BECK index

Nuremberg Actions at Concord 1987-88

by Sanderson Beck

Nuremberg Actions at Concord: First Trial, March 1988
Trial of Bill Minkwitz and Sanderson Beck
charged with blocking a train carrying weapons.
Click here to watch and listen.

When I visited the Walnut Creek Peace Center on my tour in May 1987, Chuck Goodmacher told me that they were planning Nuremberg Actions to block the trains at Concord that were taking weapons to Central America. I felt drawn to this area and favored the approach of using international law. I was in New York City on September 1 when I heard that Brian Willson had been run over by a munitions train at Concord. So after I completed my peace tour, I decided to go up to Concord and join Nuremberg Actions. The first night I was at the vigil, I saw a truck coming out of the base and stood in front of it. They moved me out of the way and said they thought we had an agreement about that. I attended the meetings, worked as a volunteer at the peace center, and began blocking trains. I was hoping to organize a peace community there. When Scot Rutherford purchased a house in a poor section of Pittsburg near Concord, I moved into the Peace House that served the Nuremberg Actions community.

I was planning on going south to see my family for Christmas and bring back my library that I had reduced to 1500 books. So on December 23 I was not planning on getting arrested; but Greg Getty refused to put his arms behind his back, and because the deputies were inflicting pain on him instead of picking him up, I decided to join him. As I walked into the closed road, I was immediately put in handcuffs and arrested. We were soon released, and Greg, Spalding, and April went south with me to help me move my books and things. Brian’s wife Holly Rauen and I organized an event in January 1988 at Bill O’Donnell’s Catholic church in Berkeley so that people could hear Katya Komisaruk speak about how she destroyed the Navstar computer at Vandenberg in her plowshares action before turning herself in. Brian Willson also spoke, and there was good music by Rick Duvall, Mark Levy, and Max Ventura.

I did not like to spend long hours at the vigils in the cold wind by the highway and preferred to study and write; but I was intent on blocking every train I could. I also managed to teach a class on Literature and Psychology at John F. Kennedy University one night a week in the winter quarter. I was getting arrested at the tracks about once a week, but for a while they would just take names and let us go. Shawna even used the name Emma Goldman, and they did not know the difference. In February we had a fast, and I sent a letter to every member of Congress urging them to vote against aid to the Contras. After that, Saul Steinberg of Coleman Publishing no longer sent me any more copies of my book The Way to Peace even though I owned the books. During my tour I had seen a photo of him standing next to Ronald Reagan.

When I was indicted for the arrest before Christmas, I did not want to waive time. In March 1988 I defended myself in the first trial of Nuremberg Actions, and Lowell Richards represented Bill Minkwitz. Lowell and I decided not to challenge any jurors. An outstanding videographer named Mark Coplan was allowed to tape the trial. Judge Cunningham seemed reasonable on many things, but he would not allow us to present international law or the defense of necessity. Sandy Hilliard a resident of the local community of Clyde, courageously testified on my behalf. My testimony included the following:

I said that I would tell the truth. I will begin that the truth is one. There is one whole truth, and we are all part of that truth, and to tell the whole truth I feel that I have to begin with that. For many years now, for the last twenty years of my life I have had a spiritual awareness of life—that all human beings are all part of the same Spirit, and this is my main motivation for attempting to bring about a betterment of humanity.

I believe that I was justified in what I did. As we’ll see also I believe that in this particular instance there is very little evidence that I broke the law even in the narrowest interpretation. But even aside from the narrow interpretation of the law, in the broader context I believe that what I did on this occasion and what I have done on other occasions, which were not as questionable as this one was, was justified in terms of preventing conspiracy to commit murder. The intention of protesting the shipments  at Concord Naval Weapons Station is to prevent crimes against international law.

Objection, your honor, inadmissible.

Judge Cunningham:

Testimony to my intentions is not allowable?

Judge Cunningham:
I have sustained the objection.

What I did if it is perceived by some other people as being wrongful, my motivation was to do something that was beneficial, and through many, many years of studying the issues of world peace and the world situation and international law I have come to the conclusion based on a great deal of study, of research, of books, and of talking to people that there are many crimes being committed in the world by many different nations. And I feel as a patriotic or matriotic American citizen, I love this country, and it hurts me tremendously when I see it doing such great wrongs, and I cannot sit by and watch people be killed by the thousands for no good reason. I feel compelled to act in a nonviolent manner to challenge and ask and beg and plead. And I have petitioned. I distributed thousands of petitions in 1987. I traveled to 47 states, and I talked to hundreds of people begging and pleading that we all do more to try to bring about a change in the foreign policy of the United States, which is committing so many crimes. I have published books. I have distributed an article, approximately 9,000 copies, which I would like to submit in evidence as indicative of my good faith. This article is called “Will We Make Peace in 1989?”

