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Jul-23-2013 09:45printcomments

We Can Afford Peace -- Peace activists at Seafair on July 31, 2013 in Elliott Bay

Event will take place with or without U.S. Navy fleet.

Salem-News.com
Courtesy: gzcenter.org

(ELLIOTT BAY) - Local activists will stage a water-based nonviolent demonstration for peace at the Seattle Seafair festival.

Other peace activists will meet on land near Pier 66 and at Piers 62/63 on the Seattle waterfront at the same time for a nonviolent demonstration for peace. 

What:  Peace activists at Seafair.  This is the twelfth year for this demonstration. 

When:  Wednesday, July 31, noon, Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay.  Demonstration on land at Piers 62/63 at 1 PM.     

Where:  Elliott Bay, near Pier 66.  Demonstration on land at Piers 62/63.

For the twelfth year, peace activists will address the public display of warships and warplanes in our community and protest against the normalcy of modern war.

This year will be the first year for the event without the U.S. Navy fleet and the Blue Angels.

Ground Zero activist and long-time Peace Fleet sailor Mary Gleysteen stated, “We would prefer to have changed public opinion and stopped the glorification of warships in Elliott Bay, but if the Navy cannot afford to bring its ships to Seattle, we are okay with that too.”

2013 will be the first year without the U.S. Navy due to budget cuts through sequestration.  A spokesperson for the 3rd Fleet said in April that the round-trip bill for fuel alone for three warships from San Diego to attend the Seattle Seafair festival in 2012 cost $1.1 million.

Peace Fleet sailor Glen Milner said, “War has become just another ‘issue’ in modern society, like pollution or other problems.  We measure the cost of war in dollars and lives and decide whether it is ‘worth it.’  War should never be seen as a normal means to solve problems.  War is the problem and the weapons of war in downtown Seattle should not be glorified or honored in any way.”

Milner added, “The issue of defense cuts is usually discussed as a budgetary issue only.  But it is much more than that—we have seen nearly unchecked militarism for years in the United States.

The Peace Fleet this year, as in past years, will require no public funds or public resources.  We can all afford peace.

Please see the attached Fact Sheet and Chronology 

Fact Sheet and Chronology--Peace activists at Seafair on July 31, 2013 

The Peace Fleet is an incarnation of earlier demonstrations: the People’s Blockade of U.S. Navy vessels carrying munitions during the Vietnam War; and the Peace Blockade in Hood Canal, demonstrating against the arrival of the first Trident submarine, the USS Ohio, at the Trident submarine base at Bangor in 1982.

August 6, 1997: A Trident submarine arrived in downtown Seattle for the first time for the Seafair fleet week.  The USS Ohio, complete with up to 192 nuclear warheads, was met by three zodiac vessels in a mutually agreed scenario between the U.S. Navy and Greenpeace. While the Navy promised civic leaders it would never send a Trident to Seattle again, local peace activists on the shore vowed to meet the next submarine on the water.  See http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19970806&slug=2553355

August 2, 2000: Another Trident submarine, the USS Alabama, arrived at Seafair.  And so started the Peace Fleet, with one 16-foot boat and three sailors.  The Cold War was over, and the War on Terror had not yet begun, but surveillance of known nonviolent activists in Seattle was as active as at any other time. 

The Port of Seattle 2000 Operations Plan stated, "All meetings the Navy and Coast Guard have expressed the desire to handle any protesters/demonstrators with as much discretion as possible. The goal would be to allow the demonstrators as little exposure as possible."  The Coast Guard ordered the small boat and demonstrators out of Elliott Bay upon the arrival of the nuclear submarine. 

Records obtained through the Washington State Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) years later would show aggressive surveillance by the Port of Seattle and the U.S. Navy.  See http://wafreepress.org/81/spyingInSeattle.shtml 

July 30, 2003: The Peace Fleet returned after the discovery earlier in the year that the U.S. Navy regularly test-fired radioactive depleted uranium bullets in prime fishing areas off the Washington Coast.  Eleven peace activists in four boats successfully operated their vessels and established a free speech presence along the Seattle shoreline. The Peace Fleet event was covered by the Seattle Post Intelligencer and at least one Seattle television station.

