The four-Philip Berrigan, Susan Crane, Steve Kelly SJ, Elizabeth Walz, known collectively as "Plowshares vs. Depleted Uranium" - acted in the biblical tradition of beating swords into ploughshares: more than 70 such actions have taken place since 1980. The four have asked that we help generate media coverage of the issues raised by their action, and all are eager to answer media questions from their Baltimore jail cells, where they are held on prohibitively high bail awaiting trial. Below is the flyer for the Toronto event, followed by a description of the action, a statement of intent, and information on depleted uranium. It should be noted that depleted uranium is becoming a growing issue in Canada as well, what with the CBC story (although seriously under-reported) that the Canadian Military is responsible for setting loose tonnes of depleted uranium during war testing off the coast of Halifax-this in prime lobster habitats. Also, like their fellow soldiers in the wars against Iraq, many Canadian veterans suffer from Gulf War Syndrome, a key contributing factor for which is exposure to depleted uranium. As the CBC reported, "When (Gulf War Vet) Terry Riordon of Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, died last April his wife allowed scientists to harvest tissues from his organs and his bones. The tests were done at a Canadian lab and analysed by Dr. Asaph Durokavic in Washington. 'We found in the bone tissue, particularly cancerous bone, that it contained depleted uranium,' said Durokavic. "Depleted uranium was used to coat tanks and missiles to harden them. It's radioactive. "Durokavic believes when missiles exploded, radioactive dust was breathed in by veterans. He says Riordon's tests show those radioactive particles never left the body. Durokavic says he's also finding depleted uranium in the urine of living veterans. "But the Canadian military doesn't believe depleted uranium is a factor in Gulf War illnesses. That's why it's not making the testing available to veterans, unlike the United States, where depleted uranium tests are done on any Gulf veteran who asks." As you will read below, depleted uranium has left a deadly, radioactive legacy in Iraq, former Yugoslavia, and wherever it has been tested and manufactured. As Plowshares vs. Depleted Uranium point out, the wars fought against the people of Iraq and former Yugoslavia were nuclear wars, wars whose legacy is an agonizing, drawn-out, cancer-filled future for generations to come. Please copy and circulate widely, then join us in speaking out from wherever you are.
Matthew Behrens Toronto Action for Social Change and Homes not Bombs, Toronto
Rev. Brian Burch Community of St. Thomas
Anti-War Activists Face 26 Years in Prison for Disarmament Action...
Vigil of Support for "Plowshares versus Depleted Uranium" (Philip Berrigan, Susan Crane, Steve Kelly SJ, Elizabeth Walz) Tuesday, February 29, 10 am (Leap Year Day) U.S. Consulate, 360 University Ave. (between Dundas and Queen) Join us for a Faith-based Service of Solidarity and Demonstration Against Depleted Uranium. All Welcome
On December 19, 1999, "Plowshares vs. Depleted Uranium" (Philip Berrigan, Susan Crane, Steve Kelly SJ, Elizabeth Walz) disarmed two of the A-10 "Warthog" fighter planes which were responsible for firing 95% of the depleted uranium in the war against Iraq and were used extensively against the people of former Yugoslavia, leaving a deadly legacy of radioactive poisoning.
The four face 5 charges.: Sabotage (carrying 10 years); Conspiracy to commit Sabotage (carrying 10 years); Malicious Destruction of Property (carrying 3 years); Conspiracy to Maliciously Destroy Property (carrying 3 years); and Trespass (carrying 90 days). The indictment defines Sabotage as follows: to hinder, delay, or interfere with the preparation of the United States for defense or for war, or with the prosecution of war by the United States. All are held currently in prison on prohibitively high bail; former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark is among those offering legal support.
Like the lone soul who stood in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square, the symbol of Plowshares versus Depleted Uranium is a powerful one which has proven such a threat to the U.S. military that the four could spend the next quarter century behind bars. What shall our response be to the crimes they have attempted to highlight: the crimes of depleted uranium, the crimes of ongoing preparation and fighting of nuclear wars, and ongoing theft of resources from the poor to pay for the massive war budgets of the U.S. and Canada?
Join us to respond on this day of solidarity. Join us in Hamilton on June 17 to protest the Hamilton War Show and its celebration of B-52s and the A-10 Warthog. Support the 50 Homes not Bombs protesters facing criminal charges from the Nov. 12 attempt to transform the War Dept. to the Housing Dept.