Now I am very deeply committed to the way of love, sometimes called the way of nonviolence, and everything that I do comes from that. So to find myself in a court of law being accused of doing something malicious is to me just extremely ironic because it’s exactly the opposite. In my experience, in my belief, in my purpose, in my motivation is to attempt to alleviate suffering, to remove suffering. I observed from a different point of view what you saw in the videotape going on, where personal friends of mine, who believed that what they were doing was so right that they could not willingly remove themselves from the tracks, were forcibly removed by law enforcement personnel. To me this was symbolic of what is going on in our society, where authorities sometimes take it upon themselves to inflict pain in order to get their will. With Greg—Mr. Getty it went on and on and on, and as you saw at the conclusion all they had to do was pick him up and carry him off. He was not fighting back. We are committed to the principles of nonviolence, and I would also like to submit in evidence the Covenant of Nonviolence -Nuremberg Actions Concord.

I would like to read that if I could into the record because this is our guideline of conduct. Everyone who participates and considers himself a part of Nuremberg Actions agrees and goes by these guidelines, and I certainly do.

The Nonviolent Nuremberg Actions Concord

As a participant in the Nuremberg Actions at the Concord Naval Weapons Station I commit to the following nonviolent discipline, and as part of the action I will reflect on these commitments:

1. We will regard each individual as a human being, and our attitude will be one of openness and respect toward all whom we encounter as we engage in our actions against US intervention in Central America.

2. We will use no violence, physical or verbal, toward any person. We will refrain from insulting remarks.

3. We will not damage property.

4. We will not run, use threatening motions, or jump suddenly on or off the tracks or roadway.

5. As members of these nonviolent actions we will follow the directions of the designated coordinator. In the event of a serious disagreement one should remove oneself from the action.

6. We will carry no weapons.

7. While not denying feelings, we will harbor no hate. Should others express violence toward us, we will submit to that expression without returning the violence. We will also protect others from insults or attacks.

8. We will not bring drugs or alcohol other than for medical purposes.

9. We will show respect for the police.

10. We will not evade the consequences of our actions.

11. We will be alert to the people around us and will be aware of when others need assistance. We will support each other in needs for peacekeeping.

So as I was saying when my friend Greg was in my opinion being tortured, because I guess I would define torture as the attempt to control a person’s behavior by deliberately inflicting pain, I felt that I could not in good conscience just stand there and watch this go on. And so I turned to Sandy Hilliard, and I gave her my car keys because I thought there might be a risk that I might be arrested. I asked her where they would be, and she told in the site suitcase or something like that. And I began to walk into the roadway; but I only got a few steps, and there was no warning given at all, and an officer turned around, and he just took my arm, and he put the handcuffs on me. So I was not obstructing anything, and it certainly wasn’t willful, and it certainly wasn’t malicious. So when the handcuffs were put on me, then I was taken, and I cooperate—whenever I am arrested, I cooperate; I don’t go limp, because the way I believe is I believe mine is a moral witness, not a physical witness. I mean it’s physical because I am there. I have to be there physically to make a moral witness; but it’s not because I am big and strong or because I’m mighty or because I have weapons or because I have money or because I have prestige in the society. It’s simply because I believe I am right, and I believe that what these other people are doing is not only wrong, it’s criminal and criminal on a massive level. So I feel I have to just try to get redress through the judicial process because I believe very much in the principles of democracy, of the Constitution of the United States, and when I see the executive branch headed by the President of the United States and the legislative branch, the Senate and the House of Representatives, committing crimes on a massive scale, then I have no other choice. I’m not a lawyer; I can’t sue. I can only say, “Please, stop the crimes. Stop killing people.” Then I go to the judicial system because I believe that anyone who is cooperating with those murders is in complicity with those murders, and so I’m asking people, I’m saying, “Please don’t be in complicity with those murders.” So I come to the court, and I ask the judge. And I say, “Look, the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The United States Constitution says that treaties are also the supreme law of the land.”

Your honor, I am going to object. Now he is getting into argument. It is proper to closing but not to direct testimony.