An FBI record released through the FOIA in September 2005 stated that a federal agent had actually watched two Peace Fleet vessels being launched from West Seattle on July 30, 2003.  The FBI record concluded, "All of the boats remained outside the security zone and conducted a peaceful protest in accordance with their stated intent. There were no incidents reported."  See http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s1009r.pdf (Chapter 8 or pages 169-172 and 185-186.) and http://www.infowars.com/articles/police_state/free_speech/peace_groups_under_watch.html

August 5, 2004: Twelve peace activists in three Peace Fleet vessels were stopped throughout the afternoon on August 5, 2004 by the Coast Guard.  Two Peace Fleet sailors in a vessel owned by Ground Zero were held at gunpoint by the Coast Guard in Bell Harbor Marina.  

The skipper of the Ground Zero vessel was charged on April 6, 2005 for allegedly violating the 500 yard naval vessel protection zone.  Coast Guard District Thirteen in Seattle had originally sought criminal charges with penalties up to a $250,000 fine and six years in jail.  They later requested a $32,500 fine, the maximum civil penalty possible for the offense.  On December 13, 2005, the skipper of the Ground Zero vessel was tried by a single Coast Guard Hearing Officer in a daylong Coast Guard hearing in downtown Seattle.  See http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Peace-activist-challenges-Coast-Guard-fine-1189895.php   On July 17, 2006, the hearing officer determined the testimony of the Coast Guard officer in charge of the U.S. Navy fleet arrival was “unreliable.”  A warning, and no fine, was issued.

August 3, 2005: Twelve Peace Fleet sailors in four boats and the first year that members of the Peace Fleet did not contact officials in advance of the action.  Information given to the Coast Guard and the Navy in 2004 was used to harass Peace Fleet vessels and sailors.  Only one vessel was boarded by the Coast Guard.  Coast Guard vessels turned away from one Peace Fleet sailboat after Coast Guard crewmembers saw the deck lined with Seattle PI Photographer Karen Ducey’s professional cameras and equipment. 

Peace Walkers from the Bainbridge Island Buddhist Temple joined with the Peace Fleet as part of a 300 mile Peace Walk from the Hanford Nuclear site to the Trident submarine base at Bangor in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

August 2, 2006:  Eleven Peace Fleet sailors were in four boats.  This was the first time in the past several years that Peace Fleet vessels were not boarded by the Coast Guard, and the first year that naval vessel protection zones were enforced as written regulations, which allowed Peace Fleet vessels more visibility on the water.

A Hearing Officer’s recent decision against Coast Guard District Thirteen, and a statement to the Coast Guard from Aaron Caplan of the ACLU of Washington, may explain the departure from aggressive tactics against demonstrators at Seafair.

Approximately 15 demonstrators were on the waterfront near Pier 66 with signs and a large banner stating “U.S. Out of Iraq”. 

August 1, 2007: Thirteen Peace Fleet sailors in three vessels and the Coast Guard was back to overly aggressive enforcement.  As U.S. Navy warships approached Pier 66, the Coast Guard once again changed the rules and Peace Fleet skippers were ordered to steer vessels between piers, shut off engines, and keep bows pointed toward the shoreline. 

About 20 demonstrators with signs and banners joined the event on various piers and engaged with Navy officials on Pier 66.  Gabrielle Lavalle wore a formal gown with a sash which stated, “I Miss America.” 

July 30, 2008: Three Peace Fleet sailors were in one vessel.  This year the Coast Guard implemented the most drastic measures ever in Elliott Bay for the fleet arrival by establishing new security zones around Pier 66 in which no vessels could enter.  Additional security zones, as well as the usual security zones for U.S. Navy vessels, were established for Canadian vessels, a Coast Guard cutter, and even a small Navy landing craft.

Violation of any of these security zones could bring arrest and a charge resulting in up to six years in jail and a $250,000 fine.  Establishing a security zone at Pier 66 effectively split the Seattle waterfront in half and left little room for vessels to maneuver in Elliott Bay.

