BANGOR — Eight people were cited for trespassing Saturday after they entered Naval Base Kitsap — Bangor as part of a “die-in” to oppose war and nuclear weapons.
The eight are members of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. The event was an activity timed to commemorate the birthday of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Cited were Mary Gleystein of Kingston, Lynne Greenwald of Tacoma, Rodney Herold of Seattle, Thomas Hodges of Seattle, Constance Mears of Poulsbo, Taylor Niemy of Bremerton, Michael Siptroth of Belfair, and Carlo Voli of Edmonds. Leonard Eiger of Ground Zero said the group blocked the main gate and staged the “die-in” for more than a half hour. While group members maintained a peaceful vigil on the roadside outside the base entrance, 11 protesters entered the roadway directly in front of the entrance gate. They stretched a banner across the inbound traffic lanes; the banner carried a quote from King: “When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” An additional banner read, “Abolish Nuclear Weapons.”
Traffic into the main gate was re-routed for approximately a half hour until a Washington State Patrol officer arrived and ordered the protesters to leave the roadway. The protesters then dropped the banners and dropped to the ground to represent, as one protester said, “the horrific result of a nuclear weapon.”
Eight of the protesters crossed onto the base before dropping to the ground and were arrested by Navy security personnel who had been observing the vigil. The protesters were taken to a building on the base where they were questioned, processed and released after being issued citations for trespassing. All will receive summons to appear in federal court, Eiger said.
The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the U.S. According to Ground Zero, each of the eight Trident submarines at Bangor carries up to 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of being armed with as many as eight independently targetable thermonuclear warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive force of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 30 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb).
Ground Zero holds three scheduled vigils and actions each year in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The group is currently engaged in legal actions in federal court to halt the Navy’s construction of 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.
Nearly 50 people participated in Ground Zero’s annual celebration of King’s life. Under the theme “We Are One,” the day focused on King’s commitment to nonviolence and his opposition to war and nuclear weapons.
The day’s activities included a viewing of a video about King’s 1967 sermon in opposition to the Vietnam War, followed by a discussion of the sermon’s relevance in the context of today’s unending wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and the effects on the poor and disenfranchised. Participants also participated in nonviolence training, education about the Trident nuclear weapons system and the Bangor submarine base, and preparations for the afternoon protest at Bangor.