Open Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder

July 28, 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder

US Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

RE: US Attorney in Eastern Tennessee District

Dear Mr. Holder,

Let me begin by saying “thank you” for challenging the recent Arizona law seeking to intimidate immigrants. This is the kind of leadership I hoped for with President Obama’s election and your subsequent appointment.

However, the subject of this letter is less optimistic. I write to you as a nonviolent activist with a long history of nonviolent protest against war and weapons, the death penalty and present prison policy, and other justice issues. As a result, I have found myself as a defendant or supporter in a number of courtrooms since my first arrest at the White House during the last major demonstration against the Vietnam War in March of 1975, mentored that day by Daniel Berrigan, Jim Peck, Dick Gregory, Liz Macalister, Ladon Sheats, and others.

While I always enter the courtroom with the hope that somehow truth and justice might prevail, I have seldom left feeling optimistic. A few times when juries have been allowed to consider International Law and Treaties, I have been acquitted. Most of the time, however, I see the courtroom as a place to continue my witness for nonviolence, truth, and justice despite the outcome. I consider it an honor to have been a prisoner for reasons of conscience several times over the past 35 years.

So my recent experience in Knoxville on July 6, 2010 shouldn’t have shocked me - but it did. Please allow me to set the stage for you. Along with 200 + others, I attended a Conference for a Nuclear Free Future at Maryville College over the 4th of July weekend which concluded with a nonviolent protest at the entrance to the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant (now called the Y-12 National Security Complex since the 9-11 attacks in an attempt to further obscure the dirty secret of our continued production/modernization of nuclear weapons in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) on Monday morning, July 5th under the banner reading “Independence from Nuclear Terrorism”. 23 of us chose to peaceably block the state road entrance to the facility with the banner (the road had already been blocked by Oak Ridge Plant security) and were arrested and charged with “obstruction of roadway”. That, being a state/local matter, is not the focus of this letter.

13 others, with two in their 40s and most in their late 60s, 70s, and 80s, chose to risk Federal Trespass charges by ducking under a barbed wire fence and then sitting in a circle singing, praying, and sharing poetry prior to their arrest. Most anticipated spending the night in jail although with at least three of the arrestees in their 80s, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they would have been cited and released with a court date. All were jailed overnight.

The following afternoon, many of us crowded into the Howard Baker Federal Courthouse in Knoxville to witness the first appearance of our friends under these Federal charges. They all knew of the possibility of up to 1 year in prison for their act of conscience but it was still shocking to me to see 83 year old Jean Gump, 82 year old Brad Lyttle, and 73 year old nun, Sister Mary Dennis Lentsch enter the courtroom with leg irons and hand cuffs attached to waist chains. This for a nonviolent protest offense! (I’ve written at greater length about this in my blog ( ).

After overcoming the shock and disappointment that these defendants weren’t even released from these ridiculous shackles during this entire court appearance (for which I hold both your US Attorney, the US Marshalls, and the Federal Judge accountable) I was further taken aback when the Judge asked your Assistant US Attorney to read the charges and legal consequences for the offense. (I’m sorry I did not hear her name. She is a blond-haired woman in her 30s.) I almost fell out of my bench in the back of the courtroom when she replied that the defendants not only faced “up to one year in prison with supervisory release of not more than a year and a $100. assessment” but they were also subject to “a fine of up to $100,000.”

That’s correct. I didn’t accidently add a couple of zeroes. One hundred thousand dollars! For a nonviolent offence! For people of conscience intent on peaceably demanding that our nation live up to International Laws and Treaties (and the ruling of the International Court) which clearly identify nuclear weapons as illegal. For such an absurd (and obscene) penalty – even if only threatened and never meant to be carried out – I hold both you and the President to account. Those Assistant US Attorneys are acting under your jurisdiction and supervision.

Neither you nor President Obama can pretend to take the high road by lofty speeches calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons like he did early in his term in Prague or more recently with the signing of the New START Treaty while at the same time threatening and intimidating men and women of conscience who should be your allies in this struggle for a world with fewer threats of annihilation.

Setting aside the “criminal trespass” offense itself, do you really wish to convey a message with such outrageous threats of hundred-thousand-dollar-fines for nonviolent protest? Have you learned nothing from the legacy of Rosa Parks and Martin King, from Susan B. Anthony and Cesar Chavez, from Dorothy Day and AJ Muste? (The list, as you well know, could go on and on. … ) President Kennedy presciently said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable.”

Frankly, I expected such reckless and calloused threats and charges from some of your predecessors like Ashcroft and Gonzales, John Mitchell and Dick Kleindienst. But from Eric Holder and Barack Obama? Surely we can hope for real change – but so far, it hasn’t been too much in evidence.

Please, Mr. Attorney General, use your position and office to help our nation realize and appreciate the valued contribution that civil disobedience has played in our history and instruct your US Attorneys to adjust “punishment” to “fit the crime”.

(Still) Hopefully and Respectfully yours,

Steve Clemens

2912 E. 24th St.

Minneapolis, MN 55406-1322

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go? : Wrestling With Pax Christi and the Roman Catholic Institution by Steve Clemens. July 16, 2010

It was the article in this morning’s paper that was the straw that broke the camels back. The Vatican announces new restrictions or threats against the scandal of pedophile priests but, in the same breath, announces that the attempts to ordain women as priests is as grave a sin as molesting children. When the hierarchy’s commitment to misogyny and patriarchy is so strong that it risks watering-down its defensive strategy to cover its shameful pedophilia, the entire religious institution must be condemned as woefully corrupt, morally bankrupt and socially insensitive. To identify itself with The Body of Christ is a blasphemy. Roy Bourgeois and Joan Chittister may be today’s Martin Luther but does it also herald another Reformation of the Church that boasts continuity to the time of Jesus?

Pax Christi is the international peace organization within the Roman Catholic Church. Over the decades it has vied for recognition from both the Vatican hierarchy as well as local diocesan leaders, hoping against hope that the church will recognize the moral vacuity of its silence and/or acquiescence (not to mention outright endorsement) of wars and instead embrace the Peace of Christ, a choice to follow the radical nonviolence of Jesus of Nazareth. Because of its desire to be heard on the subject of the morality of war and peace, it has often chosen to remain silent (or less militant) on other controversies surrounding other moral issues the church should address – immigration, the growing gap between the rich and poor, role of women in the church, acceptance of GLBT people, …

But peace can only be the product of justice; peace cannot come at the expense of silencing or marginalizing certain groups over others. We can’t really enjoy “the peace of Christ” if our gay brothers are excluded, if our immigrant sisters are threatened with deportation, if poor families find their homes foreclosed by greedy bankers and hedge fund criminals.

All of this could be a moot point. I’m not even Roman Catholic. I was asked to serve on the local Pax Christi Board as a non-Catholic representative – yet I find that many of my mentors and colleagues in my peacemaking endeavors are Catholics, some of whom are still priests and nuns under the jurisdiction of these Vatican mis-rulers. Several of my fellow Board Members are members of a congregation which has been excommunicated by Rome and now holds its own services without recognition of the Archbishop or the presence of a priest. Another has left the church and now attends a Quaker Meeting. So why should it bother me, a jack-legged Anabaptist to be associated with these other obvious rebels?

The problem, as I see it, is with its association with the institution of the Roman Catholic Church. Some of my friends who have remained within the church tell me that they are really the true church, not the pretenders in Rome or in the Bishop’s garb. But unless I see a wholesale exodus of the faithful from the pews, I can’t pretend that the Vatican doesn’t represent the realities of the institution. To continue with even a modicum of association with the present cabal in Rome and the Bishops it has steadily appointed over the past three decades to undue the reforms of the Vatican II Council is to send a message to the on-going victims that we are not on their side.

Work within or without?

There comes a time when one must chose to work within the system for change or to leave, hoping the shock of disassociation might motivate a change from without. Sometimes the choice is couched as remaining ideologically pure vs being effective. Others see a distinction between a prophetic witness vs coalition building where compromise or “agreeing to disagree” on other issues is central to building strength for the specific movement. When does the need for compromise quell the Spirit? Without the pull of an ideological pole, how does compromise move us closer to the goal of resembling the realm of God here on earth?

