Mother’s Day civil disobedience challenges nukes at West Coast naval base

Silverdale, Washington — Activists from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, in Poulsbo, Washington staged a tea party on Saturday at the main gate of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, the West Coast home port for the U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet.

Protesters walked onto the roadway in successive waves, briefly blocking the entrance, and offered tea and cookies to the Washington State Patrol officers standing in the median. Officers escorted them from the roadway and cited them for walking on the roadway where prohibited.

Those cited were Rose Betz-Zall, Seattle, WA; Victor Edward Digilio, Seattle, WA; Anne Hall, Lopez Island, WA; David Hall, Lopez Island, WA; Norm Keegel, Bainbridge Island, WA; Tom Rogers, Keyport, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; and Christine Warmedahl, Port Orchard, WA.

Four of the protestors previously cited re-entered the roadway pulling along a long banner reading, “THE EARTH IS OUR MOTHER — TREAT HER WITH RESPECT”. State Patrol officers arrested Victor Edward Digilio, Anne Hall, David Hall and Michael Siptroth. All four were taken to the Kitsap County Jail where they were booked for obstruction and released.

The actions at the Bangor gate were part of a day-long event by Ground Zero to bring attention to Bangor’s nuclear arsenal. Bangor, 20 miles west of Seattle, represents the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the US arsenal.  Each of the eight Trident submarines based 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 Center’s annual Mother’s Day weekend event honored Julia Ward Howe’s work to establish a Mother’s Day for Peace. Participants read Howe’s 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation in which she declared that “We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.” 

Ground Zero continues its legal effort to stop the Navy’s construction of a $715 million Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.  The group is also working on plans to defund the Navy’s program to build a successor to its existing Trident fleet, which was created as a strategic nuclear deterrent to the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost to build 12 new subs at nearly $100 billion.

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission