getting it on the ballot in the first place. Thank you, Rachel MacNair, and many, many workers.
- We did pass in persuading 23 percent of Kansas City to feel the way we do.
- We did pass in further educating the public about the new plant.
- We did pass in demonstrating what a grassroots group can do to address the Military-Industrial Complex.
“Thank you, Ann (Suellentrop), for all your efforts on the ballot measure. I am sorry it did not succeed, but it was another opportunity to educate the community and raise awareness. I was able to talk with a lot of people about it. In God’s world, no effort is wasted. Thanks.” —Jude A. Huntz, Chancellor, Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
“Thanks to ALL of you for your GOOD work. Not passing is surely not failure—having the discussion (on a subject that has been twisted and spun for years) is the real success. Five years ago, most of KC didn’t even know that the KC Plant made parts for Nukes. Now they do. Thanks to all of you Peace Makers.” —Patti Nelson, who recently resigned after 20 years on the PeaceWorks Board
“Ann … A lot of hard work, I'm sure. The battle continues—it is not easily won. Thanks for all of your work.” —Jeffrey J. Patterson, MD, of Physicians for Social Responsibility
“Congratulations for fighting the good fight, and on SUCCESS in making nuclear weapons production controversial and in educating lots of KC residents and beyond. I would note, too, that while the Mayor disagreed with you, he did not “diss” you guys or the effort. I send my kudos and best wishes for whatever path toward abolition of nuclear weapons you choose next. We will be with you in solidarity. Peace.” —Marylia Kelley of Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, CA.
“I wish to congratulate you and thank you for bringing this issue to the public and for the awareness which you have created ... your perseverance in this and other issues is a wonderful example and gift to all. ... Peace.” —Father Jerry Waris of KC, Mo.
“Rachel, I hope you'll find renewed encouragement in these words of Richard Rohr: ‘Remember, hope is not some vague belief that all will work out well, but the certainty that things finally have a victorious meaning ... no matter how they turn out.’” —Jim Hannah
“We can’t play power politics, because we don’t even begin to have the resources necessary. Fortunately, we’re not playing power politics, even though we made use of a technique (election) often used in that arena. We’re a social movement. It’s always been true throughout history: social movements look weaker throughout the period of their greatest activity, because they’re butting heads with the far more powerful. But being more powerful is only temporary. As has been shown over and over again throughout history, those who rely on lies are relying on a shaky foundation, and those who rely on truth do win out in the long run.” —Rachel MacNair, coordinator of ballot campaign
And a direct and poignant quote from our own PeaceWorks Board member Marc Saviano, referring to our opposition’s encouragement to vote yes-yes-no on the three ballot questions, and comparing voter tallies from Jackson County: “Q3 pulled 1100+ away from the Yes-Yes-No zombie vote.”
Indeed, peacemakers, we waged war on war, and won some of the battles. We all should feel good about that! We have learned lessons and passed with a grade of “A” to carry us on to the next step in our work for peace.
—Lu Mountenay serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board.
Posted April 24, 2013
The new facility for producing non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons is almost built at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road in Kansas City. Shiny new buildings, with the production building as big as 13 football fields. Come expose the horror of America’s commitment to its nuclear arsenal. Join members of PeaceWorks, Kansas City, and other groups in supporting civil resistance at the new plant this summer.
Here’s some info about the July 12-13 gathering in KC.
The weekend builds on the truth-telling activism of Father Carl Kabat, OMI, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Carl, 79, has done civil resistance against nuclear weapons since the early 1980s. He was part of the first Plowshares action (King of Prussia, in Pennsylvania) with Dan and Phil Berrigan. Carl observed the last two July Fourths by “occupying” the site for the new KC plant, staying on the acreage under cover of darkness and turning himself in to authorities in the light of day. This July, Carl’s provincial superior, with the province being the United States, will join Carl in a simpler resistance, a line-crossing near the new plant’s entry. The KC-area people planning to cross the line include PeaceWorks Board members Ann Suellentrop, Jane Stoever, and Lu Mountenay, a Community of Christ minister.
We encourage people to join us as resisters or supporters!
We will have a preliminary gathering for participants at 3 p.m. Friday, July 12, at Linwood United Church, 3151 Olive St. We’ll do nonviolence training, have supper, and have a festival of hope. Lodging will be provided—bring sleeping bags. We promise air conditioning. The next morning, we’ll proceed to the new plant for the resistance. We'll gather at the church parking lot at 8:30 a.m., caravan to the new nuclear weapons parts plant by 9:15, and support those crossing the property line at about 10 a.m. We expect line-crossers to be arrested and detained. Those who wish to post bail will most likely be released that day but will need to return to KC for court later.
All questions can come to Jane Stoever at 913-206-4088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lu Mountenay
Posted April 22, 2013
Note: This response to opponents’ comments may help PeaceWorks members reply to ongoing objections to the peace measure, Question 3, on the April 2 ballot.
Opponents of question 3 sent posters to KC residents with claims about the question. All quoted material, below, is the exact wording found on the opposing literature. My rebuttals to the claims are as follows.
The opponents call Question 3 supporters “Anti-nuclear activists” – we are anti-nuclear weapons activists (they forgot the weapons part).
Yes, we circulated the petition – They failed to mention that over 5,000 KC residents signed each of three separate petitions supporting what became Question 3!
They claim the new plant is “the new National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) facility.” In fact, the facility is for the National Nuclear Security Administration. Their claim to Safety has been disproved by the high rate of cancer and other diseases suffered by their past employees. Some of the litigation is public record.
They say the “facility does not produce anything nuclear.” In truth, the facility produces the means to deliver and detonate nuclear weapons. Google the Department of Energy’s Summary of hazardous substances released to the environment at the [old] Kansas City Plant. The summary listed Uranium, Cadmium, and Chromium in the soil. The opposition left the contamination out of their publicity, and left it behind at the old site!
They say the “proposition is opposed by every recognized business and labor organization in Kansas City.” However, many grassroots and professional groups DO support the proposition, including the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), American Friends Service Committee, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Vets for Peace, PeaceWorks-KC, and Physicians for Social Responsibility. According to the PSR and the Department of Labor, workers at the old plant—using equipment that is moving to the new plant—were exposed to 785 different toxic substances.
The opposition calls the (old) plant “a partner in this community for over 70 years.” Do partners poison one another, causing cancer and death? This is easy to verify for yourself. Donna Hand, a paralegal advocate from Tampa, FL, has helped Bannister Federal Complex employees seek compensation for illnesses related to working at BFC. Go online to PeaceWorksKC.org to read Hand’s interview. She said, “A lot of the KC Plant employees have pancreatic cancer. The GSA-side employees tend to have respiratory illnesses.” Thank you, partner!
In June 2012, representatives from Honeywell and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources told members of the City Council they are proud of the cleanup already done at the old site, at a cost of $65 million (and growing). But they haven’t even scratched the surface of the contamination … or should I say they haven’t even buried the contamination (and the truth) deep enough.
Why wasn’t a cleanup plan in place BEFORE production began at the old site? This is what we should demand be in place before production inevitably begins at the new site.
The opposition mailing calls ballot Question 3 an “anti-business, anti-jobs proposition.” In fact, and this is important, Question 3 will not affect a single job slated for the new plant or one business expected to deal with the new plant. Question 3 only addresses future financial support by the city for new financial arrangements for producing nuclear weapons parts.
If this same site offered green jobs (wind, solar, thermal power, etc.), there would be more jobs generated in the community, safer jobs, and longer-lasting jobs. The supporters of the initiative, Question 3, want jobs created that are good for the economy of the community, good for the health of the workers and surrounding residents, and good for the Earth. It may seem like a small step, but what else can grassroots groups do but call out the military-industrial complex one issue at a time? We encourage you to investigate for yourself, and find the truth.
— Lu Mountenay of Independence serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
Posted April 22, 2013
On Feb. 24, the Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in KC, gave the sermon “There Must Have Been a Time,” calling on church members to answer yes to Question 3 on the April 2 ballot. The sermon is online at All Souls' website.
Here are excerpts.
In Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Hamlet’s former friends are assigned to accompany him to exile in England. Their diplomatic dispatch contains instructions for Hamlet’s execution; Hamlet alters the document to name his friends instead. As the end approaches, Guildenstern insists, “There must have been a time, somewhere near the beginning, when we could have said no.”
We are nowhere near the beginning of nuclear weaponry. Yet there comes another moment in time, another turning point. Let us not say with helpless apology to our grandchildren, as we endow them with a poisoned planet, bristling with nuclear weapons, “There must have been a time, somewhere along the line, when we could have said no.”
April 2 is a time to say no to anger and fear by voting yes on ballot Question 3, to prevent City Council from leading this community deeper into league with merchants of death.
Posted April 14, 2013
Henry Stoever and Midge Potts, who stepped onto the property of KC’s new nuclear weapons parts plant April 14, 2012, have a June 10 court date and have requested a jury trial. And there’s another new twist, compared with the 2010-2012 court hearings and trials for nuclear weapon resisters. This trial is at the state level, not the municipal level.
“Our continued resistance to the new nuclear weapons parts plant promotes our three-prong effort: public education, seeking a law against KC involvement in making nuclear weapons parts, and advocating peace both at the plant site and in the court system,” says Stoever. He and Potts worked out an agreement at their municipal court trial Oct. 12 whereby they pleaded “technically not guilty,” were found guilty and sentenced to three days in jail, and immediately appealed to the state level.
The June 10 trial will be at the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court in KC, at 12th and Locust, beginning at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 10 on the eighth floor.
by Jane Stoever
Posted April 4, 2013
Kansas City, Mo., voters received a barrage of negative publicity from the “vote no” camp before the April 2 election, but 23 percent of the voters still said yes to stopping future KC financing for producing parts for nuclear weapons. The vote tally was 25,006 against and 7,559 for the measure.
“It’s a win!” said Rachel MacNair, campaign coordinator for “vote yes” proponents, after the polls closed April 2. “We’ve always said our strategy was to educate the public about the nuclear weapons parts plant, and our goal of making the plant and the nuclear weapons upgrade program more controversial has been achieved.” She said it was amazing to gain 23 percent of the vote in the face of the negative publicity from the opposition.
That publicity, focusing on jobs and national security, included three pricey mailers, robo calls from Mayor Sly James, handouts from paid workers at polls, and ads in local papers. For example, a promotional insert from Freedom Inc. in The Pitch in late March said of the ballot measure, “This is a rogue issue that was placed on the ballot by initiative petition, motivated by anti-nuclear extremists who want the United States to dispose of its nuclear weapons while other nations keep theirs.”
When, earlier, the second mailer from the “vote no” camp made the same charge, MacNair countered that peace groups are calling for multilateral, not unilateral, disarmament, and the third mailer carried revised language. However, that third mailing featured North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat to turn Washington, D.C., into a sea of fire—a way to call for strengthening the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Despite the fear-based mailers, many voters talked with peace activists outside the polls, and some voters said they’d vote yes because of those contacts. One voter who, on leaving the poll, said she had voted yes, was asked why. In a quiet voice, she replied, “It’s just terrible to make those weapons.”
Before election day, PeaceWorks members informed the community about the peace measure through multiple activities. KKFI community radio interviewed various proponents on four programs and played a public service announcement. KCUR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, played and replayed a segment quoting MacNair and City Councilman Scott Taylor, who opposed the measure. Local TV programs such as “Week in Review” discussed all the election issues. Although The Kansas City Star editors recommended a no vote on the measure, news reporter Lynn Horsley quoted heavily from MacNair in her story originally titled “David vs. Goliath in Measure on Weapons Manufacturing.” PeaceWorks members circulated flyers at churches, offered informational cards to “Disney on Ice” attendees and to community groups, and leafleted on sidewalks. Perhaps the most flamboyant stint was the dropping of three banners above highways 71 and 670. The banners flew a few days.
PeaceWorks committed $4,000 to the campaign as its major contributor. The opposition amassed more than $123,000, with donors including Honeywell, which manages the current and new KC plants for the National Nuclear Security Administration; J.E. Dunn Construction Co., which heads up construction for the new plant; and the Chicago law firm Richmond Breslin, home base to Kevin Breslin, lawyer for CenterPoint, the development company that worked with KC on the plan for public/private ownership of the new plant.
Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks shared election results with national peace leaders on behalf of the KC peace community. The American Friends Service Committee disarmament coordinator, Joseph Gerson, replied, “Thank you for all that you’ve done. Born Jewish in 1946, in many ways my frames of reference are from the Second World War and the Holocaust. It would seem that … the majority of voters in KC seem to care in the short term about their well-being but, in what Hannah Arendt once termed the ‘banality of evil,’ put jobs and comfort ahead of nuclear genocide or omnicide.”
April 3, 2013
I think a huge thanks to all of you is in order for your courage of resistance to fight Goliath! I know we lost the April 2 election in worldly terms, but I also know this is the beginning of an evolution that ends in truth and love. Gandhi said, “The way of truth and love always prevails.”
I know that 20 years ago, when National Catholic Reporter was the only lonely voice speaking out against child sexual abuse, they could never know that their courage would lead to a worldwide outcry for justice for children. And when the gay rights movement was being slammed and slandered, who knew that we would reach today, when 58 percent of all Americans favor gay marriage? In the same way, those who have fought for alternatives to the death penalty are starting to see the turning of the tide. The courageous people working for an end to nuclear weapons will also say, “I have been to the mountain.”
Dr. King said, “nonviolence or non-existence.” As a citizen of planet earth, I choose to believe that we as a human people will see a day of “nonviolence” and not “non-existence.”
Having said this, I beg you to indulge me as I share a transforming experience I had yesterday at the polls at St. Mark’s church, 1101 Euclid, in Kansas City.
I arrived feeling “a stranger” because somewhere I was taught that in Wayne Minor, this is the “hood,” and I am not welcome here. Instead, I found a very hospitable woman working for Freedom, Inc., also working the polls. Although she was working the opposite side of Question 3, we were in agreement on Questions 1 and 2. She immediately found me a chair. Within a short time she began to tell me her life story of growing up in Wayne Minor and living in the “murder factory.” She shared with me atrocious stories of her own abuse, of finding a friend on the streets “who died of the cold,” and of losing countless loved ones, including her husband, to tragic deaths. We bonded. By the time I drove her to her polling place to vote, she shared with me, “You've convinced me, I'm going in to vote yes on Question 3!”
She said she had spent much of her life as a participant in Truman Behavioral Health so she could get medications to counter her suicidal ideology. I told her I had worked 5 years at Wyandotte County Mental Health, and I had started our own organization free of bureaucracy and “billing stipulations.” She shared with me that her daughter was struggling with housing problems, so I gave her the number to Companion Ministries (913-514-2399) and asked her to have her daughter call us.
When the polls closed she said, “You have made my day,” and I said, “You have made my month.” As I drove home I could not help but think about the irony of a country that wastes billions to uphold a paranoid fear, yet abandons the incredible people of Wayne Minor!!!
Anyway, Ann, Jane, Henry, Ron, Rachel, and all the others, thank you for being 20 years ahead of your time. I am so grateful that I could be at least a small part of it ... getting arrested (in 2011 for civil resistance at the new plant for making parts for nuclear weapons), spending time in solidarity with Jim Hannah and the forgotten men locked up in Jackson County Jail, and spending time on Election Day with this woman. Even to drive Wayne Knox and Helen Caldicott to the airport was an incredible honor! People tell me I am not Catholic, and maybe they are right. But I do know that I try to follow three important people: St. Francis, Pope Francis, and another unbelievable Catholic, Dorothy Day.
We will get to mountain top. Thanks again for your courage and prophecy. I am with you.
Kansas City, Kansas
By Jim Hannah
Posted April 14, 2013
Sometimes it’s not what you hear that most informs you, but what you don’t hear.