I seem to face a similar dilemma with my association with the Democratic Party in the political arena. I admire the courage and tenacity of Dennis Kucinich and Russ Feingold (most of the time) in a similar fashion to my respect for the outspoken leadership of Chittister and Bourgeois, Gumbleton, and Rohr. But I frankly cringe when I hear that Fr. John Dear considers acquiescing to the directive of his pro-nuke Bishop in New Mexico to stay away from prophetic witness at Loa Alamos so he can continue to say Mass for his mostly poor and marginalized parishioners. I no more want to countenance a Catholic Church that restrains a Franciscan priest from prophetic prayer at a nuclear weapons plant than identifying myself (when asked by a pollster) as a Democrat when President Obama and his accomplices in the Congress continue to wage wars of occupation in defense of empire.

Is there really any more hope for reforming the Roman Church than the Democratic Party? How does having one fewer non-Catholic members of Pax Christi help further the work of Jesus? But following one’s conscience is essential for being faithful over the long haul. We can’t be purist but we can be confessional. Some will confess their complicity and chose to remain within; others will hear a call to “come out from among them” – but to whom do we go? The disciples in their fear and uncertainty respond to Jesus, “To whom would we go? You are the one with the words of eternal life!”

To be on the way to discipleship, we need to travel with like-minded travelers. Maybe we don’t have to ask to see what other identity cards each other carries with them and be satisfied that we are journeying toward the same Shalom, the holistic peace-with-justice of the Bible.

Addendum - July 22, 2010:

Less than 5 days after writing this I was informed that the disease emanating from the Vatican is spreading and metastasizing, infecting even what was formerly healthy within the church. The Maryknoll Order had been quietly supporting Fr. Roy Bourgeois despite his differences with the Church hierarchy. However, they just informed the School of the Americas Watch organization that they would no continue to contribute the $17,000/year for the annual commemoration/protest at the gates of Ft. Benning, GA as they have in the past Novembers. Why? Because of Roy’s outspokenness on the justice of women’s ordination.

So, this once great missionary order will “cut off its nose to spite its face”. There is no better a recruiting tool today for Catholic young people to see the relevance of the church and religious ethics than the movement to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. For the past dozen years it has attracted a growing number of both high school and college youth – from primarily Catholic schools – to the 20,000 + people of conscience gathering calling for an end to this school of assassins. There those young people meet seasoned activists in a truly inter-generational gathering that is filled with hope, compassion, and power. Now Maryknoll wants to tell young Catholics that hanging on to a system of patriarchic domination is more important than the call of the Gospel to do justice and stand for the marginalized and oppressed. Good luck with that when they send their missionaries back to Central and South America and have to explain their new-found silence about a military-run school designed to continue their oppression.

The Vatican has its charges scared. Threats of withdraw of pensions goes a long way to keep priests and nuns from leaving their orders (and the Church). Closing schools and parishes due to a combination of dropping attendance and lack of funds due to massive pay-offs to the victims of sexual abuse by priests does not bode well for the future. Instead, a “hunker down” mentality has been adopted, thinking that all these problems arose from the “liberalism” of the Vatican II Council. Fear among so many who have donated their entire lives to the Church is both tragic and sad. Maybe out of this turmoil can another reformation (or revolution) arise.

May it be so.

[Another] Miscarriage of Justice

[Another] Miscarriage of Justice by Steve Clemens. July 10, 2010

Oak Ridge, TN is the site for the Y-12 Nuclear Bomb Plant, renamed “Y-12 National Security Complex” after the attacks in NYC and Washington, DC on 9/11/2001 – a day that led to hysterical power grabs and a multitude of retrenchments on civil and human rights around our nation. It is an appropriate target for political and moral dissent due to its continued role in producing a new generation of nuclear weapons.

OREPA, the Oak Ridge Environmental and Peace Alliance, has held a weekly Sunday vigil by the entrance to the large facility for several years. Committed to active nonviolence, the group has occasionally encouraged activists to engage in conscientious civil disobedience in opposition to the continued role Y-12 has in threatening the rest of the world with nuclear death and destruction while squandering financial and scientific resources which are desperately needed to address needs in our own local communities.

A pernicious combination of hatred and fear of government, especially on the federal level but now creeping ever and ever closer to local governmental expressions as well has been growing ever since President Reagan opined in his grandfatherly way that “government IS the problem” [rather than the solution]. “Tea Party” members are merely a louder, more visible manifestation of this philosophy.

