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Sacrifice of anti-nuclear protesters in Georgia jail will not be forgotten

Anti-war activist Elizabeth McAlister is pictured at Jonah House. She is the widow of Philip Berrigan, the recognized leader of the group of Catholic antiwar activists who came to be known as the Catonsville Nine.
Anti-war activist Elizabeth McAlister is pictured at Jonah House. She is the widow of Philip Berrigan, the recognized leader of the group of Catholic antiwar activists who came to be known as the Catonsville Nine. (ALGERINA PERNA/Baltimore Sun)

It has been a long time since Elizabeth McAlister and six other Catholic activists were arrested on April 4, 2018 while engaging in a disarmament action aimed at educating the populace that we are on the eve of nuclear destruction. So it was wonderful to read about her in her hometown newspaper (“Activist with Baltimore roots languishes in Georgia jail,” Sept. 6).

As the author Patrick O’Neill, one of the Kings Bay Plowshares, suggested, many of the younger readers will not be aware of the remarkable work of Ms. McAlister and her husband Philip Berrigan. And that is all the more reason to publish this commentary. Despite the circumstances, being incarcerated in “a miserable Southern jail” since the arrest, Elizabeth, I’m sure, is mentoring the other prisoners.

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Moreover, like so many jails across this country, the Glynn County Jail is largely populated by “poor people, the mentally ill and those with addictions.” And rehabilitation is a foreign word.

Of course, the use of nuclear weapons could end life as we know it on Mother Earth. However, the U.S. nuclear arsenal is also a theft from the poor. The government is refurbishing these weapons at an estimated cost of over $1 trillion. I am sure officials at the Glynn County Jail would say that they do not have the funding to provide three meals a day to the prisoners. Imagine if our legislators listened to the Plowshares and abolished the nuclear arsenal and used those tax dollars instead for funding much-needed social services — anti-poverty programs, educational needs, environmental projects, homelessness elimination and Medicare and Medicaid.

In October, I will travel to Georgia to support these disarmament activists. It is the least I can do for the three in jail and the four wearing ankle monitors. The seven are all savvy peace and justice advocates so they well know that their sacrifice will not be rewarded by the judge or the prosecutor and probably not by the jury. Nevertheless, I and others know that the Plowshares are on the right side of the law.

Max Obuszewski, Baltimore

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