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Bremerton nun faces federal prison time

Jackie Hudson leads a group of friends and supporters in a song before they all sat down to eat a potluck dinner Sunday afternoon at the Ground Zero center north of Silverdale. The event was to show support for Hudson who faces sentencing next month in Colorado after her conviction for an incident at a federal missile site in October 2002. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Jackie Hudson leads a group of friends and supporters in a song before they all sat down to eat a potluck dinner Sunday afternoon at the Ground Zero center north of Silverdale. The event was to show support for Hudson who faces sentencing next month in Colorado after her conviction for an incident at a federal missile site in October 2002.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

For now Jackie Hudson, 68, is home.

She is gathering her physical and spiritual strength for the journey ahead.

Hudson, a Dominican sister, and two other nuns face eight years in a federal prison for entering a Colorado nuclear missile site and “symbolically disarming” it in October 2002.

“We went to stop a crime. We went to highlight the criminal actions of our government,” Hudson said at her Bremerton home Monday.

But it is the three women who were the criminals, a jury ruled.

She, and fellow Catholic nuns Carol Gilbert, 55, and Ardeth Platte, 66, both of Baltimore, Md., will be sentenced July 25 in a Denver Federal Court.

“We do what we feel we have to do. The courts do what they have to do,” she said.

On Oct. 6, 2002, the women went to the Minute Man III silo marked N-8 located 9.3 miles west of New Raymer, Colo., on State Highway 14.

They cut through the fences, beat the silo cap and railroad tracks with hammers and poured their blood in crosses on the site.

They wore white jumpsuits and went in the site as “Citizen Weapons Inspectors.” They made sure to cut the chainlink fence at the pole for easy repair, Hudson said.

Hammering on the cap and railroad tracks is part of the Plowshare philosophy to “tear down that which is not needed” and to build up what is, Hudson explained.

The blood was spilled from baby bottles because “the most innocent victims of war and the most innocent victims of these particular weapons are children,” she said.

Hudson has been in the Dominican sisterhood for more than 50 years. She first became involved in protesting nuclear weapons after hearing Dr. Helen Caldicott, a pediatrician talk in Grand Rapids, Mich. about the effects of nuclear weapons and power on children.

While in Michigan in the 1970s, she lobbied and wrote letters to the editors and Michigan later became a nuclear-free zone. But the weapons were moved to other states, rather than destroyed.

“The military seems to open bases that are near sparsely populated and pristine land,” she said, using Kitsap County as a prime example. She moved here about 10 years ago to do battle with the nuclear weapons housed at Bangor Subase.

Hudson, a member of Ground Zero Center for Non-violent Action, claims that if the Kitsap County parted with the United States it would be the third largest nuclear power in the world in terms of the number of warheads.

“We live in the midst of this and that makes us a prime target.”

She said the protests against the use of nuclear weapons are not a protest against the military but what they do.

“We are contaminating the world with our weaponry,” she said.

One warhead like the one in Colorado is 20 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, she said.

“It eliminated that city and vaporized people,” she said.

Military police caught up with the three women who were praying at the silo site. Soldiers pointed their weapons, the nuns raised their arms and chanted “Oh God, teach us how to be peacemakers in a hostile world.”

They were held for 10 days on Colorado state charges and learned a grand jury had indicted them on federal charges of two counts of injury/interference/ obstruction of national defense and injury of property of the United States. A trial date was set for Dec. 16, 2002. A jury convicted the women.

During the trial the sabotage claim was “overblown” and not presented clearly to the jury, Hudson said. Sabotage according to federal law also has to include intent to knowingly damage federal property, which the nuns did not have.

“We asked four times from the judge to clarify what we were being charged with.” the judge replied the charges would become more clear as the trial went on.

“No one specifically stated what we were being charged with to this day,” she said.

On April 30, after spending nearly seven months in Clear Creek County jail awaiting the trial and then the sentencing hearing, they were released on bail.

She describes the jail as dungeon-like room with no fresh air and no sight of the outside.

Despite the rough road behind her and the treacherous path ahead, she wouldn’t change one thing.

“It’s so important the alarm be sounded.” she said.

She said the nation has become too dependent on its might.

“It will work for a while, but it will not work in the end,” she said.

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