3 October 2004
Rallies applaud anti-nuke nuns
Missile-site protest calls for appellate court to drop convictions
By Alicia Caldwell and Heath Urie

Denver Post Staff Writers


Pink and green signs that read "citizen weapons inspector" hung from car windows and were taped to protesters' backs Saturday, amid chants and cheers in support of three nuns convicted of sabotaging a nuclear-missile site during a protest last year.

Members of the Colorado Adopt-a-Silo campaign helped organize a morning trip to a nuclear missile silo near Greeley where the nuns were arrested.

The approximately 200 people then attended a rally at the University of Northern Colorado.

Saturday's rally followed a Friday hearing at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in which attorneys argued that the nuns' sabotage convictions should be reversed or their cases retried.

"It's been very important and very wonderful," Anabel Dwyer, an attorney for one of the nuns, said Saturday. "Yesterday the courtroom was full. I think people have learned a lot."

The three nuns who cut a chain-link fence to get onto the nuclear missile site intended to send a message, not sabotage national defense, their attorneys argued.

"Intending to harm the fence is not the same thing as harming national defense," argued Clifford J. Barnard, a Boulder lawyer representing one of the nuns.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Murphy said the sisters carefully planned their 2002 trip to Colorado to stage the protest.

Their intrusion onto the site, which housed a Minuteman III nuclear warhead, caused significant disruption as military personnel converged on the area, he said.

The three-judge panel that heard the appeal will issue a decision at a later date.

After slipping into the missile compound nearly two years ago, Jackie Hudson, Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte used bottles of their own blood to draw a cross on the silo lid.

An hour later, military personnel arrived with weapons drawn and found the nuns singing and praying.

The nuns, of the Dominican order, were tried and convicted of two felonies - obstructing national defense and damaging government property. They received prison terms ranging from 30 to 41 months.

Dozens of anti-nuclear- weapons activists converged Friday on downtown Denver and again Saturday on Greeley. Scott Kerr, 26, drove from Chicago to support the nuns' cause.

"I hope other people in Colorado will follow their example," Kerr said.

Cynda Collins-Arsenault, 55, helped organize Saturday's event at UNC. She said nearly 50 groups of people were asked to "adopt" one of Colorado's nuclear missile silos and protest against it.

Across the street a small group toted signs that read "support our troops." They said it's important to give students attending the rally a second perspective.

"We explain to them the philosophy of the two groups," said Dale Parrish, a 43-year-old Gilcrest resident. "It gives (students) an opportunity to find out more about the political process."

Staff writer Alicia Caldwell can be reached at 303-820-1930 or acaldwell@denverpost.com .


( Other reports on 3 ploughshares nuns here )

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