Prince of Peace Plowshares. Federal Court. Portland, Maine
October 29, l997.
Tom, apparently nonchalant, enters with two mountings of his etchings. Speaks with his wife. 'How will I know where you are?' she says just as the assembly is called to order.
JUDGE: [Mumble, mumble -- rapid fire, for-the-record stuff] At issue here -- Objection #4 and Objection #2 . .[to assessment of the sentence]
PROSECUTOR: . . . The action was carefully planned by the defendants. There was more than minimal planning. . . As to acceptance of responsibility --The Government contends that he has not accepted responsibility for his actions . He has never indicated that he accepts responsibility under the meaning of the Guidelines. So the Government opposes any reduction for acceptance of responsibility . . . Mid range recommended -- 13 months . . .
This case is not about whether we agree or disagree with his political views. The Government's view is that the law protects all individuals from being attacked and having their property damaged. It was a more egregious situation because people were living on the ship.
The issue of restitution -- Tom Lewis-Borbely wishes to pay the restitution by community service. The Statute appears to make room for that. The request was just presented to me l5 minutes ago . . . No objection to the Court incorporating it in the Order.
[No statements from Stand-by Counsels. Tom is invited to speak].
TOM L-B: RESTITUTION ISSUE. Let me first address s the issue of paying back of restitution. It has been clearly stated in the Probation Report that I have no financial means for restitution. That has been well documented. My commitment to live with the poor as a poor person is well documented.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROPOSAL. Part of that report is a letter submitted from the Family Health & Social Services [No objection to this]. This leatter documents clearly that the sender is recommending a community service project with the poor in the community -- parents and grandparents of the children. Not an unfamiliar art project for me . . . In a federal case in Boston the charge was misdemeanor (reduced from felony) for Transfiguration Plowshares [documented]. Simply I am asking that when the time for restitution does come up that the restitution be in the form of community service -- allowed within the statutes.
ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY. The other issue of adjustment for acceptance of responsibility -- See the Probation Report. I have all along accepted full responsibility for my conduct . . . The defendants never denied the factual elements of guilt -- Therefore, I feel I am due reduction for acceptance of responsibility.
PLANNING. The other point regarding planning -- I think the best way to deal with this -- James Carroll in his article 9/30/97 speaks about it: [quote] On the street outside the courthouse I asked Lewis-Borbely how they got on board the ship. 'I would say the Holy Spirit led us,' he replied. 'We simply went into Bath Iron Works and walked on to the ship on the plank on the back. It was about 5 o'clock in the morning. As we finished, the light came up. Sunrise. We waited to be arrested.' [end of quote]
JUDGE: Is there anything else you would like to say?
TOM L-B: I would like to call a character witness. Dr. Professor Michael True.
JUDGE : I will be glad to hear you.
MT: . . . courage and persistence over the past thirty years. Tom already occupies a significant place in history. He appears in major texts, in the poems and plays that I assign in courses of American History of Nonviolence. The tradition of nonviolence is shown by people of similar character throughout our history. When they threw the tea in the harbor in Boston . . . during the abolitionist era people throughout New England and the South broke the law and taught black children to read when the courts said they should not. . . . Women's rights . . . Civil rights . . . Workers rights . . . People beaten in jail . . .
Tom is all part of that history. These people challenged the status quo. They disrupted those who perpetuated violence and injustice. We are all indebted to them for their moral clarity.
As the father of six and the grandfather of seven I am personally grateful to the Plowshares effort to prevent a nuclear holocaust which is being prepared in many places throughout the world. I pray that the Court would recognize their contribution in nonviolent action on the part of people of this country.
Being in this courtroom today I simply cannot believe in one sense what is happening. These people who are feeding the hungry and housing the homeless -- sending them to jail --
JUDGE: I am not sending them to jail.
