It’s the question that hangs over the trial of the seven anti-nuclear activists — how exactly are they going to argue their way out of this one? It was one thing to say to the jury that they did what they are accused of by the federal government, but it is quite another to witness footage they shot themselves of actually breaking into Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in April 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gilluly — with Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Thomas Kenney — conducted a thorough walkthrough of clips from GoPro cameras worn by defendants Patrick O’Neill and Carmen Trotta. The dozens of clips showed the defendants cutting through fencing, damaging signs and strategizing on the fly as to who would vandalize what by which method.
According to Kenney, it would take at least an hour to get from outside the base perimeter at Gate 18, where some of the defendants entered, to reach the “limited area” where deadly force is authorized to deal with unauthorized entry. Trotta, Father Stephen Kelly and Elizabeth McAlister were in that group and discovered by base security once they reached the limited area.
Once sailors showed up in their Lenco BearCat — an armored vehicle designed for military and law enforcement use — the three began to pray aloud, and later Trotta exclaimed to the men, “we come in peace.”
O’Neill conducted a fair amount of narrating in the clips cut from his recorded video, stating what they’re about to do to the base’s signage and static missile display, and why. As O’Neill worked to tear apart the sign proclaiming the area to be Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic, it’s possible to hear co-defendant Mark Colville in the background loudly denouncing nuclear weapons.
Later in the video, one of the other two women can be heard loudly protesting as well, though it’s not clear if the voice belongs to Clare Grady or Martha Hennessy.
Gilluly and Kenney also went through a series of seized text messages and photos exchanged between the defendants, who used an intermediary, further detailing their coordination in the incident.
Although the defendants maintained what they did wasn’t illegal, how they intend to make such an argument is still yet to be seen. With the court denying their ability to use several different arguments they explored in pretrial hearings, it creates a feeling of palpable anticipation for the beginning of their case-in-chief, which should start sometime this morning.
The prosecution is scheduled to call one more witness, which should occur shortly after 9 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Brunswick.