North American Catholic Workers protest nuclear weapons and drones at Nevada Test Site and Creech AFB; dozens arrested

Nevada Test Site, photo by Carol Bradsen

Over 100 people held an interfaith service at the entrance to Nevada’s nuclear testing grounds on October 9. The group then processed towards the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS, formerly called the Nevada Test Site). At 11:30 a.m., 37 men and 22 women were arrested by Nye County sheriffs for crossing onto the NNSS. Upon release, many of the nuclear abolitionists then went to Creech Air Force Base, where 18 were arrested around 3:00 p.m. by Las Vegas Metro Police. The activists prayed for peace at both locations in historical Shoshone and Paiute territory. Most of the arrestees were in the area for an international Catholic Worker gathering.

People arrested at the NNSS were quickly cited and released, and no further prosecution is expected, per the custom of many years for Test Site main gate arrests. Those arrested at Creech were taken to Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, where they were cited and released before midnight on a range of charges including “illegal assembly” and “jaywalking.” Court appearances are scheduled for December 5 and 7 in Clark County regional court. The arrests were part of the largest anti-war demonstration at Creech Air Force Base, and the largest anti-nuclear civil resistance action in at least six years at NNSS.

Over 200 radical Christian and other pacifists from around North America swelled the ranks of local activists because of the international Catholic Worker (CW) gathering in Las Vegas October 7 and 8. The anti-nuclear, anti-drone demonstrations marked the 10th tragic anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

Creech is the headquarters of the Air Force’s 432nd Air Wing of Predator and Reaper drones, which operates armed remotely piloted aircraft over foreign countries. The NNSS continues to support the country’s nuclear weapons programs, has a mandate to restart full-scale nuclear bomb tests within two years if so ordered by the President, and receives and stores radioactive waste on land that belongs to the Western Shoshone Nation.

Some of those arrested at Creech had been arrested there before. “In the time since I was arrested at Creech the first time in April of 2009, the number and variety of drones has only continued to multiply as has the number of innocent people killed. The drones’ lethal capabilities have grown, as well, and along with advances in technology, infractions against law and morality grow even more flagrant,” says Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa, who is also awaiting a November 1 trial in New York for protesting the expansion of the drone program to Hancock Air Base near Syracuse.

Walking into Creech Air Force Base, photo by Felice Cohen-Joppa

Those arrested at Creech Air Force Base, awaiting prosecution:
Matt Campbell (24) from Arizona
Huntley Hoffman (25) from Arizona
Nancy Mancias (41) from California
Betsy Lamb (72) from Oregon
Fr. Jerry Zawada, (74) ofm from Arizona
John Heid (56) from Arizona
Toby Blome (56) from California
Mike Wisniewski (62) from California
Christine Nelson (64) from California
Fr. Louis Vitale, ofm (79) from California
Mary Moody (47) from Iowa
Brian Terrell (56) from Iowa
Rosalie Riegle (74) from Michigan
Rebecca Lambert (28) from Arizona
Theo Kayser (21) from California
Robert Majors (24) from Nevada
Jim Haber (49) from Nevada
Rachel Winch (27) from Arizona

Yesterday’s Catholic Worker prayer-actions were also part of the Keep Space for Peace Week: International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space, October 1-8. Keep Space for Peace Week is co-sponsored by the Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK), Swedish Peace Council, Drone Campaign Network (UK), and United Against Drones (US).

See more photos here.