27 July 2003
Finding and Exposing Colorado's WMDs

Bill Sulzman
Colorado Springs

Today more than 500 turned out to visit and expose all 49 MM III missile sites in Colorado and at least 3 more in Nebraska.  The small town hall in Stoneham CO hosted the overflow crowd on a scorching hot day.  Entertainment, speeches and lots of personal stories and necessary food and water were shared. A rest area along Interstate 80 near Kimbal, Nebraska got a visit by protesters with leaflets explaining the day's events.  At least 12 silos got tagged with crime scene tape and Eviction Notices.  Almost no law enforcement presence was noted.  A small plane with a banner declaring that America's weapons of mass destruction had been found circled overhead.  It marked the second day in a row of much larger participation than expected.  The October 6 action of Jackie, Ardeth and Carol has set loose a prairie fire of peace activism.    And there is no end in sight..

Bill Sulzman
P.O. Box 915
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
719 389 0644

Very temporary prison addresses:

Jackie Hudson and Carol Gilbert
Washington county Jail
26861 Hwy 34
Akron, CO 80720

Ardeth Platte
Clear Creek County Jail
PO Box 518
Georgetown, CO 80444


27 July 2003
500 Colorado Citizen Inspectors Tour Missile Silos

Loring Wirbel
Colorado Springs

Close to 500 anti-nuclear activists converged on the community center at Stoneham, Colo. Saturday afternoon after touring missile silos in the northeastern portion of the state.  The "Adopt a Missile Silo" citizen-inspection action was taken to honor Sisters Jackie Hudson, Ardeth Platte, and Carol Gilbert, who were sentenced to terms of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years in prison on Friday, for a missile-silo action last October.

Enough protesters from Colorado and other states arrived to be able to visit each of Colorado's 49 Minuteman III missile silos.  A Colorado Springs contingent, which had adopted the "Indigo Flight" missile cluster in the northeastern corner of Colorado near the town of Peetz, adorned six missile silos with police "crime scene do not cross" tape, and eviction notices, without confronting a single Air Force security official.  Other protesters saw Air Force security officers, but no confrontations or arrests took place.  Weld County Sheriff officers were helpful in controlling the large crowds that came to Stoneham to hear Leroy Moore, Bill Sulzman, Anabel Dwyer, Free Range Theatre, and Raging Grannies, among other speakers and performers.

Organizers hired a small plane to overfly the missile fields with a banner saying "America's Weapons of Mass Destruction: Found".  The plane made several circles around the community center during the afternoon program.


My apologies at not mentioning the wonderful organizing effort made by Cynda Arsenault (sp?) of Code Pink, without whom the Citizens Inspection could not have been half as successful.


27 July 2003
Protesters target missile sites
Nun supporters rally near 49 underground silos across N.E. Colorado
By Annette Espinoza

Denver Post Staff Writer



People gather at a missile silo near New Raymer,
in northeastern Colorado, to protest prison sentences
given Friday to three nuns.

STONEHAM - A caravan of sport utility vehicles with miniature black missiles on top barreled down Interstate 76.

A banner surrounded by women proclaimed, "You can't hug your children with nuclear arms."

Men, women and children wearing white hazmat suits lay on the hot gravel and formed a human peace sign.

The groups spread across the barren plains of northeastern Colorado on Saturday with hundreds of others to protest in front of 49 underground Minuteman IIImissile sites.

The mass protest was organized by more than 35 peace activist groups to support Dominican nuns Ardeth Platte, 66, Carol Gilbert,55, and Jackie Hudson, 68, who were sentenced to prison Friday.

The nuns were convicted of damaging property, obstructing national defenseand interference for cutting a fence at a Weld County missile silo, smearing their blood on the silo's lid and hammering on railroad tracks at the site.

Platte received 41 months behind bars, Gilbert, 33 months, and Hudson, 30months. They each faced a maximum of 30 years in federal prison.

"It was one of the most unjust sentences of our time," said protester David Silver, a Boulder physician. "They were clearly involved in a symbolic action."

Silver, a member of the Free Range Theater in Boulder, and his group spelled out the letters "WMD" (weapons of mass destruction) with replica missileson the gravel driveway leading to missile silo site N5 west of Stoneham.

They wore white masks, marched in circles around the fake missiles and chanted.

Other nun supporters included Magdalena "Mag" Seaman, 77, a member of the Raging Grannies of Denver who traveled to the northeastern plains with seven members of her group.

"The sisters are trying to save the Earth for the rest of us," Seaman said.

