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Jan-16-2012 11:58printcomments

Peace activists occupy nuclear sub base entrance to honor MLK

Trained peacekeepers from Ground Zero ensured the safety of all participants during the vigil and action, and communicated with base security personnel as needed.

Dr King's 'I have a dream' speech
Dr King's 'I have a dream' speech

(SEATTLE) - Activists from a local peace group blocked entry to the main gate at the Navy’s West coast Trident nuclear submarine base Saturday for nearly a half hour in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action held a peaceful vigil and nonviolent direct action at the main gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington. Thegroup protested the U.S. government’s continued deployment of the Trident nuclear weapons system. Its continued reliance on nuclear weapons as an instrument of foreign policy is in contravention of both U.S. and international laws.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the US arsenal. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carries up to 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of being armed with as many as 8 independently targetable nuclear warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive force of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 30 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb).

On Saturday afternoon the group maintained a peaceful vigil on the roadside outside the base entrance. Nine protesters entered the roadway carrying banners and blocked all inbound traffic lanes. One banner had a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” One side of the second banner read “Care for Sailors & Marines: Peaceful Jobs for All.” The other side read “Enriching the Few at Everyone’s Expense: Occupy Trident.”

Trained peacekeepers from Ground Zero ensured the safety of all participants during the vigil and action, and communicated with base security personnel as needed.

Traffic into the main gate was turned away for approximately 26 minutes. Once Washington State Patrol officers arrived the protestors complied with the order to move off the State roadway. All were cited for “Pedestrian in Roadway Illegally” (a traffic offense) and released at the scene.

Those arrested were Louise Bollman, Larry Kerschner, Gabriel La Valle, Peggy Love, Jack Smith, Carlo Voli, Marion Ward, Robert Whitlock, and Alice Zillah. Arrestees’ ages range from 33 to 73 years.

The day planned in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. began in the morning at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action where participants learned about nuclear weapons effects (with an emphasis on the Trident system) and U.S. nuclear weapons policy. They also participated in nonviolence training and discussed the implications of the Occupy movement in relation to the movement to abolish nuclear weapons.

Participants in the vigil and action included activists from the Kitsap Peninsula, Olympia, the Greater Puget Sound area, the Interfaith Peace Walk for MLK Day, and Occupy Seattle.

Ground Zero holds three scheduled vigils and actions each year in resistance to Trident and in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The group has been working to reverse the Navy’s plan to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. Ground Zero is also working to de-fund the Navy’s plans for a next generation ballistic missile submarine, estimated to cost $99 billion to build.

For over thirty-three years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Leonard Eiger is the Media and Outreach contact for Ground Zero Center for NonviolentAction

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RaiderCop January 30, 2012 4:58 pm (Pacific time)

Peggy, military bases have active duty, civilian and contract personnel on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many of those are ‘contact relief,’ meaning they don’t go home until relieved. The defense of our great country does not take weekends and holidays off. If by “many other ways” you mean ONE, yes there was one other operational gate during the protest. I’d agree the only people in danger of being struck by vehicular traffic were the protesters. I would also agree that those people attempting to go to work, report for duty or simply get home to their loved ones were imposed upon, inconvenienced, obstructed and put off by the actions of a group who feels their opinion is morally superior. Those who disagree are subject to contempt and inconvenience. Agree or not just about everyone on that base is defending your First Amendment right; let’s not confuse that right with lawlessness.

RaiderCop January 30, 2012 10:16 am (Pacific time)

Editor, what’s your message… That some people’s rights and freedoms are more legitimate than others? Nice ploy making this about me. I assure you your presumptions are way off. BTW those freedoms you think I don’t know of… I’ve literally been defending them since I was 17 years old.

Peggy Love January 26, 2012 12:13 am (Pacific time)

I am unclear as to your point, RaiderCop. The action was mid day on a Saturday and no one was on his or her way to work. There are many other ways onto that base. No one at all was in danger in their vehicles. The only possible danger was to those of us in the road. No one inside the base is defending my right to speak out against my government.They are very definitely part of that vast Military Industrial Complex about which Eisenhower warned us over 50 years ago. I shall not play "what if" with you about phantom ambulances.

RaiderCop January 17, 2012 11:24 am (Pacific time)

So you denied the ability for workers to go to work, sailors to go to duty, and families to go to their homes? Would you have moved out of the way for an ambulance or is your morality superior to that as well? When drivers went around your line and you moved to close them off, would you have taken responsibility if somone got hurt? I'm sure you'd rationalize your actions more admirable then someone actually WORKING to defend your right to act as you do?

Editor: So your message is what?  You think that people should stare at the ground and thank the rich for allowing them a place on the board?  You're a cop, your benefits are off the charts, you literally lap at the public trough, your pay is ridiculous in comparison to those other people see, and do you want to talk about police unions for a minute?  I have news for you, this is America, we have freedom and I'm not sure you know that means.

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