Letters from Prison

By Paula Rochman (ed)

On November 12, 1984, Helen Woodson, Fathers Carl Kabat and Paul Kabat, and Larry Cloud-Morgan, entered a military base near Kansas City to participate in an act of nuclear disarmament. With a jack hammer, hand tools, and their own blood they decommissioned a minuteman-ICBM in Silo N-S. This was the eleventh "Plowshares Action" - an action where citizens, following the biblical passage of beating swords into plowshares, entered a military facility and nonviolently, with tools in their control, dismantled a weapon of death. Helen, Carl, Paul, and Larry were charged with destruction of government property, destruction of national defence materials, conspiracy, and trespass. They named their action the "Silo Pruning Hooks."

By the time their trial began in February, Martin Holladay had entered the same missile silo site and with a hammer, chisel, and spray paint, damaged another minuteman ICBM.

On February 22nd, the jury returned a guilty verdict on all four charges brought against the Silo Pruning Hooks. Ironically, this was also the judges' birthday and he served them coffee and cake in his chambers. He commented that they were good people and that he wished he hat met them under different circumstances.

However, on March 27th, Judge Bartlett meted out the longest sentence for anti-nuclear nonviolent civil disobedience in the U.S. Helen and Carl were sentenced to 18 years in jail, Paul to 10 years, and Larry to 8 years.

The following are excerpts from letters that have been sent by the Silo Pruning Hooks since being sentenced.

Paul Kabat

I spent Father's Day this year . . . with Fred Sindona and Larry Kolb. Larry Koib was a struggling farmer in South Dakota who found himself in debt some $250,000 to the FHA. He sold some of his cattle to try to keep his enterprise afloat. The government told him he had no right to sell those cattle and they would prosecute him. He took off for Canada, where he was found and extradited after one year. He now has a sentence of three and a half years, and he is my friend. It is a story like this which gives me more reason to fear for the future of our world and of our country. I have reason to believe the severity of our own sentence is a pattern of entrenchment of the Global Corporate State as we fall deeper and deeper into a form of police state which seems to be controlled by the leaders of multinational corporations ...

It is now seven months since we did our act of disarmament near Kansas City as the Silo Pruning Hooks. I am adjusting to severe sentences given to the four of us and to Martin Holladay. lam not accepting it very graciously. In fact, I am very angry and I experience the harshness and the waste and all it stands for..

Thank you for your support and prayers. Let us do our best to keep in touch with each other. We all have our lives to live and work to do. We must make the best of what we have and where we are and be open to God's will for the future. May God bless you and may you do what you can for love, justice, and peace.

Peace and love, Paul Kabat

Larry Cloud-Morgan

day 25 in Moon of Dark Red Calves

Greetings in the Spirit Great and all that shall flower, come spring. "I am free," "So Free." This soul of Native soil is finally free. We are the Children. We are the Old Ones. The gates of Auschwitz and Dachau are one with the gates of Silo N-S. We are the welders who collected their lucre at the expense of 6 million souls. We are the Chaplains, who pray for the pilots of Nation Death, as they bless the Bomb. As the engines roar, and the blinding mushrooms of infamy inscribe in the heart of history forever, that moan and cry of - Water! Water! We are Hiroshima. We are Nagasaki. . . We are El Salvador. We are Nicaragua. We are Guatemala. We are Oscar Romero, Maura,

Ita, Doroihy, and Jean. We are N-5.We are tried. They say we are guilty. But we are Free! Free! Free to seek and live the Truth which guides this journey called Peace. They think they own our land. They try to own our lives. They believe they own our soil. But they shall never own our soul! We are peace. My gratitude, my heart, my hope, is yours this day.

Whitefeather of the Ojibway, Larry Cloud-Morgan

Helen Woodson

Dear Friends, So many have written from all over the world that we simply cannot answer individually. We hope that you will be able to share this letter with your communities and peace groups.

Frs. Carl and Paul Kabat, Larry Cloud-Morgan, and I have settled into our respective prisons and recovered from six months deprivation of sunshine, fresh air, and decent food. We are in high spirits, celebrating the prison witness and rejoicing in continuing resistance all over the country. In the five months since our trial, there have been 4 disarmament actions in Missouri, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Texas. We take this as a sign of great hope.

Many of you have written to Judge Bartlett expressing outrage and anguish over our sentences. The American judicial system includes a procedure to petition for a reduction of sentence, and we will be making separate decisions based upon the dictates of individual conscience and personal circumstance. I have chosen not to appeal or seek sentence reduction and have told the judge that I will not accept an offer of reduction unless he resigns from the bench and joins me at a missile silo. Others may make different choices, for there is no one correct way to approach the matter. The truth will be spoken in the variety of our responses.

But although our decisions may differ, we are in agreement on one basic point. Judicial gestures are not equivalent to justice. A sentence reduction does nothing to reduce the threat of nuclear war, and our freedom will not secure freedom for the world's population held hostage under the Bomb. It would be a tragic mistake to believe that justice will spring from the bowels of the nation-state and the secular power structure. It will not, cannot by its very definition, and to expend time and energy on its procedural mechanisms is a distraction from the work oftruejustice and peacemaking.

The task facing us is not to get the Silo Pruning Hooks out of prison, but to get the missiles out of God's earth. We will do that as a community of resistance on both sides of the prison walls when we confront the nuclear Beast with our lives.

Carl, Paul, Larry, and I feel very much a part of resistance and very close to you in your struggle. We are grateful for your concern and support and offer our love and prayers as you act in your own countries. May the Lord's blessing and joy be with you.

In Peace, Helen Woodson 03231-045

Letters of support can be sent to the Silo Pruning Hooks at the following addresses: Helen Woodson, #03231-045, Alderson Womens' Prison, Box A, Alderson, West Virginia 24910. Father Carl Kabat, #03230-045, FCI, Box 1000, Milan, Michigan 48160. Father Paul Kabat, #03229-045, FCI, Box 1000, Sandstone, MN 55072. Larry Cloud-Morgan, #03232-045, FCJ, Box 33, Terre Haute, IN 47807

Peace Magazine December 1985

Peace Magazine December 1985, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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