Judge Cunningham:

So this is my motivation, and this is what I have done. Now I could be put into jail for up to six months for this.

Objection. Punishment is not relevant to this trial.
(Pause, then laughter)
Well, let me rephrase it. The jury is not to consider punishment in any way.

Judge Cunningham:
That is properly phrased objection. The jurors have been told and will be told that they may not consider punishment in any way in their deliberations. Please conclude, Mr. Beck.

Even though the jurors may not consider it, I as a person who am subject to it have to consider it, and I am willing to undergo the risk of incarceration in order to stop these kinds of crimes. And if things get any worse, I am thinking of doing continually. So it seems to me that what I did was justified, that it was not a wrongful act, that in fact it was a noble act, a peaceful act, a loving act, a humanitarian act, and I would invite cross-examination.

When you decided to cross the street, you went to help Mr. Getty. Is that correct?

No, not exactly.

If the police had not stopped you, what were you going to do?

That’s a hypothetical question, isn’t it?

Judge Cunningham:
No, that asks for the intent you had at the time you were stopped.

If they hadn’t stopped me, I was going to sit on the railroad tracks.

You weren’t going to help Mr. Getty?

No, not physically. I was going to be in solidarity with him.

And you were going to do that by sitting on the railroad tracks.

Yes, and I also felt that I had to do something in order to try to alleviate the situation and the suffering, and I only would do something loving or nonviolent. So I wouldn’t try to do something physical; but I felt perhaps if I managed to get over to the railroad tracks, which I didn’t; but if I had, that perhaps some of the officers who were hurting him might have to arrest me…. I feel there was a defense of necessity, that I felt compelled to do something to prevent not only crimes but suffering and pain being inflicted on top of it. It was just intolerable.

I made an offer of proof for international law and said,

I do have evidence to present of the munitions that are being shipped from Concord Naval Weapons Station to the government of El Salvador, and there would be substantial evidence available to show the indiscriminate murder of civilians, women and children. That is the first offer of proof, and then there is the connection to international law through the Constitution of the United States, Article 6 Section 2. …

Article 2 Section 3 of the United Nations Charter:

“All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.”

And Section 4:

“All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

And I would contend that any weapons shipped from Concord Naval Weapons Station which might have gone to those called the “contras” would be in violation of that.

Also the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance referred to as the Rio Treaty signed September 2, 1947,

“Article 1: The high contracting parties formally condemn war and undertake in their international relations not to resort to the threat or the use of force in any manner inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations or of this treaty.”

And I believe that there are also violations involving the Charter of the Organization of American States signed April 30, 1948, and I would just especially point out Articles 15, 16, and 18.

“15. No state or group of states has the right to intervene directly or indirectly for any reason whatever in the internal or external affairs of any other state. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the state or against its political, economic and cultural elements.

"Article 16. No state may use nor encourage the use of coercive measures of an economic or political character in order to force the sovereign will of another state and obtain from it advantages of any kind.

 "Article 18. The American states bind themselves under international relations not to have recourse to the use of force—"

Judge Cunningham:
I’m sorry, Mr. Beck; your presentation has gone beyond the permitted scope of an offer of proof.

Judge Cunningham ruled against this and the defense of necessity. In my closing argument I said,

Now as to my belief whether what I was doing in terms of walking towards the tracks was a wrongful act I want to present and explain through my psychology or my understanding of why what I was doing was not wrong and why it was not a violation of the law. And that is because I believe that we live in a constitutional form of government, and that means that the government runs by certain principles which we agree to through certain democratic processes. And those principles which are enshrined in the Constitution are more important than the particular people that may be elected. Sometimes we call it government by law instead of by men, women, people. In other words just because a majority elects someone doesn’t make that person a tyrant. That person is obligated to obey the law, and all those people who are elected are obligated to obey the law, and all the people in all the different branches of government are obligated to obey the law.

