This has been published in the book PEACE OR BUST. For ordering information, please click here.
On May 6, 1989 my wife Karolyn and I got up about 2:30 in the morning to leave for Jacksonville from our pine-forest home in Buena Vista, Georgia. On the way we picked up two Habitat for Humanity volunteers where Karolyn works in Americus—Faye Inlo and a black woman, Eula Johnson. We arrived at the Catholic high school gym near the beginning of the nonviolence preparation led by John X. Linnehan. After the slide show I decided that I would risk arrest by federal authorities so that I could challenge the illegality of the Trident II submarine missile system in the federal judiciary.
The twenty of us doing the federal protest organized ourselves into three groups, because most of the people were either from Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington DC or Michigan or New Orleans. Since our plan was to cross the line on the sidewalk in pairs, I joined the group with an odd number of people which turned out to be Pax Christi New Orleans. This demonstration was sponsored by Pax Christi USA and had a strong Catholic flavor. Unfortunately the nonviolence preparation was rather brief, and there wasn't time to discuss solidarity on bail or fines or many other issues.
After lunch we all went to the main gate of the Kings Bay Submarine Base in St. Mary's, Georgia. About 300 people attended the Catholic liturgy which was held on a small platform set up on the grass outside the Navy base's fences. The bishop from Savannah was present, as was Bishop Gumbleton from Detroit. The Navy had set up a temporary police tape in line with a newly painted line on the road going into the main gate. This line was several yards outside the gate, the security and pass building, and the fence connecting them.
As the twenty of us lined up to walk down the sidewalk towards the police tape, a loud tape recording of the base commander's voice started playing through loudspeakers at the gate booth. This tape was played continuously and repeatedly during the rest of the demonstration warning people not to go on the base; this constant blaring sound made it extremely difficult for anyone else to be heard by anyone other than those close to them. Not until I saw the Navy's video at trial did I know that Chuck from Koinonia had cut the police tape and removed one barricade from the sidewalk. Then the demonstrators began to step across the now invisible line in pairs. Before going across, most people were making brief statements, but I wasn't able to hear them. After stepping across the crack in the sidewalk, a law enforcement officer would read something off a piece of paper, and then the demonstrators were walked by them down the sidewalk around the security building.
I was the last one to be arrested on federal charges. Jody from New Orleans had just made an emotional statement about the destructive capabilities of the Trident II and stepped over. I turned toward a nearby TV news camera and the people behind me, and while pointing toward the Trident base made the following brief speech: "This base is in violation of international law; it is in violation of the United Nations Charter, the Pact of Paris, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Geneva Conventions. (Applause.) It is an obscenity against humanity and an abomination in the sight of God! (Applause.) Today I am taking one more small step for peace in the world. (Applause.)"
Then I took that step. A woman in a black uniform read me a warning that if I did not leave I would be arrested. Next she escorted me down the sidewalk to a bus. They didn't even handcuff us but merely put a plastic handcuff on one wrist for identification. From the bus they took us two at a time into the security building for processing. I gave them the information they asked for, and to a young woman who was taking it down I said, "You look like a nice person. I suggest you find some other job which will be easier for your conscience to live with." I told them I would not promise to return to court and refused to sign the citation. They threatened to send marshals after me and took me back to the bus. We were singing protest songs while we waited. I asked Jack Marth, whom I met in New York, if we could sing a song based on "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and we did. I can't remember all of the words we used then, but while in jail I've added some of my own for the ones I forgot. My version goes like this:
Take me out to the Trident; take me down to the sub.
Nonviolent action, it is a fact; if they jail me I may not be back.
For we must warn all of the people, if they don't hear, it's a shame.
For it's first strike, and then we're all out of the whole ball game."
After all twenty of us were processed, they drove the bus about fifty yards back to the main gate, where they let us go. As I got out of the bus, I said to the Navy man standing by, "Why don't you find a job that has some productive value?"
Meanwhile some 54 people had been arrested by state authorities for kneeling on the road into the main gate just outside of the newly painted line. From the bus we could see these people kneeling in prayer and being arrested. I believe there were three groups of 18 each. These people were taken to a nearby school where their names were taken down, and then they were released and never charged, as the organizers had expected. Two people who refused to give their names spent several days in Camden County Jail before being released. By five in the afternoon most everyone had been re-united at a nearby campground.
Karolyn, Faye, Eula, and I went on to Savannah to stay the night with Eula's cousin, who told us a story about how she was counseling a youth whose parents were trying to get rid of their black neighbor in their plush south Savannah neighborhood; she finally realized that this youth was her neighbor, and they were trying to get rid of her!
About four weeks later I got in the mail a summons to appear in federal court at Brunswick on Monday June 12. I didn't want to have to drive the 200 miles from Buena Vista just to enter a not-guilty plea. However, the quarterly From Trident to Life meeting was being held in Atlanta on June 9-10; so I could get a ride from there to Metanoia, the peace community by the base in St. Mary's. Karolyn and I went up to Atlanta and stayed at her daughter and son-in-law's apartment baby-sitting her granddaughter while they took off for the weekend. I delivered copies of my screenplays on Socrates, Columbus, George Washington, and RISING OUT OF SLAVERY to Ted Turner's office at CNN headquarters. Later when I was in jail, all were sent back except RISING OUT OF SLAVERY, which is a two-part TV movie about Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver still being considered by them.
After the brief meeting Friday night to set the agenda, I showed the 80-minute video I put together from Nuremberg Actions at Concord called STOPPING THE WAR IN ITS TRACKS. We returned to the Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur Saturday morning for an all-day meeting. Since no one else had volunteered, I facilitated the meeting. We had nearly 40 people and discussed many issues such as the tracks campaign, the coming action at Oakridge, Tennessee and caravan to Kings Bay, forming an affinity group to block the nuclear train, saw a slide show on the train and Birmingham, Alabama during lunch, and aired other concerns. We decided to have a retreat to process these further in South Carolina July 7-9. Saturday night I rode with Donna Harden down to Metanoia, and on Sunday I visited Joe Cohen and Bill Akin in the Camden County Jail; they were doing 45 days on a 90-day sentence for their action protesting the arrival of the Tennessee Trident II Submarine on January 15, 1989.
Fifteen of the twenty people managed to come back long distances for the arraignment. We had a little time to discuss solidarity and fines, but several people already had planned to pay a fine. I encouraged people to refuse to pay fines, but of course respected every individual's autonomy. Magistrate Graham only let one young woman, Heather Quane, off from a fine; she lives with her parents and cannot work because of a medical disability. Eight people, mostly from Michigan and New Orleans, agreed to pay the $200 fine and do 50 hours of community service and be on probation until those were accomplished. Four people held strong in refusing to pay a fine, and after squirming noticeably Magistrate Graham finally sentenced them to 5 days in jail and 80 hours community service with the probation. These four, Chuck Walker, Jack Marth, Sue Frankel, and Janet Le Boeuf, were taken into custody and released on Friday. Miriam Hope, a kind 70-year-old woman, and I pleaded not guilty and requested a trial before a federal judge. Magistrate Graham told us that by law we had at least 30 days from then to prepare for trial. Matthew Goodheart generously went somewhat out of his way to take Miriam and I home on his way back to Michigan with Heather.
During this period I made two other trips to the east coast. Jack Cumbee from Alabama and I had gone to the war-tax resistance conference in Jacksonville for the training session for counselors. Then Miriam and I went with Jack and Judy Cumbee to the trial of the Good Friday 8 before Judge Alaimo. These people had been arrested in March outside the main gate while conducting a religious service which had been pre-arranged with the authorities. None of them had expected to be arrested for this, and the government had a very weak case, because they had arbitrarily changed the line where they arrest without making it clear at all. The defendants had three professional lawyers, and Judge Alaimo threw the case out after the prosecution had presented its case when the defendants made a motion to dismiss prior to presenting their witnesses. Donna was so elated that she jumped up in glee as Judge Alaimo was leaving; he stopped and gave her a stern warning about contempt, indicating once again how much he was against our cause. Another time he had issued a warning when I had laughed aloud, because one of the prosecution's witnesses was acting like he was so sure of everything while attorney Alan Shepherd made it obvious he was confused. Nevertheless his reasonable decision in this case gave us some hope. However, in retrospect I think it made him more eager to get the next group if the case was anywhere near valid in his eyes.
