By Anne Millhollen
On May 7, members of Beyond War NW were able to join the Mother’s Day Gathering and Action sponsored by the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington (www.gzcenter.org). The back fence to their lovely, forested Center, is part of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. Located 20 miles from Seattle, the Trident submarine base at Bangor has the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal. The base is the last active nuclear weapons depot on the West Coast.
As the day began, there was a welcoming, food sharing, action planning, and inspiration prior to forming a peaceful procession to the Main Gate at the naval base. The police that morning had consulted with the Center about the schedule for the demonstration and were lined up waiting for us in front of the gate.
Three demonstrators entered the main highway and briefly blocked traffic on the federal side of the Main gate. The three demonstrators carried an illustration of Fr. Daniel Berrigan, revered anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons priest, with a statement by Fr. Berrigan, “Know where you stand and stand there.” The three also carried a colorful banner with symbols linking nuclear weapons and climate change. They were quickly arrested.
Two more demonstrators entered the highway on the County side of the main gate. Instead of arrests or citations, these demonstrators were escorted from the highway by the State Patrol. During the direct action, the rest of us held up signs and banners.
We were nonviolent and communicated with the State Patrol officers as often as possible to explain why we were demonstrating. Perhaps our words and attitude made a difference.
The next demonstration will be a Peace Walk from Salem, Oregon to Seattle, Washington the last weekend in July. That will be followed by the August Hiroshima commemorations, coordination with the historical Golden Rule Peace Boat visiting many west coast cities (http://www.veteransforpeace.org/our-work/vfp-national-projects/golden-rule-boat-project/), and concluding with an August 9 direct action when Ground Zero demonstrators in kayaks and other vessels, along with the Golden Rule Peace Boat, will conduct a sail-by and nonviolent presence at the Bangor submarine base in Hood Canal. Join us!
Please note: If you live in the Seattle area, check out the signs on the metro buses. They will say “We live within 20 miles of the largest concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S.”Φ
Anne Millhollen is a member of the Eugene-based group Beyond War NW.