Ground Zero group carries on non-violent legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

BANGOR —Carrying banners with the words of Martin Luther King Jr., members of Ground Zero followed the slain non-violent civil rights leader’s actions Monday afternoon.

The group of about 30 converged on Naval Submarine Base Bangor with colorful banners to protest the Trident nuclear weapons housed at the base. The Trident nuclear submarines has been the focus of anti-nuclear protesters since it opened 25 years ago. For the third consecutive year, Martin Luther King’s birthday also became a demonstration day.

Another annual event has become the peaceful arrest of several group members by Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies after they blocked the base entrance.

Protesters were told they had two minutes to clear the area. Those who did not were arrested without incident.

During a gateside vigil beforehand, the group stood in a circle and read in unison Martin Luther King Jr.’s words.

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it. It is a sword that heals,” the group recited.

Brian Watson, one of Ground Zero’s leaders, also read a few Trident statistics into a microphone which broadcast his message to the soldiers nearby.

“The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima killed 150,000 people,” he said. “And the total cost of the Trident program through 2032 is an estimated $170 billion. “

The group was then asked to sign a peace pledge that was affixed to the base’s chain link fence. They asked Navy personnel to take that pledge and show it to the commanding officers.

Eleven-year-old Audrey Smith of Seattle made her pledge for peace at the subdued rally. She attended the protest with her mother because she believes in what the group stands for.

“I feel I’ve done something good for the community,” she said as she watched the others block the main gate. Although their certain arrest seemed “pretty scary,” to her, she joined them in singing “We Shall Overcome.”

Although they were arrested, the protesters know they are likely to be released. The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office has not been pursuing previous cases because of the cost to the county and the predictability of the verdict.

Ground Zero was founded in 1977. Monday’s protest was part of a day-long workshop on non-violence held at the organization’s headquarters.

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