In July 2008, the Coast Guard first established a security zone the size of a “400 yard box surrounding Pier 66.”  After much discussion between demonstrators and the Coast Guard, Rear Admiral Currier changed the zone to 100 yards into Elliott Bay.  The reason given for the new zone was to “ensure the safety of dignitaries observing the ‘pass and review’ at Pier 66.” 

About 20 demonstrators on the shoreline were especially vigorous and visible this year.  A photo of Richard Newton holding one of two large U.S. flags with peace signs was on the front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the next day.  Demonstrators on the shore, as in past years, freely mixed with Navy personnel, Port of Seattle police and others.  See http://www.seattlepi.com/local/slideshow/Photos-of-the-Year-2008-7783/photo-834720.php

July 29, 2009: Four Peace Fleet sailors in three vessels sailed into Elliott Bay on the hottest day (103 degrees) in Seattle recorded history, July 29, 2009.  After the fleet arrival, the Coast Guard forced two Peace Fleet sailors in kayaks to depart through the center of Elliott Bay, through an area mixed with large Navy vessels.  Ten members of Lake Forest Park for Peace, Veterans for Peace and Ground Zero maintained a presence at Pier 66.

On the morning of July 29, 2009, the Coast Guard published the first and only notice of the safety zone on the Internet, Local Notice (30-2009.)  This notice was a more restrictive version of an earlier announcement where no vessels were allowed entry into the safety zone. 

August 4, 2010: Five Peace Fleet sailors were in three vessels with 55 demonstrators on the shore.  Demonstrators at Pier 63 were joined by members of the Interfaith Peace Walk, walking from the Hanford nuclear reservation.  The Raging Grannies were on the rooftop of Pier 66 trading songs with the Navy Band.  Mixed between the piers were members of Women in Black, Veterans for Peace, Lake Forest Park for Peace and Ground Zero with peace flags, signs, and leaflets.

The Peace Fleet gained a lot of media attention this year with an article in the Seattle Weekly on the Coast Guard’s heavy handed tactics at Seafair, announcements in the Seattle PI with the photo of Richard Newton and the peace flag, front page coverage and photos on the Seattle PI website on the day of the event, Linda Newton and Karol Milner interviewed on KIRO TV, and Leonard Eiger’s one-hour discussion on KVI.

There was much discussion this year of the Coast Guard’s proposed rule for a “safety” or no-protest zone, extending 100 yards out from Pier 66 during the fleet arrival.  21 comments were posted on the rule-making website with only the Coast Guard’s own comment supporting the proposed rule.  Statements against the proposal included one from Lincoln Cushing of the Bay Area Peace Navy and the ACLU of Washington.  Senator Murray made an inquiry to the Coast Guard on the purpose of the zone.  The Coast Guard eventually gave up its plan and issued a temporary rule for the day.  See http://www.seattleweekly.com/2010-07-14/news/a-coast-guard-state, http://www.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2010/07/seafair_no_protest_zone_would.php, http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2010/08/02/activists-to-protest-seafairs-fleet-week

2010 was one of Seafair’s biggest displays of militarism in years, with four U.S. Navy warships and three Canadian vessels.  One Arleigh Burke destroyer was docked in the middle of the downtown waterfront, at Pier 66, for five days.  According to GlobalSecurity.org, an Arleigh Burke destroyer costs approximately $2.2 billion to build in 2009 dollars and approximately $25 million per year to operate.   Each Arleigh Burke destroyer is armed with 56 Tomahawk cruise missiles. 

August 3, 2011: Eight Peace Fleet sailors were in two vessels with 20 demonstrators on shore.  Ground Zero members were told as they went out on the water that their beloved colleague Sister Jackie Hudson had died. 

On the shoreline, Seafair and the Navy had turned the rooftop of Pier 66 into a private event.  This is the location where the public had been invited to view the Parade of Ships.  In past years there were as many demonstrators with signs and Raging Grannies with songs as any other group on the rooftop.  Several demonstrators attempted to enter this year but were turned away.  Rodney Brunelle cheerfully greeted attendees of this private party, mostly Navy officers and Seafair officials, at the entrance to the rooftop with his huge sign, “THE PENTAGON: AMERICA’S SUCKING CHEST WOUND.” 

