Last Saturday, January 15, the Seattle Raging Grannies set the mood for honoring Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington. Eighty three people from the Center participated in a vigil at the Kitsap Mall in Silverdale with the help of a full scale, 44 foot long, inflatable Trident D-5 missile. Each D-5 missile, deployed on Trident nuclear submarines, carries up to 8 warheads, each with an explosive yield of up to 475 kilotons. Each D-5 missile costs approximately $60 million.
Theme Reflects King’s Words
Participants carried signs and banners calling for an end to war and nuclear weapons. Notable was a quote by Dr. King: “When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.”
Back at the Center, Dr. David Hall, former president of Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, presented the threats posed by these nuclear weapons stored at Strategic Weapons Facility-Pacific and deployed on the Trident nuclear submarines based at Bangor Navy Base in Kitsap County.
The Seattle Raging Grannies chorus entertained participants with a series of musical parodies celebrating the day’s theme: “Billions for Life, Not Billions for Death.” The theme reflected Dr. King’s words: A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
After nonviolence training, 12 activists risked arrest by symbolically closing the Trigger Avenue gate during the afternoon shift change as an act of resistance to Trident, a first strike weapons system. Blocking traffic symbolized stopping the horrific threat of Trident missiles for a short time.
Rosy Betz-Zall, 60, of Seattle, WA; Anne Hall, 65, of Seattle, WA; Larry Kerschner, 64, of Centralia, WA; Brenda McMillan, 77, of Port Townsend, WA; Denny Moore, 66, of Bainbridge Island, WA; and Shirley Morrison, 88, of Seattle, WA walked onto Trigger Avenue with a banner reading “BILLIONS FOR LIFE, NOT BILLIONS FOR DEATH.”
Kitsap County Sheriffs arrested the six protesters. After initial processing they were transported by Sheriff s van to the Kitsap County Jail for further processing. They were issued citations for blocking traffic and released.
Then another six Ground Zero Center activists crossed the blue line designating federal control. Patricia Patti Bass, 63, of Poulsbo, WA; Carolyn Dorisdotter, 72, Seattle, WA; Norm Keegel, 71, of Bainbridge Island, WA; Gordon Sturrock, 52, of Eugene, WA; Sam Tower, 68, of Tacoma, WA; and Robert Friend Weber Whitlock, 32, of Olympia were arrested by naval security personnel, processed and released after being issued citations for trespassing.
Relating to the day’s theme of Billions for Life, Not Billions for Death, according to Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation, Washington State is planning to cut schools, health care, public safety and other programs by more than $4 billion. Meanwhile, Washington State taxpayers have paid $28.6 billion so far for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That figure does not include the annual defense budget or nuclear weapons spending.
The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal, housing as many as 2000 nuclear warheads. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.
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. Φ
Leonard Eiger is the Media and Outreach Coordinator for the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. You can contact him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 445-2190. He also blogs at http://nuclearabolitionist.blogspot.com and http://subversivepeacemaking.blogspot.com.