Listening to the applause of Congress during President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address was a case in point. More than a hundred times the senators, representatives, and others in attendance applauded in support of the wide variety of domestic and foreign affairs enunciated by the president.
The first was as the president declared, “tonight we stand united in saluting the troops and civilians who sacrifice every day to protect us.” It was as though he had said, “All rise” in the courtroom of public opinion, and seemingly all did.
The other occasion was when the president said, “we will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.” For this, and his assertion, "We will maintain the best military the world has ever known," there was fervent and seemingly universal acclamation.
Oh, and yes, whenever the president highlighted American exceptionalism (U.S. as “the wealthiest nation on earth,” “the greatest nation on earth,” “a beacon to all who seek freedom”), our representatives were right there beside their chief executive and commander-in-chief, beating the centuries-old drum of Manifest Destiny.
That tells us a lot about the legislative and executive branches of our government, whose primary concern seems to be keeping the United States “#1” in military and economic power, through strong military alliances, whatever the cost. That’s a pretty clear message about our current state of the union.
What’s not as clear, unless you carefully listen to “the sounds of silence” on both sides of the aisle, is what our “representatives” universally seem NOT to support.
One initiative announced by the president, an initiative with global import far beyond nearly all others delivered in his 77-minute speech, received absolutely NO applause from EITHER party.
It was the one line I was most listening for, because just days before the address it was announced in the media that President Obama might be calling for sharp reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal--perhaps even reducing the number of deployed U.S. nukes to 1,000 or less, ahead of schedule for the New Start Treaty provisions reducing the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 by 2018. Sadly, that announcement never came.
But there was a one-liner on the topic when President Obama pledged, “we’ll engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands, because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead and meet our obligations.”
Granted, that was far short of what one might have hoped from a president who four years ago pledged “clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”--a pledge that contributed to the president’s reception of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.
But still, NO one was moved to even faint applause by the president’s initiatives for nuclear weapons reduction? Not even a single Democrat? NO applause that the U.S. will take the initiative toward Russia to further reduce each of their nuclear arsenals? NO applause that the U.S. will continue to lead the global effort to secure nuclear materials? NO applause that the U.S. will finally lead the way toward honoring our part in the world’s 45-year-old treaty for nuclear disarmament?
I was amazed by the deafening silence in the chamber, so in my parent’s living room I created my own applause line. Because I’m of the opinion that the primary legacy of the Obama presidency may not be saving the U.S. middle class, but saving the world from nuclear extinction. Paradoxically, that was the very goal (and near legacy) of President Ronald Reagan, hero of the Republican Right that today is not only silent about Reagan’s urgent efforts toward a nuclear weapons-free world, but instead argues that that nuclear weapons reductions would embolden our enemies and weaken our national security.
“Silence like a cancer grows,” as Paul Simon used to sing. So let’s pay attention to “the sounds of silence” from our legislators. We, the people, must applaud the efforts of peacemakers so loudly that they cannot be ignored, even by “representatives” so often compliant with the burgeoning military-political-corporate-media complex.
--Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks, Kansas City, Board member and its secretary.
Election day, April 2, is right around the corner, and it's crucial to ask KC voters to say YES on Question 3. Why? To prevent KC from offering future incentives for making parts for nuclear weapons. See Question 3, below.
The $80,000-strong opposition to our measure is spreading much misinformation. They say our measure kills jobs. Wrong. The jobs will continue as long as the federal government pays the salaries. The point of Question 3 is to prevent KC from future contracts supporting the jobs. The city financed the building of the new, $687 million facility at Mo. Hwy. 150, but the city is not paying the salaries. The misinformation blitzing the city is the reason we need to tell friends to vote YES on 3.
To work at the polls, contact George Baldwin, email@example.com, 913-839-6996. To "leaflet" between now and April 2, contact Rachel MacNair, Rachel_MacNair@yahoo.com, 816-753-2057.
Remember, Helen Caldicott, who revived Physicians for Social Responsibility in this country, has written to us, "All power to you brave and noble people!"
Donna Hand, a paralegal advocate from Tampa, Fla., since 2010 has helped Bannister Federal Complex employees seek compensation for illnesses related to working at BFC. The payment is hard to come by. BFC houses federal agencies including the Kansas City Plant, where non-nuclear parts have been made for nuclear weapons for 63 years. In this Q&A, Hand comments on her KC advocacy.
Q. How many KC-area employees have you helped try to gain compensation for their illnesses?
A. I’m working on about 27 cases from the KC Plant side of Bannister Federal Complex, and I’m getting ready to file about 5 cases from the General Services Administration (GSA) side of the complex. On the KC Plant side, three whom I’ve helped as an advocate have been accepted for compensation, and two whom I’ve helped as an authorized representative were accepted. My colleague Tamara Severns has two other clients; she has obtained a recommended decision of approval for medical benefits for one client concerning renal failure.
Q. What other illnesses do the clients report?
A. A lot of the KC Plant employees have pancreatic cancer. The GSA-side employees tend to have respiratory illnesses.
Q. What’s caused these illnesses?
A. Some workers have been exposed to beryllium, uranium, PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) particles, cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, tritium. For example, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found uranium on the GSA side in a stairwell area, as reported in November 2010.
Q. How did contaminants move from the KC Plant side to the GSA side?
A. Several agencies, including the KC Plant and the GSA, shared one building; they had the same air system, the same heating/cooling system. Most toxins were airborne. Workers were exposed through air vents and worker cross-contamination.
Q. Do you expect beryllium, uranium, and tritium to be used at the new KC Plant facility at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road?
A. Yes. They are the main ingredients for some nuclear weapon parts. Beryllium is often used in compounds, such as beryllium copper; golf clubs use beryllium; dentistry stopped using it because of health issues. Berylliosis starts with a dry cough and sinus problems, causes nodules and fibers to grow in the lungs, and causes breathing problems; the end stage is cancer. Uranium decays down to radium 226, to radon, and eventually to lead; uranium causes kidney disease. And tritium’s target is the whole body; it causes cancer.
Q. How can people contact you if they need help obtaining compensation?
A. I’m at 608-921-9940 and CTDHKK@aol.com, and Tamara Severns is at 816-753-7642 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
—by Jane Stoever, PeaceWorks Board member
by Jim Hannah
Common sense, it seems, isn’t.
I concluded this recently after quibbling with some colleagues over what seemed to me a perfectly straightforward and evident statement:
Production of nuclear weapons creates devastatingly toxic waste, potentially poisoning air, water, land, and living creatures for generations to come even if the weapons are never launched.
For me, that’s just common sense. Making nuclear weapons produces toxic radioactive waste. Safely containing that waste for thousands of years is a daunting challenge (which the manufacturers clearly have not yet mastered). And making yet more weapons compiles that challenge for millennia to come, even if the weapons are never launched.
To my surprise, objections to the statement ranged from minimizing the threat to near-denial. The quantity of radioactive waste from nuclear weapons is relatively small, I was told, and besides, these days not much new waste is being produced. Not to worry.
But, unlike Dr. Strangelove, I do worry.
I worry when the Department of Energy’s 5-year plan ending in 2011 acknowledges, “Fifty years of nuclear weapons production and energy research generated millions of gallons of radioactive waste, thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and special nuclear material, along with huge quantities of contaminated soil and water.” The DOE’s goal is to complete cleanup at 108 sites by 2025.
Wow. That’s a lot of very deadly stuff, still with us for a long time. Which for me raises a couple common-sense questions. Do we really want to produce more and ever more radioactive poisons? And is this the legacy we want to leave our children and grandchildren, and their children?
At about this point in the discussion comes the inevitable “common sense” objection: you can’t put the nuclear genie back in the bottle.
To some extent that’s true. All of us living today have already been irradiated by thousands of nuclear weapons tests from decades past, and current radioactive contamination from the Fukushima, Japan, nuclear reactor disaster has journeyed to our home shores. Truth be told, all humanity is a test case in the long-term effects of radioactive fallout.
So, yes, in a sense what has been done cannot be undone. The atomic age is not likely to be dis-invented, and some of its benefits we would be loathe to lose. But that is not to say that we must resign ourselves to an endlessly nuclear-armed world, and the growing likelihood of nuclear cataclysm.
“Nothing can doom man,” said philosopher and theologian Martin Buber, “but the belief in doom.” That quote comes from one of the most cogent and en-couraging books I’ve read for some time: Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World. Author Tad Daley turns the “common sense” arguments for nuclear weapons on their head, noting that in human history almost nothing is preordained and, as George Bernard Shaw once said, “Not one of us has enough knowledge to be a pessimist.”
History is replete with events that defy common sense. I’ve witnessed in my lifetime the demolition of the Berlin Wall, the demise of the Soviet Union, men walking on the moon, the civil rights movement—truly logic-defying events.
So what is common sense, and what is nonsensical? It seems to me that in the shadow-and-mirrors world of nuclear weaponry, we need to examine carefully the myths that inform us and that shape our national policies. Is the specter of nuclear holocaust really un-stoppable? Our world has already achieved international conventions banning chemical and biological weapons; we can similarly ban nuclear weapons.
Imagine someday reading the joyous headline, Apocalypse Never! Each one of us can help make that headline a reality, working toward the 2020 deadline proposed by Mayors for Peace for a nuclear weapons-free world.
“The best lack all conviction,” said William Butler Yates, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” ... If the nuclear danger causes us to succumb to hopelessness, fear, and hate--the worst within us—then we will succumb to our desires to safeguard ourselves only with escalation and force. But if we can aspire instead to genuine security for both ourselves and our adversaries, to hope for a better day tomorrow, perhaps even to love our enemies—the best within us—then we can overcome our fears, and devote ourselves to nuclear weapons abolition, enduring world peace, and a just and sustainable future for the community of humankind. (Apocalypse Never, p. 206)
Myths abound. But unlike that ancient Persian myth about un-stoppable genies, tomorrow’s truth could be a world fee of nuclear weapons. This would prove again Mark Twain’s wise maxim:
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn't.
—Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks Board member and columnist.
by Jane Stoever
Fourteen private investors purchased Kansas City municipal bonds to fund the new plant at Mo. Hwy. 150 for making parts for nuclear weapons. To let citizens have a say on such financial dealings in the future, PeaceWorks members got a measure approved for placement on the April 2 ballot. We blitzed polling places Nov. 6 with yard signs and flyers asking voters, “Vote yes!” on April 2 to prevent future KC financial involvement in the plant. The yard signs are now ready to use in yards, windows, and indoors, says ballot campaign coordinator Rachel MacNair.
Call her at 816-753-2057 to request a sign. Also ask her to line up speakers for civic or social groups, to spread the word about the campaign.
The ballot measure for April 2 has teeth: “The City of Kansas City, Missouri shall not enter into, facilitate, nor give permission for any future contracts whereby it will be directly financially involved in any facilities that produce or procure components for, assemble, or refurbish nuclear weapons. … The City is also barred in the future from funding or subsidizing such a facility through taxes, bonds, loans, tax credits, credit, or any other financial scheme or mechanism.”
by Lu Mountenay & Jane Stoever
Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks-KC Board, and Midgelle "Midge" Potts of Springfield, Mo., a longtime nuclear weapons resister, may have a jury trial for the charge of trespass on April 14 at the new nuclear weapons parts plant in KC. On Oct. 12, they worked out an agreement with Municipal Court Judge Elena Franco and pleaded "technically not guilty."
Witnessed by a court full of supporters, they were found guilty and sentenced to three days in jail. They immediately appealed to the state level—to the Jackson County, Missouri, Circuit Court in KC.
This will mark the first opportunity the peace community may have to bring its case against the plant to the state level—possibly to a jury. "This is another forum in which we are expanding our opposition to nuclear weapons," said Stoever.
Referring to his letter sent April 11 to KC's chief prosecutor and the chief of police, Stoever restated his case to Franco. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed into law and ratified by the Senate in 1970, and which 189 nations have signed, has a goal to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and eliminate them, said Stoever. There's a body of law against the use of nuclear weapons, he said, and we have First Amendment rights to protest. Stoever said he felt it was important to risk arrest because of the difference between what we have signed and what we are doing.
Stoever spoke out about health hazards and deaths of workers from contaminants at the Bannister Federal Complex, where the current nuclear weapons parts plant is located.
"I don't want to be an executioner,
nor a victim."
Picking up on a post-World War II phrase of Albert Camus, Stoever said, "I don't want to be an executioner, nor a victim."
Part of Stoever's duties as an officer of the court for 31 years has been to provide legal services. As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he did two years of alternative service and has consistently been involved in peace efforts.
Potts, in her statement, began, "I have a 12-year-old daughter. Since her birth, I've seen an increase in the military-industrial complex, and it worries me that she may not see anything but global imperialism the rest of her life."
Members of Congress
vote for weapons development
"solely to keep jobs in their districts."
Potts said she feels members of Congress vote for weapons development "solely to keep jobs in their districts, after being told by generals that they didn't need that equipment. In all 435 U.S. districts, there are military-industrial complex jobs."
Potts, who served in the Navy in the Persian Gulf, said, "I became aware of the extent of the U.S. military's global empire—we have nuclear weapons on Trident submarines sitting on the floor of the Indian Ocean. Our president and secretary of state are talking about other countries' desire to obtain nuclear weapons, when (at the same time) we are getting new money to build and refurbish nuclear weapons. ... My daughter is in jeopardy of living the rest of her life in this world endangered by nuclear weapons."
Franco commented, "While this is a troubling issue, this is also one of the few places where you can protest. I didn't have that right when the Castro government removed my family from Cuba."
While these trial highlights tell the story, we celebrate that Stoever and Potts were able to state their case in court.
—Lu Mountenay and Jane Stoever are members of the PeaceWorks Board.
Sowing seeds of peace
By Lu Mountenay
About 25 people took a field trip Oct. 26 to pray at KC’s new plant for making parts for nuclear weapons. The people were attending the annual Peace Colloquy in Independence, Mo., held by the Community of Christ. This year, the theme was Engaging Nuclear Questions, and the bus wound its way from the church’s peace temple to the current nuclear weapons parts plant at Bannister Federal Complex and then to the new plant site. Jim Hannah, a PeaceWorks Board member, and his wife, Sharon, organized the bus trip to allow participants to demonstrate against nuclear weapons and for peace.
On the bus, Jane and Henry Stoever gave us a brief history of the Bannister complex and the radioactive and chemical contamination of the surrounding land and water. They detailed what grassroots groups are doing, and what we can do, to encourage transformation of weapons-making jobs into hoped-for green jobs.
At the new plant site, we held gentle signs promoting peace supplied by our companion rider, Sue Sloan, who represents PeacePathways in the Community of Christ. We sang songs of peace and justice from the church’s 2013 hymnal with Dale Jones and Lauren Hall. Jim Hannah talked with us about his weekly protests at the site and his question about building more weapons, “Is it good for the Grand-kids?” I shared a poem adapted from Chief Seattle:
I affirmed, “Chief Seattle spoke this truth in his age—and it is still truth today. In the nuclear age, what we do to our enemies, we do to ourselves … to our sons, to our daughters. I’m sure you’ve heard it asked, ‘Where are these weapons of mass destruction?’ Well, we know where they are … this is one of the sites where they are born. We stand on guilty ground. This ground, this earth did not choose to birth these weapons. It would rather grow sunflowers.”
Why sunflowers? The people of Ukraine decided to become a nuclear weapons-free state and sent their arsenal of nuclear weapons to Russia to be dismantled. To honor the occasion, defense ministers from Ukraine, Russia, and the United States planted sunflower seeds at the former missile base, symbolizing new life and hope for the contaminated earth. Today sunflowers are the worldwide symbol of a nuclear weapons-free world. They also have been planted at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daichi as a soil cleanup agent, after nuclear accidents.
I invited our group, “Kneel and touch and bless this earth, this grass, these wildflowers and tiny creatures hiding here—one last time before it is contaminated. Creator Spirit, bless this earth, with our apologies for what will happen here. We know it is not your will. Amen.”