Meanwhile I had been working on the book of UNIVERSAL WISDOM (published in 2002 as the WISDOM BIBLE) I am putting together. I had recently completed English versions of seven short Upanishads, Buddha's first sermon, and the Dhammapada. Then I translated from the original Greek the Wisdom of Solomonand the Manual of Epictetus. Before my trial I managed to edit and write about 50 pages for a nonviolence preparation handbook that could be used by From Trident to Life. There are still some remaining articles on the history which could be written by other people. Karolyn and I had a wonderful time together at the retreat just over the border of South Carolina at Wendy Lipshutz's parents retreat grounds; her father had been President Carter's White House Counsel. Because the trial was scheduled for July 11, I went with John and Martina Linnehan in their van; they told me about their experiences walking the Appalachian Trail, and we stayed the night at Covenant Center where Dennis Cohen offered us hospitality. We met up with Miriam Hope back at Metanoia and went together to our trial at Brunswick on Tuesday morning.
Miriam Hope and I represented ourselves in our trial before Judge Alaimo. Miriam began by asking for a continuance because she wanted more time to prepare her defense. Although I distinctly recall Judge Alaimo asking how long it had been since the arraignment and someone replying that it had been 29 days to which Judge Alaimo replied, "I think that's long enough," the official transcript did not contain this dialog as it is supposed to but only the following statement by Judge Alaimo: "The case was filed about a month ago. I think there was ample time for you to get an attorney and to prepare the case. The motion is denied." I believe the record may have been altered slightly to cover up the fact that it had been only 29 days when the law, as stated by Magistrate Graham, says that at least 30 days must be given for preparation. Because of this suspicion while in jail I asked both of my court-appointed attorneys on the appeals to go in and check the original recording with the court reporter, but neither one bothered to do it for me.
The charge was unlawful entry on a military reservation. Miriam having been previously banned and barred from the base at an earlier demonstration was charged with re-entry after having been ordered not to do so. In her case they only had to prove that she had been ordered not to return, which she freely admitted, and that she had in fact returned to the base. In my case they were supposed to prove that I had entered for some purpose prohibited by law. However, the courts, including this one, have interpreted that to mean the mere "trespass" without permission if the person was warned and had knowledge the action was being considered a trespass. This was the opening argument of the Assistant United States Attorney Ms. Banks.
When Judge Alaimo asked me if I had an opening statement, I asked if I could make it after the prosecution presented their case, but he said that if I wanted to make an opening statement, I had to make it right then. I began by saying that as a citizen of the United States by birth I believe I have the rights of a citizen. I did not deny that I was at the Kings Bay Naval Base on May 6th for a demonstration; but I argued that I was there because of my respect for the law, that I was there not to break the law but to fulfill the law, and that this was one of the extra efforts I have made in my life to communicate to people who I believe are breaking the law, and I did so in a nonviolent way. I declared that the facts will show that I harmed no one, injured no one, and threatened no one. I referred to the violations of international law that I believe are occurring at the submarine base. I did not deny stepping over an imaginary line, but that not knowing what that line legally represented, I hoped the evidence in the trial would make that clear. I said I had never been to the Kings Bay Base before, and I went there to exercise my First Amendment rights to assemble and to petition our government for redress of what I consider the most serious grievances that have faced the human race in its history. I doubted that the prosecution could prove that I was there for any unlawful purpose. I believed I had a right to attempt to prevent crimes that are occurring there. I mentioned that I wasn't inside the fence of the base. I also said,
I was not given an opportunity to apply for permission to enter the base; I was not asked by anyone whether I had permission to go on the base; I was not directed to a place where I might apply for permission to go on the base. I think the facts will show that I was discriminated against, that other people were allowed to attempt to get permission to go on and off the base. I was not because I was with a group of a political persuasion which is opposite to many of the personnel on the base.
I mentioned that I did not remove any barricade. I concluded:
I think that the evidence will show that there are very reasonable doubts that my behavior was unlawful, and I attempt to reason and I am open to listen to the reasons of the prosecution and the Court. If you can show me that what I did was wrong, I will be repentant. But unless you can convince me and persuade me that what I did was, I believe that what I did was not only not unlawful, I believe that it was the most conscientious duty and an altruistic act for the benefit of humanity.
Then Miriam Hope made the following opening statement:
As I warned you, I have nothing but the barest of bones in my defense. But I do want to show the extreme destructive explosive power that is potential in the Trident submarine. It will be only a sort of hearsay how much money goes into the Trident and how much money we need in our social programs. Then I want to talk about my own private conscience and the conscience of my church, the Roman Catholic Church.
This was a Pax Christi action, and the U.S. Catholic bishops have strongly talked about the need to say no to nuclear weapons, so that I feel I have support from that. I also want to show that as a U.S. citizen I have felt the need to carry the responsibilities of citizenry, talking to my congress people and taking part in political activities. And, finally, as a citizen of the world, in response to the Nuremberg Principles feeling that it is my responsibility when my government is acting in ways that seem to be illegal.
After the prosecution's witnesses were sworn in as a group,
Judge Alaimo asked them to withdraw from the courtroom. I asked
if I had missed a motion to exclude the witnesses, which is done
so routinely they hadn't even gone through the motion, because
I asked that the witnesses be allowed to remain in the courtroom.
Ms. Banks was surprised but had no objection to letting the witnesses
hear each other testify. In spite of the advantage this gives
them, I did this because I wanted all the witnesses at least to
hear the trial for the sake of their education on the issues.
Thus they were allowed to stay in and listen. There were only
a few other people in the courtroom that day---my wife Karolyn,
the Linnehans, Jack Cumbee, Miriam's daughter and three grandchildren,
and a couple of other supporters.
Their first witness was an engineer who testified as to the boundaries of the Kings Bay Naval Base. He said there was about 90 feet of federal property outside of the fence up to the road. In cross-examination I asked when the line, which was used as a restricted line for our demonstration, was added to the 1981 map, and he answered, "Yesterday." Judge Alaimo seemed rather perturbed, and more than once made the point that he was referring to the line on the map, not at the base. I asked him if he knew about the Trident missiles and if he was aware that it is a violation of international law to build such weapons.
Their second witness was the Navy woman who took a video tape of the arrests at the base. Ms. Banks had shown the video tape to Miriam and I only minutes before the trial began. I was immediately struck and outraged how my speech prior to being arrested could not be heard, because she was so far away and everything was drowned out by the loud, taped warning by the commander. As I cross-examined her to try to bring out the fact that she had made no effort to get close enough to the demonstrators to be able to hear what they were saying, she kept answering that she was just there to take pictures of us trespassing.
The main witness for the prosecution was Lieutenant Wilson. He was the security officer and observed the demonstration. He testified that the Pax Christi demonstrators were permitted to put up a platform about 11 a.m. on federal property but outside of the area they had restricted. He explained that because at a previous demonstration some protestors had tried to climb the fence and might have gotten hurt and the guards might have gotten hurt, he talked to the Captain about this concern. He testified, "We decided to enforce our property line further out.... and on the day of the demonstration we put up barriers and police tape, which was an extension of the line painted across the road that went all the way over to the fence." He also said there were signs saying "Restricted area." He instructed his guards to read a warning off of a piece of paper to demonstrators when they crossed over this line. He also mentioned the warning tape that they played from the gatehouse. Lt. Wilson identified Miriam and I as two of the twenty he had seen cross the line and be arrested.
I asked Lt. Wilson if anyone had been injured at that demonstration, and he said not to his knowledge. I thanked him for his concern for people's safety and tried to ask him about the purpose of the base and the Trident missiles, but Judge Alaimo kept interrupting me and telling me to go on with the next question. I asked if I could make an offer of proof to show the relevance of international law, but he demanded that I finish questioning the witness first. When I asked if his looking out for everyone's well-being included the people of the Soviet Union, Judge Alaimo got even angrier as he ordered me to go on to my next question. He did the same thing again when I asked, "Are you aware that the Trident submarine could kill hundreds of millions of people?" At that point I could do nothing but enter an exception to the judgments of the Court.
