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Mar-21-2012 12:08printcomments

Peace Activists Going to Court for Blocking Entry to Nuclear Weapons Base

Nuclear weapons protestors will appear in a Kitsap County court to face charges for blocking the entrance to a local nuclear weapons base earlier this year.

Nuclear danger

(SEATTLE) - The Trident submarine base at Bangor (Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor), just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

During a peaceful protest at the Bangor base on January 14, 2012 nine peace activists blocked the main gate for nearly a half hour. The activists were part of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action’s day of action honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Blocking the gate was a symbolic act of closing the base, a statement against the continued deployment of the Trident first strike weapons system.

Washington State Patrol Officers cited each of the nine protestors for “Pedestrian in Roadway Illegally” (a traffic offense) and released them at the scene. Those cited were Louise Bollman, Larry Kerschner, Gabriel La Valle, Peggy Love, Jack Smith, Carlo Voli, Marion Ward, Robert Whitlock, and Alice Zillah. Arrestees’ ages range from 33 to 73 years.

Bollman and Voli have a hearing scheduled for Friday, March 23 at 3:00pm in Kitsap County District Court (traffic court) in Port Orchard. They are both pleading mitigating circumstances to have the fine dismissed or reduced.

Voli said of his reasons for participating in the January 14th action: “I strongly believe it is immoral and illegal for the USA to continue to stockpile, produce, and maintain such a large number of nuclear missiles that can cause such devastating levels of destruction and that if used at the same time can destroy the Planet several times over.”

Voli also stated his opposition to the large amount of tax dollars going to weapons spending, including nuclear weapons, which should “be used to improve the wellbeing of the citizens of this country.”

Congressman Edward Markey recently said that “it is insane to spend hundreds of billions on new nuclear bombs and delivery systems to fight a long-past Cold War while ignoring our 21st century security needs and seeking to cut Medicare, Medicaid and social programs that millions of Americans depend on. Markey has introduced legislation (SANE Act of 2012) to cut nuclear weapons spending.

Three other protestors, Smith, Whitlock and Zillah, are contesting their charges. They have a hearing date of May 14 at 1:15pm in Kitsap traffic court.

The remaining four protestors, Bollman, Kerschner, La Valle and Love, chose to pay their fines, and will not have to appear in court.

Ground Zero holds three scheduled vigils and actions each year in resistance to Trident and in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The group has been working to reverse the Navy’s plan to build a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. Ground Zero is also working to de-fund the Navy’s plans for a next generation ballistic missile submarine, estimated to cost $99 billion to build.

For nearly thirty-five 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.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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