We did all we could to stop this step in the advancement of nuclear proliferation, and we will continue our vigil. But greed has won … for now. The temple of doom is erected. It promises threats and bullying politics, at best … suffering and death, at worst.
We scattered sunflower seeds, making one small attempt toward healing. We planted sunflowers and prayers to heal the shuddering earth.
—Lu Mountenay, a PeaceWorks Board member, edits The Daily Bread for the Community of Christ.
by Jane Stoever
Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, a former mayor of Hiroshima, came to Independence, Mo., to join in the Community of Christ’s Peace Colloquy Oct. 26-28. The church honored him with its annual International Peace Award, including $20,000 that will foster peace through programs of Hiroshima University, where Akiba is a professor.
A longtime nuclear disarmament advocate, Akiba began his lecture Oct. 26 with a flashback to his high school days. He was an exchange student in a suburb of Chicago. He said that in a history class, “I was shocked to hear of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as necessary and justified.” All the students thought that, he said, and their teacher agreed. He felt his class needed to hear his views—the bombings “were inhumane because of the sufferings the people went through.” So, in broken English in the mid-1960s, he told his class about the consequences of the bombings, the evil of the bombs. No one was convinced.
Akiba said he came to feel that sharing his views was his homework. As a young man, he began a travel grant program for the Hibakusha, survivors of the 1945 nuclear attacks, allowing them to go to many countries to tell their personal stories about the bombings. Akiba eventually became a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, mayor of Hiroshima, and president of Mayors for Peace.
Akiba tacked this footnote onto his flashback: “In 2006, I gave a lecture at DePaul University (in Chicago), and many of my former classmates came to listen. I believe these friendships are the essence of peace.”
He listed three “footsteps of the Hibakusha”:
• They were able to transcend the agony—they hovered between life and death, and they had the courage to choose life.
• They prevented World War III—they showed the world that to use nuclear weapons is to doom the human race.
• They rejected the path of revenge and animosity.
“Not many people are capable of this level of sacrifice and self-control,” Akiba said of the Hibakusha. Referring to those who died from the bombings, he added, “Hundreds of thousands of souls who perished are conveying their wishes through the survivors: Never again!”
Akiba suggested this litmus test for peacefulness today: “How tolerant are our cities of gays and lesbians?”
Citing progress toward cooperation instead of alienation, Akiba reminded his listeners that in 1986, Reagan and Gorbachev almost agreed to eliminate nuclear weapons in the U.S. and Soviet Union. The passing of time is bringing the escalation of reason, Akiba said. “People regard violence as a problem to be solved rather than a contest to be won.”
In 2015, when the United Nations convenes the next five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Akiba said the centerpiece would be a nuclear weapons convention, a framework for dismantling all nuclear weapons.
Mayors for Peace, with the goal of making the world nuclear-weapon-free by 2020, includes 5,443 mayors representing about 1 billion people. “We still have enough time” to reach zero nuclear weapons by 2020, said Akiba, through multilateral agreements and monitoring.
“2020—what I call perfect vision,” Akiba said. Proclaiming a global turning toward peace, Akiba reasoned, “Since the Buddha nature resides within us, it might be called human nature, or the grace of God.”
—Jane Stoever is a PeaceWorks Board member.
by Jane Stoever
Father Carl Kabat, OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), of St. Louis, in a Municipal Court trial Oct. 12 in Kansas City, Mo., got “time served” on two charges—trespassing this July 4 at the site for the new KC Plant, and breaking probation from his July 4, 2011, trespass. The city earlier dropped a property charge against Kabat, now 79, who had used a bolt-cutter to open the chain-link fence and enter the site late July 3. The time served came this July 4-5.
Judge Elena Franco and Kabat agreed she would accept his plea of “technically not guilty,” she would find him guilty and sentence him, and he would forgo appeal. This process let him speak his mind to the court, with about 30 supporters there.
Recalling that German judges (in 1987) blocked the entry to the U.S. Air Force Base in Mutlangen, West Germany, because nuclear weapons were deployed there on Pershing II missiles, Kabat told Franco, “I invite you to go out to the new plant” and block the entry. Franco listened.
Kabat gave examples in which juries refused to find law-breakers guilty. Dred and Harriet Scott were found by a jury to be people, but judges found them to be things—slaves—said Kabat. And during Prohibition, “juries found people not guilty even though their hand was found in the cookie jar,” he added. With 65 percent or 75 percent of the people saying we should get rid of nuclear weapons, Kabat asked, "Why don’t we do that?"
Mentioning Henry David Thoreau’s outcry against the silence of collusion, Kabat said of the KC Plant, “Those bombs we will make and are making, we’re responsible for.” He observed, “It’s not enough to hold an opinion. We must act!” Urging that we all go out to the plant, he said, “It’s ours! We should be able to walk in the front gate and walk around the 170-180 acres.”
It makes a person wonder when and if he’ll go walking there again.
by Rachel MacNair
On August 30, 2012, the Kansas City Missouri City Council voted to place the citizen's initiative on the ballot for April 2, 2013: "Prevention of the City's Future Financial Involvement in Nuclear Weapons Components Facilities."
They did first add an amendment to clarify that they were voting for it because they legally had to according to the Charter, even though they disapproved of it. Since this was adding a detail which was true, and which may have made them more likely to place it on the ballot, this did not strike us as a problem. This amendment will not be on the ballot, but only the ordinance wording.
The reason for the April 2 date instead of November 6 is that the deadline for November passed on August 28.
With that amendment, the vote was 10 for and 3 against; the three opposed were the two that represent the district in which the new plant is located (John Sharp and Scott Taylor), plus one attorney who made an assessment independent of the city attorney (Jim Glover). City Attorney William Geary had offered an opinion – in a letter before we gathered signatures and in a detailed memorandum afterwards when our opponents challenged his view – that the ordinance would be lawful if passed. He said there was no justification for keeping it off the ballot, so the councilmembers did understand they were legally required to do so.
While we were at first upset about the five-month delay in the election due to their decision being deliberately delayed two days past the deadline, this has several advantages:
- More time to use this as a vehicle for public education
- In an issues-oriented small-turnout election, our own motivated sympathizers are a larger portion
- In issues-only elections like this, a larger portion of people are ones who do their homework and consider both sides of an issue, as compared to presidential voters who may not have seen the issue before and vote in ignorance because they're already doing the ballot for other reasons
- People who are likely to vote because they always do have been directly leafleted several times at the polls, five times starting in February 2011, and will be again in November.
- We'll be competing with fewer other issues and with fewer other elections across the country for national publicity.
- More time to prepare – we can get some awesome videos up on the web, for example.
Because of previous wrangling, this was the third petition on the unique financing and ownership situation of that Kansas City has toward a nuclear weapons production plant. A petition for the City to make contingency conversion plans if the federal government were to abandon the facility passed unanimously, but challenges to the financial involvement were more troublesome. Therefore, this is the culmination of work that began in January, 2011.
In conversation with councilmember Scott Wagner before the session today about our hope that the matter would be straightened out at the session, Rachel MacNair mentioned that while we had always listed three goals for this campaign -- to raise public awareness, do public education, and make absolutely sure that the plant was controversial -- we had added a fourth one: to show that we were persistent. He said we had certainly succeeded at that.
For updates and details on the issue, visit foolish-investment.com.
by Jane Stoever
Kansas City peacemakers' fourth petition in two years got a rambunctious City Hall hearing Aug. 15 before the Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee. The committee decided to consult about legal issues and bring the measure back for a vote Aug. 22, with a follow-up vote by the full City Council likely on Aug. 23. At issue: Whether the measure could go on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The ordinance was developed by KC Peace Planters, a coalition created by some PeaceWorks Board members.
The opposition spoke loud and long Aug. 15. Peacemakers, including PeaceWorks members, testified with passion.
"The city attorney has no legal issues with the ballot language," Councilman Ed Ford told the committee, which he chairs. "We have a ministerial duty to put the measure on the ballot."
Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., petition coordinator, said the city attorney, Bill Geary, had given "the expected legal caveats" in his April 14 letter to her, and then had written, "It is … my opinion the legislation proposed would be lawful if enacted." MacNair asked the committee to vote yes on putting the petition on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"Our cultural creed as a nation is an idolatrous faith in nuclear weapons," said Christian Brother Louis Rodemann (see his full testimony).
PeaceWorks Board Chair Henry Stoever said the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by the Senate in 1970, binds the United States to the reduction and elimination of all nuclear weapons. "It is part of the law of the land," Stoever insisted. "What type of legacy do we leave the future? Is it one of manufacturing parts for weapons of mass destruction, or one of converting those jobs into ecologically friendly, green, alternative-energy jobs?"
Ron Faust of Gladstone, Mo., addressed the jobs issue: "We need to step back and get a larger picture. What does economic development mean? What are our jobs producing? This petition has to do with the survivability of our planet."
KC Peace Planters gave a PowerPoint presentation with excerpts from "Maximizing Job Creation: An Analysis of Alternatives for the Transformation of the Kansas City Plant." This economists' report suggests nuclear weapons facilities could convert, for example, to wind energy or solar energy enterprises.
Early in the hearing, the committee discussed environmentally sustainable projects. Supporting the peace petition, Joshua Armfield of KC, Mo., said, "I was encouraged to hear about steps Kansas City is taking toward sustainability and care for the world, and I see a disconnect. I don't see how we can build nuclear weapons and be ‘a sustainable city.'"
David Quinly of KC, Mo., referred to the new plant for making nuclear weapons parts at Botts Road and Mo. Hwy. 150. "Maybe, just maybe, if we play this dead man's hand just right, we can add to our (Hwy.) 150 corridor development anchored by the shiny new nuclear death campus now under construction," said Quinly. He asked how we could with any sense of justice continue to follow our leaders into the abyss described by Martin Luther King as "the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."
Emiliano Huet-Vaughn, a doctoral student at the University of California-Berkeley, said young people would continue to demand alternative energy sources and jobs in those fields, whereas only the government is demanding nuclear weapons. Berkeley has declared itself a nuclear weapons-free zone, he said, adding, "We don't think nuclear weapons should be part of our arsenal. A city as robust as Kansas City surely could do what Berkeley has done."
Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, M.D., Emiliano's mother, spoke on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility. She held her baby grandson, Nicolas, and made a plea for consistency, for children's sake. "On one hand, you say you go to war because someone else has nuclear weapons. Then you turn around" and start a new plant in KC to make parts for nukes. "We have the opportunity to be like the student in Tiananmen Square wanting to stop the tanks, or Rosa Parks on the bus," she said, asking the committee to vote for the petition to go on the ballot.
"This measure could cost Kansas City hundreds of jobs," said City Councilman John Sharp. "It is bad public policy. It should be defeated by the voters in November."
Attorney E.E. Keenan of KC, Mo., speaking for the Greater KC AFL-CIO, said the proposed ordinance "has an extraordinary clogging effect on interstate commerce: it outright bans any municipal cooperation with the nuclear defense industry. … If every jurisdiction adopted the ordinance proposed here, there would be no nuclear production. This measure directly targets national defense. It attacks and undermines it." When New York City faced a referendum banning governmental cooperation in nuclear facilities, the state's highest court prohibited its placement on the ballot, said Keenan. He also said Oakland, Calif., passed a ballot measure creating a nuclear-free zone, only to have a federal court strike it down.
Tom Whittaker, executive vice president and chief legal officer of J.E. Dunn Construction Co., the general contractor for the new NNSA plant, said construction was almost complete, and an average of 1,000 employees per day have been helping to build the facility.
"I suggest the legislation is fatally flawed," said Attorney Kevin Breslin of Centerpoint, which coordinated the development plan for the new NNSA plant. Breslin argued that the "financial involvement" banned in the petition could keep the city from receiving earnings tax from NNSA employees. He said, "They keep trying to throw a blanket or net over the Botts Road facility—this is a back-door way of discouraging people from doing business with that facility."
Pete Fullerton, president and CEO of the city's Economic Development Corporation, said the EDC executive committee on Aug. 10 had reaffirmed EDC's support for the NNSA facility. The reaffirmation statement noted the $705 million building project and the total $1.25 billion direct project investment.
Elise Martini of the Greater Kansas City Building and Construction and Trades Council, representing 16 unions, objected, "We will lose jobs with this ordinance."
Danielle Bender of the AFL-CIO said the petition could cause confusion. She told the committee, "IBM, GE, Boeing, Honeywell, they make anything from light bulbs to predators. I urge you on behalf of Kansas City labor to oppose this" petition.
The day after the hearing, MacNair sent the committee a list of Keenan's and Breslin's objections to the petition, with her preliminary response to each of their points. She said the ordinance would not undo contracts already made, and "no one is entitled to future contracts." Her bottom line: City voters have a right to instruct the council on its votes.
KC Peace Planters are consulting with constitutional law experts about the measure.
Brother Louis Rodemann presented the following testimony Aug. 15 at a City Hall hearing on the petition against KC's future financial involvement in making parts for nuclear weapons.
Our cultural creed as a nation is an idolatrous faith in nuclear weapons. We propose to be fighting terrorism by our own terrorist, aggressive postures and behaviors.
We profess to be preserving and promoting democracy by shrouding ourselves and our global neighbors in a perpetual slavery to a cloud of pervasive fear and mistrust.
We squander trillions of dollars on national defense while the reality of dehumanizing poverty oppresses millions of our own citizens, and hundreds of millions around the world.
At the end of the day, or when we take a deep breath to disengage from the frenzy of our lives, don't we really see this all as insane, unjust, immoral?
—Christian Brother Louis Rodemann taught 20 years at De LaSalle High School in KC and for about 30 years has been a staff member or community member of Holy Family Catholic Worker House in KC, which he calls "a beacon of hope" for the poor and near-poor. Before giving his testimony, he said his reflection "may seem tangent to today's issue, but I believe it is at the heart of the matter."
‘Interdependence Day' action
by Jane Stoever
Carl Kabat, 78, a priest from St. Louis who belongs to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, continued his life's witness against nuclear weapons on "Interdependence Day," July 4. Under cover of darkness, way before dawn, he entered the well-fenced 170-acre complex in southern Kansas City, Mo., a new facility for making parts for nuclear weapons. Kabat slept several hours and, with daylight, took a long walk across the property, eventually drawing close to the front entry. "A guard saw me and drove toward me in a golf cart, asking, ‘Want a ride?' So I went with him" to the entry, Kabat later said. He was under arrest for about 32 hours.
On July 5, Kabat pleaded not guilty to charges of trespass and property destruction. His arraignment is set for Aug. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in KC Municipal Court at 1101 Locust. He expects to request a later trial where he can explain his action to the judge.
According to a friend of Kabat, he said he wanted to open up the fencing to "allow all of the Holy One's deer and other animals that once used the former bean field for its habitat. … In place of defense, I would like to de-fence." On July 5, after his release, he said the fencing was 10 feet high and sturdy, not permitting much de-fencing.
In a formal statement developed before the action, Kabat mourned the deaths caused by the Nazis in World War II and by the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "One of our Minuteman III's could kill approximately three million of our sisters and brothers," said Kabat. "We have perfected the ‘art' of killing and burning. … Four Minuteman III's could kill twelve million of our sisters and brothers. … The opinion of the International Court in 1995 states that nuclear weapons are a Crime Against Humanity!"
Kabat's first anti-nuke, pro-peace action in Missouri was to occupy a nuclear missile silo 45 miles east of KC, close to Hwy. 70. He and three other activists used a jackhammer to damage the concrete cover over the missile—a plowshares action, in line with Isaiah's mandate to beat swords into plowshares. For that action, he served 12 years in federal prison. Reflecting on the missile site event, Kabat said July 5, "We shut down that missile silo for a month."
