Sister Ardeth Platte, nun who served time for protesting nuclear weapons, dies at 84

Sister Ardeth Platte outside the federal courthouse in downtown Denver in 2003.
Sister Ardeth Platte outside the federal courthouse in downtown Denver in 2003.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Anti-nuclear activist Sister Ardeth Platte, a Dominican nun who spent time in jail for her peaceful protests, has died at her home in Washington, D.C., just days after participating in a demonstration against nuclear weapons.

Sister Carol Gilbert, who lived with Platte at a Catholic Worker house, said Platte died in her sleep Sept. 30. She was 84.

In 2010, Platte was arrested for trespassing at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., during a protest, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. At her sentencing, Platte said, “Nuclear weapons are the taproot of violence, and they must be abolished. So I refuse to be silent,” the newspaper reported.


She served a four-month sentence. It was one of several arrests over many years of anti-war protests.

In October 2002, Platte, Gilbert and another Dominican nun, the late Sister Jackie Hudson, poured their own blood on a Minuteman III missile loaded with a 20-kiloton nuclear bomb in Weld County, Colo. It was one of 49 high-trigger nuclear weapons stored in the state.

They were convicted of sabotage and received harsh sentences: 41 months in prison for Platte, 33 for Gilbert and 30 for Hudson.

In September 2000, the three were arrested for civil disobedience at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., and jailed. The charges were subsequently dropped. They also served time in other states for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience.

Platte inspired the character of Sister Jane Ingalls on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black”, Michigan Live reported. Platte also served on the city council in Saginaw, Mich.

“I never tied myself to a flagpole,” Platte told Michigan Live. “I go into nuclear weapons sites to pray, to vigil, to expose what is there, to try to speak my piece about total abolition of nuclear weapons.”

A report in a Dominican Sisters newsletter provided by Gilbert said Platte was born April 10, 1936, and grew up in Westphalia, Mich. In 1954, at age 18, she entered the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids and was a nun for the rest of her life.

The newsletter called Platte a “justice preacher, peace seeker, teacher, compassionate neighbor and friend who stood with people on the margins.”