Write to Plowshares vs. Depleted Uranium: Philip Berrigan #995-923, BCDC, 404 Kenilworth Ave, Towson MD 21204; Susan Crane #995-375, 200 Court House Court, Towson MD 21204; Steve Kelly SJ #995-924, BCDC, 404 Kenilworth Ave, Towson MD 21204; Elizabeth Walz #995-376, 200 Court House Court, Towson MD 21204
ACTION DESCRIPTION The PLOWSHARES VS. DEPLETED URANIUM disarmed two A-10 Thunderbolt planes, nicknamed Warthogs, at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Essex Maryland in the early morning hours of December 19, 1999, the fourth Sunday of Advent. From a phone conversation initiated by Philip Berrigan, folks at
Jonah House (a resistance community in Baltimore) learned that he and three others - Susan Crane, Rev. Steve Kelly S.J., and Elizabeth Walz - were arrested at the National Guard base by Federal Air Police as they were disarming two Warthogs. Phil and Elizabeth worked together on one plane, hammering on the Gatling gun in the nose of the plane and on the pylons under the wings, and pouring their blood into the engines of the plane. Meanwhile Steve and Susan did similar transformation to a second plane and, in addition, Steve climbed onto a wing, peeled back the vinyl cover and poured his blood into one of the engines of the plane. They hung their banner: PLOWSHARES VS. DEPLETED URANIUM on the site. All four were stopped by Federal Air Police who were not quite
content with the speed with which Steve and Susan complied with their orders and sprayed Steve with pepper spray - "to get my attention," as Steve articulated it on the phone. Susan was tackled by security when she did not desist. The four were transported to the police precinct in Essex where
they were photographed and finger-printed. Berrigan and Rev. Kelly were first brought to court for a bail
review hearing before District Court Judge Robert Dugan. He informed the defendants of their charges: 1] trespassing (a maximum 90 days in jail and/or a
fine); 2] malicious destruction with a property damage of more than
(three years and/or
,500 fine); 3] burglary-third degree (ten years); and 4] burglary-fourth degree (three years. Bail was set at
,000. The women would appeared before District Court Judge Barbara Jung.
A male prisoner, charged with first degree homicide, smiled when he was told his bail was
,000. Crane's bail, however, was
,000, and Walz was given
,000 bail. The charges were the same as for the men, except Crane was also charged with assault-second degree, which carries a possible sentence of 10 years and/or a
,500 fine. It unexplainable why a defendant charged with first degree homicide
would receive a bail less than a peace activist. Why would a federal air police officer charge Crane with assault, after he tackled her? Plowshares defendants share little hope that the U.S. justice
system will embrace pacifism, international law, God's law or the Nuremberg Charter. Nevertheless, they will try to argue at trial the necessity defense, though it is unlikely that the court will allow it. Below is the statement of the Plowshares group:
PLOWSHARES VS. DEPLETED URANIUM December 19, 1999 - Fourth Sunday of Advent Attack a village with an A-10 Warthog and leave a trench. Attack a village with an A-10 Warthog firing depleted uranium and
leave a poisoned graveyard - the people dead, plants dying or sterile, the earth eternally toxic. The A-10 is an aircraft built around a gun - a 30 mm 7 barrel
Gatling that can spew 3,900 rounds per minute. This criminal plane fired 95% of the depleted uranium deployed by the U. S. during the Gulf War, leaving behind 300-800 tons (Dutch Laka Foundation) poisoning humans and the elements in Kuwait and Iraq. Sanctions (a crime against humanity) and depleted uranium (a war
crime) have killed 2 million Iraqis since the war's end. Said Dr. Jannan Ghalib while showing Olivia Ward of the Toronto Star a photograph album of malformed babies: "This one, no head. This one, legs fused together. Another, no limbs and tiny buds on the misshapen chest. Then a face with no eyes, just flaps of skin over the empty sockets. Another with a huge water-swollen head with no brain." (Atomic Veteran's Radiation News, Vol. 3, No. 6) Depleted uranium is a delayed response weapon which burns its way
through tank armor and oxidizes, throwing radioactive particles as far away as 25 miles. When ingested, these particles cause chemical and radioactive damage to the bronchial tree, to kidneys, liver and bones, causing somatic and genetic trauma. Cancer often results. Iraq and Yugoslavia are template wars, blueprints for future
imperial wars - targeting the total of a society - military, civilians, the unborn, the infrastructure, the ecology, the health and spirit of a people. These wars even overflow against the troops that fight them. 90,000 American Gulf War veterans are now chronically ill. A U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs study of 251 veterans' families in Mississippi shows that 67% had children with severe illnesses or birth defects. The U. S. has made another fatal mistake with depleted uranium - it
has given it away to a score of other countries, openly inviting them to make their own weapons, fight their own nuclear wars and infest the planet with more radiation. December 19th ends Advent - a time of reparation and conversion. We
mark this day by mourning the civilians killed in America's wars - nine civilians to every soldier, and by converting one hellish instrument of their death. They die forgotten and alone - no grateful nation to sorrow their passing - no flags nor official ritual. They are expendable; they are the true cannon fodder. We come to the Maryland Warfield Air National Guard Base to convert
the A-10, as Roman Catholic Christians, in obedience to God's prohibition against killing. Also, to embody Isaiah's vision of a disarmed world where hearts are converted to compassion and justice and the weapons are converted to the tools of peace. Finally, to atone for another nuclear war in Iraq, and a third in Yugoslavia. So help us God.