Four persons, with about 30 supporters cheering them on, did civil resistance against KC's new nuclear weapons parts plant during the April 13-15 Trifecta Resista, cosponsored by PeaceWorks. On May 15, two of the resisters were sentenced. Two who requested a trial received the trial date of Aug. 17.
Lu Mountenay of Independence, Mo., a member of the PeaceWorks Board, and Mark Kenney of Omaha received comparably light sentences May 15 from Judge Elena Franco—20 hours of community service (not 25 as in the past from Franco) and 6 months' probation (not the two years she gave in the past). Welcome sentences!
Midge Potts of Springfield, Mo., and Henry Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., chair of the PeaceWorks Board, will be able to speak up, speak out, at their trial with Judge Franco Aug. 17, at the KC Municipal Court, 1101 Locust, KC, MO 64106. Come & support our resisters!
Prevent future $ deals for making nuke parts
On four straight peace petitions, PeaceWorks members and others have pounded the sidewalks and obtained 5,000 or more signatures from Kansas City, Mo., voters. On June 4, Rachel MacNair, petition coordinator, submitted to the city clerk's office the petition against future financial involvement with nuclear weapons parts facilities. The petition had about 5,200 signatures.
The city currently requires 3,572 valid signatures to bring a petition to City Council. Validation of signatures may take 10 days. MacNair said she expected the petition—"Prevention of the city's future financial involvement in nuclear weapons components facilities"—to be received and filed by the City Council in mid-June. Then within 60 days, the Council is legally required to take action.
The petition would require the city not to "enter into, facilitate, nor give permission for any future contracts whereby it will be directly financially involved in any facilities that produce or procure components for, assemble, or refurbish nuclear weapons … ." Note: The City Council on February 4, 2010, approved the development plan allowing municipal bonds to be sold to private investors to finance the new nuclear weapons production plant under construction at Mo. Hwy. 150, south of Grandview. The new measure would prevent such Council actions in the future.
The Council could vote against the measure and still allow it to go on the ballot. "Every indication from our last City Council meeting was that this future-oriented petition would be acceptable" to go on the ballot, says MacNair. "We hope it will appear on the November ballot."
by Barbara Howard
A few days after the Memorial Day Walk, I'm trying not to scratch the chigger bites I got at the walk's end, at the entry to the new nuclear weapons parts plant on Mo. Hwy. 150. In some perverse way, I stay grateful for the bites. They remind me of the 35 people who carried signs, sang, and supported each other along the road. The marchers were led by the lively beat of drummer Daniel Karam and a U.S. flag-bearer, Tom Fox. This image of caring and joy contrasts with the horror of the emerging new plant.
The estimated cost of the new facility is about $675 million. In an online article for the National Catholic Reporter, publisher Fox, reporting on the walk, said President Obama last year announced an investment of $80 billion in the nation's nuclear arsenal. Yet, Fox noted, recent press reports indicate that the president may be considering a significantly smaller nuclear deterrent force of between 300 to 1,100 deployed warheads. According to treaty limits, by 2018 the U.S. can deploy only 1,550 warheads. The number deployed at present is confidential. Our nine-mile march, with some of us driving to give an occasional lift to the walkers, began at the 62-year-old facility for making non-nuclear parts for nuclear weapons, at Bannister Federal Complex. PeaceWorks sponsored the walk with support from Occupy KC and the coalition KC Peace Planters. For this second annual trek, participants doubled last year's group of 15 or so.
We kicked off our journey with a challenge to stand against the continuation of the nuclear weapons buildup. Maurice Copeland, a former employee and supervisor at the current nuclear weapons parts plant, reminded us that more than 150 people have died as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals at the current facility, and several hundred are still ill. The nine-mile walk to the new building site provided an opportunity to witness to those driving by. We walked as a community committed to peace.
Kept at a distance by "no trespassing" signs, we gathered near the entrance to the new facility to share reflections. We deplored the waste of resources and the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Henry Stoever, chair of the board of PeaceWorks and a leader of the march, offered encouragement. He said that 20 years ago, activists protesting the Minuteman II nuclear missiles embedded in Missouri farm fields contributed to shutting down the sites. Stoever believes PeaceWorks can eventually help bring about the end of nuclear weapons production in Kansas City.
I concur, and I'm itching to be part of the group that makes this possible.
—Barbara Howard of Independence, Mo., a former editor at Herald Publishing House and former member of the Interfaith Peace Alliance, is a new member of PeaceWorks.
Photos from NCR's Tom Fox:
by Lu Mountenay
Editor's note: Lu Mountenay of Independence, Mo., a new member of the PeaceWorks Board, stepped over the line between the public right-of-way and the "campus" for the new nuclear weapons parts plant on April 14, during the Trifecta Resista, cosponsored by PeaceWorks.
Nuclear arms plant?
Not in my backyard
I started to have second thoughts—fearful thoughts. Do I really want to do this? The other Trifecta Resista protesters extended grace to me even before the imminent event. "Now if you change your mind at the last minute, Lu, no one will hold it against you … no one will think any less of you."
As I faced the line of "peace" officers, I felt my knees go weak. I said a fast and silent prayer for courage. Immediately a peaceful spirit washed over me. So I declined to step back to safety across the private property line indicated by the forbidding sign. After our third warning, I was arrested for trespass with three others: Henry Stoever, Mark Kenney, and Midge Potts.
The nuclear weapons plant being built in Kansas City is unthinkable to me. I call it the Temple of Doom. It is being built for Honeywell by J.E. Dunn, the same contractor that built the Temple of Peace in Independence. How ironic! Thirty-five people came to protest with much forethought. We were trained in nonviolent resistance by Pace e Bene (Peace and Doing Good) facilitators from the White Rose Catholic Worker in Chicago. Now we were committed.
The officers were very respectful and I feel they were somewhat sympathetic to our cause. They cuffed my wrists behind my back very loosely. I guess they didn't think of me as a flight risk. My compatriots were separated from me in the police van by steel mesh.
So many unknowns lay ahead of me. At the station, the officers were a little frustrated because they couldn't find me in their record. "Not even a parking ticket?" Sorry. Mug shots—-face front, face right, face left-—and fingerprinting followed. They emptied my pockets and removed the laces from my running shoes. They took the cross from around my neck! The officer said "follow me" and before I knew it, the steel doors closed behind me.
How did I come to make this choice? I had thought about the decision— unwise, in my opinion— to build even more nuclear weapons. I had read about how dangerous it was. I had written about it for publications, and yes, prayed about it. Now it was time to pursue peace physically. Time to act! So…into the police van we did go.
I knew this would be engraved on my brand-new police record, but if my grandchildren understood I was doing it for them, which they did, I knew others would understand as well. If I chose peace, I had to choose this action.
Was poverty their crime?
My home for the next few hours was a concrete and steel jail cell. I sat on a graffiti- covered metal bench to gather my thoughts. I noticed someone had scratched "MAMA" in the blue paint. I saw it as a lonely, regretful cry for help. "How much is your bail?" an inmate asked. "One hundred dollars," I answered. "That's nothing! Do you have someone to pay it for you?"
I had faith in my family support system and companion protesters at PeaceWorks, KC. However, I felt the other women in the cell might be alone in their troubles. As I got to know them, I found it was even worse than I imagined. When "Stacey" learned I was a minister, she immediately asked, "Will you pray for me?" We prayed together as she cried. It found that poverty was at the root of her crime.
She had broken her probation because she couldn't pay the fine for the bad checks she had written for groceries. "I was in hiding. My boyfriend found me and beat me up. The police arrested me—-not my boyfriend—-because of the warrant on me. I miss my children."
"Flo" was homeless and had been drinking. As I started to walk around the cell to stretch my legs, she followed me. I did a few arm-swinging exercises. She did likewise. Soon, everyone joined in, and we had an aerobics class going. They longed for a little direction, a break from boredom and hopelessness, even for a few hours.
One woman, locked in a separate cell, moaned and yelled continually. "She's violent," "Stephanie" said. I started to sing and she became quiet. Then Stacey, Stephanie, Flo, and Mary started singing too. Flo asked, "Do you know Swing Low, Sweet Chariot"?
"Sure do." And so we all sang. To cheer things up, I started to sing alternate words: "Swing low, sweet Cadillac … a brand-new El Dorado comin' after me …" We were all laughing, and an officer came to see what was so funny. He looked perplexed. When they came to release me, everyone started crying again, so we had another prayer. They had surely blessed me with their sincerity and authentic emotions. They taught me about gratitude and humility.
I think of my cellmates every day since then, and pray for them the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I pray they have someone to lead them in dance, song, and prayer; someone to call friend; and yes, someone to pay their bail.
Break out your comfy old shoes on Memorial Day and walk all/part of the nine miles from the current nuke-parts plant in KC to the shiny new one, 70 percent constructed. The walk starts at 8 a.m. at Bannister & Wayne (park on Lydia, south of Bannister). Then we head south on Holmes and go east on Mo. Hwy. 150, arriving at about 11:30 a.m. at Thunderbird Road.
Needed: both walkers and riders (to offer water, to give a lift to the weary). This walk/ride commemorates those who've died:
- from contaminants from the current plant,
- from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings, and
- from lack of resources (health care, food, shelter) because our country prioritizes the care and feeding of war and nukes over human needs.
We'll also publicize two possibilities: converting the new plant to projects such as wind or solar energy, and keeping KC from future financial deals for nuke-parts production. For info, contact PeaceWorks Board Chair Henry Stoever, email@example.com, 913-375-0045.
by Lu Mountenay
"I would like to plead not guilty by reason of sanity," said PeaceWorks member Charles Carney, who on Nov. 6, 2011, was one of five civil resisters to KC's new nuclear weapons parts plant. This sane message is reflected in a bill introduced recently by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 34 other members of the House of Representatives: H.R. 3974, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act.
The purpose of the bill is "To reduce the number of nuclear-armed submarines operated by the Navy, to prohibit the development of a new long-range penetrating bomber aircraft, to reduce the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles operated by the Department of Defense, and for other purposes." Sounds sane, right?!
The findings in the bill include this: "… the United States continues to maintain an enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons and delivery systems that were devised with the Cold War in mind." The U.S. has approximately 5,000 nuclear warheads that are deployed or deployable. This obsolete Cold War-based approach to "nuclear security" comes at significant cost: hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 10 years. Does this sound sane to you?
The findings of the bill continue, "The national security interests of the (U.S.) can be well served by reducing the total number of deployed nuclear warheads and their delivery systems, as suggested by the Department of Defense" (January 2012). … The Government Accountability Office has found that there is significant waste in the construction of the nuclear facilities of the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration) of the Department of Energy." Doesn't this sound sane?
After all, what is our biggest national security threat? "Our national debt," according to Admiral Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2010). This bill finds, "Economic security and national security are linked, and both will be well served by smart defense spending." How sane!
Let members of the House of Representatives know you support the SANE Act and want them to cosponsor it. For more info, see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/thomas.
—Lu Mountenay serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
The KC, Mo., City Council unanimously passed a peace initiative March 22, a petition on planning for alternative work for local employees making parts for nuclear weapons. This was one of two peace initiatives for which PeaceWorks members gathered signatures last fall. The measure provides for the city to make contingency plans for production of other products and for the retraining of workers at both the new Botts Road plant (in south KC) and the current plant on Bannister Road.
"Success!" says petition coordinator Rachel MacNair. "All the hard work of all the volunteers who collected thousands of signatures has paid off."
MacNair says this petition's passage is important for federal nuclear weapons policy because:
- The measure helps to remove one obstacle to stopping new nuclear weapons production: a fear of job loss if the federal government cuts back on refurbishment of its weapons. "We need not panic upon hearing that federal policy has changed, which would be good news in every other way. We've prepared for the possibility of change," says MacNair.
- The petition helps set up a self-fulfilling prophecy to make such a change in policy more likely, suggests MacNair.
- The measure offers a precedent and example to campaigns in other cities. "Submitting citizens' petitions is a strategy that works, rather quickly and efficiently," says MacNair.
The other initiative, "Removal of City Financial Involvement in Production of Nuclear Weapons Components," is lingering in committee due to heated debates and is scheduled to come before the Committee on Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Wednesday, March 28, at 1:30 p.m. on the 26th floor of City Hall.
PeaceWorks member Charles Carney, one of five Nov. 6 civil resisters to KC's new nuclear weapons parts plant, told a judge Jan. 17 that he would not simply plead guilty of trespass and request community service. "I would like to plead not guilty by reason of sanity," Carney told Municipal Court Judge Elena Franco at the hearing. He asked for two minutes to explain his plea. Franco said no but arranged for a trial at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 21-- Carney's day in court.
Three other defendants submitted pleas of guilty and received sentences of 25 hours of community service in their local areas. They are Jim Hannah of Independence, Mo., a PeaceWorks Board member; Erica Weiland of Seattle; and Kima Garrison of Portland, Ore. A fifth trespasser, Jason Rawn of Union, Maine, spent the night of Nov. 6 in jail, and was released on time served.
After the hearing, Carney said that as a psychiatric social worker, he assists people with mental illnesses, helping them secure housing and work. "While I see drastic cuts in funding for those who struggle with mental illness, the state has no problems with funding the real insanity--that of the escalation of nuclear weapons," he said. "I personally don't feel I did anything wrong" in trespassing at the new plant site Nov. 6
PeaceWorks members and KC Peace Planters can offer Carney "court support" Feb. 21.
KC Peace Planters, a coalition including PeaceWorks, turned in petitions for two ballot initiatives on Nov. 14 to the city clerk of Kansas City, Mo. The next step in the process is for the election board to verify the signatures; once that's done and sufficient signatures are verified, hearings start with the City Council.
"We need 3,572 signatures on each petition to be verified in order for them to qualify for council hearings and the April ballot," says PeaceWorks member Rachel MacNair, coordinator of the petition drive. "We gathered around 5,000 signatures on each petition." For comparison purposes, MacNair notes that in the earlier petition drive, the single petition gained about 5,000 signatures, and once the unverifiable signatures were eliminated, the initiative still had about 800 signatures to spare.
Here's what the new initiatives provide for:
Summary, Petition 1
Remove city financial involvement in production of nuclear weapons components
- Kansas City won't make any more contracts for producing parts for nuclear weapons or finance their production in the future.
- Kansas City will divest itself of the municipal bonds for producing nuclear weapons parts, to the extent allowed by law.
- No local agency will own the plant.
- If the court knocks down any provision, that provision can be cut off and the rest remain.
Summary, Petition 2
Safeguard jobs with contingency plans for nuclear weapons facilities
- The city will make detailed contingency plans for converting the local nuclear weapons plants to other work in case the plants are no longer to be used for making parts for nuclear weapons.
- Renewable energy production is an option to be considered.
- The plans will be updated annually.
- The plans will be available for public comment.
By Susan Miller & Jane Stoever
Photos by Robyn Haas
"No tax bucks for nuclear bombs!" This was the chant of 46 protesters Nov. 6 at the country's first new, huge plant to "modernize" nuclear weapons. The five-building facility, under construction on Mo. Hwy. 150 in southern Kansas City, Mo., will replace the current, 62-year-old Kansas City Plant. Products of the current and future facilities include nuclear bombs' non-nuclear parts such as triggers and radar. The new KC Plant is the first of three new facilities for the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, with the other two in Los Alamos, N.M. (think plutonium) and Oak Ridge, Tenn. (think uranium). "We make the gun, they make the bullet," Ann Suellentrop told the war tax resisters during their Nov. 4-6 meeting in Kansas City, Kan.
At the new site for nuke-parts-making, five people crossed the line from the public right-of-way to the facility property and were arrested. The trespassers included Jim Hannah, a PeaceWorks Board member from Independence, Mo., and four current or former administrative committee members of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC): Charles Carney of Kansas City, Kan.; Kima Garrison of Portland, Ore.; Erica Weiland of Seattle; and Jason Rawn of Union, Maine.
