Six nuclear protesters will suffer unprecedented consequences for their action to resist nuclear weapons. Protesters who engaged in their first nonviolent direct action at the Bangor nuclear submarine base will be arraigned in Federal court on Wednesday this week. The six entered Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor during a January action honoring Martin Luther King to indicate opposition to the Navy's stockpile of nuclear weapons.
This is the first time that first-time resisters have received citations and court orders "for crossing the blue line at Bangor," according to the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Previous first-time offenders received "ban and bar" letters warning that subsequent actions could result in prosecution. However, all six first-time offenders --Patricia "Patti" Bass, Carolyn Dorisdotter, Norm Keegel, Gordon Sturrock, Sam Tower, and Robert Friend Weber Whitlock-- were arrested by Naval security personnel, processed and released after receiving citations for trespassing.
Sam Tower stated that the six were part of a group of about 60 participants who gathered at the Trigger gate of the Trident Sub base on January 15. When the six joined hands and entered the base, they were met by a phalanx of Marines and were ordered to leave.
"We said that we wanted to go in and talk to the base commander," stated Tower. "They arrested us, filled out paperwork, took photos and took us back across the line.
In a written statement, Tower explained his motivation for the protest action:
"I believe strongly that nuclear weapons are inhuman, immoral, and illegal both under international as well as US law. I felt that I could no longer sit back and let others make a statement while I stood on the side lines. It is my job stand up and say that what my country is doing is wrong and should be stopped. My friends had just been convicted for their actions at Bangor and I felt it was time for me to take up the call to end war and the stockpiling of nuclear weapons."
Their supporters of those arrested plan a vigil outside Tacoma's Union Station Courthouse on April 6, the day of their scheduled court appearance.
The theme of the January MLK day of action sponsored by the Ground Zero Center was "Billions for Life, Not Billions for Death."
Washington State is slated to cut schools, health care, public safety and other programs by more than $4 billion. Meanwhile, taxpayers in Washington State have already paid $28.6 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to figures provided by the Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation.
The nation's annual defense budget and nuclear weapons spending is over and above that $28.6 billion. The U.S. is currently upgrading its entire nuclear weapons research and production infrastructure and is planning a new generation ballistic missile submarine to replace the current Trident fleet.
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.