“Philosophy’ is maybe too strong a word since it implies a well thought out position rather than a knee-jerk reaction. But one constant theme of these reactionaries is to “cut taxes” – to “starve the beast”, to downsize the government so it is small enough to “drown it in a bathtub”. [However, most notably, at the same time increase the military budget (which has less and less to do with “defense” and more and more to do with projecting empire/domination over others) and local police forces and private “security” outfits like Xe (formerly Blackwater), Wackenhut, and other mercenary types.]

This downsizing, coupled with a persistent economic recession, had led to a crisis in many areas of both federal and local governments. Although the federal entities can run a deficit and borrow from our grandchildren to pay the debt later, state and local governments are forced to balance their budgets and often find novel means to accomplish it. It is particularly evident in the criminal justice system.

How does this manifest itself in Oak Ridge, TN? For one, Anderson County now charges inmates (often those with the least ability to pay) $50/day for their use of the jail while incarcerated. To add insult to injury, the jail is grossly over-crowded with about 1/3 of the inmates sleeping on the floor, some even without a mattress, at any given time. Maybe the motto “crime doesn’t pay” needs to be adjusted if it comes to mean that one needs to subsidize ones own captors. (I think the term for that used to be “being held for ransom” or kidnapping; now it is fiscal solvency). But apparently (as I discovered last week), the “per-diem fee” doesn’t accrue until after one is sentenced – pre-trial time is courtesy of the taxpayer.

But getting to sentencing and thus contributing to ones own “room and board” expense comes also with other charges. When activists are arrested for “obstruction of a highway” for blocking the entrance, nonviolently, of the Y-12 facility (which had already been blocked by the Wackenhut security so no vehicular traffic could enter while the demonstration was taking place so the protest is primarily symbolic), the normal sentence for a first offense has been a fine of up to $50, the legal limit set by the State of Tennessee. However, coupled with the fine are “court costs” now in the range of $240 – much more if one seeks ones constitutional right to a jury trial. So even if a principled civil disobedient agrees to expedite the case with a guilty or no contest plea, taking up very little of the court’s time, the disproportionate court costs are levied.

If the true penalty for obstruction of a highway should be a fine of up to $50 (along with up to 30 days in jail for truly criminal offenses), then there should be a mechanism where one could take responsibility, pay the fine, and avoid taking up the time in the court system. However, we were told no such option exists. We were given the ultimatum of staying in an illegally overcrowded jail for 8 days before seeing a judge and being told to pay a $50 fine (and court costs) as first-offenders of this law or returning to court after release from custody-upon-arrest and booking 8 days later only to be socked with court costs of $240 and the fine. So, no credit is given for one’s 8 days in the Anderson County Jail.

One of the purposes of civil disobedience has been to create an [artificial] crisis in the judicial system in order to draw attention to the injustice they wish to address. What happens when court costs become punitive is essentially a tax on one’s conscience. One remembers President Kennedy’s warning: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.” Fortunately for Anderson County officials, those arrested at the “Declaration of Independence From Nuclear Weapons at Y-12” event are committed to nonviolence. But the growing divide in the US between the haves and have-nots is increasing at an alarming rate and the more desperate a people becomes, the greater the variety of responses they may choose.

The Bomb (and its protection by the judicial system) does not make us more secure – it breeds fear (occasionally) but mostly contempt and consternation from the world community. The blatant hypocrisy evidenced in our crusade (yes, that is a deliberate choice of word) against Iran for trying to get what we already possess in spades is mostly ignored by Americans because of their acceptance of the doctrine of American exceptionalism.

The fact that any President is held hostage by militarists in both political parties makes “change we can believe in” very unlikely in this area. We are captivated by (and captive to) the Bomb. Back in the 1980s, some religious leaders used the term idolatry to describe the relationship between Americans and “national security”. Since 9-11, many of those voices have been stilled or grown weak – precisely at a time when they are most needed.

I suspect we will have to decide if filling the jails to create a crisis (or expose the conflict that has been below the surface for decades) is the way to go. We could be at an historic turning point – or once again, by our inaction, we may fail to act in a timely fashion.

An Obscenity in the Courtroom

An Obscenity In The Courtroom by Steve Clemens. July 7, 2010

I spent most of Tuesday afternoon sitting in Courtroom 3A of the Federal Courthouse of the Eastern District of Tennessee as my friends were hauled before Judge H. Price Guyton. The Courtroom was packed with supporters of the 13 defendants who had been arrested the previous day protesting at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant.