Garrison and Weiland were released four hours after their arrest on $100 bonds; their wrists still showed handcuff marks, but they talked about the guards' respect for them. The other trespassers decided not to post bond and were held about 24 hours, with Carney and Hannah released on signature bonds. Rawn went free with "time served"-- no court date, no fine, no community service--facilitated by lawyer Henry Stoever. The court date for the others is Jan. 17.
Right after his release, Carney e-mailed supporters, "It was an ordeal, but nothing compared to what the political prisoners around the world go through." Noting Rawn's need for gluten-free food, Carney said Rawn "essentially went through a forced 24- hour fast. (Can't eat bologna sandwiches, go figure!)" Carney, local coordinator for the NWTRCC annual meeting, added, "What a gift to be able to converse with these two 'mensch' (Rawn and Hannah) for the last 24 hours."
Before the trespass, several people shared reflections on the new nuke-parts production site, a former soybean field.
"Big things are expected from this little bean field!" said Hannah. "Take a look: This project is gargantuan. The administrative office alone is larger than KC's new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. And the manufacturing plant covers 17 acres--equivalent to 13 football fields! The Kansas City Star reported a million dollars a day is being poured into this project. A billion dollars will be spent to construct the buildings, and another four billion dollars operating it for the first 20 years. Five billion dollars! It would be like writing a million-dollar check five thousand times. That's not peanuts, and certainly not soybeans! You could buy a lot of good with that money. Or a lot of death and destruction."
Weiland encouraged the protesters to begin and continue resisting war taxes, giving the results of a survey she conducted during the NWTRCC meeting. Among the 17 survey respondents, 12 have lived or are living below the taxable level and 9 have filed or do file tax forms while refusing to pay some or all of their taxes. The respondents reported 432 years total of resisting war taxes and/or refusing to pay, plus 180 years of resisting/refusing to pay the telephone tax that goes to the military. The respondents have resisted paying $359,610 in income taxes, and out of that amount, the Internal Revenue Service had collected $94,000. Weiland also named what respondents said were positive consequences of war tax resistance: having a cleaner conscience, belonging to a community of resisters, living in line with their values, and feeling empowered.
Bill Ramsey of St. Louis, a NWTRCC leader, trespassed at the new nuke- parts production site Aug. 16, 2010, when he joined about 75 trespassers and saw 14 arrested after stopping Caterpillars at work in the former soybean field. At the Nov. 6 demonstration this year, Ramsey read his poem about that 2010 action:The Mice Will Play
Soybeans have given way
to busy yellow Cats.
Beans plowed under as
Cats go round and round,
pushing and packing good earth,
clearing the way for a new generation,
for the planting of sanctioned terror,
a second round of readiness,
to threaten all generations.
The merry band of folks
like mice file into a field,
meandering toward the Cats,
sowing wildflowers as they go.
Through deep mud they trod
into the forward path of one Cat
and securely surround it.
Then one detains another Cat
and the worker Cats fall silent
across the field's expanse.
While the Cats are waylaid,
the mice will play.
And for a portion of minutes,
the only movement
across this piece of earth is
the silent sprouting of wildflowers.
Susan Miller of Hesston, Kan., is a former administrative committee member of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Jane Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., is a PeaceWorks Board member. Robyn Haas is web developer for PeaceWorks and The National Catholic Reporter.
By Susan Miller & Jane Stoever
Photos by Susan Miller
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) held its annual meeting Nov. 4-6 in Kansas City, Kan., with the theme, "Plant Peace—Resist War Taxes!" The meeting at the First Central Church of the Brethren culminated in a demonstration against the nuke-parts production facility being built in southern Kansas City, Mo.
PeaceWorks member Charles Carney, part of the NWTRCC administrative committee, coordinated the national meeting, which about 15 PeaceWorks members attended. Carney kicked off the meeting with musings on unilateral disarmament. The first time he heard that phrase, in 1982, it was not from a peace activist, a college professor, or a socialist, but from Catholic Archbishop Ray Hunthausen. "He said our faith impels us to be the ones to disarm first," said Carney. "As archbishop of the state of Washington, he said he hoped 500 or 5,000 or half a million Catholics would refuse to pay all or part of their taxes as a way of ending nuclear proliferation. He courageously stated that he himself was going to refuse to pay half his taxes in the coming years." That put Carney on the war tax resistance path.
Carney also noted that it disturbed him in 1982 when Secretary of State Alexander Haig said, "Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes." Carney soon was claiming the maximum number of legal allowances—nine—so taxes would not be withheld from his paycheck. He said, "What a freeing thing: to be able to lay down my sword and shield. What a freeing thing: to tell the government, to tell the military- industrial complex, to tell Wall Street, 'No. You can't have my money. All my checks will be written out to the people.'"
PeaceWorks member Beth Seberger of Kansas City, Kan., spoke at the NWTRCC meeting about her lifelong war tax resistance. She began by not paying the $18 she owed the IRS in 1970. "I had two older brothers serving in the Air Force in the war," she said, "but I had been more influenced by Martin Luther King and his example of nonviolent resistance. I was seeing many young men my age struggling with their consciences over what to do about the draft."
Seberger said she asks her employers to keep her income below taxable levels and use the rest of her salary for projects otherwise unaffordable. "I have helped in the development of the Kansas City Interfaith Peace Alliance, Episcopal Social Services, Catholic Charities Refugee Services English as a Second Language program, and Literacy Kansas City," says Seberger. "I've also been able to give shelter now and then for folks in need." A video of Seberger's talk is online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-bhrTVCgWk.
Bill Ramsey of St. Louis reported that the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign Escrow Account (http://seanacc.org/escrowaccount.htm) has been moved from Seattle to St. Louis. He encouraged deposits to the account from across the country.
NWTRCC coordinator Ruth Benn of New York invited meeting participants to send photos, captions and stories about local actions to her for the NWTRCC newsletter ( http://www.nwtrcc.org).
Naomi Paz Greenberg of New York, who serves on the board of Conscience and Peace Tax, said that April 15, "Tax Freedom Day," is a good time to point out that taxpayers are in fact working for the government, doing military service, for a long part of each year. Asked why she resists war taxes, she said, "Over one hundred members of my family were killed in the Holocaust. I can't inflict that on others."
The NWTRCC group and KC-area peacemakers protested at the new nuclear weapons parts production site on Nov. 6 with signs such as "Plant beans, not bombs" and "War taxes are killing us." The demonstrators tied bright yellow cards saying "I won't pay taxes for nuclear bombs" to the fence enclosing the former soybean field. Several persons spoke, including Daniel Woodham, a North Carolina farmer. He said people should nurture what they plant if they want it to grow and should not nurture the KC nuclear plant with tax dollars.
Writer/photographer Susan Miller of Hesston, Kan., belongs to the Heartland Peace Tax Group. Jane Stoever of Overland Park, Kan., writes for PeaceWorks.
Prevent more KC funding of nuke-parts plants; require plans for alternative jobs
By Jane Stoever
Kansas City, Mo., voters can sign two new petitions to keep the city from further financial involvement in making parts for nuclear weapons and to require the city to plan for alternative jobs in case the nuke-parts jobs are discontinued.
"While we did gather a sufficient number of signatures to place a previous measure on the ballot, the City Council declined to place it on the ballot, and the judge at the Circuit Court was concerned about the involvement of federal agencies," says Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., coordinator of the petition drives. "Because our attorney advised us that the nature of federal litigation was such that we could get a measure on the ballot more quickly, cheaply, and surely by using all that we had learned in this process and running another initiative campaign, we decided that this was the better route."
The first petition is based on this premise, says MacNair: If the city's financial involvement in the new plant turns out not to be enough to give city voters a say over the new plant, it is nevertheless still true that city voters have a say over the city's financial involvement. With City Council approval, the city sold up to $815 million worth of municipal bonds to private investors last year to fund the new nuke-parts facility on Mo. Hwy. 150, near Grandview. Furthermore, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, a state-chartered agency whose members are all appointed by KC mayors, holds the title to the massive new facility.
The financial arrangement with city ties is important because the bypassing of proper U.S. Congress appropriations procedures, says MacNair, means "the city is doing more than merely participating in building weapons of mass destruction. It is enabling a set-up that might not happen with more federal attention and accountability."
The first petition is "Removal of city financial involvement in production of nuclear weapons components," and the second is "Safeguarding jobs with contingency plans for nuclear weapons facilities." A supporters' petition--for persons outside the city--enables a wide range of people opposed to KC's commitment to nuclear weapons production to voice their concern. A brochure* outlines reasons for the petitions. (*Note on printing the brochure: to create a 3-panel folded brochure use the first and second pages; for two-sided flat handouts use the first and third pages.)
If you'd like to pitch in and obtain signatures for the petitions and/or the supporters' petition by early November, contact MacNair at 816-753-2057.
by Jane Stoever
Contradictions and courage. Both rang clear in Municipal Court in Kansas City, Mo., Sept. 28.
The charge: trespass on May 2 for crossing a property line at the construction site for the new nuclear-weapons-parts production facility in southern KC. The site lies between Botts Road and Prospect Avenue on Mo. Hwy. 150.
The accuser: CenterPoint Properties LLC Senior Vice President Jim Cross; CenterPoint, a Chicago financier, and KC realtor Zimmer helped plan the financing of the new plant through the sale of KC municipal bonds to private investors.
The accused: 28 of the 53 resisters who crossed a line May 2 near the site; others came to court earlier. Two of the 28 could not be identified in court, so they were acquitted, and one was ill, so his case was continued. Most of the resisters live or volunteer in Catholic Worker houses where, without pay, they feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and oppose violence.
The sentences: 25 hours' community service or a $250 fine for the nine pleading guilty; 50 hours' community service or a $500 fine for those pleading not guilty; seven days in jail for two resisters who refused to do community service or pay $500. The community service cannot occur where the resisters live and work.
After Judge Ardie Bland announced his guilty verdict to those pleading not guilty, resister Greg Boertje-Obed of Duluth, Minn., said, "I cannot in good conscience pay anything to this court. I believe this court upheld a criminal activity," the creation of a plant to modernize nuclear weapons. He also refused to do community service, knowing he would do jail time. "I'm reminded of a saying of Martin Luther King: 'We will win you over by our ability to endure suffering,'" he told the judge. Boertje-Obed was taken into custody and released three days later.
During the afternoon trial, Eric Garbison, a Presbyterian minister and member of the Cherith Brook Catholic Worker community on 12th Street near Benton in KC, referred to a statement of the Presbyterian Church in the USA and said, "The building of nuclear weapons is unjust." Garbison said he has testified at City Hall since 2008 in favor of meeting social needs instead of funding the building of parts for nuclear weapons. Speaking of Cherith Brook's efforts to stem violence, Garbison explained, "We have a commitment to oppose the root causes of homelessness." Saying he would not pay or do community service, he explained, "My life is community service. I live in a place where homeless men and women knock on the door any hour of the day or night." Garbison went to jail and was freed in two days.
Before issuing sentences, Bland told the resisters, "I applaud each and every one of you" for being willing to "stand up and fight" for their beliefs. "To be honest with you, this country would not be where it is without people like you," he said, noting that he was a man of faith and "my heart takes notice of you." He asked those who worked as part of a Catholic charity organization to stand to one side before the bench, saying, "They've chosen a life of poverty." He asked those with part-time jobs, paying jobs, to stand to the other side. Then, as it seemed those with jobs might refuse to pay, he allowed them also to do community service.
Later, Defense Attorney Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board, said he felt the judge feared many people would end up in jail and didn't want the attention that might create. When Bland asked Prosecuting Attorney Kendrea White for the city's recommended jail time, she said, "Fifteen days." Stoever then told Bland, "I ask you to be Solomon and come down somewhere in the middle." Bland answered, "I was thinking of 10 days; however, I'll go with seven." With the time they had been in jail after their arrest and with "good time," they were released in a few days.
Witness for the prosecution
When White questioned Cross about his work, he said, "I'm responsible for the construction and development of the new GSA (General Services Administration) facility at Hwy. 150." He identified the GSA as "my client" and said, "GSA's tenant is NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration). I have 185 acres under construction. At that point (May 2), I probably had 450 people working. Unless you've been safety-trained, and now everything's choreographed, it's a dangerous site. Safety is No. 1 in our book."
Then Defense Attorney Ruth O'Neill of Columbia, Mo., and Stoever cross-examined Cross.
O'Neill asked whether Cross owned the property, and he said CenterPoint Properties Trust owned it with the PIEA (Planned Industrial Expansion Authority--chartered by the state and with members all appointed by KC mayors). O'Neill asked whether the PIEA was an arm of a municipal, state, or federal government, and Cross replied, "I couldn't say." He added, "Honeywell (under contract with NNSA) is a name. We're building for the GSA." Later, when O'Neill asked about the purpose of the plant, Cross said, "I've been told it's a nuclear weapons parts plant."
Speaking of the protesters, O'Neill asked whether they engaged in any violent behavior. "What is violent?" Cross asked.
"Were they peaceful?" asked O'Neill. "What is peaceful?" Cross asked.
"Did they have any weapons?" asked O'Neill. "What is a weapon?" Cross asked.
"Did you read their signs?" asked O'Neill. "I did not," Cross replied.
White objected to the questioning as immaterial to the case, and the judge sustained the objection.
Stoever asked, "Are you the owner of the property?" Cross said, "Yes." Then Stoever referred to some 34 documents recorded July 14, 2010, conveying the Botts Road Development property to CenterPoint-Zimmer, and Cross acknowledged "the waterfall of documents." Stoever noted the transfer of the property to the PIEA, but White objected to the paperwork as irrelevant. Stoever insisted, "This is relevant. James Cross has signed this document. It's a conveyance to the PIEA of Kansas City, Mo., a statutory, public body of the state of Missouri. He has given testimony that he is the owner, where in fact he had conveyed this property to the PIEA."
O'Neill began, "Which goes to whether he has authority to direct," but Bland interrupted her and accepted the paperwork. Stoever explained the warranty deed to Cross and asked, "Is this your signature?" Cross replied, "It looks like it." Stoever asked about leases and subleases, and Cross replied, "I'd have to ask my attorney. I was instructed to sign."
Stoever asked Cross whether he had read the tickets given to the resisters. "I believe I'm the owner," said Cross. Stoever noted, "Every ticket says the GSA," and had Cross read, "...owned by the GSA." Stoever then asked, "Are you an employee of GSA?" Cross answered, "I'm not."
Art Laffin of Washington, D.C., a resister who represented himself at the trial instead of having a lawyer, asked Cross, "Do you know what the property was used for before you bought the property?" White insisted, "Objection! Immaterial!"
O'Neill asked Cross, "Are you aware soybeans were being grown there?" Again, "Objection!"
Laffin asked Cross, "Does CenterPoint have any ethical guidelines about what you build?" Again, "Objection!"
Laffin continued, "There are companies that have ethical guidelines--are you aware nuclear weapons violate international law?" Again, "Objection!"
Laffin persisted, "Are you aware nuclear weapons are instruments of mass murder?" Again, "Objection!"
Eventually, O'Neill asked Cross, "When you say you are the owner, do you mean a representative of" the owner? And he agreed, "representative of; Jim Cross does not personally own the property."
O'Neill and Stoever requested acquittal on several bases: the city failed to introduce the ordinance under which the protesters were charged with trespassing, a failure that this year, in City of Joplin v. Marston, led to acquittal; Jim Cross did not have authority to sign the tickets since he did not represent the GSA; and neither a GSA representative nor the KC police captain came to court as witnesses for the prosecution.
Laffin gave the protesters' closing argument. "We ask you to find us innocent," said Laffin. "You have legal ground to stand on in finding us not guilty. We appeal to you to ... work together with other judges to issue an injunction barring further construction of the new Kansas City plant. Please join us!"
Not this time. Maybe next!
