Resisters Oppose Current KC Plant and Its Replacement

By Jane Stoever, member of the Holy Family Catholic Worker House Faith Community and PeaceWorks.

High-energy Kansas Citians are opposing the Kansas City Plant, the U. S Department of Energy’s nuclear-parts facility at Bannister Federal Complex, and are trying to derail the planned replacement for the plant.  Catholic Workers and friends of Catholic Worker houses are helping spark the resistance.

On June 18, after two days of nonviolence training and assistance with strategizing for future actions with Lisa Fithian, an Austin, Texas organizer for the 500-strong youth group Think Outside the Bomb, along with talks by other national and international peace activists, 35 people protested at the current KC Plant on Bannister Road.  The group held signs and chanted their opposition to nuclear weapons and the contaminants from the KC Plant that have injured workers and endangered the community. The resisters have targeted the contaminants and won media attention, hoping to prevent the new KC Plant from being built.

After four activists were arrested and detained for an hour, 15 people moved on to the office of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.  The firm is selling up to a total of $815 million in municipal bonds to 14 unnamed investors for the new KC Plant at Botts Road and MO Hwy. 150, south of the former Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base. “We need to hit Oppenheimer,” said Lisa Fithian early June 18, wanting the group to focus beyond Bannister. “That’s the corporate piece.”

At Oppenheimer’s office east of the Plaza, Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks, Kansas City Board, asked to speak to a staff member about the unnamed investors. An Oppenheimer representative offered to meet later if the group would make an appointment, but another staff member warned he was going to call the police. The resisters went to the sidewalk and protested until police arrived, saying they were violating city ordinances, including blocking sidewalks and exceeding noise limits.

Truth is, the group had been shouting at Oppenheimer on the bullhorn.  One resister picked up on the words of David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, who calls nuclear weapons portable crematoriums, delivered to your door. “Get your red-hot crematorium bonds here!” called Sasteh Mosley, president of East Meets West of Troost.

The activists left, going next door to Winstead’s to debrief and celebrate the day’s peace work against the KC Plant, which makes nuclear parts including firing sets, aiming devices and “security systems” to stop terrorists from using nukes.

The four arrested for blocking an outdoor employee entrance at the KC Plant were Frank Cordaro of the Phil Berrigan Catholic Worker House in Des Moines, Iowa; Ron Faust of Gladstone, MO, an AFSC activist; Steve Jacobs of St. Francis Catholic Worker House in Columbia, MO; and me.  Many other resisters were community members or friends of KC’s two Catholic Worker houses, Holy Family and Cherith Brook.

“The new bomb plant will make millions of dollars for a few, get the workers sick, pollute the land and build weapons of mass destruction,” said Ann Suellentrop of the Holy Family catholic Worker Faith Community, PeaceWorks and Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC.  A nurse and the lead organizer for opposition to the plant, Suellentrop added, “You can’t build nuclear weapons and not get sick.”

The group asks Kansas Citians to hop on the resistance bandwagon.  E-mail Suellentrop at annsuellen@gmail.com to join a list-serv that will announce new actions and to indicate your interest in activities such as meeting with Oppenheimer staff.  Some actions you may be interested in are:

  • July 30-Aug. 9 — Think Outside the Bomb’s permaculture encampment near Los Alamos, N.M.  Travel with other Kansas Citians, learn about nuclear weapons, build giant puppets, and engage in direct actions concerning nuclear weapons production at Los Alamos National Laboratories. Some KC travelers will return home by Aug. 5. For info, contact Ann Suellentrop at annsuellen@gmail.com.
  • Aug. 6 gather at 8:45 a.m. for the 9 a.m. hearing on the June 18 civil resistance at the KC Plant.  Hearing will be at the U.S. Courthouse, 400 E. 9th St., KC, MO.  Organizers suggest bringing signs and wearing peace shirts
  • Aug. 14-16, begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 14, “Close It! Clean It! Don’t Repeat It!” – a peace-and-resistance conference on the KC Plant.  Takes place at Linwood United Church, 3151 Olive, KCMO.  Members of the Cherith Brook Catholic Worker Community will lead reflections about spirituality and resistance and Ralph Hutchison of Oak Ridge, Tenn., will conduct nonviolence training. The weekend includes talks and a concert Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, 4501 Walnut, KCMO.
  • Aug. 16, 10 a.m. Civil resistance.  Contact Jane Stoever at janepstoever@yahoo.com or 913-206-4088 to register for the Aug. 14-16 gathering and/or provide food for it.
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