The Common Good
January-February 1998

Plowshares Update

by Marian Abrecht, Aaron McCarroll Gallegos | January-February 1998

On October 27, longtime activist Philip Berrigan was sentenced to two years in jail for
his role in a Plowshares peacemaking action in Maine.

On October 27, longtime activist Philip Berrigan was sentenced to two years in jail for his role in a Plowshares peacemaking action in Maine. On Ash Wednesday 1997 (February 12), Berrigan and five others boarded an Aegis destroyer docked at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. The Plowshares activists poured their own blood on the ship and pounded hammers on it as a symbolic act of protest against the destructive power of this "floating arsenal armed with more than 500 cruise missiles."

Also sentenced were Jesuit priest Steve Kelly (21 months in jail), and activist Mark Colville (13 months in jail). Berrigan, Kelly, and Colville were each also ordered to serve two years of probation and pay $4,667 in restitution.

Another Plowshares activist, Michele Naar-Obed, who lived with Berrigan, Elizabeth McAlister, and other activists at Jonah House in Baltimore, has been prohibited by the probation department from returning to her home following release in November from 18 months in jail. A senior probation officer wrote that "in view of the history of those individuals involved with Jonah House of violating the law, we believe that this is not an appropriate release plan for Ms. Naar-Obed."

Despite prison sentences, members of the Plowshares movement continue in their work to live out Isaiah’s prophecy of beating swords and spears into plowshares and pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4).

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