Jane Stoever serves on the PeaceWorks Board.
By Jim Hannah
It's a rapidly-unfolding, high-stakes drama.
Thursday, the Kansas City city council said "No" to a citizen's initiative to let November voters decide the fate of the city's new nuclear weapons parts plant.
Friday, Kansas City Peace Planters petitioned the court, saying "No way!" can the council ignore the 4,300 voters' signatures obtained to get the item on the ballot, by provision of the city charter.
Monday morning, Judge Edith Messina will rule on whether to make permanent her preliminary writ granting placement of the Peace Planters' initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Monday afternoon, both parties will have an opportunity for appeal.
And Tuesday is the deadline for all items appearing on the November ballot.
So it's all come down to the wire. No one knows which side will ultimately prevail in the next step of a protracted struggle about Kansas City's role in the national nuclear weapons complex. Kansas City is one of three key production sites for the United States' nuclear weapons arsenal, producing about 85 percent of its non-nuclear components.
The contested Peace Planters' initiative would allow Kansas City voters to decide whether construction will continue on the city-controlled nuclear weapons parts plant at Botts Road and Highway 150 , or whether voters prefer to transition the facility to manufacture "green energy" technologies such as wind power.
The city council's 12-to-1 vote Thursday (with councilman Ed Ford casting the only dissenting vote) came as no surprise to the Peace Planters, a coalition of some dozen peace activist groups in the Kansas City area. Their opposition to the plant has been ongoing for several years, including civil disobedience and arrests both at the 65- year-old Federal Bannister Plant, and at the new plant, where peace activists last year were arrested for blocking earthmovers on August 16 and for blocking traffic at groundbreaking ceremonies September 8.
This year, during the Catholic Workers' Faith & Resistance Retreat (April 29-May 2) still more peace activists were arrested. The growing resistance is evidenced by the number of arrests--four at the old Bannister plant, and at the new plant: 14 blocking earthmovers, 8 during groundbreaking ceremonies, and 52 at the Faith & Resistance Retreat.
Peace Planters member Rachel MacNair is plaintiff in the current law suit, represented by Phil Willoughby of Gunn, Shank, & Stover law firm. Dr. MacNair questioned the last- minute timing of the legal proceedings, noting "The Council has had two full months for the Charter's requirement of passing an ordinance directing the Election Board to place the measure on the ballot. The deadline for certification is August 30. Waiting until the last possible time allows the court only five days, two of which are a weekend, to consider the case. While the letter of the law is fulfilled in the timing, the spirit of democracy and proper deliberation is not. We believe this timing is an unfair power play."
MacNair also questioned one of the city council members' assertion that the citizen's initiative might be unconstitutional, saying instead, "If a party to a dispute can decide the dispute in its own favor while ignoring its own Charter, then the very purpose of the initiative petition process in upholding democracy is being sabotaged."
Whatever the intent or the timing, matters are coming to a head in the next few days. Whether "No" or "No way," those who care about nuclear weapons abolition have a new drama unfolding in Kansas City that is worthy of their attention and support.
Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks Kansas City board member and columnist.
By Jane Stoever
A committee of the Kansas City, Mo., City Council heard testimony Aug. 17 on a measure to bar a peace initiative from the city's Nov. 8 ballot. The Finance, Governance and Ethics Committee voted 4-0 to keep the initiative off the ballot; the full City Council will vote Aug. 25 on whether to follow suit. The peace initiative would prohibit production of nuclear weapons components at the facility under construction on Mo. Hwy. 150, near Grandview, and would recommend having green jobs there (wind or solar energy jobs) instead of nuke-parts jobs.
The Aug. 25 vote is expected to go against the peace initiative. Then a lawyer for KC Peace Planters, a coalition formed by PeaceWorks leaders, will file a lawsuit to compel the city to keep the initiative on the ballot. However the judge rules, the ruling will very likely be contested, and may go to an appellate judge and perhaps the Missouri Supreme Court in expedited fashion.
Asking the committee to block the initiative from the ballot, Sixth District Councilman John Sharp noted, "To stop this project after it is so far along is clearly bad public policy, but more important, it is on its face unconstitutional. It conflicts with the power of the federal government to provide for the national defense."
Among the 20 people speaking up for the peace initiative and against blocking it from the ballot was Beth Seberger, who collected 270 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot. "You cannot divorce yourselves from the hideously immoral purpose of these (nuclear) weapons," said Seberger. "It would be as though the city agrees to finance the production of the gas to be used in the gas chambers against Jewish people and others for the sake of 'jobs.' Would you consent to that?"
She continued, "I don't believe Uncle Sam came begging for this city to get involved in this scheme (to build the new nuke-parts facility). I think a few powerful politicians thought it was a good opportunity to bring what they think will be a boon to the city's economy. I think they are mistaken, and I believe the people of the city have the right to stop this wrong-headed decision if they want to, and I hope they will."
Second District Councilman Ed Ford, the lone Council member to defend the peace initiative in earlier votes, said he would not speak on nuclear weapons issues but on City Charter guidelines. If sufficient ballot initiative signatures are obtained and validated, the Charter says, "The Council shall submit the proposed ordinance to the electors at the next available municipal or state election." Ford added his own accent: "The Council shall--not may, not should, but shall, mandatory--submit the proposed ordinance to the electors."
Ford reviewed the history of a 1995 petition initiative on Union Station: the Council voted to keep it off the ballot, the Council was sued, and the measure went to the ballot. Said Ford, "In the words of that great philosopher Yogi Berra, 'It's déjà vu all over again!'"
Ford explained that after the people vote, the Council may then rule the measure is illegal or unconstitutional, but first, it should come to the public.
Rachel MacNair, coordinator of the peace initiative campaign, said that as she listened to speakers who wanted to keep the initiative off the ballot, she was amazed that they all took the premise that if the measure were on the ballot, it would win.
Henry Stoever, chair of the board of PeaceWorks, asked, "Are we a government of laws or of people, corporations and special interests?"
Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, MD, chair of the local chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said, "The jobs you're talking about don't exist in a vacuum. These jobs and construction (jobs) are connected to an end (nuclear weapons). ... In this economy, where everybody's hurting, if we discontinue the building of nuclear weapons, we'd save $1 trillion. We could spend that $1 trillion on health care, education."
Amrita Burdick, who obtained scores of signatures for the peace initiative, asked Council members to consider the serious health and environmental issues that may arise from the new nuclear weapons facility. With international agreements to decrease the number of nuclear weapons, she said, there will likely be less demand for such weapons.
Nick Pickrell spoke of losing his grandfather to an illness he may have contracted while working at the current KC Plant, the DOE facility at Bannister Federal Complex that makes parts for nuclear weapons. Supporting the new facility, said Pickrell, would mean that "mothers will continue to lose children" from contaminants workers take home from the plant, and "children will continue to lose grandparents, as I did."
Sahj Kaya (Rhonda Gibson) labeled the City Council move to bar the peace initiative "tyranny."
David Quinly noted the dangers of contaminants from making parts for nuclear weapons, warning against a "KC Death Camp."
Eric Garbison asked, "Isn't it a court of law that should decide constitutionality?" Garbison, who testified during the last three years against the city's support for the new facility, said peace activists have followed City Council's process, talked to city attorneys, gotten votes from city citizens, "and you're telling us we can't be on the ballot."
By Jane Stoever
A hushed crowd in the Municipal Court of Kansas City, Mo., heard 20 civil resisters one by one plead guilty on July 19 to trespassing May 2 at a nuke-parts plant under construction in southern KC. The judge let a few resisters speak their minds.
"I am guilty of knowing the difference between what is legal and what is right," said repeat offender Steve Jacobs of Columbia, Mo. "Trespass laws which protect the makers of weapons of mass destruction against nonviolent resisters have no authority over my conscience and act of resistance. ... Any weapon that indiscriminately kills hundreds of thousands of innocents along with those who are targeted are immoral and have no right to exist. Creating more makes their use more imminent, so we have a duty to stop their production now. ... I am guilty of loving my planet more than I fear your jail."
Jacobs was one of 53 resisters on May 2. They crossed a boundary line near the chain-link fence sheltering a massive new shell of a building for making non-nuclear parts, such as fuses, wiring, guidance systems and triggers for nuclear weapons. Jacobs had done two other local protests, the first at the current, 61-year-old facility owned by the National Nuclear Security Administration and operated by Honeywell, and the second at the site for the new plant. Judge Elena Franco ordered Jacobs to pay a $500 fine within 90 days, the same sentence she gave repeat offender Frank Cordaro of Des Moines.
Most of the resisters, including several PeaceWorks members, were first-time trespassers or had paid their fines for earlier resistance. They received a $250 fine, to be paid within 60 days, or could choose to do 25 hours of community service at a place to be assigned. They were not to be credited for the aid many of them provide at the Catholic Worker houses where they live and offer services--food, shelter, showers, and clothes.
Local PeaceWorks members sentenced at the hearing included Sharon Hannah, Mark Bartholomew, Robyn Haas, Sister Cele Breen, Sister Theresa Maly, Brother Louis Rodemann, and Micah Waters. Besides the 20 sentenced, five resisters asked for a trial where they can voice their opposition to nuke-making in KC. About 30 of the 53 resisters, including PeaceWorks members Gina Cook, Rachael Hoffman, Joshua Armfield, and Eric Garbison, will come to trial Sept. 28 at 9 a.m.
According to the National Catholic Reporter (http://www.ncronline.org/news/peace/twenty- nuclear-weapons-activists-found-guilty), Nicholas Pickrell of the Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Community in KC told the judge he would neither pay a fine nor do community service because he "lives with the poor" and "practices community service every day." Sentenced to two days in jail, he was free within three hours in consideration of the 20 hours he spent in jail May 2-3 awaiting processing.
Pickrell told PeaceWorks members that the last words Franco whispered to him were, "Keep up the good work," most likely referring to his 24/7 community service, not his resistance.
The Kansas City Star ( http://www.kansascity.com/2011/07/19/3024287/honeywell-plant-protesters-appear.html) noted, "The future Honeywell plant ... is a key component in the modernization of America's nuclear deterrent. Anti-nuke opponents are attempting to block the project by putting it to a public referendum on the November ballot. They argue nuclear weapons are immoral, and that the project poses environmental dangers."
City Council votes 12-1 vs. peace petition
By Jane Stoever
The first peace petition Kansas City, Mo., voters have ever brought to City Council got rejected 12-1 on June 16, and peace leaders are--as planned--asking the City Clerk to put it on the Nov. 8 ballot.
"We always knew the City Council would vote against it," said Rachel MacNair, a PeaceWorks member and coordinator of the campaign for the petition, "Production of Nuclear Weapons Components Prohibited." She added, "We're submitting our formal requirement for the initiative to appear on the ballot, and the City Charter requires the Council to put it on the ballot. Unless there is a hold-up with that or unless Honeywell or the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) or another agency tries to take it to court to stop us, the initiative should come to voters Nov. 8."
In other words, a "no" vote from City Council does not stop a measure from coming to voters in an election.
The initiative's prohibition on making parts for nuclear weapons applies to the facility under construction in southern KC, near Grandview, financed through the sale of up to $815 million in municipal bonds. The initiative recommends converting the 2,000-or-so nuke-parts jobs to jobs in green energy (such as solar or wind energy projects).
Councilman Ed Ford cast the lone vote for the initiative. Before voting, he made four points:
- "Councilman (Jim) Glover was correct when he talked about the trigger mechanisms (made at the current NNSA plant and expected to be made at the new facility) making nuclear warheads safer. But the other testimony we heard (in a June 8 Council committee meeting) was they make nuclear weapons more reliable in the sense that if we ever use them, we want them to work. A lot of us find that morally offensive."
- "You wonder how permanent the jobs are. As Councilman (John) Sharp pointed out, a change in U.S. policy might drastically reduce our nuclear stockpile--we wouldn't need this many workers."
- "Nowhere else in the world is a municipality a partner or investor in a nuclear weapons component (plant). This is a creature of the federal government. I don't know why Kansas City is involved. It just doesn't happen."
- "We don't have a fact sheet. I'd like to see how these two questions would be answered in a fact sheet by someone who thoughtfully tried to answer them: Does this contribute to a sustainable Kansas City? Is it good for the children?"
Councilman Sharp called the building of the new facility "the biggest construction project we've got going in Kansas City right now" and said more than 20 percent of the project was already complete. "It's way too late to be trying to stop this project," Sharp insisted. He took no notice that the initiative doesn't try to stop the building project, but rather calls for converting it to a more constructive use.
From $1.4 million to $1.6 million in taxes from the new plant will benefit the Grandview School District each year, Sharp noted. He contrasted the current federally owned plant--which can't be taxed--with the new plant, which can be taxed because it is not a federal property but is owned by the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, a state-chartered, independent agency whose members are appointed by successive KC mayors. The tax support, said Sharp, will make a big difference in the Grandview School District; the support "will help those kids have a fair chance to compete with kids from more affluent districts."
Councilman Scott Wagner questioned the legality of the initiative, saying that on the grounds of the U.S. Constitution, the Missouri Constitution, and case law, it would not be legal to change the project because it would go against contracts that have already been signed.
Councilman Scott Taylor agreed there are serious legal issues to address and, referring to the tax benefits for the Grandview School District, said of the new nuclear weapons production plant, "I think this is good for the children." Concerning the initiative's option for converting nuke-parts jobs to other jobs, Taylor questioned whether renewable-energy companies would be interested in such a controversial location.
Expressing frustration, Ford commented, "I don't understand why, when you have a limited number of nuclear warheads and you're building components to make them safer and more reliable, at some point, haven't you completed the job? Why does this go on and on, and over and over, for 20-plus years? I've yet to have an explanation of really how sustainable these jobs are."
To see the video of the Council members' debate, open http://kansascity.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2, scroll down to "Legislative Sessions," and click on June 16, 2011. Council members made arguments PeaceWorks members may confront in asking Kansas Citians to vote "yes" for the Nov. 8 ballot initiative.
Call the PeaceWorks office at 816-561-1181 with questions about the initiative and to ask for speakers for small and large gatherings. In addition, register your support for the initiative and request yard signs or bumper stickers via the registry now, for delivery in the fall.
The Board of Election Commissioners has validated signatures on a petition that would prohibit making nuclear weapons components at the facility being built for that purpose in southern Kansas City. The initiative, which recommends jobs at the facility in "environmentally sound energy or other environmental technologies," is set for the Nov. 8 ballot unless blocked by legal questions.
"The people have spoken!" says Ann Suellentrop, a PeaceWorks Board member and leader of the KC Peace Planters coalition*, sponsor of the initiative. "Our petition can help stop the nuclear weapons build-up," she says in a news release. The petition pertains to the facility sprouting up at Mo. Hwy. 150, between Botts Road and Prospect Ave. The plant is designed to replace the current Kansas City Plant, a nuclear weapons parts facility at Bannister Federal Complex.
Never before has a KC peace group launched a city-wide ballot initiative, says Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board.
Steps in the process:
- Some 4,966 voters signed the petition between February and early May.
- The Board of Election Commissioners, by May 24, found 4,389 signatures valid. Only 3,572 were required to bring the measure to the City Council, which has 60 days to consider passing the initiative. Lacking that, petition supporters have 10 days to ask for it to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot, unless the measure comes under legal challenge.
- A media blitz on the petition has spread news about it. Media hits include The Kansas City Star (here), India Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The National Catholic Reporter (here), KKFI Community Radio, local National Public Radio, and online news sources.
The petition says the city sold up to $815 million in city bonds to finance the new plant. The initiative also notes that the city's Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA), with members all appointed by the city's mayor, "holds the legal title to the facility."
Speakers at a KC Peace Planters news conference May 12 announced they were submitting the signatures that day to city offices for validation.