Next Ms. Banks without calling another witness got Miriam to stipulate that she had received a ban-and-bar letter on December 27, 1986. Before I started my offer of proof, Ms. Banks asked the judge to clear the courtroom if I was going into any classified materials. I explained I was merely going to argue and that I do not have access to classified information.
I began my offer of proof with the defense of necessity:
As you know, the defense of necessity is a recognized defense within the United States and has been recognized in U.S. courts. U.S. versus Ashton in 1834, a case where a crew was found to be justified in refusing to obey a captain's order to continue sailing when they acted upon a bona fide, reasonable belief that the ship was unseaworthy, the Ashton case established that not just peril but a well-founded belief in impending peril is sufficient to raise the defense.
As you probably know, there are five elements to the defense of necessity. I'll just briefly indicate what each of those elements is and how it would be pertinent in this case.
The first element is that there is a danger or harm. I believe that evidence on this is overwhelming, that the Trident submarine, the Tennessee in particular, which is going to be scheduled to be armed in December with 24 missiles, each missile containing eight warheads and, as far as we've been able to ascertain, each of those warheads being 475 kilotons. This is 38, each warhead is 38 times the explosive power of the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima which killed at least 100,000 people.
The entire explosions in all of World War II have been estimated, according to Linus Pauling who won the Nobel Peace Prize, at 3 million tons of dynamite. So what that means is ... the eight warheads on one missile is equivalent to---I believe it's more than World War II. And since there's 24 missiles on one Trident submarine,... that means that one Trident submarine has the explosive power of 30 times all the explosions used by all sides in World War II. And that's just the explosions. The radiation, of course, in World War II was only the two Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs; so the radiation would be worse.
So I think that that's apparent, that there is a great danger to the human race. And we might add that the nuclear winter that scientists---and testimony could be given, expert witness, to show that there's a very likely probability that if there were a nuclear war, that the human race would become extinct.
The second element of the defense of necessity is that the danger is imminent. Now, imminence I think is a relative thing because it has to do with time; and we have to consider what is the likely danger and how it's likely to occur. For example, if we had some carcinogenic chemical, we wouldn't want to put it in some food because we know a person might get cancer; and we would probably say that's an imminent danger even though the person might not get cancer for five or ten years. But because there's a scientific likelihood that a person would get cancer, we would want to ban that chemical.
So in this case, because the danger is so ominous and overwhelmingly great and because of the system of launch on warning, which, as far as we know, the superpowers are already on, and with the imminence of the Tennessee, it would be patrolling the oceans, and it would be able to attack the heart of the Soviet Union with missiles in ten to fifteen minutes, which means that the Soviet Union, with the numbers of these Trident missiles, would be in a situation where they would have to be prepared to launch their missiles in reply based on the computers' information, because they only have ten to fifteen minutes, from the time of launch until the time they're blown off the face of the Earth, to make that decision. To me that's imminent; that's very imminent.
The third element is that other methods have been inadequate to remove the danger. I would present ample testimony of my efforts in making peace in this country. I have written to the President, to Congress; I have circulated petitions; I have written several books, pamphlets, brochures, which I have; I have traveled throughout the United States begging and pleading with people to stop this impending path toward war that could kill the human race. I'm sorry if I get emotional about it, Your Honor, but it's not only life and death for me or for you or for a few people; we're talking about life and death of humanity.
I believe in nonviolence. I've never hurt anyone in my life. I believe that we have a constitution and that it should protect us from these kinds of crimes.
At this point Judge Alaimo interrupted me to tell me not to argue my case at that time. I continued:
I have tried every other method I could think of; and if they had adequately solved the problem, then it wouldn't be necessary to step over an imaginary line. But I believe that the situation just has been getting worse; therefore, that proves that the other methods have been inadequate.
The fourth element of the necessity defense is that the action taken is a lesser evil than the violation that I was charged with in this case. I think that's pretty obvious. I mean, a trespass charge is obviously a smaller crime than killing millions of people or even threatening or planning or preparing instruments that would kill millions of people, which are violations of international law. And, obviously, it's a lesser evil than having a nuclear war. That's an obvious point.
The fifth and last point of the necessity defense is that a reasonable person would believe that this action could remove the danger. On this I would cite the lessons of history, that governments have generally refused to reform and change until people have demanded it. We could look at the anti-slavery movement, and it required people disobeying the fugitive-slave law; and we look at the women's suffrage movement, women attempting to vote, finally getting the right to vote; we could look at the civil-rights movement, Dr. King sitting at a lunch counter -
Again Judge Alaimo interrupted me, saying, "As I understand
it, you expect to show by evidence that the justice of your cause
warrants you in violating the law." I replied that it only
seems a violation of the law. The second part of my argument was
international law, that I did not have an unlawful purpose, because
I was there to uphold the Nuremberg Principles, because as a citizen
I would be in complicity if I allowed my government to commit
these crimes. I said I wanted to go through the violations of
international law, but Judge Alaimo said he would not let me.
So I offered several books into evidence---the GAO report on the
Trident II deployment, FIRST STRIKE by Robert Aldridge,
three books I wrote: THE WAY TO PEACE: The Great Peacemakers,
Philosophers of Peace and Efforts toward World Peace,
LIFE AS A WHOLE: Principles of Education Based on a Spiritual
Philosophy of Love, and IRENE: Realizing World Peace,
and an article "Will We Make Peace in 1989?" and the
World Peace Movement brochure. Then Judge Alaimo asked me if I
wanted to testify, and it was only after I began testifying that
I was able to find out that he had ruled my offer of proof irrelevant.
During my testimony I was frequently interrupted by Judge Alaimo, as he commented on what I was saying or asked me questions one might expect from a prosecutor. I tried to explain that I was attempting to communicate to people at the base that their actions are in violation of international law and that under the Nuremberg Principles "a person is still responsible even if they are obeying orders provided that a moral choice was in fact possible to him." I was attempting to give them that moral choice by informing them of the violations. I wasn't trying to punish them or arrest them but merely trying to point out to them that they are involved in serious crimes. I complained that the media is controlled by the corporations and that even with the books I've published, few people get a chance to read them. I felt that since I was unable to influence the President or Congress that I could go to the judicial branch as a concerned citizen to try to get our country back on the right track. I explained that I am nonviolent and am willing to sacrifice myself and take the risk of being arrested for this purpose.
Then Judge Alaimo asked me several questions about whether I knew I was crossing the line and whether I was warned that I was trespassing. In fact he kept asking these questions over and over. I declared that I didn't believe I was trespassing because government property belongs to the people, and I had a good reason for being there. I said, "To me it's like a situation of a bully who draws a line on the road and says, 'If you cross this line, I'm going to do something to you.' That bully doesn't have a right to do that. What they're doing there is illegal." I said they never asked me if I had permission to be on the base. Judge Alaimo asked me if I did have permission. I said, "I believe I had permission from myself, from God, from the rights of the human race."
Then he asked if there was cross-examination. When I complained that he was cutting me off, he asked what else is relevant. When I started to say how many things there were because we were talking about the end of the human race, he said he had heard that. I said that if he really had heard it, he wouldn't be cutting me off. As I started to say how the Trident is a first-strike weapon, he made it clear that I was to stop.
Ms. Banks began by saying that if I didn't understand her question that I could ask and that we would work together. Then when she asked me if I had taken my story to Congress, and I began to say how, she would go to her next question before I could finish answering. I had to ask the judge to allow me to finish the answer to one question before she asked me another. I told how I was arrested once in my Congressman's office by his staff, because he had refused to see me.
Then she tried to make it look as though my official residence is California, rather than Buena Vista, Georgia. She pointed out how I could have spoken from the platform earlier, but I said that I was not asked to speak, and later Miriam clarified that the platform was for the Catholic mass and not for anyone who wanted to speak. I did say that my opportunity for speech was greatly restricted by the loudspeaker playing the warning over and over. I said, "I didn't really have the opportunity to communicate with the people on the base, and those are the people that really need to hear the message. I mean, our people are more educated and are aware of these problems and are concerned about them and are trying to do something about it, but the people on the base are the ones that are violating the laws. They're the ones that need to hear it."
