Citizen Weapons Inspectors Convicted

Setting a precedent that may be used against other peace activists, three nuns face the possibility of being incarcerated for the remainder of their lives after they symbolically disarmed a Minuteman III nuclear missile silo in northern Colorado last October.

The three defendants, Ardeth Platte, 66, Carol Gilbert, 55, and Jackie Hudson, 68, entered the military facility dressed in toxic clean-up suits with the slogan “CWIT (Citizen Weapons Inspection Team)” written on the front and “Disarmament Specialist” on the back.

The nuns symbolically tapped hammers on the tracks that allow the silo to fire, poured their own blood to form crosses on the tracks, said a liturgy, and sang hymns before their arrest.

On April 7th, a jury convicted the women on two charges—obstruction of national defense and injury to U.S. property. Each of the women faces up to 30 years imprisonment. The nuns have remained behind bars since their arrest in October, refusing to accept bail because they could not promise to avoid other acts of dissent. Their sentencing is set for July 25th.

Platte's advising attorney, Scott Poland, said of the charges, “What the government is trying to do is to place them in such jeopardy that they'll send a message to others.”

Diane Wilson, a shrimp boat skipper turned environmental and peace activist, in April began a hunger strike in protest of the nuns' convictions and to prevent harsh sentencing. Last year, Wilson joined a hunger strike by three Bhopal women in protest of the Indian government's decision to reduce criminal charges against Warren Anderson, former CEO of Union Carbide, whose factory leaked pesticide gas in 1984, killing thousands. That hunger strike drew world attention and an Indian judge rejected the government's request for reduced charges.

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