Seaman said she has protested at the missile silos before and began protesting back in the 1960s during the Vietnam War. On this day, the Raging Grannies sang in front of their adopted missile site, known only as N4.

Despite threats by some protesters that they were planning to get arrested for civil disobedience, the event was peaceful, and no one was jailed.

In fact, all Weld County sheriff's Cmdr. Bill Spalding had to do was visit with protesters at various silo sites and offer them water.

"We're just making sure everyone stays hydrated and (watches) out for rattlesnakes," Spalding said.

Organizers of the protest were surprised to see so many people travel to Weld County to support the movement.

"I'm amazed at the turnout," said Cynda Collins Arsenault, a member of a group called Code Pink Colorado.

Arsenault said she thinks the media hype over the arrests and sentencing of the nuns drew the huge crowds to the silo areas Saturday.

"People couldn't believe we would be locking up nuns," she said of the government.

After protesting at the missile sites, the crowds gathered at Stoneham'ssmall community center, where they ate, sang, chanted and performed theater.

For Greg and Kymm Ciccin of Golden and their 3 1/2-year-old daughter, Mekayla, the event was a family experience.

"This is not her first protest, and it's not going to be her last," Kymm Ciccin said.


27 July 2003
Montanans protest arrest of nuns who staged antiwar action

Montana News - Independent Record


(Photo by John Harrington, IR Staff)
Peace Seekers from Helena, Bozeman, Butte and Missoula
form a prayer circle outside a missile silo
in central Lewis and Clark County Saturday.

Under the watchful eyes and video cameras of Air Force security at nuclear missile site G-6 in central Lewis and Clark County, around 20 Montanans on Saturday protested the sentencing of three nuns in Colorado for a similar antiwar action.

The local protest was one of several at missile silos throughout the high plains and came one day after the nuns, Jackie Hudson, 68, Ardeth Platte, 66, and Carol Gilbert, 55, were sentenced in Denver to 30 to 41 months in prison for cutting the fence around a Colorado missile installation last October, beating on the missile cover with hammers and painting a cross with their blood on the structure.

A federal judge Friday sentenced Hudson to 2 years, Platte to almost 3 years and Gilbert to two years and nine months. All three were given three years of supervised probation. Prosecutors said they hoped the sentences would deter others from similar protests.

"We're here on a serious mission to support three Catholic nuns who we feel are unjustly in prison for their symbolic actions at a missile site in Colorado," said Frank Kromkowski of the Helena Peace Seekers. "We believe this missile is a violation of international law as a weapon of mass destruction."

Members of the Helena organization were joined by protesters from sister chapters in Butte, Missoula and Bozeman. They caravaned to the silo, about 15 miles northwest of Wolf Creek, after a prayer service Saturday morning at St. Paul's Methodist Church.

Once at the site, the group prayed and chanted before spreading wildflower seeds on the ground outside the fenced ranchland that contains the silo complex.

"We are sowing these seeds to begin to reclaim this ground for legal uses," Kromkowski said.

Then, a half-dozen members of the group entered the gated ranch property and walked around the perimeter of the missile installation, shadowed by security the whole way.

Upon their arrival at the missile site, the Peace Seekers were met by several members of the Air Force, which had contacted the group earlier in the week and offered medical aid, water and anything else the protesters might need.

At the outset, protesters and Air Force representatives met face to face in something resembling a coin toss before a football game. A military attorney explained the property rights inside each of two fences surrounding the missile and the potential penalties for trespassing on the missile site, while the Peace Seekers explained their mission and their opposition to nuclear weapons.

"We have two priorities - safety and security," said Capt. David Kurle, chief of public affairs for Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls. "The safety of the citizens who have a right to be out here protesting and the security of our facility and equipment."

The missile is one of an estimated nine buried in the county (along with a launch control center) and one of 200 under the command of Malmstrom. The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile has a range of some 6,000 miles and contains up to three warheads.

The military has 500 active Minuteman silos, with the others scattered on the northern plains near bases in Wyoming and North Dakota.

"I would like to see the United States welcome international inspectors," said former Montana State University chemistry professor Reed Howald. "I don't think (the missiles) are illegal. They were here for a purpose, but that purpose does not exist."

At the end of the protest, Kurle seemed relieved that the event went off without incident.

"It's important in a situation like this that two groups respect each other, and that's what happened today," he said.

"They were cordial, and we have no animosity, expressed or intended, toward them," Kromkowski said of the Air Force presence. "We said to them that they are not our enemy, and we hate to see them in the position of defending this violation of international law." Similar protests were held in Colorado and Nebraska.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


( Other reports on 3 ploughshares nuns here )

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