Now I believe that when there are certain crimes going on which are large crimes of a massive nature that I cannot cooperate with those crimes. I cannot be an accomplice. I cannot support it. Mahatma Gandhi talked about noncooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good. We have to make a very careful discernment. We have to look at our actions. We have to do what is good, good for everyone, and if something is hurting people, then we have a moral obligation. I believe I have a moral obligation to not be a part of that. So because of the principles of the Constitution and Article 6 Section 2, which states that not only is the Constitution of the United States the supreme law of the land but that all treaties which are made under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land. And it continues,

“And the judges in every state shall be bound thereby anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

In other words the Constitution is the highest law, legally speaking. We can argue about spiritual and moral law. I am not talking about that now. I’m talking about legal principles that we live under in the United States or attempt to to the best of our abilities. And if I see treaties being broken and in fact domestic law in the United States being broken in a conspiracy to commit murder, then I feel a moral obligation to try to at least point that out. In fact I believe there is a statue somewhere that says if you do not report a felony that you are guilty of a felony. Now I have tried to point this out in many ways, and I’m not going to go into that because I tried to in some of my testimony.

The principles that have really helped me in developing this understanding and this discernment of what is a violation of international law—Now I’ve had some disagreements with the judge during this trial as you have probably observed, and we haven’t always agreed on things. We may have a different opinion about which law is supreme, which law is more important, and he is going to give you his instructions. But what I am going to give you is my motive, my sense of whether what I was doing had a wrongful intent or not. So I would like to read to you (It’s not very long.) the Nuremberg Principles.

Your honor, I’m going to object to that.

Judge Cunningham:
The court is reluctant to constrain closing argument, but if jurors appear to need fresh instructions at its conclusion, I will give them.

Thank you very much. The first principle:

“Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.”

The second principle:

The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.”

So the first point, I believe that some officials in our government are committing crimes against international law because of the violations of the Organization of American States Treaty, the Rio Pact, the United Nations Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the Geneva Conventions, and as I mentioned some other US laws such as the conspiracy to commit murder. So then the third principle states,

 “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.”

That is fairly clear. I will go on to principle 4.

“The fact that a person acted pursuant to an order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided that a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

Now this is a very important principle. As you may know and as I have studied, these principles were formed at the end of World War II because of all the crimes of the Nazi government, and they were also applied to the Japanese government. Many of those things that were done under the Nazi regime were legal and terrible. And it was the United States and Britain, France, and the Soviet Union that led the way into developing these principles so that this wouldn’t happen anymore. So if the government is doing it, it still can be a crime. Now the important point here, another important point is that “provided a moral choice was in fact possible.” And I believe, like Socrates I guess, that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know. I don’t believe that people are malicious. I believe that people are trying to do the right thing, but they just don’t know any better so many times. And as an educator, as a teacher and a writer and as a speaker, a peace activist, I am attempting to help people understand. I am attempting to give people a moral choice, but it’s very difficult in our society. They say we have a free society; we do; but if you don’t have money, it’s hard to get a book published. If your ideas aren’t popular, it’s more difficult, and the people who are interested or like those ideas already are the people who listen. So we have to do something because it is a very serious situation.

Principle 5. Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law."

I think that’s a very good point, and I believe in the judicial process, and I believe in the jury system. And I’m not trying to do something vindictive or mean or punishment to any of these people that I feel  are doing these crimes. I’m not saying I am going to go hurt or do this to you because you are committing crimes. I’m just trying to point it out to people that it’s happening. I’m not trying to inflict any punishment whatsoever. I’m just simply trying to make people aware of it.

Principle 6. The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:

a. Crimes against peace:”

It has two parts, the first part:

"Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;”

I think this is particularly pertinent to the situation with the contras. The second part of crimes against peace states,

“Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under 1.”

So you don’t have to do the war all by myself. If you are part of this large conspiracy which is involved in promoting a war against another country, then you’re part of the crime.

“b. War crimes:

Violations of the laws or customs of war which include,  but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.”

And in my belief many of these things are going on in El Salvador, where many of the people who are living out in the villages are being bombed and where mines are being placed, and people get their legs blown off—innocent women and children.

“c. Crimes against humanity:

Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population,  or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.”

These also are going on to a great extent with the contras and in El Salvador and other places which the United States is supporting. And the final Nuremberg Principle is number seven, which states that

“Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle 6 is a crime under international law."

And so coming to the conclusion I would like to say that I feel and I felt very obligated to read these principles, and I want to tell you why. And I was willing to risk contempt of court in order to do it because it is a very unusual situation. And I don’t usually like to risk contempt of court, and fortunately I didn’t have to. But I believe and again it’s not any vindictive thing—I have nothing personally against Judge Cunningham, but I believe that his decision in this case to disallow evidence on international law represents a cover-up of international crimes and that in a way is complicit, and for me not to speak about those crimes under his instructions would be in complicity then with him. So that’s why I felt I had to. And again without any sense of vindictiveness or without any threat of punishment I would like to issue a warning to you that if you find the defendant guilty in this case that in my own belief, just in my own belief I am saying; this is just my own opinion, then I would feel that you also were accomplices and in complicity with violations of international law. Thank you.