"The previous City Council essentially made the voters of Kansas City landlords of this facility, so let us as the landlords have a say," said Rachel MacNair, Ph.D., petition drive coordinator.
"I don't want Kansas City to become known as the American Auschwitz, where the common citizens pretended not to know what was going on," said Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, M.D., chair of the Board of the KC chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Nuclear weapons are a great threat to the health of all humanity. As we have seen with Fukushima (the site of a nuclear power plant disaster in Japan that began March 11), even the peaceful use of nuclear power is extraordinarily dangerous if anything goes wrong."
City Councilman Ed Ford, who cast the sole vote last year against the plan for the new plant, keyed in on sustainability. "When we had a vote in City Council, it struck me that building a plant for making nuclear weapons would not make the world more sustainable, so it certainly can't help make Kansas City more sustainable." He complimented the KC Peace Planters for asking the city to use the facility for something truly sustainable. "You folks battle adversity, get arrested, get signatures, and ask for a level of commitment to get people out to vote," said Ford. "You're the most sustainable people I've ever met."
Jude Huntz, director of the Office of Human Rights in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City and St. Joseph, harked back to Bishop Robert Finn's statement in September, "The accumulation of weapons of mass destruction--which this nuclear plant proposes to construct-- constitutes a grave moral danger. ... Since the use of such weapons is morally questionable, it follows that the production of such weapons is also morally questionable."
Huntz added, "This ballot initiative represents an opportunity for Kansas City to meet this moral challenge. It provides us with the opportunity to decide what we wish to see built at this new facility; to decide what we will be as a city, a nation, and as a global community."
Maurice Copeland, a 32-year employee at the current plant and whistle-blower about contaminants there, said KC citizens would choose whether to be "the only city on the face of the planet that owns a nuclear weapons parts plant" or a city that would take the lead in the business of alternative, clean-energy sources. "I would rather have a city targeted for progress, not a terrorist target because of its product," said Copeland.
What's that "terrorist target" about? In a Dec. 22 memo concerning an early version of the petition, Assistant City Attorney William Geary says in a footnote, "It might be argued that by building even non-nuclear components, the City becomes a target of foreign nuclear powers during a conflict. The decision to build these weapons and where to build these weapons is a federal matter. In other words, which United States residents to put at risk is a federal decision which cannot be changed by local laws."
A May 16 article in The Kansas City Star quotes City Attorney Galen Beaufort as saying "legal issues" should kill the initiative. Beaufort says the ballot initiative would impair contracts between the developer, CenterPoint Zimmer; the tenant, Honeywell; and the National Nuclear Security Administration. He also says the plant will not be owned by the city but the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (a fact the petition itself recognizes).
In the May 25 Star story noted earlier, Stoever says, "When the citizens sign enough petitions, the citizens say we want to speak on the issue." The article adds that, according to Stoever, if the City Council decides the ballot proposal is unlawful, the petitioners are prepared to challenge that decision in court.
The May 16 Star article reports that Suellentrop says the new facility (close to high-wind- energy Kansas) would be ideal for manufacturing wind energy equipment, such as high-voltage power lines, turbines, and windmills.
*The coalition KC Peace Planters includes PeaceWorks-KC; Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC; East Meets West of Troost; The Recipe LLC; Cherith Brook, Holy Family and St. Lawrence Catholic Worker Houses; KC's Loretto Peace & Justice Network; Benedictines for Peace; Called to Purpose for Greater Works; and the Social Justice Office, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.
By Jane Stoever
Fifty-three people were arrested May 2 for trespassing at the construction site for a new nuclear weapons production plant, a new Kansas City Plant. Most of the civil resisters spent the night in holding cells at the downtown KC, Mo., police station. Their arrests, part of a retreat, were sparked with hope, joy, and the support of more than 100 other activists.
The resisters and most of the supporters, uninvited visitors to the new nuke-parts plant site on Mo. Hwy. 150 near Grandview, Mo., walked across a police line into trespass territory. As they approached a gate to the construction area, J.E.Dunn Construction Co. employees blocked the gate with a truck. The protesters gathered around the truck, talked to the employees, and sang.
After being asked by police to move, supporters returned to the other side of the police line, leaving the 53 by the truck. Thirty-two of the civil resisters hail from Missouri, and 15 belong to PeaceWorks.
Why the resistance?
"The U.S. has an incredible opportunity for global leadership," says Sharon Hannah, one of the 53, a PeaceWorks member and former adjunct professor of peace studies at Park University in Parkville, Mo.
"In April 2009, in Prague, President Obama pledged a reduction in our dependence on nuclear arms. He modeled powerful leadership. Other nations responded with relief and support," says Hannah. "Then came the authorization and funding for the U.S. nuclear complex 'modernization'--three new nuclear plants in the deal, including the new KC Plant. With this decision, the U.S. loses its integrity. We cannot effectively lead unless what we do matches what we say. For me, witnessing against the new KC Plant sends a clear, consistent message: I stand for nuclear arms reduction. Arrest is a small price to pay for calling our nation to integrity in leadership."
Hannah is a Board member of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House, which joined with two other KC-area Catholic Worker Houses (Holy Family and St. Lawrence) in planning the April 29-May 2 faith and resistance retreat. The houses provide companionship and services: food, shelter, clothes, showers. The protest--"Transformation, Not Annihilation: No Nukes!"-- called for peaceful products, not nuke parts, to be made at the new Kansas City Plant. It will replace the current 62-year-old KC Plant at Bannister Federal Complex.
Civil resister Mark Bartholomew of Holy Family Catholic Worker House connects his work at the house with his resistance. He says he sometimes moves in between two house guests who are arguing. "In an effort to prevent violence, I put myself between them. It's a risk to put myself in the middle. I try to set an example, to stay calm and peaceful," he says. In trespassing, he adds, "I'm willing to offer myself up because I believe what is going on here is not right."
During processing at the police station, says Bartholomew, "I had been a little afraid because people were being taken away to a cell. But when I came into the holding cell, they all cheered; they did that for each one of us. We had time there to reflect, to talk about what it means to risk one's freedom even for just one night--some there had done that for six months at a time--we talked about risking ourselves for what we believe in."
The arrest and confinement process runs inconsistent, according to Hannah. Her plastic handcuffs were loose--"I pulled a very compassionate officer," she says--but several people bore red marks from tightened handcuffs even six hours after the cuffs were removed. She adds, "At one point, we were told we would all be held overnight and appear the next day before a judge by video, and after that some of us bonded out. Later, an officer said we'd be released between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m." The nine who put up $100 bond and several others, including the older activists, were released by 9:30 p.m., but the rest were held until about 6 a.m.
Before jail came a long wait at the construction site in what Hannah called "the herding zone," marked off by yellow police tape. Supporters across the road called to those under arrest, "We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit. How 'bout you?" The chant bounced back and forth, with "We've got freedom" answered by "We've got handcuffs. How 'bout you?"
The day before the action, retreat participants wrote a media statement. Early May 2, after the "Religion of the Bomb" street theater piece and a liturgy of hope, Gina Cook of Holy Family Catholic Worker House read the statement to the 160 protesters. "The spirit of Easter has brought us together in hope," she read. "We are here to call for the conversion of this plant from an instrument of war to an instrument of life. ... We imagine a rebirth where this site would provide beneficial, peaceful and green jobs."
Art Laffin of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C., gave the plenary address at the retreat. "The stated Pentagon policy is that we must be prepared to use whatever military means is necessary, including the use of nuclear weapons, to protect our national security interests and to make sure another rival superpower does not emerge to challenge U.S. interests," said Laffin, a veteran peace activist. "The ultimate violence in our time is the existence and intent to use nuclear weapons. ... And yet the U.S. and other nuclear powers fail to take responsibility for this sin."
Laffin advised, "Active nonviolence, most powerfully exemplified by Jesus, is the only way out of our culture of violence and death and our greatest hope to attain a disarmed world. ... Disarmament and the abolition of weapons--from handguns to Drones to nuclear warheads-- will occur when we disarm our hearts of fear and violence and refuse to fund and support in any way the making of weapons."
The 53 resisters, including Hannah, Bartholomew, Cook, and Laffin, all received the date of July 19 for a Municipal Court hearing for their trespass. Some may pay a fine of an unknown amount in advance; some may come to the July 19 hearing; some may request a later date.
See the slide show of photos by Jim Hannah, Sharon Hannah's husband, her support person for the nonviolent resistance, and a PeaceWorks Board member. The opening pictures come from the retreat; most of the images show the May 2 witness, including huge puppets, workers in hard hats, zombies worshipping the bomb, massive deaths from a nuclear explosion, hope for transformation, the trespass action, arrest, and songs, many songs!
A 14-minute video "Transformation Not Annihilation" features the street theater piece, "Religion of the Bomb": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-s329ZW97k
By Jim Hannah
Nuclear weapons are no laughing matter.
So why was there so much laughter during the recent anti-nuke faith and resistance weekend of Catholic Workers? And why did that laughter carry over even to the closing May 2 peace witness, where 53 were arrested at the new Kansas City nuclear weapons parts plant?
It must have been baffling to the squadron of police dispatched to arrest, manacle, transport, and process the "offenders." By a margin of nearly two to one, the peace folk outnumbered all others taken into custody that day. And their disturbance of the peace was ongoing--laughing, singing, dancing--some even lifting manacled hands aloft, or leaping into the air!
Most baffling must have been the exchange between those taken into custody and the even larger number of supporters who had taken the high ground at the construction site. Across the gravel roadway they yelled words of encouragement, sang resistance songs, danced in solidarity, and at one point even engaged in a game of "Red Rover, send ____ on over!"
Now let's be real: There is something inherently laughable about a rag-tag non- army of peace activists going up against the gargantuan, highly organized, and heavily funded military/corporate/media/political combine.
If you've ever seen a modern-day combine in motion, you can picture the outcome for anything or anyone standing in the way. Only stubble remains. (No shocks, just awe.) Like the 9870 STS, for instance--John Deere's largest-ever combine, weighing in at 18 tons and generating 480 horsepower. It can mow down 12 rows of corn in a single swath.
What would it take to stop one of these $300,000 behemoths? Lots, it would seem. But my dad's an Iowa farmer, and when I was home last time, he told me something quite intriguing. It seems that one of the most dreaded hazards of the combine season is the ordinary deer antler. When shed each year by bucks, antlers most often light with the tines upright. And when a combine tire passes over them, the result often is a costly, time-consuming puncture and work stoppage.
A John Deere 9860, halted by a single deer antler--Deere vs. deer. Rather ironic, and with parallels to peace work. It seems to me that what the powers and principalities most fear is how easily their highly inflated claims for nuclear weapons as "deterrents" and "defense" can be punctured. Think for just a moment. How can weapons of omnicide either deter, or defend? Isn't it obvious they lead not to deterrence, but to proliferation; not to defense, but to escalated militarism?
And while you're thinking, ponder this: How large a pin is needed to burst a balloon? Granted, the trillion dollars spent for nukes since the Manhattan Project is one large balloon. But if enough folks stand (or lie down) in the way, even The Nuclear Combine will lurch to a halt.
Yes, it's "serious business" to contemplate arrest, fines, and jail in the cause of Zero Nukes. The powers that be surely want to be taken seriously, and may even think they have the last laugh. But did you hear the one about the nuclear weapons profiteer who fell from the Empire State Building and was heard to say as he passed the 35th floor, "So far, so good!"
--Jim Hannah is a PeaceWorks KC columnist and Board member.
Kansas Citians joined scores of activists from across the nation for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability's annual DC Days, a learning-lobbying blitz in the nation's capital. ANA activists presented their concerns about U.S. spending policies for nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons, and cleanup projects in meetings April 4-6 with leaders of the Obama Administration and aides to members of Congress.
The six KC-area residents at DC Days--members of PeaceWorks and the KC Peace Planters coalition --were Ann Suellentrop, Alicia Dressman, Sasteh Mosley, Sahj Kaya, and Jim and Sharon Hannah. Suellentrop and Jim Hannah serve on the PeaceWorks Board of Directors. The Kansas City contingent went to a dozen meetings, including sessions with aides to senators and representatives from Kansas and Missouri.
DC Days participants met with officials of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which owns the current Kansas City Plant operated by Honeywell at Bannister Federal Complex, and met with staff or officials of other administrative offices and congressional committees.
ANA held a news briefing April 4 at the National Press Club to release a report analyzing reactor subsidies, weapons production, and cleanup projects, stressing their major environmental and safety dangers as well as their mammoth cost overruns. The report is "Nuclear Reality Check$: The U.S. Department of Energy's Most Dangerous, Budget-Busting Proposals." Michele Boyd, director of the Safe Energy Program for Physicians for Social Responsibility, discussed the multibillion- dollar federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors, an investment the private sector viewed as too risky even before the disasters at the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility in Japan. Tom Clements, the Southeastern Nuclear Campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, spoke about the inherent risks in the proposal by the Department of Energy to use dangerous mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium reactor fuel, as confirmed by MOX contamination at the Dai-ichi 3 reactor. Susan Gordon, ANA director, spoke about the proposed construction of huge, new nuclear weapons production plants and warhead redesign projects, which are far over budget, many years behind schedule, and a threat to U.S. global nonproliferation goals. Finally, Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, contrasted the underfunding of projects for the cleanup of nuclear contamination with the escalating construction costs at high-risk facilities, such as the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant, which is now 240 percent over budget and off schedule by a decade.
On April 5, ANA hosted an Awards Reception honoring leaders in the movement for more responsible nuclear policies. Awardees included U.S. Sen. John Kerry, whistleblower Walter Tamosaitis, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom activist Carol Urner, and Chernobyl accident cleanup leader Natalia Mansurova.
Suellentrop, of ANA, said, "DC Days provides an opportunity for ANA members to network, gain strength, and meet face-to-face with decision-makers."
Sahj Kaya, a KC artist/activist with East Meets West of Troost, performed anti-nuclear spoken word April 4 at ANA's annual pizza party. She later commented, "I found it exhilarating as a U.S. citizen to have the opportunity to give feedback to our elected officials and stress an issue that is important to our community, namely, the abolition of nuclear weapons." When Kaya performed "Nuclear Weapons," Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., a nuclear physicist and director of the Institute of Energy and Environmental Research, was overheard singing the refrain: "Test, test, hah! Test, test, hah!"
On April 2, the Kansas City delegates also attended a showing of the new documentary, The Forgotten Bomb, and met the film's producers, Bud Ryan and Stuart Overbey. The film, a comprehensive overview of nuclear weapons issues, will premiere in Kansas City at 8 p.m. April 29 at De La Salle Education Center.
For more information, contact Ann Suellentrop, a member of the ANA Board, at 913-342-0587 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're in better shape than we were before
By Rachel MacNair
The March 22 election for the Kansas City, Mo., City Council and mayor brought good news to peace advocates.
Ed Ford, the only person to stand valiantly against the new Kansas City Plant when the Council voted for it Feb. 4, 2010, got re-elected by a solid margin. Now he'll be joined by at least two others who are with us in wanting sustainable-energy jobs at the new plant, instead of nuke-parts production. The first district's Scott Wagner and the third district's Jermaine Reed both won by large margins. This gives us a solid three on the Council.
More good news in the mayor's race: While Sly James hadn't given us enough support to allow us to list him as someone preferring green jobs to nuke jobs, Mike Burke had made it clear that he was against us. We have good possibilities of conversations with James, so his win is a big relief. He'll be replacing a mayor who attended the Sept. 8, 2010, groundbreaking for the plant with a sneer for those of us protesting.
Unfortunately, Council candidates Brandon Ellington and Tracy Ward lost by substantial margins. Ellington attended the PeaceWorks annual meeting and during his campaign called for cleaning up the current KC Plant and repurposing jobs at the new plant. As a young man (30 years old) running his first race, and proving to be knowledgeable and well-spoken, he should still be able to have a bright future in later attempts at office. Another ally, Ken Bacchus of the fifth district, probably lost, but since his votes were within 1 percent of his opponent's, there might be a recount.
