Peace activists block road to sub base – Kucinich calls for nuclear abolition

BANGOR, WA--Four peace activists were arrested August, 8, 2011, while attempting to block the entrance to the U.S. Navy's West coast Trident nuclear submarine base.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons.  Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads.  Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 32 times the yield of the Hiroshima bomb).

Members and supporters of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Ground Zero) in Poulsbo, Washington commemorated the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by vigiling at the New Main Gate entrance to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor while some protesters blocked the entrance during the early morning rush hour on Monday, August 8, 2011, symbolically closing the base.

Demonstrators lined the side of the roadway, many holding signs and banners calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  At 6:45am four participants attempted to block the base entrance roadway using an inflatable full-scale Trident missile. Ground Zero Peacekeepers had already entered the roadway to safely stop traffic, after which the protesters lifted the missile over the barricades marking the designated protest zone.

As the four moved the missile onto the roadway, Washington State Patrol officers immediately moved in and attempted to push the missile back towards the designated protest zone.  The missile was pushed back and forth on the roadway before State Patrol officers lifted it back over the barricades.

The four missile handlers were arrested, processed at the scene, issued citations for “pedestrian on roadway unlawfully,” and released.  Those arrested were Rev. Anne Hall of Seattle, WA; Betsy Lamb of Bend, OR; Brenda McMillan of Port Townsend, WA; and Tom Rogers of Poulsbo, WA.

Tom Rogers is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, Retired, who once commanded a nuclear submarine.  Although active in Ground Zero for many years, this was Rogers’ first nonviolent direct action.  Following the action Rogers remembered Sister Jackie Hudson, longtime peace activist, nuclear abolitionist and member of Ground Zero, who died last week.  He said that Jackie had a big impact on him and that she helped him to take that first step outside of his comfort zone, and then go just a little further.

A memorial will be held for Hudson at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Saturday, August 13th at 1:30 pm. Following the memorial, participants will be invited to gather for a vigil at the Bangor entrance gate to honor Hudson.

The weekend commemorating the Hiroshima and Nagasaki anniversaries included a nonviolence workshop, a vigil at the Kitsap Mall, music, and a special appearance by Congressman Dennis Kucinich who spoke to the gathering on Sunday evening.  Kucinich spoke passionately about the need to abolish nuclear weapons, and his message was well received! 

Kucinich stated that the doctrines of “unilateralism, preemption and first strike must be set aside as profoundly dangerous relics,” and that “it is our responsibility to make war itself obsolete through direct action and through concrete steps, which can take us in a direction of peace.”  Regarding nuclear weapons Kucinich said that “we cannot hope to abolish nuclear weapons unless we change the thinking that created those weapons and unless we change dramatically the U.S. role in the world.”  Kucinich elaborated on how he would achieve what he referred to as “a new doctrine of strength”, which would rely on diplomacy and other non-military means.

The purpose of the vigil and nonviolent action was to raise awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons and our continuing reliance on them (particularly the Trident nuclear weapons system), and the importance of working towards a nuclear weapons-free world. GZ holds vigils and nonviolent direct actions every year on the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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

Contact:  Leonard Eiger, Media and Outreach
                 Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
                 (425) 445-2190

Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone  (Coordinator)
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Media & Outreach)
Disarm Now Plowshares (Media & Outreach)    

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