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Dominican nuns face federal charges

Three Dominican nuns face up to 30 years in prison following their protest last month at a Colorado missile silo.

Calling themselves "The Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares II," Sisters Jackie Hudson, Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte cut through fences at missile silo site N-8 near Greeley Colo. Using handheld hammers, they pounded on the silo to symbolise the act of beating "swords into plowshares", a reference to Isaiah 2:4.

The women are being held in the Clear Creek County Jail facing two federal charges: injury, interference or obstruction of the national defense of the United States, which carries up to 20 years imprisonment and up to a $A443,340 fine, and injury of property of the United States. A trial is set for 16 December.

Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the US Attorney's office in Denver, said the total damage done was more than $A1770, which qualifies the charges as felonies. Dorschner said the office agreed to allow the three nuns to be released on their own recognisance, but they refused.

"The bond requires them not to participate in further demonstrations, and they could not promise to do that as a matter of conscience," said Liz McAlister, who, along with her husband, Philip Berrigan, resides at the Jonah House Community in Baltimore, where Platte, 66, and Gilbert, 54, also reside. Hudson, 67, lives at the Ground Zero Community near Seattle, Washington.

The women refused a court-appointed attorney, saying they would jointly undertake their own defense, although they reserved the right to find a pro-bono attorney who would offer legal assistance.

Berrigan, himself a veteran of many Plowshares protests, said the action by the three nuns "couldn't come at a better time" as the United States readies itself for war with Iraq.

National Catholic Reporter

Citizen Weapons Inspection Team Disarms Weapons Of Mass Destruction (Baltimore IMC)
Sacred Earth & Space Plowshares III

12 Nov 2002