We stood out of love and respect as three women shuffled into the room, shackled at the feet, waist, and hands. If not so absurd for their clearly nonviolent offense, it would have been comical as the Clerk asked them to raise their right hands to “swear or affirm that you will tell the truth” – they could only raise their right arm a few inches due to the waist chain’s attachment to the handcuffs.

Jean Gump, an 83 year-old mother of 12, Sister Mary Dennis Lentsch, a 73 year-old nun who teaches basic literacy skills to economically challenged Appalachian residents, and Brad Lyttle, 82, an activist for peace, disarmament, and civil rights who was part of the 1961 San Francisco to Moscow Peace Walk, the first integrated disarmament walk from Nashville to Washington, DC in 1962, and the Canada to Cuba Peace Walk in 1963, were the first defendants brought before the Federal Judge on criminal trespass charges after having spent the previous 27 hours in jail.

After they were sworn in, the Judge asked the Assistant US Attorney to read the charges of unlawfully entering the property (the defendants had crawled between strands of barbed wire fencing, placed origami peace cranes on some solar collectors, and then circled up to sing and read their “Declaration of Independence From Nuclear Weapons” before being arrested).

The Judge then asked the Prosecutor to read the possible consequences for this misdemeanor trespass charge. The US Attorney read it so fast and quietly that the Judge had to ask her to speak slower and into the microphone so the defendants could understand it. With a straight face she read that those charged with this nonviolent offense could face a sentence of “not more than one year in prison, a fine of up to $100,000, with supervisory release of not more than one year, and an additional assessment of $100.”

The Judge did not blink. He did not blush. He didn’t stand up and “rent his clothes” as the Biblical prophets of the Hebrew Bible did when they heard such an obscene perversion of justice. It was as if the possible fine was a day’s wages rather than this preposterous amount for defendants who not only were nonviolently asserting their rights of dissent and redress of grievances against an unresponsive government on the 4th of July holiday but also all qualified for court appointed attorneys because of their very modest incomes!

I wanted to get out of my seat and scream and holler but this time was for these friends of conscience and I didn’t want to take away attention from their first court appearance for these brave and compassionate citizens. To even suggest that any consideration of a $100,000 fine should be made is an obscenity – something degrading to humans. The President makes public pronouncements about our need to eliminate nuclear weapons and then allows his Justice Department representatives to blithely and unembarassingly claim that this outrageous fine could be an outcome of this case.

Sister Carol Gilbert, 63, and Sister Ardeth Platte, 74, both of Baltimore’s Jonah House Community, Sister Jackie Hudson, 75, of the Ground Zero Community of Pulsbo, WA, and Fr. Bill Bixel, 82, also from Washington state were also defendants later in the afternoon. Norfolk Catholic Worker Steve Baggerly was the youngest defendant at age 45. Most of the defendants have many acts of conscience on their records. Bonnie Urfer, one of the weekend conference organizers from Nukewatch was one of the last defendants to be released under a conditional personal recognizance bond after a long afternoon. The trial date will be set in the coming months. The US Attorney wanted to place a condition that 83 year-old Jean Gump look for gainful employment during this release period before trial but the Judge removed that condition after her court-appointed attorney objected.

When the Judge asked Sister Ardeth Platte if she was satisfied with her court-appointed attorney, she replied, “Well, having just met him, I don’t know if he knows anything about International Law, the [US] Constitution, and Treaties signed by our government. And I don’t know if you are aware of them either”, disclosing her likely defense which cites Article 6 of the US Constitution. That provision states that Treaties signed by our government are “the supreme law of the land”.

The defendants held themselves with calm and dignity despite the outrageous behavior of governmental officials. We must abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us and all of God’s creation.

Busted in Front of Nuke Weapons Plant

Two Minnesotans Arrested For Declaring Independence by Steve Clemens. July 5, 2010

37 anti-nuclear activists were arrested this morning at the entrance to the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant outside Oak Ridge, TN as part of a group under the statement “Declaration of Independence from Nuclear Weapons at Y-12”. Twenty-three people were arrested for blocking the highway entrance to the plant with a banner inscribed with “Independence From Nuclear Terrorism” while 14 others went under the barbed wire fence and nonviolently entered the property. The former group faces state “obstruction of highway” charges, a misdemeanor; the latter group faces federal trespass charges. This more serious charge can result in up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

The group arrested included Steve Clemens from Minneapolis and Pepperwolf from Red Wing. Both are members of the local AlliantACTION group which protests radioactive weapons made by Minnesota’s largest war profiteer, Alliant Techsystems in Eden Prairie at a weekly vigil. They attended a weekend conference held in eastern Tennessee along with three others from the Twin Cities area. The conference, “Resistance for a Nuclear Free Future” was scheduled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Nukewatch, The Nuclear Resister, and the Plowshares 8, the first act of nuclear disarmament by activists at the GE weapons facility in King of Prussia, PA.