Judge Alaimo asked if I could speak as people left the base. I replied, "It's futile. People drive by; you can't talk to people driving a car. I've done this type of thing. I've gone to bases and vigils and tried to talk to people."
Miriam began her defense by saying that she wanted to have someone testify about the nature of the Trident submarine and its capabilities. Judge Alaimo said, "Let us assume that it is a very destructive weapon." She presented a pamphlet by the Center for Defense Information called "First-Strike Weapons at Sea." She explained how 20 Trident submarines could devastate 3,840 places on the Earth, and Judge Alaimo cut her off by saying simply, "Overkill." She started to show how much money was being spent on Trident compared to how much money we need for our social problems, but he stopped her and said, "I will accept that you contend that too much is being spent on defense and not enough on social problems."
Then Miriam told how she met God when she was 15 in the Cascade mountains of Oregon and wanted to stay in tune with that Presence and how she felt guided by this. She testified that she had joined the Catholic Church four years before, and she put in evidence the U.S. Catholic Bishops' 1983 pastoral letter "The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response." She told how May 6th at Kings Bay was Pax Christi's national action. As a local person she wanted to be involved; even her Bishop was there. She had a letter from Senator Sam Nunn for evidence of her legislative efforts. The Nuremberg Principles helped her to see that she was personally responsible for her government's crimes, and so she felt she must try to stop them. Because she had used the term "civil disobedience," I asked her to explain it and its relation to the term "divine obedience."
After a ten-minute recess Ms. Banks began the closing arguments. She claimed there had been evidence to show that the crowd of demonstrators could have been highly disruptive to the base's activities if they had crossed into the restricted area. She said that we did not show that our entry would have changed in any way the Trident system. She said, "They have failed to show that any superior Earthly being directed their activities to break the law on that day."
I began my closing argument by saying that we all are supposed to obey the law, and when people aren't following the law there are nonviolent ways of getting those people to follow the laws, usually through the judicial system. It is designed to avoid violence and settle disputes and conflicts between people and nations. However, the judicial system is not performing its proper function because the courts are not bringing the President and the Congress to account for the violations of international law and U.S. treaties according to the United States Constitution. I said that I believed the founders of the Constitution were Earthly beings, and they had put checks and balances in the Constitution because they didn't like a militaristic state with armies filling up their communities and taxing them to pay for the wars of England. They broke away from England and said that Congress has to declare war before there is preparation for war. They prohibited the placing of soldiers in people's houses. I went on:
But we're spending a billion dollars a day of our peoples' money for this military establishment which is not needed. We're a powerful country, but we're powerful not because of the weapons. That shows our weakness; that shows our cowardice. If we were courageous, we would trust what we believe in. We would trust the processes of law, of courts, of judges, of juries. We would let these people decide, to settle disputes; we would not try to settle disputes by bombing people or preparing weapons to terrorize the world and threaten people; if they don't do what we want, we'll kill them in mass numbers. I don't believe in that. I think it's really dreadfully wrong, and I think that it's a situation where I feel called to do something about it.
I then explained how I felt morally obligated to act in accordance
with the Nuremberg Principles to try to stop the crimes, "and
I feel that I have a legal right to do that as long as I don't
hurt anyone or destroy any property or disrupt anything."
Next I pointed out the false statements by Ms. Banks---her saying that we admitted that we broke the law, that we interrupted traffic, that no Earthly beings commanded us, that we disrupted the base. I admitted that I entered the base but not that I had any unlawful purpose. The first had been proven, but the second had not. I had a First Amendment right to petition for redress of serious grievances. I was justified in going there because I was attempting to uphold international law. It is paranoia to arrest people merely because someone thinks that they might disrupt something. I felt that the people on the base and in the government and the judge didn't want to hear the facts; they don't really know how bad it is, like when he just assumed it's as bad as it can be in order to forget about it. I said it matters how bad it is; it really matters. Then I showed a picture from a Time magazine advertisement for Time-Life books on the history of civilization I had seen recently. It said this was the history of civilization from start to finish and showed a picture of a cave painting next to a picture of the mushroom cloud of an atomic explosion. I asked, "Is this what we want? Is this what we're working for? We have a responsibility, Your Honor. Our generation has the greatest responsibility in the history of the human race. I don't like getting arrested; I don't like going to jail, which very likely in this case I'm going to go to jail, because I'm not going to accept probation or pay a fine."
I mentioned how Thoreau said that it is the true lovers of law and order who obey the law when the government breaks it. "It's more difficult to obey the law when you know that there's something wrong with the society and they're going to punish you because you're trying to change the situation." As Martin Luther King said, the choice is not between nonviolence and violence; the choice is between nonviolence and nonexistence. I explained that our crisis is an evolutionary one because it is a crisis of whether we will survive as a species or not. I lamented that the Trident base is training dolphins to attack and kill scuba divers in case they might be terrorists, because dolphins are probably more intelligent than humans; but we enslave them and train them with food. If other species could describe us, they would probably call us "killer apes." I felt that we are living in a tragedy, and our generation would decide the fate of the Earth. I said I was like Diogenes with a lamp looking for an honest person; I was looking for an honest judge, "a judge who believes in the law, the laws of the human race, the laws between nations, as well as the laws within the nations."
I told him he didn't have much risk because the judiciary is supposed to be independent, and they can't fire him if they don't like his decision. It seemed reasonable to me that I did not have an unlawful purpose, but it takes courage and independence to stand up to the government and say that it is wrong. I said it is sad when the war criminals get paid big salaries and the peace criminals---and Magistrate Graham didn't even think of us as criminals in regard to probation---who are trying to uphold the law get paid nothing and go to great sacrifice.
I briefly reviewed some of the treaties being violated by the Trident base and then told how Gorbachev is moving the Soviet Union towards disarmament and the idea of a nonviolent world as indicated by the agreement he signed with Rajiv Gandhi of India. The Soviet Union is moving into a defensive posture, but the Trident is not defensive but massively offensive.
At this point Judge Alaimo interrupted to ask me if I had ever thought that Russia was becoming defensive because of the base down there. Then he brought up Afghanistan. I explained that the United States was supplying $2 million worth of weapons to the guerrillas in Afghanistan per day and that they are using this to terrorize and kill people there, this in a country on the border of the Soviet Union. Even so, the Soviet Union is pulling out of Afghanistan and would have sooner if it weren't for U.S. financing and arming of the guerrillas.
Next I briefly went into the first-strike capability of which the Trident is a major component because those 3800 warheads can hit within 100 feet of their targets. They can knock out Soviet weapons. Robert Aldridge has indicated that the U.S. will have a first-strike capability in 1990 or 1991 and that after that it will grow steadily stronger. Star wars is another part of the first-strike capability and would destroy the idea of deterrence. I argued that moral self-restraint is a more significant motivation in the prevention of nuclear war than deterrence. I said the United States seems to be trying to blackmail the Soviet Union with military superiority in order to bankrupt them economically. I said that I didn't like Communism nor did I want to live under Communism but that I didn't need a gun to stand up for my rights. I said, "I've got intelligence; I've got a mind, a spirit; I can communicate. It's the cowards who use the guns because they're afraid. They're afraid of the other person; they're afraid of a nonviolent way of resolving it. They don't have any faith in their own beliefs, I guess; they don't have faith in their own system."
Then I brought in two quotes, the first by Stephen Decatur was, "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong." I referred to the Nazis and the concentration camps which had their fences and lines too. Then I quoted Carl Schurz who said, "Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." I pointed out how Washington and Adams and Patrick Henry saw things wrong with their country Britain and tried a different way.
We must not be complicit in the wrongs of our country, as stated in the seventh Nuremberg Principle. I explained how the Trident is a crime against peace as defined in the sixth principle and recounted how the Nuremberg Tribunals were set up by the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union. I quoted the chief prosecutor for the United States, Justice Jackson, who said, "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."
