Above Photo: Christian Senger/Flickr
Hours of video evidence and sledge hammers
BRUNSWICK, GA – Today, the second day of the trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares anti-nuclear activists, the government presented the bulk of its case against the seven defendants.
Military police officers testified about apprehending the activists and entered numerous photos, banners, the bolt cutters and even a ten-foot piece of the cut fence into evidence. The afternoon was largely taken up with the prosecution presenting segments of GoPro video footage filmed by two of the defendants during the action. Cell phone messages and photos sent by the defendants during the action were carefully examined.
The day began with a military police officer testifying about finding Fr. Steve Kelly, S.J., Elizabeth McAlister and Carmen Trotta on the other side of a fence at what is known on the base as the “Limited Access Area” which is where the activists believe nuclear weapons are stored in bunkers. This is a deadly force zone where a warning is blared on loudspeakers every 10 to 15 minutes. The government’s witnesses will neither confirm nor deny there are nuclear weapons there, referring to military policy. The three activists had cut through a fence and then concertina wire to enter an area called the “rabbit run” which is a gravel perimeter road between two sets of fences around the bunkers.
The head of the Marines security team was called to apprehend the three. He was awoken from sleep at one in the morning and drove over with his team. They climbed through the hole in the fence and approached the three. Carmen Trotta told him they were unarmed and came in peace.
The next witness was an officer of the Department of Defense police. He arrested the other four Plowshares activists at the missile display. He testified to the peaceful, compliant nature of the protesters. During a defense attorney’s cross-examination of the military police officer, she highlighted the religious aspect of the defendants’ action, calling the area a “missile shrine.” Defendant Patrick O’Neill connected with his arresting officer with a humorous story about their first meeting. The officer made him smile, he recounted: “You said, ‘You folks realize you are in a bit of trouble, don’t you?’”
Special Agent Thomas Kenney of the NCIS presented forensic evidence about the cut fence and various tools found. He then reviewed about two hours of GoPro video recordings filmed by Trotta at the restricted area and by O’Neill at the missile monument display. The video was mostly too dark to see clearly what was happening, but the audio provided a running commentary. It also showed O’Neill swinging various sledge hammers and gardening tools at a monument to the Trident II D5 missile and signs. It entered into evidence many of the points the defendants wanted to make about the peaceful, religious nature of their action.