Crane is behind bars, again

A longtime Baltimore peace activist who has already served five years in prison for anti-nuclear peace protests across the country is now spending even more time behind bars.

Susan Crane, a 67-year-old resident of Jonah House in West Baltimore, was sentenced to 15 months in prison March 28 for breaking into a U.S. Navy nuclear weapons depot in Washington state as part of a “peace action” with the “Disarm Now Ploughshares” group.

Four others also received jail time for assisting in the action, but only one – a Catholic priest – was sentenced to a term as long as Crane’s.

On All Souls Day in 2009, Crane worked with two Jesuit priests, a Sacred Heart Sister and another lay woman, to break into the naval facility. They sprinkled blood on the property and symbolically hammered on roadways and fences. The Catholic peace activists unfurled a banner that declared Trident missiles to be “illegal” and “immoral.” They also scattered sunflower seeds – the international symbol of nonviolence.

Late last year, I spoke with Crane about her actions and possible prison sentence. She expressed no remorse for what she did, but hoped it would raise awareness about the devastation that can be caused by nuclear weaponry. (You can read the story here and a related blog here).

During the trial, Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson, described the protest as a form of “civil disobedience.” According to a report from protest supporters, Clark said: “Their consciences tell them they have to do it. God will bless them for it and the courts of the United States should too.”

Prior to her sentencing, Crane appeared on a radio program with Jesuit Father Bill “Bix” Bichsel, who was sentenced to three months in prison and six months of electronic home monitoring for assisting in the action.  Check it out below.

What do you think? Is Crane a naive idealist who is getting what she deserves for breaking the law? Or is she a peace prophet for our times? Share your thoughts below.

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About George P. Matysek Jr.

George P. Matysek Jr. is the assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review in Baltimore. View all posts by George P. Matysek Jr.

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