Because my arrest was questionable on this day, the jury acquitted me. One juror refused to convict Bill, and so his was a hung jury. In March 1988 the sheriffs began holding people in jail for up to 48 hours (not counting weekends) and then releasing people without charging them, using some statute designed for holding prostitutes, drunks, and drug addicts. That meant that an arrest on Thursday or Friday resulted on four days in jail. Then they would release us without charging us. I refused to bail out even for my last class, and my teaching opportunity faded to giving one small workshop on nonviolence.

On June 6, 1988 I sent the following letter with copies to the Concord Naval Weapons Station, the Contra Costa County Sheriff Department, the Contra Costa Times, and the editors of the Oakland Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Francisco Examiner:

To the Editor of the Martinez News Gazette

On Friday June 10th Nuremberg Actions will be celebrating our first anniversary of an ongoing peace vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Concord Naval Weapons Station. During this first year hundreds of people have been arrested for protesting United States military intervention in Central America. Since Brian Willson was run over by a munitions train on September 1, about a hundred munitions shipments have been blocked by people peacefully sitting on the railroad tracks where they cross Port Chicago Highway. Others have been arrested for standing in front of large trucks carrying bombs and weapons into or out of CNWS. In all this time not one person has been convicted in court of doing anything wrong in these protests.

Some people thought we might go away when military aid to the contras fighting Nicaragua was temporarily stopped, failing to realize that we are also concerned about the innocent people who are being killed by U.S. weapons in El Salvador and Guatemala as well as in the Middle East, Africa, the Philippines, etc.

Equally concerned about the dangers and costs of the nuclear arms race, we are now going to be expanding our efforts in our second year of activity here. Although United States secrecy policy neither confirms nor denies the presence of nuclear weapons, we have reason to believe that great numbers of these genocidal weapons are being stored at CNWS east of late Port Chicago’s Main Street and north of Port Chicago Hwy. These bunkers which stay well lighted through the night are surrounded by several fences with signs warning that the use of deadly force is authorized against intruders. Anyone approaching even as close as the public highway which runs by the area is warned over loud speakers about this deadly force.

On June 10th we will be marching from the waterfront gate near Main Street east on Port Chicago Highway to the entrance to this facility which we believe stores a nuclear arsenal of tremendous destructive potential.  We do this to protest the insanity of having such weapons in our community, our country, and our world. To dramatize and communicate this danger, some of us may step over the yellow line or through the outer barbed-wire cattle fence.  We have no intention of invading the bunkers themselves nor even going inside the larger cyclone fence topped with barbed wire which warns about the use of deadly force.  Our action will be nonviolent and non-threatening, but we feel very deeply that we must call attention to our insane nuclear policies. We do this, because we believe that nuclear weapons violate the United Nations Charter, the Nuremberg Principles, and other U.S. treaties.

This letter is to inform the public, the base, and law enforcement of our peaceful intentions and plans. We recognize the danger of such a new step in our actions, because of what happened to Brian Willson even though he wrote a letter to the base in advance of his witness. Yet the dangers our world faces require courageous action.  We are not only praying for a world of peace and justice, we believe we must also act to bring it about.

On June 10 Diane Poole made a speech and poured her blood by a line at the entrance gate to these nuclear bunkers, and several of us were arrested with her.

We learned that the US Customs was stopping trucks carrying medicine and toys for children from crossing the Texas border because they were going to Nicaragua. So a group of us went to the Customs building in San Francisco, and twelve of us were arrested sitting outside the door they locked to keep us out. We were given a trial fairly quickly on June 16 before Federal Magistrate Frederick J. Woelflen, and I used the following notes in my defense:

Nicaragua v. the United States of America

Judgement of the International Court of Justice, June 27, 1986:

292. For these reasons, THE COURT

(10) By twelve votes to three, Decides that the United States of America, by the attacks on Nicaraguan territory referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof, and by declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua on 1 May 1985, has committed acts calculated to deprive of its object and purpose the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956;

(11) By twelve votes to three, Decides that the United States of America, by the attacks on Nicaraguan territory referred to in subparagraph (4) hereof, and by declaring a general embargo on trade with Nicaragua on 1 May 1985, has acted in breach of its obligation under Article XIX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956;