Four of the original Plowshares 8 members were present as was the widow of a fifth. They were joined by close to two dozen other Plowshares activists, one of who has served over 18 years in prison for his nonviolent resistance to the bomb. Over two hundred attended the event held at Maryville College, about 25 miles from Oak Ridge, the site of the enrichment of the uranium for the first atomic bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945.

But the Y-12 Plant, renamed the “Y-12 National Security Complex” after the September 11th attacks, is not just an historical landmark – it remains as a central cog in the nuclear weapons machinery today. OREPA, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, is one of several groups organized in opposition to our present nuclear policy. They informed the conference about the misnamed “Life Extension Program” under which the Y-12 plant is refurbishing all US nuclear weapons so that they can continue to threaten others for another 100-120 years. Under the guise of “modernization”, they are part of a plan to build a whole new generation of nuclear weapons with greater accuracy – now to hit unknown targets with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the excuse used in the past to justify the trillions spent since the 1940s.

The arrested activists carried with them “A Declaration of Independence from Nuclear Weapons at Y-12”. Stating “… Current Law requires an end to all planning, preparation, production, threat, or use of nuclear weapons and adherence to the fundamental rules and principles of Humanitarian Law”, the declaration described the illegal nuclear weapons designed at the Y-12 plant and claimed that “… we exercise our duty to protect children and future generations.”

Ironically, the new START Treaty President Obama is pursuing is being coupled with a promise to spend billion of tax dollars to build newer nuclear weapons to replace some of those being dismantled by the Treaty in order to secure Republican votes in the Senate for it. In fact, Obama’s 2011 budget calls for an increase of 14% for the NNSA nuclear weapons program, the largest increase for any federal agency while at the same time calling for zero increase in education and the environment. As one conference speaker said, “follow the money. Bob Dylan once said, ‘Money doesn’t talk – it swears!’”

Despite the seriousness of the conference topic, there was much laughter and celebration. Guy and Candie Carawan, folk singing troubadours from the bygone labor and civil rights struggles traveled from nearby Highlander Center to lead the conference in songs; several anti-nuclear activists from Australia led a contingent of clowns which greatly enlivened the resistance arrests. Puppetistas and skits both informed and entertained. It was a celebration of continued nonviolent resistance to both nuclear power generation as well as nuclear weapons over the past three decades.

Many of those gathered had been “jailed for justice”, many meeting one another behind jail bars over the years. There were many joyful reunions from people scattered all over the country. Two of the veteran leaders of the movement told jokes or funny stories from their numerous protest actions. A priest in his 70s wept as he listened to a sister arrestee talk about what their action together decades ago did to change her life and inspire her life-long commitment to peace with justice.

Although many Americans associate the “ban the bomb” movement with either the 1950s or the 1980s, a young peoples contingent calling themselves “Think Outside the Bomb” is stepping forth to join the veterans of the anti-nuclear movement. And as politicians look desperately for alternatives to the environmental and climate threats posed by fossil fuels (think of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent coal mine disaster, not to mention mountain-top removal or threats to wilderness areas), many are jumping on a bandwagon under the illusive promise of nuclear power as a “clean energy”. Nevermind the fact that Wall Street refuses to finance new nuclear facilities, there is no feasible solution to either nuclear waste storage nor any viable plan BP deep water oil rig.

This conference and the act of resistance by the activists are timely reminders that we must be careful of our decisions and directions, choosing peaceful, sustainable technologies for future generations and ourselves. Many of my own personal heroes and mentors were there including Liz McAlister

, Kathy Kelly , and Frank Cordaro. And I met several peace legends for the first time including Brad Lyttle, a Freedom Rider and activist since the 50s , Sr. Anne Montgomery, also in her 80s and continuing to resist. It was a privelege to be arrested with them.