Today’s show celebrates the life of legendary anti-war priest Father Daniel Berrigan, who has died at age 94. He was a poet, pacifist, educator, social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he called “American military imperialism.” Here’s an excerpt from Amy Goodman’s tribute at the beginning of the show.
In 1980, the Berrigan brothers and six others began the Plowshares Movement when they broke into General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The activists hammered nuclear—on the nuclear warhead nose cones and poured blood onto documents and files. They were arrested and charged with over 10 different felony and misdemeanor counts. They became known as the Plowshares Eight. And I want to turn now to a clip from the film In the King of Prussia. This scene features Dan Berrigan reciting what he told the judge and jury during the trial.
FATHER DANIEL BERRIGAN: You’ve heard about hammers and blood in this room. These are the hammers of hell. These are the hammers that will break the world to bits. These are the hammers that claim the end of the world. The judge knows it. The prosecutor knows it. We’ve seen people walk away from these things. We’ve seen them disclaim them. We’ve seen them say they are not responsible for them. We’ve seen all sorts of language circling them like a dance of death. They are murder. He knows it. He knows it. You must know it. We have been trying—we eight—to take responsibility for these things, to call them by their right name, which is murder, death, genocide, the end of the world. Their proper use is known to the judge and the prosecutor and to you. …
We would like you to know the name of our crime. We would like to assume responsibility for a world, for children, for the future. And if that is a crime, then it is quite clear that we belong in their jails. Where they belong is something else. But in the name of all the eight, I would like to leave with you, friends and jurors, that great and noble word, which is our crime: “responsibility.”
Martin Sheen and Berrigan’s niece Frida join the crew to remember the lifelong activist. There are also flashbacks to 2002 and 2006, when Berrigan himself appeared on Democracy Now!
We are honored to offer this broadcast as part of our affiliation with the Pacifica Network. Find out where the Democracy Now! crew is visiting next during the show’s 100-city tour, celebrating 20 years on the air.