Peace activists stopped traffic briefly while other activists leafleted at the Navy’s West Coast Trident submarine base on the Hiroshima anniversary.
Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent action held a peaceful early morning vigil at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate as Navy and civilian employees entered the base. The vigil commemorated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
Peace activists lined the roadside with anti-nuke signs, banners and a full-scale inflatable Trident II D-5 ballistic missile. Around 7:00 am Peacekeepers from Ground Zero entered the road to safely stop incoming traffic. Three activists entered the roadway carrying a banner with the message “Abolish Nuclear Weapons.” Washington State Patrol officers escorted the protestors to the median for processing.
Almost immediately, another group of activists entered the roadway with a banner bearing the message “Give Peace a Chance. No, Seriously.” As they were being removed from the roadway two more groups carried banners calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons onto the roadway in the same sequence and were subsequently removed. Traffic entering the base was stopped continuously until all protestors were cleared from the roadway.
A total of 16 persons engaged in the blockade. All were issued citations at the scene for “Walking on roadway where prohibited” and released. Those cited were Tom Rogers, Poulsbo, WA; Cindy Sheehan, Vacaville, CA; Marion Ward, Vancouver, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; Mal Chaddock, Portland, OR; Ann Havill, Bend, OR; Betsy Lamb, Bend, OR; Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA; Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA; Constance Mears, Poulsbo, WA; Gordon Sturrock, Eugene, OR; Brenda McMillan, Port Townsend, WA; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Gilberto Z Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA; George W Rodkey, Tacoma, WA and Elizabeth Murray, Bellingham, WA.
During the vigil and action at Main Gate, another group from Ground Zero leafleted outside the Bangor Trigger Gate. The leaflets were titled “CAN WE TALK?” They explained that the peace activists were present to raise awareness of the danger of nuclear weapons, and invited recipients to join in a sincere dialogue on nuclear weapons. Activists handed approximately 200 of the leaflets to people entering and leaving the base.
Monday’s vigil, nonviolent direct action and leafleting were the culmination of a weekend of events at Ground Zero Center. Participants commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings and celebrated 35 years of Ground Zero’s resistance to the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Participants had the opportunity to hear from Ground Zero co-founders Jim and Shelley Douglass, persistent peace activist Cindy Sheehan, and the (pepper sprayed) face of Seattle Occupy Dorli Rainey.
The weekend included nonviolence training, letter writing to elected officials, action planning, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall and a screening of the documentary “In My Lifetime.” The film, a presentation of the Nuclear World Project, is intended to help people develop an understanding of the realities of nuclear weapons.
A number of additional events were associated with the Ground Zero weekend.
Glen Milner of Ground Zero organized this year’s Peace Fleet, a flotilla of boats that sailed into Seattle’s Elliott Bay on August 1st to meet the U.S. Navy fleet in a protest against militarism.
Activists representing Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington Chapter, arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday during the Bike to the Bomb bicycle ride. Bike to the Bomb protests the use of nuclear weapons against the people of Japan, and spotlights the massive nuclear arsenal stored and deployed at Bangor.
Participants in the 2012 Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk for a Nuclear Free Future, which began in Portland, Oregon on July 22nd, also arrived at Ground Zero on Saturday to participate in the weekend’s activities. The walk is organized by Buddhist monks from Bainbridge Island, and carries a message of hope for peace and a nuclear free world.
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 stop the Navy’s plan to build a $715 million Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor, and recently filed a lawsuit in Federal court to stop the project. 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 nearly thirty-five years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.
Photo of action attached (photo credit: Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action).
UPDATE: Members of the "Bangor 16" will be fasting in solidarity with the people of Japan tomorrow on the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.
Peace activist, Cindy Sheehan, will be joining the fast, saying from her California home, "It's about time that the US renounce the "first strike" doctrine and lead the way in total, global nuclear weapon disarmament. Also, with the people of Japan still suffering from the continued meltdown at Fukushima Daichi, that our resources and energy should go towards promoting safe and sustainable forms of energy production. Our children and grandchildren deserve a better future--or a future at all."
Please fast with us as appropriate to yourself and health.
While your fasting, we invite you to write to the President of the US, your Senators, your Congressperson and/or newspaper to express your disgust that the world is closer to total nuclear war than it has been in more than two decades.