Around the U.S., protesting the appalling legacy of nuclear weapons


LIVERMORE, Calif. - Though more recent issues of ending the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and keeping the U.S. from engaging in new ones may make more headlines, the decades-old goal of winning worldwide complete nuclear disarmament remains an urgent peace movement concern which is supported by a strong majority of Americans.

That concern was foremost in the minds of some 200 protesters who gathered here Aug. 5 to mark the 67th anniversaries of the U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Demonstrators gathered in a grassy park near the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - one of several facilities around the country designing and maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal - before marching to the lab's gates to symbolically "Foreclose on the Bomb, Not the People," hanging colorful plastic chains and locks across the fencing.

Speaking at the park, Tara Dorabji of Tri-Valley CAREs (Tri-Valley Communities against a Radioactive Environment) reminded the crowd that while they were among hundreds of thousands around the world commemorating the twin anniversaries, they also occupied a special place.

"Every nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal was created and designed by an employee of the University of California, either at this lab or at the sister lab in Los Alamos, N.M.," she said. "So being here, and saying No to nuclear weapons, is being at the brain, the center of the complex."

Michael Eisenscher, national coordinator of U.S. Labor against the War, pointed out that the U.S., which is the only country to use nuclear weapons in combat, today "maintains the capability to repeat the crime on an even greater scale ... that could lead to the extinction of the human race and many other species." He urged the U.S. government to "set an example for other nuclear powers" by committing to a national policy of demilitarizing U.S. foreign policy and achieving global nuclear disarmament "at the fastest possible pace."

Among other speakers were Hiroshima A-bomb survivor Takashi Tanemori, who shared his heart-rending story of being orphaned by the bomb at age eight, Andy Lichterman of Western States Legal Foundation, and Natalia Mironova of Russia's Movement for Nuclear Safety.

Later, outside the lab gates, four protesters were cited and released after committing nonviolent civil disobedience.

Protests around the country got off to an early start as three activists calling themselves "Transform Plowshares" slipped past four perimeter fences July 28 at the Y-12 nuclear facility at Oak Ridge, Tenn. They walked for two hours through a "use of deadly force authorized" area before reaching the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility deep within the complex. There they attached two banners to pillars of the building, stringing red crime tape between them.

The three - Sister Megan Rice, 82, Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, and Michael Walli, 63 - were arrested and charged with felony counts of vandalism and trespass. After several days' detention, they were released pending their next court appearance on Aug. 9.

At a third national center, Los Alamos National Laboratory, protesters also held a weekend of actions. Slated to speak at an Aug. 5 rally was 48-year-old hunger striker Alaric Balibrera, one of about 30 anti-nuclear-weapons hunger strikers around the country.

Balibrera, who started his hunger strike July 16, on the 67th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test in Socorro County, N.M., told Albuquerque's Journal North that his father had been documentarian at the lab and he grew up "watching the image of mushroom clouds projected on our living room wall."

Besides the specter of nuclear annihilation, Balibrera said, he is concerned about the contamination that has killed untold numbers of uranium miners, nuclear weapons workers and people living downwind of nuclear activities.

Photo: Marilyn Bechtel/PW


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  • John Beeching Hon. Chair CPS
    Canadians for Peace and Socialism

    It is nice to see action against nuclear weapons. Today's world moves ever closer to WW III. If a war in the Middle East should erupt and nuclear weapons used the world may be faced with a nuclear winter. Prof. Chossudovsky Global

    Clearly we need complete nuclear weapons disarmament.
    One more site you might like to check on -

    Without world peace other social issues can not succeed.

    John, 90 year old WW II veteran

    Posted by John Beeching, 08/11/2012 1:02pm (3 years ago)

  • While it is possible to see the historical reasons for the use of the atomic bomb, their use was totally immoral.

    Having said that, it makes little difference to the victim the method used to kill him or her. Dead is dead.

    The United States had one of the greatest opportunities in the history of the world to transform the world at the end of WWII and squandered that chance in ramping up for the totally un-necessary Cold War.

    The US must never again be the aggressor in the use of atomic weapons and must work for the total elimination of them from the face of the planet.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 08/10/2012 8:25am (3 years ago)

  • Thanks for posting this. I was at the event on Sunday in Livermore, it was inspiring and this is inspiring to read. Peace!

    Posted by Scott, 08/09/2012 8:06pm (3 years ago)

  • The end of the storied life of the C P U S A's W. E. B. Du Bois, or the near end, features maybe one of his most profound books: In Battle for Peace.
    Twelve years before his death, and in the time of the infamous Second Red Scare, Du Bois fully exposes the mean, cowardice, brutal and cruel forces of imperialism and fascistic anti-communism that dominated the country then, and yet dominates.
    Du Bois's survival in the face of the mean assault, was a modern day miracle.
    We all need to emulate the courageous efforts and actions of the protesters in this article, for they emulate those of Du Bois.
    Thanks for this article, which connects progressive actions of the world to stop a menacing legacy, that of deadly nuclear war and the preparation for nuclear war-which simultaneously kills jobs and freedom.

    Posted by , 08/09/2012 12:05am (3 years ago)

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