(12) By twelve votes to three, Decides that the United States of America is under a duty immediately to cease and to refrain from all such acts as may constitute breaches of the foregoing legal obligations;

(13) By twelve votes to three, Decides that the United States of America is under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by the breaches of obligations under customary international law enumerated above;

(14) By fourteen votes to one, Decides that the United States of America is under an obligation to make reparation to the Republic of Nicaragua for all injury caused to Nicaragua by the breaches of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956;

(15) By fourteen votes to one, Decides that the form and amount of such reparation, failing agreement between the Parties, will be settled by the Court, and reserves for this purpose the subsequent procedure in the case;

(16) Unanimously, Recalls to both Parties their obligation to seek a solution to their disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law.

Facts of the case:

1. We tried to talk to someone in Senator Wilson’s office but were refused admittance.

2. We walked to the U.S. Customs Building, but the doors were forcibly slammed in our faces. Ellen was roughly treated at the first door.

3. We were informed that the U.S. Customs Building was closed.

4. We waited outside the door on the steps.

5. After a while we sat down on the steps.

6. We were chanting and singing, but our group was not loud and was not using any sound amplification equipment.

7. Several people entered and left the building by stepping in between Dan and Sanderson, including a blind person who had no difficulty entering.

8. Those people who were turned away were verbally told to leave by the officers present at the door.

9. A policeman accidentally kicked Sanderson in the nose.

10. Eldred again asked if we could enter the building but was refused admittance.

11. We were told by a federal officer that if we did not leave we would be arrested. At this time Sanderson and perhaps others asked again to enter the building. After this warning each of us was arrested. Dan was dragged. 

Reasons for the peaceable assembly and petition of the government for redress of grievances:

1. U.S. policies toward Nicaragua are illegal and have been found so by the International Court of Justice, especially military aid to the contras, CIA mining of the harbors, etc., and the general embargo against the people and government of Nicaragua.

2. The Veterans’ Convoy of trucks was carrying only humanitarian aid—food, medical supplies, clothing, and toys for children. The stopping of this convoy at the Texas-Mexico border was a clear violation of international law and domestic law by the U.S. Constitution Article VI. Section 2. Friends of ours were injured and arrested in attempting to drive these trucks across the border.

3. We are outraged that the United States Government is trying to starve the people of Nicaragua into submission and that humanitarian attempts by U.S. citizens are being forcibly stopped in their attempt to alleviate this suffering.

4. We believe that our grievances are legitimate and that our expression of them in this case was well within the protected rights of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

I pointed out in the trial that one of their photos in evidence showed an officer standing behind me between the door and me. Yet some of us were convicted for being in front of the door. I refused to cooperate with probation, and it was terminated “with prejudice.”

Thirty people from Nuremberg Actions were indicted and tried together in Concord for having blocked trains and trucks, but once again the jury was hung. I helped Mark with the videotaping by holding the shotgun microphone. Expert witnesses included Karen Parker on international law, ex-CIA agent David MacMichael, a judge from El Salvador, and the Vietnam veteran and physician Charlie Clements.

I offered to write and edit a Nonviolence Handbook; but Holly said they already had one from the Pledge of Resistance, though no one seemed to be using it. At this time I wrote the “Philosophy of Nonviolence” and  “Liberation from Seven Deadly –Isms” that I published in the Nonviolent Action Handbook in January 2003. Greg would cook soup at the house, and I let him use my car to take it to the vigil. Richard Wilhelm told me he was eating only raw oats; he was not complaining, but I was concerned that people living at the tracks were not even getting enough to eat. I finally convinced a Nuremberg Actions meeting to authorize $75 a week for food. Efforts to draw more people into the campaign were not very successful. There was a large demonstration on a weekend; but the fence gate was locked, and no one was even arrested. I was discouraged when I was not invited to be on KPFA radio, because a newly hired coordinator wanted to attract “people with jobs.” When Joe Cohen completed his walk across the country from Georgia, he stayed at the Peace House. I had met him several times on my tour, and he offered to let me rent his house on 125 acres of pine forest in Georgia for only $100 per month. So in September 1988 I decided to leave, and after house-sitting for my vacationing parents, I moved to Buena Vista, Georgia. I had been arrested in Concord 44 times in the ten months I was there.

Copyright © 2008 by Sanderson Beck

This has been published in the book PEACE OR BUST. For ordering information, please click here.

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