Demonstrators on the shore were confined to Pier 62/63.  The northwest corner of the pier had been cordoned off to keep the public away from the docking warship at Pier 66.  Veterans for Peace, Raging Grannies, and others joined on the pier with flags, signs and a banner pronouncing, “Military Spending is Killing this Country.” 

The media had considerable coverage of the Peace Fleet this year, starting with an article in the Seattle Weekly, and full length stories on at least two TV stations.  The next day, there were none of the usual calls from conservative talk radio stations looking for someone to talk against the Blue Angels.  

Instead, the Seattle Times ran a front-page story in the Sunday paper, calling the Blue Angels a “$40 million-a-year aerial ad campaign” for military recruitment.  In the Seattle Times poll, about 60 percent in our region voted to cut the Blue Angels from the defense budget.  This is likely not what the Navy had in mind this year for Seafair, planned to be the 100th year celebration of Naval Aviation.   See http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2015832826_blueangels06m.html and http://www.gzcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/Archives/Newsletter/2011%20October.pdf (page 6).

August 1, 2012:  Eleven Peace Fleet sailors were in four boats.  About 30 demonstrators were on the shore: Michelle Kinnucan, Linda Newton, Richard Newton and others with Veterans for Peace lined the shoreline with six large Peace Flags and three Veterans for Peace banners.  They were joined with participants of the Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk and members of Lake Forest Park for Peace. 

The rooftop of Pier 66 was again a “private event” for Navy dignitaries and invited guests. A Peace Fleet participant was quoted in the Seattle Weekly stating, “…our 'defenders of freedom' do not much care for what freedom looks like when it is standing next to them.”

It was the first year for the Coast Guard’s permanent rule for its no-protest zone (so-called safety zone) in Elliott Bay.  The Coast Guard agreed with the ACLU that Peace Fleet boats should be able to remain near the outer perimeter of the Coast Guard’s 100-yard zone.  Peace Fleet vessels bobbed in front of Pier 66 during the entire Navy Parade of Ships.

On March 2, 2012, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, U.S. Department of Homeland Security ruled against the Coast Guard on a complaint filed on May 7, 2010 by a Peace Fleet participant regarding the Coast Guard’s rulemaking procedure in the Puget Sound region.  The finding, in response to Complaint No. 10-08-USCG-0124, stated: 

As a result of our investigation, we recommended that the USCG work more closely with interested community groups prior to the implementation of exclusion zones, and that appropriate First Amendment concerns be carefully weighed before the creation of exclusion zone rules.  The Coast Guard has concurred with these recommendations.

Many thanks to all who contributed to the Peace Fleet events year after year: Lake Forest Park for Peace, Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist MonksPaul Lawrence of Pacifica Law Group, members of Veterans for Peace, Seattle Women in Black, the Raging Grannies (for sharing their music and their love) and the ACLU of Washington.

Why would we demonstrate for peace at a Seattle maritime festival?

Because the celebration of warships in our harbor helps bring about the normalcy of modern war. 

Peace Fleet sailor Rodney Brunelle said, “The U.S. Navy fleet arrival and the F-18 Blue Angels that fly overhead are humiliating to peace-loving people in the Puget Sound region.  Seafair is used as a major public relations and recruiting event for the U.S. Navy.  The fleet is on display in downtown Seattle at tremendous cost to taxpayers at a time while crucial social services in education, health care and transportation are being cut for lack of funds.  But the Peace Fleet, for me, is a personally liberating experience.  I can accept what comes at Seafair without anger or despair.”

--------------
Sent on behalf of Ground Zero Center by Leonard Eiger
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Media & Outreach) www.gzcenter.org
NO To NEW TRIDENT Campaign (Coordinator) www.notnt.org  
Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone  (Coordinator) www.psnukefree.org 

Disarm Now Plowshares (Media & Outreach) http://disarmnowplowshares.wordpress.com     

Blog:  http://nuclearabolitionist.blogspot.com  

  

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