MINUTEMAN III PLOWSHARES: On August 6, 1998 at 6:00 AM, Daniel Sicken, an Air Force veteran and peace activist from Brattleboro, VT, and Sachio Ko-Yin, a nursery school teacher and activist from Ridgewood, NJ, entered silo N7 in Weld County near Greeley, Colorado operated by Warren AFB, Cheyenne, Wyoming. With sledgehammers they broke bolts on the tracks for opening the Minuteman III missile silo lid. In addition they poured blood on the silo, displayed a banner, and stenciled the picture of a broken rifle, the universal symbol of disarmament, along with the image of a gravestone on the launching pad. They timed their action to coincide with the 53rd anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Addressing the fact that 500 Minuteman III missiles are still deployed, with each missile equivalent to the destructive power of 60 Hiroshima bombs, they declared: “In the spirit of nonviolence…we symbolically disarm and convert this site to a life-sustaining place. We give witness to our opposition to U.S. violations of the rights of this and future generations.” They were arrested by armed security and jailed pending their trial.
In early November they were tried by a jury in US District Court in Denver. They were not allowed to present an international law or justification defense. They were convicted by a jury of conspiracy, destruction of government property, and sabotage. Following their conviction, they were immediately imprisoned when they told the judge that, due to the courts upholding of the legitimacy of nuclear weapons, they could not return for sentencing.
U.S. District Judge Walker Miller faced the prospect of sentencing the defendants to 5-8 years imprisonment in January, the terms recommended by federal sentencing guidelines. “They didn’t put a bomb in a bomber,” he said. Miller postponed sentencing to consider written arguments for and against a shorter sentence. On February 18th, Dan was sentenced to 41 months, and Sachio to 30 months imprisonment. Both men were also ordered to pay $21,299.40 in restitution and perform 30 hours of community service per month for three years of supervised release. An Appeals Court denied a prosecution request to give Dan and Sachio additional prison time.