Ten peace activists who blocked entry to the US Navy’s Trident nuclear submarine base in Silverdale, Washington to draw attention to US nuclear weapons policies appeared in court this month to face charges of “walking on a roadway where prohibited.”
The activists each gave statements at the court hearing, which were summarized in a press release by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action:
On November 9, 2012 ten nuclear resisters associated with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington, appeared in Judge Stephen J. Holman’s courtroom at the Kitsap County District Court.
The ten had participated in a nonviolent direct action along with six other individuals on August 6, 2012. The sixteen resisters engaged in a rolling blockade of the main entrance to the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base in Silverdale, Washington. All sixteen resisters were briefly detained by Washington State Patrol officers and cited for “Walking on roadway where prohibited.”
The Trident submarine base at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, Washington, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carry as many as 24 Trident II(D-5) missiles, each capable of carrying up to 8 independently targetable warheads. Each nuclear warhead has an explosive yield up to 32 times the yield of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
In speaking to the resisters’ appearance in court, Leonard Eiger, communications coordinator for Ground Zero said, “We were there [in the courtroom] to speak on the public record as to our government’s obligations to make sincere efforts toward nuclear disarmament, something that is not occurring based on the evidence, and is pushing the world (once again) toward the inevitable accidental or intentional nuclear war.”
Two of the defendants, Malcolm Chaddock, Portland, OR and Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA contested the charge.
Early on in his testimony Chaddock invoked international law. The prosecutor objected on grounds that this was a civil (traffic) case. After some clarification Judge Holman allowed both Chaddock and Meyer wide latitude in what could be included in their testimony.
In his testimony, Meyer reinforced the issue of international law. “I have risked arrest because of a higher law. We symbolically blocked the access road to the platform releasing nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons which are a threat to life on earth and are illegal. If the Court believes I am guilty, punish me to the full. If the Court sees the urgency and purpose of international law incorporated by US law, including International Humanitarian Law, join the effort to save life.”
In the end, the activists were pleased with the outcome of the case:
The judge respectfully heard each of our statements, and when all was said and done he reduced each of our fines. That in and of itself was, in some sense, a vindication of our actions. Although constrained by the rules of the court, the judge recognized that we had acted in accordance with our conscience and our understanding of well established legal precedent, including the Nuremberg Principles.
The activists’ full statements are available online.
Photo credit: Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action