I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones
-Albert Einstein (contemplating nuclear devastation)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Speaking With Conviction: Statements of MLK Day Nuclear Resisters

On January 15, 2011 six nuclear resisters entered the roadway in front of the gate to the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base.  They approached the gate, crossing the blue line designating the Federal side of the roadway, and when confronted by base security personnel, asked to see the base commander.  Their request was denied, and they were then arrested, processed, issued citations for trespassing and released.

These six nuclear resisters engaged in a direct nonviolent action that day for a variety of individual reasons, yet they all had a shared understanding that the nuclear warheads stored at Bangor and deployed on the Trident submarines home ported there are both immoral and illegal (under both U.S. law and international humanitarian law).

On June 1st they appeared in Federal court to finalize their plea bargains before the judge.  They were allowed to read individual statements, and I share them here.  These statements demonstrate the extraordinary depth of conviction of these individuals, and need to be shared well beyond the courtroom.

Statements read in court by the defendants charged with Trespassing for crossing the blue line at Bangor on January 15, 2011:

Patti Bass

I want to thank the court for allowing me to make this statement.

I am a peaceful patriot.

I believe in the ideals of Democracy and cherish the guaranteed freedoms of the constitution.
I do not believe we must have war to achieve peace

I believe that change comes from peaceful nonviolent means.

Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction. They are illegal under international humanitarian law and under treaties signed by the United States. Nuclear weapons are evil, reprehensible and immoral. I stepped over the Blue line onto Sub Base Bangor because I was compelled to follow my moral convictions against nuclear weapons and war. This was an action of nonviolent peaceful resistance.

To be silent is not an option for me.
Carolyn Dorisdottter

I took this stand for my grandchildren and all the children of the world. Stockpiling of weapons has only led to more stockpiling and more hostility.

We know that the only thing that leads to peace is trust. Trust is verifiable. And that must be what we are about. For the children.
Norm Keegel

The Navy drew a line in the sand (actually a blue line on the pavement) and I stepped over it. Today I pay the consequences.

I'd like to explain why I crossed the Blue Line. I'm afraid of what nuclear weapons can do when they go off, by design or accident. I know what a Hydrogen bomb can do.

Before I went to Bangor my wife pleaded with me not to cross the Blue Line. I struggled with my conscience and in the end my fear won over my love for my wife. I'm sorry for the distress which this caused her.

Recently I've read The Seventh Decade by Jonathan Schell and it gives me some hope. In December 1945 Ronald Reagan agreed to lead a rally on nuclear disarmament. (He didn't because of objections from his studio.) 41 years later, as President, he met with Gorbachev and talked about nuclear disarmament. Both men wanted to abolish the weapons, but sadly they could not agree on the details.

A few years ago the Wall street Journal published an article called "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons". It was written by former Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn.

Then there was the START treaty several years ago and the NEWSTART treaty ratified by the Senate about six months ago.

This gives me hope that some day we will abolish these horrible things we created.
Gordon Sturrock

I broke the law deliberately in an act of non-violent civil disobedience with the intent of bringing greater awareness to the horrors and illegalities of nuclear weapons. I'm willing to suffer the consequences of my actions. In addition to my appreciation to this court and the prosecutors for their fair and professional work which has already been mentioned, I would also like to extend my thanks to the Navy personnel who arrested and processed us in a respectful and professional manner.
Sam Tower

Your honor I have been a youth worker all my life, since I was one. I have tried to teach my children and
the children I work with, to be kind, just, and caring to all people, animals, and the planet. A nuclear weapon is not kind, just or caring it is a weapon of mass destruction that is both illegal and immoral. I wont the children to have a place for their great, great, great,great grandchildren to live; not just ash."
Berd Whitlock

I suffer from depression, partly based on the existence of these weapons (and the policies behind them, like global dominance.)

The weapons are destructive. They don't even have to be used to be destructive. Their basic existence is threatening and intimidating, and psychologically destructive, especially when coupled with a submarine platform. Submarines are designed to operate undetected and lurk nearby targets.

My co-defendant said that the way to build peace is through trust. And when our government goes about in a way that is intimidating, it doesn't help build trust.

Traditional efforts to change these policies through elections, politics and lobbying have largely been exhausted.

Our efforts aren't isolated. They are part of a larger need, and a larger effort: a larger movement, to change the way our government treats people and the way our government approaches the world.

Lastly, I want to honor the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.. MLK was the focus of our action. We were at the Bangor Naval Submarine Nuclear Weapons base on Martin Luther King Jr. day. I believe that MLK would support us today if he were still alive.

MLK believed in the necessity for people to participate in civil disobedience when the need is great, when the need is urgent, and when the stakes are high—as is the case regarding U.S. militarism, and its foreign policy of economic supremacy— the result of these policies and practices are the sufferings of so many people, both in the greater world, and here at home for many of us in the U.S.A., whether or not we may know it.

What we did was about civil rights; it was about racial justice; and it was about economic rights and justice. What we did was about justice for everyone in the world.

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