Born in Traverse City, Michigan, Gilbert was the elder of two children. She was raised in a middle class setting. At the age of 18, in 1965, she joined a convent of the Dominican Order in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Starting in 1969, Gilbert taught Junior High students at various schools around Michigan. This lasted until 1977 when she started to teach at the Alternative Learning Center in Saginaw, Michigan. After 10 years of teaching, in 1979, she devoted her career to plowshare activism.
In 1998, Gilbert and four other protesters entered Andrews Air Force Base during the annual Department of Defense Open House and air show. The group banged on a B-52 with hammers and poured their own blood on it. For this, Gilbert spent 6 months in federal prison. In 2000, Gilbert and two other nuns, Sisters Jackie Hudson and Ardeth Platte, illegally entered Peterson Air Force Base and sprinkled blood on a fighter plane. The group was arrested and held in a federal prison until the charges were dropped. In 2002, the same group of nuns entered a Minuteman III missile silo in Colorado. Clad in white jump suits emblazoned with "Citizen Weapon Inspection Team," the group drew a cross in their own blood, banged on the silo, and prayed. The nuns were arrested and left on the ground for three hours. Their protest spilled over into their pre-trial hearing. Clad in full habits, the nuns answered the judge with a nod. At their trial, the presiding judge, Robert E. Blackburn, granted an in limine motion to the prosecutor. This prevented the nuns from arguing that their actions were legal under international law and the Nuremberg defense. The nuns were sentenced to between 30 and 41 months in prison. Due to their activism, in 2005 and 2006 Gilbert and Platte were labeled as terrorists by the state of Maryland.
References and bibliography
- Berrigan, Daniel (2005). Genesis: Fair Beginnings, Then Foul. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 9780742531925.
- Brasch, Walter M (2005). America's Unpatriotic Acts the Federal Government's Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights. Lang, Peter Publishing. ISBN 0820476080.
- Head, Michael (2011). Crimes Against The State. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 9780754678199.
- James, Joy (2007). Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prison in a Penal Democracy. Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 0822339234.
- LoBianco, Tom (2008). "Protesting nuns branded terrorists". The Washington Times. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- "Maryland Nuns Branded as Suspected Terrorists". Fox News. 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
- Strabala, William (2006). WMD, Nukes and Nuns. Algora Publishing. ISBN 978-0875864471.