Finally I concluded as follows:
So that's the responsibility. It's not one law for the other guy and another law for us, the law is for everyone. I don't think of myself as a criminal, and I don't really like being arrested; I don't think I am one, and I don't think I've done anything wrong. But I'm willing to be treated as a criminal and to be arrested and put in jail in order to try to wake up people and wake up the conscience, the sleeping conscience of the people in the United States. I just hope and pray that my efforts---and I hope I inspire other people to other efforts, and all the efforts that people are attempting to do in spite of great odds and against great powers that be to try to turn this country around before it's too late.
Because the more I learn about the world situation, it just seems like the United States is the primary obstacle to world peace now. I wouldn't have said that in the '70s, and I wasn't protesting in the '70s. Maybe I should have been because we were still going in a dangerous direction. But I think maybe under President Carter---you know, the Soviet Union was probably more reluctant to come to and agree to treaties and halt the arms race than the United States. But that's not true anymore. No. The Soviet Union is much more ready to be peace-loving and to disarm and let's get along and let's have a world community and an international system that we can all follow. So I just pray that the people of the United States will see the light and bring about a world of real peace and justice.
Miriam Hope's closing argument was as follows:
Your Honor, I walked onto the naval submarine base on May the 6th to try to stop the death of our planet Earth. Let me talk a bit about death. I have had my three-score-and-ten years, so I'm thinking about my own death. That's all right; that's part of the nature of things. I've had a good life. I have felt during my life that I was in the hands of a loving God. But there is another death I face which I feel I must fight against.
That is the death of our whole society and of the Earth itself. I cannot avoid hearing of terrible things going on which seem to be leading to our destruction in one way or another. I'm not speaking just of the nuclear weapons that we continue to stockpile, but of a whole climate of violence, hatred, greed and careless exploitation; drugs; the destruction of the rain forests; pollution of air, soil and water; the greenhouse effect; death squads and imperial oppressions; lies and manipulation by our public officials. There seems to be a whole convergence of disasters eating away at our human life on Earth.
Sometimes it seems that we have been trapped in a machine of great gears turning into each other by laws of their own beyond any human control. And yet, this is not really impersonal or inevitable. Every gear is composed of individual human beings who perform their tasks in obedience, conscious or unconscious, to the dictates of the great conglomerate which surges through them. Human beings have built these socio-economic organisms; they could not run without human consent. Surely, it must be possible to gain conscious control of them and turn them toward life again.
Now let me come back to the Trident submarine and the Kings Bay Naval Base here in Georgia. The Trident submarine is for me not just an evil in itself, but embodiment of everything that's wrong in our world. With this machine of massive destruction, we are preparing to work the deaths of millions of human beings who share the same air and water with us but who live in other nations whose leaders we consider to be our enemies.
Just why are we preparing for this vile action? When I cut through the talk of preserving our freedoms and our way of life, I have been forced more and more surely to the conviction that it is our possessions and the comforts of our living that we are really trying to protect. When we realize that we, who make up only six percent of the world's population, control almost half of its entire resources, we react with a paranoid obsession that we must protect our privileged position with all the firepower we can develop and deploy. Never mind that we have already enough warheads to incinerate all the Soviet Union; if there is danger that they are building more, we feel we must match them level by level, type by type. Again we face that seemingly impervious machine with its gears of corporate profit and unreasoning fear.
There is no way to know whether human beings can, in fact, take control of the gears of destruction. But those of us who are awake must at least try. The international decisions made at Nuremberg about the war crimes committed by individual German citizens in the name of their Nazi state made it clear that the individual citizen remains responsible for the criminal actions of his or her government or public officials.
The building of this fleet of Trident submarines appears, to my best insights, to be a criminal action; therefore, I must do what I can to stop it. When I stepped over the line at the Kings Bay Submarine Base, I was saying as loudly as I could, "Stop this evil madness!" We must not give up hope. All of us, each in his or her own role in life, must wake up and turn our thoughts and actions from the path of death and destruction to the path of life and loving helpfulness.
In her rebuttal Ms. Banks referred to United States versus
Albertini, allowing commanding officers of bases to determine
what areas of a base would be restricted, and United States versus
Bonilla, interpreting the second element of the statute as meaning
merely whether the accused had knowledge they were breaking the
law. She said the defendants' words were heartfelt and sincere,
but not a defense in this case. Finally she said, "There
was a time to render unto Caesar that which was Caesar's."
Then Judge Alaimo made his oral findings, saying among other things that the defendants did not avail themselves of the opportunity for freedom of speech. He found us both guilty "beyond any doubt." Then he said, "In making that finding, I do not question the sincerity or good motives of the Defendants. However, people with good motives as well as people with bad motives must obey the law. It has been said that the law is no respector of persons, and to tolerate disobedience of it, even though well-intentioned, would doubtless lead to anarchy and cannot be tolerated by any court."
He asked that a pre-sentence investigation report be made, but I asked to be sentenced then, having already given them a formal report from probation. When I said that I would not return, he ordered that I be taken into custody.
From the courtroom I was taken in handcuffs by the federal marshals and delivered to the Glynn County Detention Center, which is a euphemism for the local jail. At booking I read most of a long article in the New Yorker magazine about how almost every prominent writer in the United States since the thirties has been investigated by the FBI. Then I was strip-searched and given a blue uniform; I was allowed to keep my underwear and socks, because they didn't have any. I had worn a white T-shirt so that I could keep warm in the constantly air-conditioned facility, but they would not allow me to wear it nor did they give me one. Later I observed several inmates with T-shirts and some with yellow sweatshirts. After a while I requested a sweatshirt, and after three weeks I received one from Deputy B. T. I also brought a new and sealed contact-lens kit which they allowed me to keep.
I was assigned cell D-202 which is for one person and has no moveable furniture. The sink and toilet are a single steel unit, and there is a metal bunk, desk top and stool bolted to the floor. The dayroom has four steel tables with four stools each, a TV, and one shower for 16 cells. When I came in, they asked about my diet. I said I did not eat red meat. They said I could request a religious diet, but I decided to start out by giving my meat away or trading it for fruit or vegetables. It is a quick way to make friends in jail because virtually everybody feels they are not given enough to eat. At lunch I picked up a book by Detroit Tiger catcher Bill Freehan called BEHIND THE MASK about his 1969 season. Since as a teenager I had wanted to be a professional baseball player and had read Brosnan's LONG SEASON, I found it interesting. I took consolation in the fact that Freehan had been for Gene McCarthy. Next I found both halves of the broken book NAKED APE by Desmond Morris, a fascinating analysis of humans as animals.
After two days I was transferred to F-214B. This cell is the same size as the other, but it also had an upper bunk; the sink is ceramic and larger, the toilet separate; a small wooden desk with one drawer and plastic chair are moveable. Yet now there was two of us in the same space of about 65 square feet. By some miracle my cellmate didn't smoke; if he had, I would have had to leave at the first opportunity. I would estimate that about 80-90% of inmates smoke and that about three-quarters here are black. My cellmate was black and called Skitch. At six in the morning just after the lights came on, a deputy came in to give him his diabetes shot. I breathed the smoke of the deputy's cigarette and asked him to take it out of the cell. The officer reluctantly complied, saying, "You must be one of those big-time non-smokers." Though Skitch is a nice guy, this irritated him. His pressure along with my request for a single cell got me moved after two days to one at F-209.
Now I had my own desk and a good view of a channel with a shrimp boat on shore. At this time we were all on lock-down because after an attempted escape, someone had escaped, and it wasn't even discovered for several hours. Lock-down meant that we were locked in our rooms all the time, instead of just from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. I actually preferred it because it also meant the TV was off instead of on from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. I was inspired by a short novel by H. G. Wells called STAR-BEGOTTEN written in the 1930s about how cosmic rays might cause mutations so that maybe people wouldn't be so warlike. Then I absorbed myself in G. Gordon Liddy's 400-page autobiography WILL about the fanatical semi-fascist who spear-headed the Watergate break-ins. I got this book from Mallory Horton next door who was in prison for counterfeiting, yes, printing money. Now he is facing a drug charge that happened before the counterfeiting. A heroin addict, who says he's given it up, he told me he wished the drug charge had been prosecuted first because then he would have quit sooner. Next to Mallory was a lonely Vietnam veteran, Ivey Kilgore, who was doing six months for having sex with a girl who showed him a phony drivers license that said she was 18. He liked to talk to me non-stop without pausing for much response. I could see he had much kindness and a tremendous longing for love and acceptance. In jail as anywhere I always look for the good in people and rarely have difficulties with equals. My problems tend to come when authorities set themselves up as superiors and try to tell me what to do. With inmates it is "Live and let live," give and receive. One guy who especially liked meat would seek me out and say, "Have I got a deal for you!" We would do business with food.
