BRUNSWICK, GA—More than three years after he and six other anti-nuclear activists entered Kings Bay Naval Base, home to six Trident nuclear submarines, a federal judge sentenced Mark Colville to 21 months in prison.
Over a video conference, Judge Lisa Godbey Wood sentenced Mark to the minimum of the recommended guidelines provided by prosecutors. Mark is the last of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 to be sentenced. Five are now in prison. Prior to the trial Mark had already served about 15 months of his sentence, which will count towards his 21 months.
Mark told the court that its refusal to recognize the right of his family and community “to live without a nuclear gun on hair trigger alert held perpetually to our heads… (has) placed it firmly in a posture of criminality.”
During our Festival of Hope earlier in the week, Mark announced that he had withdrawn six of his seven motions to the court arguing for vacating his sentence. He told supporters then that he saw no use in allowing the judge to act as if she seriously considered them.
“This government, in its lawlessness, has hidden first strike weapons with enough firepower to kill six billion people,” he read from his sentencing statement today. The court has a responsibility to “to allow the law to be applied beyond the fence at Kings Bay… a fence that I and my loved ones, with much fear and trembling, freely answered the call of faith, the call of conscience, and the call of generations yet unborn, to breach.
“In a very real sense, then, this hearing today is itself irrelevant. The court has already pronounced a sentence on me, on my family, and on my neighborhood. We are hereby condemned to live as members of a rogue state, which, in the face of a global consensus that outlaws nuclear weapons, has budgeted what amounts to $100,000 per minute over the next ten years to upgrade its stockpile of these useless, poisonous idols.”
As with all six of his co-defendants, Mark was also ordered to share payment of restitution of $33,503.51. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised probation.
Mark called on teacher and activist Stephen Kobasa as his sole character witness.
“Mark Colville doesn’t need me here,” Stephen said. “His consistency, his passion, his fierce commitment to hope are completely apparent to anyone who has encountered him.
“There is nothing in the world of more seriousness than what Mark and his companions in the Kings Bay Plowshares demand that we face. The weapons at Kings Bay condemn us to living each and every moment in fear of losing everything we believe matters, everything we have, in a single flash of unbearable light.
“At this very moment there are a number of courtrooms in this country where cases of the most overwhelming importance are being decided. But even George Floyd’s murder in all its horror cannot compare to the truth… about nuclear weapons.
“For, you see, if Mark is right – and he is – then most of the rest of us have failed to tell the truth, even to ourselves about nuclear weapons, because if we did we would have no choice but to do what he and his companions did, and be standing alongside him here.”
Mark was given 60 days to report to prison. Information on the other Kings Bay 7 Plowshares is available at https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/jail-addresses/