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Trial of the ‘Zumwalt 12’ – Comitting to Nonviolence

Posted by Ryan Hall
01.30.17

Connie Jenkins, member of Pax Christi Maine and involved with Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, is preparing for trial where she will offer faithful witness to her nonviolent action last June 2016 at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. Connie has been inspired by the lived example of Fr. John Dear over many years. She has taken the Vow of Nonviolence and has participated in Campaign Nonviolence actions in Bangor. Below is a summary of her action, preparation for trial and commitment to nonviolence.

Trial of the ‘Zumwalt 12’ begins in February
By Connie Jenkins

On June 18th of last year, the USS Michael Mansoor was “christened” at Bath Iron Works in Maine.  Twelve people were arrested for blocking traffic outside the shipyard as part of a protest against “blessing” of the $4 billion dollar Zumwalt destroyer.   Members of the group—self-identified as the ‘Zumwalt 12’–were charged with ‘obstructing a public way’, a class E misdemeanor with maximum sentence of a $2000.00 fine and 6 months in county jail.

The June protest is the latest in a long history of community vigils, demonstrations and actions at Bath Iron Works, including two Plowshares actions in the 1990s (Aegis Plowshares 1991 and Prince of Peace Plowshares 1998).

Members of the ‘Zumwalt 12’ came together for a variety of reasons.  What they share, according to group member and environmentalist Russell Wray, is “the belief that if we are going to continue living on this planet, it is absolutely necessary that we move away from militarism and war towards a more sustainable culture of diplomacy and cooperation, where justice prevails, and we care for one another and the Earth”.

Connie Jenkins felt called by her faith to take part in the action.  Following is an excerpt from her statement to the jury:

“I am a Christian peacemaker and a member of Pax Christi Maine, a Catholic peace and social justice movement guided by the spirituality of nonviolence.  As such, I am called to live my life according to the precepts given by Jesus in the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount.  I have taken a vow of nonviolence offered by Pace e Bene, an international peace organization, and as part of that vow, I am committed to helping the struggle to abolish War.

Jesus declared, Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.   And what that means to me is that if I consider myself to be a Christian, I must, to cite the words of Fr. John Dear, “do [my] part to make a more peaceful world,  . . . speak out against War, and take public action for peace”.* As a follower of the nonviolent Jesus, I found it impossible to remain silent as another weapon of mass destruction was blessed and prepared for delivery to the Navy.

And so, I joined eleven other men and women who also chose to risk arrest for the cause of Peace.  Through the simple act of sitting down and refusing to move, we embodied a resounding “No” to the immeasurable suffering caused by national policies that have made weapons of mass destruction and unrestrained, endless war our country’s major exports.”

Trial of the Zumwalt 12 is scheduled to begin February 1st in Sagadahoc District Court in Bath.

*From The Beatitudes of Peace by Father John Dear, p. 91.

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