WHY THEY CHOSE THE WARTHOGS - DEPLETED URANIUM 1. DU is a dense radioactive waste used in munitions because it can pierce 4 inches of armor. It is radioactive; it is a heavy metal; it poisons environment and people. It has a half life of 4.5 billion years. 2. Uranium-238 is mined and U-235 and U-234 removed in an enrichment process for nuclear weapons and power plants. What remains, depleted of the enriched isotopes, is a radioactive waste. Stockpiles of depleted uranium have accumulated since the 1940s, (about 500,000 tons). The government has been looking for a use for this radioactive waste to reduce storage difficulties and costs. 3. DU has physical properties that are useful to the military. It is almost twice as dense as lead. On impact, it ignites and aerosolizes, spreading fine dust particles of DU that can travel far as 26 miles. 4. The US began producing DU ammunition in 1978; the munitions were first used during the Gulf War. 940,000 DU shells were fired from U.S. planes and 14,000 DU shells were fired from tanks. 300-800 tons of DU particles and dust were scattered over ground and water in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The majority of the DU rounds fired in the Gulf were from the Fairchild A-10 '"tank-killer" aircraft. About 564,000 pounds of DU were fired from A-10 planes during the Gulf War. 5. DU weapons are toxic, radioactive weapons which cannot be contained in time or space, and are indiscriminate weapons which violate international law. 6. In the US Army base in Doha, Kuwait, an ammunition vehicle caught fire on July 11, 1991. An estimated 9,000 pounds of DU were burned. During the Gulf War, 29 US vehicles were contaminated with DU through friendly fire incidents. Soldiers inside the vehicles were wounded; soldiers assigned to recover the vehicles were contaminated. Thousands of Iraqi vehicles were contaminated by DU. American soldiers entered these vehicles to salvage equipment, look for souvenirs or pose for pictures. They were not warned that there was DU dust on the equipment and in the air. 7. Of the 697,000 US troops in the Gulf, over 90,000 reported medical problems. DU could be responsible for respiratory, liver, and kidney dysfunction, memory loss, headaches, fever, low blood pressure and birth defects. 8. The people of Iraq - particularly in the south - have been contaminated through the air, water, soil and crops. Doctors in Iraq have documented an increase in leukemia and other cancers. 9. DU threatens unborn generations. Children are the most affected because DU accumulates in their bones, replacing calcium. High rates of leukemia, lymphoma, bone cancer have been recorded in Iraq. DU causes birth deformities: children are born with shortened or webbed arms and legs, lacking eyes, mouth, brain, and abnormalities in the number and shape of organs. 10. The military use of DU has contaminated areas of Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bosnia, US military bases in Vieques, Puerto Rico and Okinawa, Japan as well as neighbors of weapons manufacturers, such as in Colonie, NY where the National Lead Plant was manufacturing DU penetrators. Research and development of DU penetrators and armor has been done at the nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
Further reading: Metal of Dishonor: Depleted Uranium, Ramsey Clark, Rosalie Bertell, Michio Kaku et al., International Action Center, 39 W. 14th St, Room 206, NY, NY 10011 email: firstname.lastname@example.org LAKA Foundation, Kotelhulsplein 43, 1054 RD, Amsterdam, Netherlands email: email@example.com Swords to Plowshares (Veterans Group) 995 Market, 3rd floor, San Francisco, CA 94103 Military Project, 471 Main Street, 2nd Floor, Lewiston ME 04240 email: firstname.lastname@example.org