On 20 June three US Plowshares activists entered the E-9 Minuteman silo in North Dakota.
A Roman Catholic priest and two war veterans used a sledgehammer and household hammers to disable the lock on the personnel entry hatch which provides access to the warhead. They also hammered on the silo lid, which covers the 300 kiloton nuclear warhead and painted “It's a sin to build a nuclear weapon” on the face of the 110-ton hardened silo. As has become a familiar element of Plowshares rituals, the peace activists also poured their own blood on the missile lid.
They were arrested and are being held in the McLean County prison. The three have been charged with County Criminal Trespass and Criminal Mischief.
Defending the poor One of the three, Greg BoertjeObed, from Minnesota, explained, “I believe Jesus led us to do this witness based on his teachings of intervening for the sake of the poor. These weapons are killing us and the poor today. I believe this plowshares action is a natural extension of our Catholic Worker mission which is hospitality, providing for the needs of the poor, and defending the poor.”
The group state that the Minuteman III missile is targeted and on alert for launch, armed with a warhead that carries 27 times the heat, blast and radiation of the bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima.
- In related news... As PN went to press the PitStop Ploughshares returned to Dublin's Four Courts. This will be the third trial the five have faced, after the previous two collapsed amongst suggestions of judicial bias. The defendants are charged with damaging a US navy plane at Ireland's Shannon airport in February 2003.