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Five nuns released after protest charges dropped


Five nuns were released from jail Sept. 15 after felony charges were dropped for a protest attack on a fighter jet and satellite communications system during an air show at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

The nuns had refused to post $1,000 bond or be released on personal recognizance since their arrest Sept. 9, saying they would not leave the jail until their cases made their way through the court system, according to The Denver Post.

The five members of the Plowshares peace movement were released from El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs after charges were dropped. Prosecutors said the cost of damage caused by the nuns’ attack was lower than expected. “Today we were informed that the damages were less than $100,” said Deputy District Attorney Dan May. “With a felony, you have to have damages of at least $500.”

According to the Post, prosecutors were initially told the nuns caused between $5,000 and $10,000 damage. May said they could still face misdemeanor charges.

Calling their group Sacred Earth and Space Plowshares, the nuns hammered a fighter jet and struck and spilled bottles of their blood on a mobile receiver that is part of a satellite communications system.

The five arrested were: Dominican Srs. Ardeth Platte, 64, and Carol Gilbert, 52, of Jonah House, a nonviolence community in Baltimore; Dominican Sr. Jackie Hudson, 65, a member of the Ground Zero Center in Bremerton, Wash.; Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Elizabeth Walters, 57, of Detroit; and Sacred Heart Sr. Ann Montgomery, 73, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Platte said the group wanted to “unmask this whole plan of the military that is held so secret, as it relates to total cost, to mining the resources and pouring them into outer space, to weaponization, and determining enemies who cannot be there and allies who can be there -- this whole concept of domination of space.”

The protest at Peterson Air Force base came on the 20th anniversary of the first Plowshares demonstration at a nuclear weapons plant in King of Prussia, Pa., in 1980. Montgomery was with Phillip Berrigan, Jesuit Fr. Daniel Berrigan and Oblate Fr. Carl Kabat at that protest.

The nuns, who could have faced eight years in prison under the felony charges, told the Post that they had been in jail often for protests at military installations throughout the United States.

Mike Warren, the Colorado Springs lawyer who represented the group, said the nuns were “sort of perplexed” by their release. “They’re used to being thrown in jail for years, and this didn’t last very long,” he told the Post.

National Catholic Reporter, September 29, 2000