Associated Press, July 26, 2003
By JUDITH KOHLER, Associated Press Writer
MISSILE SITE M-11, Colo. (AP) – Hundreds of demonstrators Saturday fanned out across parts of Colorado and Nebraska to carry on the work of pacifist nuns sentenced to prison for their anti-war protest at a missile silo.
Religious and political activists targeted the Minuteman III site, known as M-11, about 140 miles northeast of Denver – one of 49 silo sites in Colorado – to pray, sing, dance, beat drums and hang an eviction notice. Officials said protesters also gathered at three missile sites in southwestern Nebraska.
Jackie Hudson, 68, Ardeth Platte, 66, and Carol Gilbert, 55, were convicted in April of obstructing the national defense and damaging government property for cutting a fence and walking onto a Minuteman III silo site, swinging hammers and using their blood to paint a cross on the structure.
A federal judge Friday sentenced Hudson to 2 years, Platte to almost 3 years and Gilbert to two years and nine months. All three were given three years of supervised probation. Prosecutors said they hoped the sentences would deter others from similar protests.
“I don’t think I ever would have thought of coming out here if it wouldn’t have been for the nuns,” said M-11 demonstrator Roseann McCullough of Denver.
One of the protest organizers, Bill Sulzman, said the Colorado demonstration showed the peace movement remained alive. Unlike the nuns, protesters Saturday did not try to break through the 6-foot-tall fence surrounding M-11, in the Pawnee National Grasslands.
“The three sisters stirred up a lot more interest,” Sulzman said. “We’ve put the silos on the map as never before.”
Cmdr. Hank Rusch said the protesters had informed Weld County sheriff’s deputies of plans for the Colorado protest, and there were no incidents.
Colorado protesters arrived at the missile site in cars with signs proclaiming “Citizen Weapons Inspector.” A plane flew overhead with a banner stating: “We found the weapons of mass destruction here in Colorado.”