A violation of property or the protection of peace?
Six anti-nuclear resisters who engaged in nonviolent direct action at the Bangor nuclear submarine base were arraigned in Federal court on Wednesday, April 6. Supporters of those being arraigned held a vigil outside Tacoma’s Union Station Courthouse beginning at 8 a.m. on April 6.
“During the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action’s vigil and action on January 15, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Patricia Bass, Carolyn Dorisdotter, Norm Keegel, Gordon Sturrock, Sam Tower and Robert Friend Weber Whitlock entered the roadway and crossed the blue line onto Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor protesting the Navy’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. All six were arrested by Naval security personnel, processed and released after being issued citations for trespassing,” an April 1 press release from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action stated.
This order to appear in court for arraignment is only the most recent news in regional anti-nuclear action.
On Monday March 28, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly and Anne Montgomery were found guilty of Conspiracy, Trespass, Destruction of Property on a Naval Installation and Depredation of Government Property, according to disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com, for their November 2009 Plowshares action at the nuclear weapons storage facility at the Bangor Trident submarine base.
They were supported by various vigils, including a gathering at the U.S. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor March 26, a mass and Festival of Hope celebration at St. Leo church March 27 and a vigil in front of the Union Station Courthouse the morning of March 28.
Professor John Lear attended the Festival of Hope the night before the sentencing.
“It was not a sad event, given that the next day these people would likely go to jail. It was exciting to see the whole community come together. My sense is that this gathering was not only to support these people as people or their more general struggle for social justice, but also the importance of this particular issue. The Plowshares Five force us to think about how unnatural it is for the United States to have more nuclear weapons than any other country in the world. And the largest concentration of it to be 30 miles from here,” Lear said.
The five have received support from the community, both religious and non-religious.
Not only did over 400 people attend the Festival of Hope, but supporters also attended the sentencing and Union Station vigil last Monday.
According to Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Coordinator and Disarm Now Plowshares Media Representative Leonard Eiger, the courthouse was packed and there were also people and media waiting outside.
The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons, according to a recent Kansas City Star article.
[PHOTO COURTESY / DANIEL PENDLETON]