Judge Sentences 80-Year-Old Catholic Activist for Breaking Into Nuclear Submarine Base

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7. From left to right: Elizabeth McAlister, Stephen Kelly, Carmen Trotta, Mark Colville, Martha Hennessy, Clare Grady and Patrick O’Neill. Photo courtesy of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7

A U.S. District Court judge has sentenced an 80-year-old Catholic peace activist to time already served for trespassing onto the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Georgia, more than two years ago as part of a symbolic nuclear disarmament action.

Elizabeth McAlister, a former nun with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, had already served 17 months in a Glynn County Detention Center in Brunswick, Georgia, following the April 4, 2018 action.

In a video conference call on Monday (June 8), Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced McAlister to time served, three years of probation and $25 a month in restitution until the amount of damage caused by the break-in — which the Navy estimated at $33,503 — is paid back in full by all the activists.

McAlister is part of a group of seven Catholic peace activists known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 who believe their faith compels them to oppose nuclear weapons to the point of committing acts of civil disobedience.

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the group cut a padlock at a maintenance gate at the Navy base that houses six Trident submarines carrying hundreds of nuclear weapons. They spilled blood on a Navy insignia affixed to a wall, spray painted anti-war slogans on the walkway and banged a nuclear arms statuary with hammers made from melted-down guns.

They were caught and arrested more than an hour into their action. The seven were charged with conspiracy, destruction of property, depredation of property and trespassing. After serving two months in jail, four members of the action were released on a $50,000 bond. McAlister and two others declined to accept the bail conditions and remained in jail.

“I have spent much of my adult life trying to speak out about the threat to all life on Earth that comes from our weapons of mass destruction and our national policies to continue to try to build more and more deadly and destructive weapons,” McAlister told the judge prior to the sentencing.

The seven were found guilty in October but sentencing was delayed. McAlister agreed to an online sentencing.

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Source: Religion News Service

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