Karol Schulkin, at Metanoia then, sent me the news article on the trial from the Jacksonville paper and the paper's address. I wrote a letter to the editors saying that protesting government violations of international law does not lead to anarchy but rather to respect for law and justice. I indicated that in my view Judge Alaimo was now in complicity with the crimes of the United States Government according to the Nuremberg Principles for not applying international law to my case as the U.S. Constitution and treaties require. I clarified the issue of Afghanistan by stating how much military aid the U.S. is giving the guerrillas in that country. Finally I asked the editors whether they had enough courage to print my letter or whether this would just be another example of how the media censors dissent in this country. According to Metanoia, the letter never appeared.
I filed a notice of my intention to appeal and requested a public defender. Doug Alexander, the "inmates' lawyer" who has a lawsuit against this jail, was appointed. He filed a motion for a new trial primarily on the ground that to declare restricted an area outside the gate and fence which is normally used by the public is in his words "a sham."
The probation officer Barry Bargainier asked me to write my explanation of what I did and why I did it for his pre-sentencing investigation report which he said would take 30-45 days to research all my prior arrests in California. Because Judge Alaimo in his "verdict" had stated that I made no effort to make a speech, I quoted the speech I made before stepping over the line. In my explanation I focused on the strategy of trying to persuade a federal judge, as the highest government official I can reach effectively, that U.S. behavior is criminal. The judiciary is supposed to be an independent check on the abuses of the other two branches. In the Nuremberg Tribunals the fact that a person was obeying the orders of a superior was not considered a valid excuse for a crime; but it was considered a mitigating circumstance, and efforts were made to find the people who were exercising independent judgment. A federal judge is independent and does not even have the excuse the military has.
When I discovered that it was going to take them at least a month to even get around to sentencing me, I applied to be released on my own recognizance as before. On August 5 I was notified that all bond was denied because of a California warrant for many arrests at the Concord Naval Weapons Station which were not brought against me in court until after I had already moved to Georgia. I was perfectly willing to go back to stand trial if the government would provide my transportation, but I could not afford it myself. However, California does not extradite for misdemeanors. On the same day I also learned that my sentencing would not be until September; it was later set for September 6.
Meanwhile I was attempting to get good reading materials. Karol wrote to Orbis Books and asked them to send me Ched Myers' BINDING THE STRONG MAN, and they did. I asked the Linnehans to bring me a paperback of Plato's dialogs so that I could work on my series of Socrates teleplays, but the jail would not allow it in. So I asked them to mail it to me. I didn't receive it, and they never got it back in return. A lieutenant who went to look through my stuff said he couldn't find it; but when I left the county jail in October with the marshals, the book had been with my valuables all that time.
From Mallory Horton I also got Irving Wallace's THE MIRACLE about Lourdes. Although Wallace's son, David Wallechinsky, was a good friend of mine in high school, I had never read any of his father's many best-sellers. The story was fairly good although somewhat stereotyped and exploitative, especially the Russian politician. On Wednesday night I went to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting because it was my first chance to get to the library. I said why I was in jail and asked them to consider our national addiction to weapons. The chaplain replied that alcoholism is a terminal disease. I said, "Nuclear war could be terminal for the entire human species." During the meeting I sat near the back by the bookshelves and scanned them with my eyes. As the meeting broke up, I walked over by the row of Bibles and picked off two books which I put under my Bible—FAMOUS AMERICAN PLAYS OF THE 1950S and ELIZABETH THE GREAT by Elizabeth Jenkins. As we went out, the accompanying deputy made it clear to me that he had seen me take the books; so apparently it was all right. I have this biography of Queen Elizabeth in my library at home but hadn't read it till then. She was quite a strong lady!
On Sunday I went to church to get more books and have gone every Sunday since. Although they have a few different ministers who come, the message is always essentially the same---accepting Jesus as your savior is all that seems to matter. At the end I would inform the minister I was there for protesting the Trident submarine and would ask them to consider what the Christ would do. This week I spent reading ROOTS by Alex Haley and THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck, two of the very best novels I have read. I heartily recommend them both.
On Friday night July 28th at 10 p.m. Deputy B. T. Waldrip informed me that some books had arrived for me at the control booth just outside the pod, but he didn't have time to get them for me. I was hoping it was the Plato for which I had been waiting eleven days. At breakfast I asked the deputy for my books; he was too busy. About an hour later I asked him again; he told me to fill out a request form, which I did, saying that if I did not receive the books ASAP I would stop cooperating. Earlier I had considered fasting to gain access to the library, and other inmates told me they would just let me starve.
So after another two hours I took a shower and decided not to go back into the dayroom until they gave me the books. In F pod there are glass walls dividing F in half and a locked door between the dayroom and the showers and telephones. If the deputies did not allow us to leave the door ajar, then a deputy had to let us in and out. This was as stupid as the rule which they sometimes enforced that our cell doors had to be locked, giving us the choice of being either in our cell or in the dayroom for hours at a time.
Anyway, after my shower the older but new deputy asked me if I was ready to go back in. I said, "Not until I get my books," and I sat on the steps by the exercise machine. Instead of calling one officer to get the books or letting me go myself, he called in about four officers to deal with a "rule violation." I was given the choice between going back to my cell or going to isolation. I explained that I merely wanted my books, but if that was the choice I would take isolation. They told me to go to my room and get my stuff, which I did. They took me to D-202 in maximum security, which is the other half of D closed off from where I was before. A kind black officer brought over my books right away which turned out to be BINDING THE STRONG MAN and Pax Christi's PEACEMAKING: Day by Day.
They said I would be locked down for 48 hours except for an hour or two for showering. They closed the door and a smaller door over the door's window. Meals were put through a slot that opened in the door. The next day I did get to go to church with B. T. As we came out, I had 5 good books. B. T. said, "Y'all shouldn't be taking books without permission."
When he repeated it, standing right next to me, I asked, "B. T., may I have permission to take these books?"
He replied, "Yes." Then the other person with books also asked permission and got it. A couple days later he brought me the yellow sweatshirt so I could keep warm.
In the first month I received a lot of encouraging mail. Almost every night I seemed to get at least one letter. Unless it was legal mail I didn't even have to open them; they had saved me the trouble. Janet Le Boeuf, who had been here for five days, sent me several spirited letters and some money and stamped envelopes. Of course I conversed every few days on the phone with my wife Karolyn. I got visits once or twice a week mostly from Robert Randall of Brunswick and John X. Linnehan. Miriam Hope sent me four picture cards which are nice to prop up on my desk, giving the cell a warmer feeling. I also heard from Karol Schulkin, Peg McIntyrre, Pax Christi New Orleans, the Nuclear Resister, Pax Christi USA, Carol Carson and Bill Akin of Memphis, Sam Marshall, Irene Bender, Joe Cohen, Helen Casey in Michigan, long, supportive letters from my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law, from the black minister who married us last January in Amarillo, Helen O'Brien and Tom, Retha Ferrell, Virginia Proctor, Joe Felmet, and the massive letter from the Southern Life Community retreat. I didn't write my own family in California that I was in jail until August 27 because they are not that supportive of it, and I didn't want them to worry. At first I responded to the people who wrote, but then I decided to wait until I got out and could use my word processor to send everyone a detailed account.
After reading SIX MEN by Alistair Cooke about Chaplin, Mencken, Bertrand Russell, Stevenson, Bogart, and Edward VIII, and then Thomas Merton's autobiography THE SEVEN-STORY MOUNTAIN, I thought about writing my own autobiography. It was that or a novel; and since one's first novel tends to be autobiographical anyway, I thought I might as well get it out of my system as the real thing. So after finding out I was going to be here at least another month I began it on Sunday August 6 with a sketch of my grandparents and my parents' lives. Thus far the working title is rather grandiose---THE MESSIANIC MARTYR.
