27 July 2003
Four Greeley women trekked out to missile silo N10 near New Raymer on Saturday to protest three pacifist nuns sentenced to jail and to raise public awareness about the 49 silos in Colorado — 31 of which are in Weld County.
They were among hundreds of religious and political activists who gathered in small groups at each of the 49 Colorado missile sites to protest and pray for peace.
The three nuns, Jackie Hudson, 68, Carol Gilbert, 55, and Ardeth Platte, 66, received sentences of 21/2 years to 31/2 years in prison and were ordered to pay $3,000 in damages Friday in Denver for breaking into missile silo N8, about eight miles west of New Raymer, last fall.
They cut through chain-link fences and painted crosses with their own blood to bring attention to the United States’ nuclear weapons. They also said they feared the missiles would be used against Iraq. A jury found them guilty in April of obstructing national justice and damaging government property.
Separate groups planned to protest Saturday outside each of the Colorado silo sites as well as three sites in southwestern Nebraska. Then they met at Stoneham for lunch and to listen to speakers. N10 is on Weld County Road 115 about five miles north of Weld 14.
When the Greeley women from Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom arrived at the silo at 11 a.m., they were surprised to find seven women from Boulder’s Code Pink already there. Code Pink is also a women’s peace organization, whose name is a play on the wording of President Bush’s color-coded security alerts.
Although Code Pink was assigned N9, the two groups each did their own thing at the same silo. The women from Boulder made a circle with a string of red prayer ties on the ground, wore pink signs that read “Citizen Weapon Inspector,” and carried flags, some of which read “Peace” and “No Nukes.” After saying some prayers, they walked to the beat of a drum around the silo’s chain-link fence, bowing every few steps.
While setting up, the Women’s League was joined at 11:15 by five more women from the Boulder chapter. The group created a peace sign with rocks inside the circle of prayer ties, decorated it with sunflowers and held signs and segments of a ribbon that wrapped around the Pentagon in 1982.
After singing “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” Jean Gore, a Boulder resident and former national president of the Women’s League, read passages from two books.
Both readings focused on the power of ordinary citizens to stop violence.
“The nuns have led the way to point out the evil of these weapons,” Gore said. “Their acts encouraged us to witness to the fact there are weapons of mass destruction our country has created and to realize so many nukes all over our beautiful Colorado. Bearing witness eventually pays off.”
Air Force personnel patrolled the gravel roads leading to the underground silos.
About a half dozen additional Weld County Sheriff’s deputies were on duty Saturday because of the planned protests at the missile sites, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Margie Martinez. Deputies estimated about 200-300 people protested at the various Weld sites. No incidents were reported.
Elaine Schmidt, chairwoman of Greeley’s chapter of the Women’s League, and Judith Meyers have been members of the group together since 1968. Meyers said she thinks people perceive the war on Iraq differently than on Afghanistan.
“I think what ticked people off about this one is they felt it was unprovoked,” Meyers said. “In Afghanistan, people felt it was provoked.”
Schmidt, wearing a necklace that read “Waging war is not healthy for children and other living things” and dangling peace symbol earrings, said she thought the day’s protest went well.
“We hope they’ll dismantle this since we’ve been here,” Schmidt said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.