Plowshares Movement
The Plowshares Movement is an anti-nuclear weapons movement that gained notoriety in the early 1980s when several members damaged government property and were subsequently convicted.


On September 9, 1980, Daniel Berrigan
Daniel Berrigan
Daniel Berrigan, SJ is an American Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet. Daniel and his brother Philip were for a time on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list for their involvement in antiwar protests during the Vietnam war....

, his brother Philip Berrigan
Philip Berrigan
Philip Francis Berrigan was an internationally renowned American peace activist, Christian anarchist and former Roman Catholic priest...

, and six others (the "Plowshares Eight") began the Plowshares Movement under the premise of beating swords to ploughshares
Swords to ploughshares
Swords to ploughshares is a concept in which military weapons or technologies are converted for peaceful civilian applications....

. They trespassed onto the General Electric
General Electric
General Electric Company , or GE, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation incorporated in Schenectady, New York and headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, United States...

 Nuclear Missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
King of Prussia is a census-designated place in Upper Merion Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population was 19,936. The community took its name in the 18th century from a local tavern named the King of Prussia Inn, which was named after...

, where they damaged nuclear warhead nose cones and poured blood onto documents and files. They were arrested and charged with more than ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. On April 10, 1990, after 10 years of appeals, the Berrigans' group was re-sentenced and paroled for up to 23 and 1/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. Their legal battle was re-created in Emile de Antonio
Emile de Antonio
Emile de Antonio was a director and producer of documentary films, usually detailing political or social events circa 1960s–1980s...

's 1982 film In the King of Prussia, which starred Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen
Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez , better known by his stage name Martin Sheen, is an American film actor best known for his performances in the films Badlands and Apocalypse Now , and in the television series The West Wing from 1999 to 2006.He is considered one of the best actors never to be...

 and featured appearances by the Plowshares Eight as themselves.

Other actions followed. As of 2000, some 71 such actions happened on several continents, sharing these elements: 1. absolutely nonviolent to people, 2. each actor claimed personal responsibility for her or his actions, never fleeing the scene but rather standing accountable, 3. making some effort, big or small, real or symbolic, to turn swords into plowshares. There have been several more such actions in the new millennium. Over the years, some of these have resulted in acquittals and the vast majority end in prison time for the actors, the longest of which were those meted out to the 1984 group, the Silo Pruning Hooks (after the Biblical verse admonishing people to turn swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks—both Micah and Isaiah), two of whom earned 18 years in federal prison. The "swords" have included live nuclear weapons, components of the nuclear arsenal, and even armed forces personal field weapons.


On April 30, 2008, three Plowshares activists entered the GCSB Waihopai
GCSB Waihopai
New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau operates what it describes as a satellite communications monitoring facility in the Waihopai Valley...

 base near Blenheim, New Zealand
Blenheim, New Zealand
Blenheim is the most populous town in the region of Marlborough, in the north east of the South Island of New Zealand, and the seat of the regional council. It has a population of The area which surrounds the town is well known as a centre of New Zealand's wine industry...

 and vandalized a government installation, causing $1.2 million in damages. In March 2010 the three men stood trial by jury at the District Court in Wellington and were acquitted.

On November 2, 2009, a Plowshares action took place in the U.S. at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor
Naval Base Kitsap
Naval Base Kitsap is a U.S. Navy base located on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington state. It was created in 2004 by merging the former Naval Station Bremerton with Naval Submarine Base Bangor...

, where Trident nuclear weapons are stored or deployed on Trident submarines. These weapons constitute the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the US.

External links

See also

  • Catonsville Nine
    Catonsville Nine
    The Catonsville Nine were nine Catholic activists who burned draft files to protest the Vietnam War. On May 17, 1968 they went to the draft board in Catonsville, Maryland, took 378 draft files, brought them to the parking lot in wire baskets, dumped them out, poured homemade napalm over them, and...

  • Chicago Seven
    Chicago Seven
    The Chicago Seven were seven defendants—Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, David Dellinger, Tom Hayden, Rennie Davis, John Froines, and Lee Weiner—charged with conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to protests that took place in Chicago, Illinois on the occasion of the 1968...

  • Civil disobedience
    Civil disobedience
    Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

  • Gainesville Eight
    Gainesville Eight
    The Gainesville Eight were a group of anti-Vietnam War activists indicted on charges of conspiracy to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida. All eight defendants were acquitted....

  • Harrisburg Seven
    Harrisburg Seven
    The Harrisburg Seven were a group of religious anti-war activists led by Philip Berrigan. The "Seven" were Berrigan, Sister Elizabeth McAlister, Rev. Neil McLaughlin, Rev. Joseph Wenderoth, Eqbal Ahmed, Anthony Scoblick, and Mary Cain Scoblick....

  • Jonah House
    Jonah House
    Jonah House is a faith-based community centered around the concept of "Nonviolence, resistance and community". Founded in 1973 by a group that included Philip Berrigan, a Catholic priest, and Elizabeth McAlister, formerly a Catholic nun, Jonah House has grown to be situated on a area of land in...

  • Pitstop Ploughshares
    Pitstop Ploughshares
    The Pitstop Ploughshares were a group of five members of the Catholic Worker Movement who made their way into Shannon Airport in Ireland and damaged a United States Navy C-40 transport aircraft in the early hours of 3 February 2003...

  • Ploughshares Fund
    Ploughshares Fund
    The Ploughshares Fund is a public grantmaking foundation that supports initiatives to prevent the spread and use of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and other weapons of war, and to prevent conflicts that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. Ploughshares is a 501...

  • The Baltimore Four
  • Seeds of hope
    Seeds of hope
    Seeds of Hope was a plowshares group of women who totally demolished a fighter jet in England. Like they stated in the explanatory video film left in the aircraft after the action, they wanted to inspire hope instead of violence and greed, hence the name...

  • The Camden 28
    The Camden 28
    The Camden 28 were a group of "Catholic left" anti-Vietnam War activists who in 1971 planned and executed a raid on a Camden, New Jersey draft board...

  • The Saint Patrick's Day Four
    The Saint Patrick's Day Four
    The Saint Patrick's Day Four are four American peace activists of Irish Catholic heritage who poured their own blood on the walls, posters, windows, and a US flag at a military recruiting center to protest the United States' impending invasion of Iraq...

  • Trident Ploughshares
    Trident Ploughshares
    Trident Ploughshares is an activist anti-nuclear weapons group, founded in 1998 with the aim of "beating swords into ploughshares" . This is specifically by attempting to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system, in a non-violent manner...

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