After the 48 hours of lock-down I was left in D-202 but could come out of my room for meals or almost any time. I put in a request stating that I preferred to stay in D rather than go to a two-person cell. Each morning I wrote about four pages and then read the rest of the day and evening. I found THERESE RAQUIN by Emile Zola an excellent psychological novel about the guilt resulting from adultery and murder. Then I read George Eliot's THE MILL ON THE FLOSS (Her style is very good.) and the philosopher George Santayana's novel THE LAST PURITAN. In max were two young whites in orange uniforms. Chuck, whom I got to know later in B, was charged with murder, because while drunk he entered a freeway exit and accidentally killed four people in the auto crash. He is a very nice guy and admits he made a mistake but naturally feels he intended no murder; he felt the charge should be vehicular homicide. I learned that the D. A. is asking the death penalty on Charlie Johnson who during a burglary hit an 85-year-old woman with a small hoe because she pulled a gun on him. To me capital punishment seems as outrageous as what these young men had done. The main problem here is drugs for about 80% of the inmates. Another guy admitted he did wrong in stealing from his own parents' restaurant, but on crack he could not control himself. What these people want and need is treatment to help free themselves from drug habits. Yet typically our government has a war mentality on this issue too instead of seeing the deeper needs for therapy and healing.
While I was reading Shirley MacLaine's first book DON'T FALL OFF THE MOUNTAIN, deputies came into my cell for a second strip search within a week. They said I could only have three books plus a Bible in addition to my own books. I went through the books and picked out three, handing them the others. I also had the MacLaine book on my bed, but they didn't bother to count. I was feeling good that I had managed to keep an extra book when Randy Austin and his cousin Skip Austin came in to talk to me. Randy was in charge of the library and had asked me what kind of books I wanted him to get from the Brunswick Library. I had requested classics, biography, history, good literature, and listed about twenty authors. It was August 11, and Skip said he was running the jail now. I had read that the old administrator's resignation was for August 11. They said I didn't belong in maximum security and offered me a transfer to the best part of the jail in A-B if I would agree to cooperate. I told them I always cooperate unless my rights are denied, but I had to reserve the right to protest wrongs. Skip said if I would promise to write him a letter 24 hours before protesting about any concern, then they would move me to A-B. I happily agreed. What more could I ask than to have such an agreement with the top person?
A and B have no glass walls dividing them in half nor from the showers. There is only one TV in each double dayroom, but inmates have open access to either side. The dayrooms are carpeted and have moveable chairs and tables. Every room is a single, and inmates are given keys to their rooms, except they had lost the key to mine, B-210. This pod is better because these people have not been sentenced yet. I discovered that many men have been here three months or more and still haven't even gotten to court for arraignment. This was hard to believe but true. In California they have only 72 hours, not counting weekends, to arraign someone, or they have to release them. I also learned that this jail does not give two days credit for each day in jail as Camden County does. That means I could do a full six months. The bunk in my room is like a teeter-totter to the one next door such that if my neighbor moves I get a jolt. So each night I put my mattress on the floor, which I started doing anyway in max in the evening so that the reading light would be above me instead of on the back of my book and in my eyes. I always make my bed into a couch by leaning one end of the mattress against the wall.
I had some good talks with white Larry Stalvey and black Walter "Riff-raff" McCloud. I told them about reincarnation and how John-Roger had told me I had been on Venus and Mercury before my 196 lifetimes. Riff-raff has a great sense of humor and kidded me he was from Mars, told me to eat so I wouldn't fly off into space again. Larry shared peanuts and popcorn and asked me a lot of questions. I told them about the Light and how to call it in, how to pay attention to dreams, and much more. Riff-raff said he wanted to write to John-Roger. Some others wanted a Bible class; so we planned one for Sunday.
On Friday night I heard the name Bill Streit called, and I went down to introduce myself to the priest who had been arrested with the Washington DC Catholic Worker group at the same time I was. He had been sentenced to seven days and 100 hours of community service. He had just come into B from D and was fasting for the week on liquids and a little communion bread. We talked quite a bit and got to know each other. Just as we were beginning the Bible class Sunday after lunch, it was time for him to go. Since I was reading Myers' political interpretation of Mark, I suggested we start with the first gospel written. About a dozen of us sat around two tables, and each read parts of the first three chapters, and then we discussed them.
Then on Tuesday August 22 I was told to gather all my stuff to go back to E-F. Since the room number they had for me had a B after it, I knew it was a double room. Primarily because I will not tolerate tobacco smoke, I refused to accept a double room. So I sat down on my linen in the hallway between the pods, saying that I preferred to go to max (D). All the others entered the E-F pod. Randy Austin was called out, and they decided to give me a single cell, F-101. When I entered E-F, Larry and others were talking about "bucking" rather than go in double cells. However, they were all talked into going into their cells, though Larry managed to get transferred to a lower bunk by claiming he had a medical profile. Bucking means not cooperating, from "bucking the system" I guess. When I was in max, the black next to me often talked to the guy two cells down that he was going to buck. "I'm bucking," he would say. He did once too and spent several days in lock-down. He had an obscene rap about Nancy Reagan, which I will not repeat in this work of fine literature.
Meanwhile I was reading FAMOUS AMERICAN PLAYS OF THE 1930S, Tolstoy's ANNA KARENINA, ROBINSON CRUSOE by Daniel Defoe, DEMOCRACY by Henry Adams, and then Dostoyevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. I was finding some good literature after all.
On a Thursday evening after dinner I was looking for the daily newspaper in the dayroom. When I saw it in a room I asked whose room that was; no one said. The door was closed and, I assumed, locked; but when I pulled the handle it opened, and a playing card fell on the floor. I stepped in, picked up the paper, and closed the door ajar so it wouldn't lock. I was sitting at a table reading the front page when all of a sudden I felt a shocking smack on my face. My consciousness shifted abruptly as if I had suddenly awoke from a dream. I saw a flash of the ceiling lights and found myself on my back on the floor. I said, "Jesus Christ!" as I tried to figure out what was going on.
Then I saw a heavy-weight black man, about 50, shouting at me, "What you go in my room for? No one goes in my room!" I explained I only went in there to get the newspaper. I was stunned, because he hit me very hard in the face; but by some miracle I wasn't in pain or really hurt. Later I had part of a black eye on the outside of my right eye. Fortunately his hand must have been open, and he missed my nose and most of my eye, catching mostly forehead and cheek.
As I am nonviolent, I had no thought of fighting back. However, I do not let anyone bully me either. Two days before a young black had threatened to kick the plastic trash can out from under me if I tried to turn the TV volume down. Others wanted me to, but he said it was his TV, and he'd been "in the hole" before. I said it was against the law to threaten someone with violence and walked away, but I reported it to Deputy B. T. at the next opportunity. He came in with the remote and turned it down, saying only that if we couldn't agree on the TV it would be turned off. Later he told me that he warned the guy he was lucky I was nonviolent, because I knew all sorts of martial arts, a fabrication.
So I went to report this violence, and the deputy on duty was B. T. again. I pointed out the man whose name was Roger Sanders. B. T. took me and Sanders out in the hall with a black deputy. Sanders said it was wrong for me to go into his room. The black deputy agreed with him and that it was wrong for him to hit me, as if they were equivalent. Then I exclaimed, "But hitting a person in the face is about a thousand times worse than stepping into a room to get a newspaper that belongs to everyone." The whole thing seemed like a nightmare at this point. Then B. T. came back and started to take my side with the rap about how he was lucky I was nonviolent, because ... That seemed absurd to me, because this guy was a solid 200 pounds, saying he wanted to be respected as a man and that he wasn't a talker. I told him I respected him and forgave him. When Sanders accused B. T. of making this a black-white thing, B. T. started to get hot, though the black deputy was cool and quiet. I said it wasn't a black-white issue. Finally Sanders said he liked to read the paper overnight and agreed not to take it into his room until lockdown. B. T. said he would write the report, and nothing else happened.