John Sharp won, and won by a large margin. This was expected, and only keeps things the same rather than making them worse. But it does mean that the most prominent pusher of the new plant on the Council is still there to push.
The next step is to meet with the four newcomers to the Council, as well as those of the incumbents who might be willing to listen. We know that the original vote was mainly based on the fear of losing the jobs and under the pressure of the moneyed interests who knew how to bring people out for the hearings. Our own strength is with one-on-one meetings, a format where the soundness of our reasoning trumps our low resources. So we are somewhat optimistic about bringing more Council members to our understanding as time goes by – especially when they have a quarter of the Council using the reasoning, not just one lonely voice.
Meanwhile, the number of people who voted for mayor was 70,382, and 5 percent of that is 3,520. That's the number of valid signatures we need to get our petition on the November ballot. Advice is to gather double that many signatures to be sure of having that many valid, because so many get knocked out. So the goal is to get at least 7,000 signatures by April 20, in time for us to organize and make a splash in early May about our successful petition drive, right when the new Council convenes.
Everyone hustle! Even one sheet of signatures counts, because our strength is not in money for paid signature-gatherers but in the number of people who care.
Rachel MacNair coordinates the petition drive for the KC Peace Planters, a coalition including PeaceWorks. Contact her at 816-753-2057 or email@example.com.
By Jay Coghlan and John Witham
Contrary to President Obama's rhetoric about working toward a future nuclear weapons-free world, the U.S. is spending billions rebuilding the complex of facilities it would need to make new nuclear weapons. Under the rubric of "Modernizing" aging and contaminated buildings used to build up the nuclear stockpile during the Cold War, the National Nuclear Security Administration is planning to build vastly expensive new facilities in order to have capabilities for which it has yet to fully justify the need. These WMD boondoggles include a new facility for enabling ramped-up production of the nuclear weapons' plutonium pit "primaries" at Los Alamos, NM; a new facility at Oak Ridge, TN to manufacture highly enriched uranium "secondaries"; and a new Kansas City Plant in Missouri that will manufacture and/or procure the thousands of nonnuclear components that transform nuclear explosives into deliverable weapons of mass destruction.
What is KCP doing? The Kansas City Plant (KCP) is the most productive of the eight sites in the research and production complex of the Department of Energy's semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). KCP produces and/or procures 85% of all nuclear weapons components both by type and quantity. It specializes in nonnuclear components, such as radars, guidance systems, arming, firing and fusing sets and reservoirs for tritium (a radioactive gas used to boost the destructive power of nuclear weapons). The Plant makes thousands of shipments each year to other NNSA sites for final assembly of nuclear weapons. KCP boasts that the Plant's workload is the heaviest it has been in 20 years, which is expected to last until 2015. This is astonishing given that the height of the Cold War nuclear build-up was over 20 years ago.
What does it cost to rebuild the nuclear weapons complex? The two new weapons facilities for handling plutonium and uranium mentioned above are now estimated to cost U.S. taxpayers up to $5 billion each. However, the new KCP will be different. It is being built and operated a private developer CenterPoint Zimmer (CPZ) LLC. This limited liability corporation is composed of the Kansas City magnate Zimmer Real Estate Services and Chicago-based CenterPoint Property Trust.
Zimmer "happened" to own the 165 acres of farmland that the federal government chose as the site for the new Plant. Although the City's Planned Industrial Expansion Authority (PIEA) declared that the site was "blighted," CPZ sold the land to the City for an estimated $26,000 an acre, when regional farmland typically sells for $2,000 to $4,000 an acre, one very tidy profit for "blighted" land!
Who is paying for the new KCP? The PIEA declared the site "blighted" so that construction of this new federal nuclear weapons production plant could be subsidized by KCMO municipal bonds. The Missouri state government created Planned Industrial Expansion Authorities to counter urban/industrial blight and spur economic development. The PIEAs' charter is to recommend to city councils whether or not tax abatements and/or bonds should be implemented to fight blight. The enabling legislation that created the PIEAs declares that Missouri municipal governments can act positively on a PIEA recommendation only when "the development of such area or areas is necessary in the interest of the public health, safety, morals or welfare of the residents of such city."
American cities are hurting financially. Some are leasing parking meters and tollways to investors in order to get cash. KCMO is closing hospitals and schools and laying off city workers, but nevertheless managed to issue nearly $700 million in municipal bonds to subsidize a new federal nuclear weapons production plant. The KCMO Council approved municipal bonds in the name of saving 2,100 jobs in the local nuclear weapons industry (with one admirable dissenting vote-of-conscience by Councilman Ed Ford). The nuclear weapons industry is arguably immoral, with for example the Vatican declaring, "Nuclear weapons are incompatible with the peace we seek for the 21st century. They cannot be justified. They deserve condemnation." Further, the nuclear weapons industry has adversely affected the health of hundreds of workers at the old Plant. According to recent findings by the inspector general for the General Services Administration, the federal employees responsible for environmental monitoring at the old contaminated KCP site were lax in their duties and misleading to the public about conditions there.
Another dead end? Local Kansas City citizens should ask why the KCMO municipal government is not prioritizing sustainable green jobs for these KCP and other skilled workers, instead of subsidizing a shrinking, politically vulnerable industry whose purpose is to produce weapons of mass destruction! With respect to the public health of Kansas City citizens, according to U.S. Dept. of Labor statistics, 1,993 former KCP workers or their survivors have filed health claims seeking compensation (sadly, only 211 have been paid to date).
The KCMO municipal government will own the new KCP after construction. As far as we know this is globally unprecedented: to have a city own a federal nuclear weapons production plant. The PIEA will then lease it to CenterPoint Zimmer Holding LLC, who as sub-landlord, will lease it to the private developers CenterPoint Zimmer LLC. CPZ will then sub-sublease the new Plant to the federal General Services Administration (GSA), who acts as landlord for numerous federal properties (including the old KCP in the Banister Federal Complex). GSA will then sub-sub-sublease (really!) this new federal nuclear weapons production plant to the NNSA. Got that? It's way convoluted.
Because the new KCP is being built and operated by "private developers," who stand to profit many times over, this new federal nuclear weapons components production plant is not included in the NNSA's annual budget. It is therefore outside of typical Congressional review and authorization, and perhaps would have been rejected. It is a very sweet deal for Centerpoint Zimmer, who first sold the land to the PIEA; then is subsidized by sale of municipal bonds to build the Plant; is granted a 20-year lease-to-purchase by the PIEA in which it pays the bonds back with guaranteed income from the NNSA; and after that owns the Plant outright. During this 20-year term the NNSA will pay $1.2 billion in lease costs, not a good deal for the American taxpayer!
Leaving aside the question whether the new Plant is needed to begin with, the NNSA has repeatedly justified it by claiming it will save $100 million/year in operational costs compared to the old Plant. However, $37 million of that results from lowering the security requirements at the Kansas City Plant to reflect the simple fact that it does not have large inventories of nuclear materials. A new Plant is not needed for that.
Even the developers were wary. After the first round of bidding for the project went bust, the solicitation was restructured with "specific cost-cutting advice from CenterPoint." This perhaps means that the contract was hollowed-out in order to make a second round of bidding successful. In any event, (surprise!) CPZ was awarded the contract.
Paradoxically NNSA also started asking Congress for around $100 million in "transition costs" for moving to the new Plant in each fiscal year 2009-2015, despite earlier claims that the new KCP would not cost the federal government any up front money.
Was this a good plan? Leasing is more costly over the long term than constructing and owning a facility outright. The federal Government Accountability Office found that the break-even point of construction costs vs. lease costs for the new KCP is 22 years. However, since Life Extension Programs for existing nuclear weapons (for which the Kansas City Plant is the main supplier of components) are scheduled to last until at least 2042, the new Plant could be operational for 40-60 years. Therefore the federal government could pay another $1.2 to $2.4 billion in lease costs to the private developers.
The NNSA wrote in its recent Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan that "because the new facility will be leased, there will be no capital investment and NNSA will not be burdened by costs for legacy disposition should the mission ever be discontinued." The "legacy" of the old Plant is one of serious contamination with cancer-causing volatile organic compounds (mostly industrial solvents) and PCBs, for which NNSA has formulated no comprehensive cleanup plan. NNSA plans to be fully operating in the new Plant in a couple of years while in effect abandoning the old Plant. The Kansas City municipal government is counting on reusing the existing Plant for local economic development, which probably cannot take place without comprehensive cleanup costing more than $250 million.
Kansas City subsidies for a new nuclear weapons production plant reward the federal government even as the federal government ignores its moral responsibility to protect its citizens and their future economic prosperity through full environmental restoration of the old Plant. The federal government should be cleaning up its nuclear weapons complex, not building it up!
For more information, visit http://kcnukeswatch.wordpress.com and http://nukewatch.org/KCNukePlant.
See Nuclear Watch's interactive map on the nuclear weapons complex at http://nukewatch.org/activemap.
Please support KC Peace Planters, which includes these organizations working on Kansas City Plant (KCP) issues: Physicians for Social Responsibility-Kansas City, PeaceWorks Kansas City, Cherith Brook and Holy Family Catholic Worker Houses, The Recipe LLC, KC's Loretto Peace & Justice Network, and Benedictines for Peace. Contact: Ann Suellentrop, 913-271-7925, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jay Coghlan, Executive Director
John Witham, Communications Director
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, based in Santa Fe
Join rally 3/19
Photos by Jim Hannah, text by Jane Stoever
Braving the cold and hopping over the snow, 35 peace activists and two dogs rallied Dec. 18 at Mo. Hwy. 150 and Botts Road, KC's new site for making nuclear weapons parts. "Coming soon to a bean field near you: WMDs" said one sign. The farmland will, by 2012, house a facility for producing and procuring non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons.
Rally participants called for green jobs at the new site, not nuke jobs.
KC Peace Planters* organized the rally and later set Saturday dates for other rallies: Jan. 29, Feb. 26 and March 19. The rallies may occur either at the new site or the current site, the Kansas City Plant, part of Bannister Federal Complex (at Bannister and Troost).
Among the protesters, Ron Faust held signs to inform drivers about the new facility that will be owned by Kansas City. Faust later shared a poem he wrote for the rally, reflecting:
So what can the resistance of a few peacemakers do, Not knowing that they are peacemakers, But no matter, the unseen waves of their actions May just be what saves the world from itself.
*Peace Planters, a growing coalition, includes PeaceWorks-KC, Physicians for Social Responsibility- KC, East Meets West of Troost, Cherith Brook and Holy Family Catholic Worker Houses, The Recipe LLC, KC's Loretto Network for Peace & Justice, and Benedictines for Peace.
By Jane Stoever
Twenty-four KC Peace Planters rallied Nov. 4 at Kansas City's new nuke-plant site, Mo. Hwy. 150 between Botts Road and Prospect. They passed flyers to drivers at the stop light. They danced in the cold by the side of the road, waving signs, such as, "KC Plant makes parts for nuclear weapons--shut it down!"
Within a week, the Peace Planters decided to hold their next rally at the site on Saturday, Dec. 18, from 2 to 3 p.m., so people busy during the work week could join the peace witness.
On Nov. 4, the protesters laid 122 crosses up the hill on the public right-of-way, crosses bearing names of workers whose families say they died from contaminants at Bannister Federal Complex. That complex houses the current nuke-parts factory (the Kansas City Plant) and other federal agencies.
The Peace Planters then huddled together for prayer, granola bars, Wurther's butterscotch, petition-signing, mourning and rejoicing. They sang "Honeywell"--
"We've got nukes, they've got nukes,
Enough to make this place a Chernobyl,
Except that this would be global
And these bombs are being made in KC."
The Peace Planters called their rally "Beans, Not Bombs!" They sowed seeds at the new site, a soybean field in 2009, now under excavation for a "modern" facility to replace the 61-year-old Kansas City Plant that Honeywell operates for the National Nuclear Security Administration. A new twist with the new plant: A city commission, the Planned Industrial Expansion Authority, holds the title to the facility, not the NNSA, which simply leases the KC- owned facility. This summer, the city sold municipal bonds to private investors for up to $815 million to finance the project.
At the festival of hope in KC the night before the rally, PeaceWorks Board member Ann Suellentrop shared with more than 40 attendees the news from Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Namely, the NNSA FY 2011 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan says in Annex D, p. 44, "Finally, because the new facility will be leased, there will be no initial capital investment and NNSA will not be burdened by costs for legacy disposition should the mission ever be discontinued" (http://www.nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/ Stockpile_Stewardship_Management_0610%20Annex_D.PDF).
Legacy. In KC nuke-speak, that word refers to the history of toxins at the current plant. Now the term is being applied to the new site, long before construction begins.
Scott Dye of Columbia, Mo., director of the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, said at the festival of hope, "The Department of Energy has called the Bannister complex 'polluted into perpetuity.' DOE estimated around $289 million in 1989 as the cost to clean it up. But it's a tough political issue. No politician wants to say, 'We've got a festering hellhole here.'"
Dye explained, "They want the new site because they know how polluted the old one is."
He mentioned an Oct. 22 document prepared by Honeywell that suggested spending $85 million to clean up the beryllium and above-ground PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) contamination at the Bannister facilities, then selling the complex to the general public in a "fee simple sale," an absolute sale, legacy pollution included. Referring to promises of a "clean" new site even though employees are expected to keep making non-nuclear parts such as radar, guidance systems and triggers, Dye said, "You can't make triggers for nuclear weapons without using depleted uranium."
Calling on festival participants to push for green jobs, not mean jobs producing nuclear weapons, The Recipe (spoken-word artists Priest and 3*3*7) used NNSA's abbreviation for the Kansas City Plant, KCP. They led the crowd in shouting,
"Warriors dream of the mean machine.
KCP must go green!"
Two of the eight persons who did civil resistance during the protest to NNSA's groundbreaking for the new plant Sept. 8 reflected during the festival of hope on their resistance. They noted the city's decision that, although the resisters blocked buses laden with officials going to the groundbreaking, the evidence did not support the charge of disorderly conduct.
Sarah Cool of Cherith Brook Catholic Worker House in KC said, "I've always been of the belief that once one knows something, such as knowing that the City of Kansas City is building a nuke-bomb plant, then one can no longer operate as if you don't know it. ... I was convicted--convicted to do something to right this wrong. ... I knelt in front of a big bus ... after being pushed back twice by the police. I knelt and prayed."
Jim Hannah of Independence, Mo., a retired minister in the Community of Christ, asked, "Shouldn't they (the police) have arrested the war profiteers in those tinted-window tour buses?!" Concerning the dismissed charges, he deplored "the dismissive powers and principalities who don't want an embarrassing trial or media coverage of their death-dealing."
Hannah said he had had time, since Sept. 8, to ponder, "Why did I speak up, and act up?" He came to one word: gratitude. He called oneness with nature, with sacred life the source of his gratitude and his restlessness, calling him to resist nuclear weapons.
Jane Stoever, member of PeaceWorks-KC and the KC Peace Planters, may be contacted at email@example.com. The KC Peace Planters, a project begun by PeaceWorks-KC, includes PeaceWorks-KC, Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, East Meets West of Troost, The Recipe LLC, Holy Family and Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Houses, KC's Loretto Peace & Justice Network, and Benedictines for Peace.
The Nov. 3 presentations by Hannah and Cool are also available:
By Joshua J. McElwee
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Success, it seems, is sometimes measured by what you don't have to put up with.
In a move that could be interpreted either as an indication of the full workload for local prosecutors or as a victory for activists, seven anti-nuclear organizers here were surprised (Oct. 27) by a notification that a pending court case against them had been dropped for a lack of evidence.
The seven had been charged with disorderly conduct for a Sept 8. act of civil disobedience at the construction site...