I celebrated the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 19th by joining my fellow nuclear abolitionists at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action for our Martin Luther King Day action at the gates of the Trident nuclear submarine base in Kitsap County, Washington. Ground Zero Center has been holding these actions (since Trident came to the shores of Hood Canal in the late 70's) bearing witness to and resisting this genocidal weapons system that violates international law; one Trident submarine carries enough nuclear weapons to destroy an entire continent, killing millions, and subsequently blanket the planet with deadly radiation for centuries.
Honoring the organization's (and our individual) core values of nonviolence, we always participate in nonviolence training before each action. Led by a trainer, the group engaged in a number of exercises to prepare us to respond in a nonviolent manner to anything that might happen, whether it be angry civilians or problems with the authorities (which we have never experienced in my time with GZ).
In the days leading up to MLK Day, the Buddhist monks from Bainbridge Island, Washington led an Interfaith Peace Walk around Puget Sound from January 11th, ending at Ground Zero Center on the 18th. We were honored with their presence and witness for peace at the MLK Day action.
After the nonviolence training and action planning, the group prepared to set out for the main gate of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, home of the West Coast Trident nuclear submarine fleet (and over 2000 nuclear weapons). The sub base is our next-door neighbor, and it is a short walk down Clear Creek Road from GZ to the gate. After reciting the Pledge of Nonviolence we began our journey down the road on a bright, sunny day.
A variety of individuals and organizations are represented at GZ; from The Raging Grannies to Veterans for Peace, many people support the goal of abolishing Trident and all nuclear weapons, and aren't afraid to put their feet to the pavement to show their support.
But beyond the vigilers and Peacekeepers (the people who look our for everyone's safety) there are the brave souls who risk arrest in one way or another in acts of nonviolent resistance. It varies from one action to another. It may involve blocking traffic into the base or trying to cross onto the base to deliver a message to the base commander (as was done last Spring requesting a dialogue on establishing a Puget Sound Nuclear Free Zone).
On this MLK Day, a group of resisters attempted to block traffic carrying a banner with a quote from Dr. King that read, "When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men." As they entered the roadway they were arrested by Washington State Patrol Officers. They were taken for processing and were released, and will later receive notice of their court dates.
Shortly after the arrestees were driven off for processing, the rest of the group headed back for GZ to wait for the return of the arrestees. Inside the newly built (but not yet finished) GZ house, everyone warmed up with hot chili and discussed the day's events.
Of course, you might be asking, "Why would anyone want to spend time doing what we do?" I will save that complex discussion for a subsequent post. Nuclear weapons present one of the most complex subjects of our time, and also one of the most pressing. The members of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action come at it from many different angles and beliefs, but we all share one common thread - ABOLISHING TRIDENT!
So, until the day that the United States government scraps Trident, this small, but dedicated group of abolitionists will continue to stand outside the gates of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor engaged in acts of creative nonviolence as we resist Trident. And in doing so we will be working to restore the Beloved Community, honoring Dr. King's admonition to "recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism." And (of course) we will do it nonviolently!