I was rather surprised and concerned that Sanders wasn't taken right away to max, but I had said I forgave him and tried to let it go. Sanders was full of hate and anger from having been in prison for 13 years and 7 years before that. He had only been out for four months and was back facing some 15 or 20 armed robbery charges. When I thought of how barbarically humans still treat each other in the world today, I cried a little in my cell that night. I thought most of the night about writing a letter to Skip Austin. After all, I had met a guy in max who was there for not making his bed. These authorities seemed to react to petty rule violations if it concerned them; but if a man violently breaks the law in attacking an inmate, nothing seemed to happen. I definitely did not want to prosecute or punish Sanders to make his problems worse; but I was concerned about my safety since revenge for reporting an incident was possible. However, Sanders seemed sincere when he said, "I'm through with it." Nevertheless at breakfast he was justifying himself to other deputies, and said he'd do it again. He also told me, "You're lucky I was in a good mood, or I'd've kicked your head off." Finally after lunch he was transferred to D.
On Saturday I finished writing the third chapter of my autobiography. The first three chapters are "Family," "School," and "Sports;" they cover my life through high school. I also wrote the following poem for my wife:
Larry Stalvey asked me to help with letters to Judge Alaimo and a newspaper writer, which I edited for him. These detailed inmate concerns about the slowness of the courts and the jail conditions.
It had been a week since I had seen the nurse and the doctor about my request for a non-red meat diet, which I finally had decided to get formally instead of by trading. When I saw the doctor, I heard his phone conversation with another doctor about supporting him in advising that this institution become a non-smoking facility. After I told him I liked the idea, he asked me why I was there. There followed a short but argumentative discussion about national defense when he asked me why I didn't go to Russia. He proclaimed me in perfect health but asked nothing about my religion. When my religious diet did not come through, I put in a complaint asking whether I was being denied this right because the doctor did not like my political beliefs. I received no reply.
So on Monday with nine days to go until my sentencing, I requested a fruitarian diet, stating that starting on Tuesday I would eat only fruit, nuts, and seeds, and I would not accept food from other inmates. On Tuesday for breakfast I had an apple Ms. Armstrong gave me from her desk. At lunch Roger Sanders opened my door and asked for my tray; he was back in the same room in F after only four days in max. I later learned he apologized to Riff-raff in the hall for hitting his friend. Riff-raff also told me he hit another guy while in max, this time a black. I was rejecting all but the fruit on my trays, but I let the deputies give them to other inmates usually. My lunch was an orange, and I had no dinner.
Frustrated at not being allowed out after dinner for my daily shower, I requested a transfer to A, B, C, or D because of the absurd shower policy in E-F and because Sanders was back in the same dayroom; I also checked off where it said "religious diet." When they let us out for showers, Sanders was in the shower; so I went over to the E side. Wednesday I had an orange from Ms. Armstrong for breakfast and two oranges for lunch, no dinner. Weak from fasting it was an eerie feeling to have Sanders walking back and forth behind me as I read the newspaper and watched the news.
After no breakfast on Thursday Randy Austin came in and said he was sorry about this, pointing to my transfer request, saying he hadn't known Sanders was back in there. He took me to A-B where I was given the same room B-210, but this time I got a key. He said we would get together with the doctor about my diet request. In the afternoon I talked to Deputy McBee in the nurse's office who was very sympathetic and had even tried and liked a fruitarian diet himself. He said I would see the doctor the next day. That day I ate two slices of tomato for lunch and two bowls of fruit cocktail for dinner. The next morning the nurse did the usual temperature, pulse, blood pressure, but I had to ask to be weighed; I had lost six and a half pounds already. The doctor never called me though, and a deputy reported that he said I would have to eat what I was given. All I ate that day was one orange. The inmates were right; they would just let me starve.
I had nothing on Saturday till dinner. For the first time there was a special tray for me, but it was a non-meat diet and had no fruit at all. However, a concerned trustee brought me two apples and an orange from the kitchen after I had rejected the tray. On Saturday morning I had talked to Sergeant Taylor about the criteria for a religious diet such as a recognized religion, place and time of worship. On Sunday morning they asked me to fill out a request form for the fourth time and explain my religion and diet. Again I wrote, "I will eat fresh fruit, dried fruit, real fruit juice, shelled nuts, and shelled seeds." On the back I wrote the following:
My religion is universal and includes the truth found in all religions, philosophies, psychologies, literature, etc., especially Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, Platonism, stoicism, Sufism, idealism, pragmatism, theosophy, existentialism, Jungian and transpersonal psychology. My place of worship currently is planet Earth, and my time of worship is continuous love and respect for every human being and for the Spirit in all life. I have practiced this religion for the past 20 years. I have an M.A. in Religious Studies from U.C.S.B. and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the World University. I was ordained a Minister of Light in the Melchizidek priesthood through the office of the Christ by Dr. John-Roger Hinkins on January 23, 1972 in Los Angeles. I am working in coordination with the reign of God on Earth, and I wish no harm to anyone.
The fruitarian diet which includes nuts and seeds is the purest religious diet that gives human life balanced and adequate nutrition without killing any living creature. In Genesis 1:29 we read that God gave this diet to humans in the garden of Eden before Eve sinned: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." Many people believe that this is the diet we should follow in order to regain the lost paradise.
In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism the concept "ahimsa," which means "not injuring," is best followed by means of a fruitarian diet. Pythagoreans and some Theosophists follow a similar diet.
I am not a criminal but a political prisoner of the U.S. Gov't. for nonviolently pointing out its serious crimes against humanity and int'l law. Since Monday night August 28 I am following a fruitarian diet in order to strengthen my spiritual purpose for being here which is to act for Christ through love in order to help bring about the divine plan of paradise on Earth.
I have no desire to cause problems for the people of Glynn County, and I suggest that you consider giving me back to the federal authorities so that you will not be complicit in imprisoning a dissident, like they do in the Soviet Union.
Love and Light,
On Sunday I ate nothing at all but water. Monday I ate only
two pieces of canned pear, and Tuesday for lunch a little canned
peaches. I felt I could do this fruit fast until my sentencing
in court on Wednesday morning; but on Tuesday I found out that
it was postponed indefinitely, because Judge Alaimo was out of
town for the week. Since by now I was experiencing almost constant
pain in my lower back, I asked McBee if he could see that I got
a non-red-meat diet tray. He said he could, and at Tuesday dinner
I accepted this compromise. At least I had won my right for a
religious diet even if it wasn't fruitarian. Meanwhile I had read
the story of Jessie Benton Fremont in Irving Stone's IMMORTAL
WIFE, BABBITT by Sinclair Lewis, finished BINDING
THE STRONG MAN, and read RISE TO GLOBALISM, an objective
account of U.S. foreign policy from 1938 to 1970.
Doug Alexander, the lawyer who was appointed to help me bring the motion for a new trial before Judge Alaimo, wanted to raise two points---first that I wasn't adequately represented by counsel and second that my First Amendment rights were violated by the "sham" restricted area outside the fence of the base. I told him that I had waived my right to an attorney and wanted to represent myself during the trial. He insisted that we should make the argument anyway just to make them prove the point. I finally acquiesced and said he could make that argument if he wished, but I didn't really see any validity in it. He wouldn't make any arguments from international law, but I knew those would be futile before Judge Alaimo. However, after we went through this motion for a new trial, I wanted to make that argument in the appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals.
Doug had gone to the Navy Base on August 9 before and during a demonstration there to see how the "restricted area" was being operated. Then he filed an affidavit stating that he had been in the Air Force for 24 years, retiring as a Lt. Colonel with 20 years experience in Special Investigations and had considerable knowledge of restricted areas at military installations and the legal issues involved with them. He declared that restricted areas are usually enclosed in a fenced area or a secure building. Anyone entering a restricted area must be checked for a restricted area badge. He stated that it is common knowledge that a main-gate area is not a restricted area, because that is where the general public must go to the Pass and Identification Office in order to gain permission to enter the base. On August 9 he observed a number of people walk past the police tape set up for the demonstration that day and go into the Pass and Identification Office without being challenged; and he even did so himself. However when the peace demonstrators arrived, a warning was played saying they could not enter that area; on that day none of them attempted to do so. At this demonstration and the one when I was arrested, the only people who were not allowed to pass the main gate or walk to the security building were the peace demonstrators.
This has been published in the book PEACE OR BUST. For ordering information, please click here.