MT: They are going to jail and we will be deprived of their contributions to the general welfare. I am grateful to Tom for his many contributions to the community in Worcester, Massachusetts since l980; with his wife and daughter since l990. He has worked hard with the homeless and the hungry. He lives about eight blocks from me. He has done everything possible in sometimes a dangerous neighborhood -- drugs and prostitution on the streets . . . The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are essential to community building. He has created strong murals, portraits of the homeless . . .
I would respectfully urge the court not to deprive us of the contributions of Tom to the people in our community . . . I would ask you to consider this and question this in your mind.
JUDGE: I will. [ Invites Tom to speak]
TOM L-B: [Picks up to mountings of his etchings]. I have brought two art works that I will refer to. I am an artist. I have not had time to prepare something to write, but I have prepared two etchings. Some of my art. The first etching shows a mother, grandfather and children -- the photo was taken in Latin America -- a navy plane flying missile-dropping bombs on children. It depicts the violence that war and weapons of war do to children.. Plus there's the classic photo of children running from napalm in Vietnam. The children are the victims of war. Everyone's children. The children of the war.
By going to the .U.S. The Sullivans . . . weapons that will not discriminate between those who wage war and children. They will in fact be used, as the consciousness and acceptance of these weapons of mass destruction becomes greater or more popular. I simply went there to nonviolently, symbolically disarm the ship. And the ship was disarmed symbolically.
The other etching is an etching about Plowshares action. There have been more than 54 witnesses since l980. This is not the Prince of Peace Plowshares. This is the Pax Christi Spirit of Light Plowshares. It simply shows a cross, the resurrected cross. It shows a simple hammer striking the image of death. Because that is our enemy. Spiritual death. Real death. Death for the children. And the weapons are crumbling in a symbolic and real way. And these are the words of Isaiah -- SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES. SPEARS INTO PRUNING HOOKS. In some strange way God is part of all of this. Even on this day of sentencing. The cross certainly is a reference to jail. I am packed for jail as best I can, with my Bible, a few papers. That is all.
PROSECUTOR: Nothing further.
JUDGE: The Court will file its usual Memorandum. . . Concludes that he has accepted responsibility. True, he participated with the others -- [not clear here] part of a strategy of moral . . .of process and not an attempt to deny that he did the acts.
Furthermore, throughout the proceeding, even although I recognize that there were reasons of self-interest, he has obeyed the orders of the Court, maintaining a decent and respectful record [regard?] towards the Court. He has been alone among all these defendants consistently respectful of the Court. He has done all the Court has asked him to do as minimal requirement of civilized etiquette in a court of law. That stands out for me because I have not enjoyed in any measure listening to this Court being abused and reviled by the other defendants. Mr. Lewis-Borbely has come and done his part of the work in quite a responsible civilly respectful way. I conclude that he has acknowledged that he recognizes that by the rules of law his conduct was wrongful . . . Vows that it was done as a matter of conscience. I find that he has accepted responsibility and reduce the level by two levels to level 10.
His criminal history is Category 1. The Court has resolved objections that he has filed. #1, #2 . Has already resolved the loss question in #3. Now indicate that the Memo will reflect that he is subject to a 2 level for 'more than minimal planning.' The Memo will reflect in accordance with those conclusions that the applicable Guideline range is 6 to 12 months plus a term of two years supervised release after incarceration.
The Court concludes that the defendant is ineligible for admission to probation, that this is not an appropriate sentence in this case.
$4,703.89 share of damages. The Court denies the request for restitution by community service. The damage was caused to the government and therefore the taxpayers of the United States should be repaid within the legal guidelines. The proposed community service project is not appropriate in this case.
[Tom stands for sentencing]
Six months on each count, to be served concurrently
Two years supervised release
subject to conditions of a special nature -- not to commit another federal, state etc. . .
Will make restitution of $4,703.89.
Special assessment $200.
I in no way condone the conduct of this defendant any more than the others. I am not passing judgment on the conduct except to the extent that I am required to determine it is a violation of the law. I reiterate that this defendant has conducted himself in a responsible manner in bringing his matter of conscience before the Court of the United States. . . Right to appeal . . . etc.