8 people cited at Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Washington, marking the 76th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings

photo by Hieu Nguyen

from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Thirty-one people were present on Monday, August 9 at a demonstration against Trident nuclear weapons at the Bangor submarine base in Silverdale, Washington. The demonstration, organized by the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, was at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Main Gate during morning rush hour traffic.

At around 7:15 a.m., after peacekeepers entered the roadway and safely stopped traffic, eight demonstrators set themselves and their banners on the roadway blocking entry into the Main Gate. 

Mack Johnson, Silverdale; George Rodkey, Tacoma; and Denny Duffell, Seattle carried a banner reading “Hiroshima Nagasaki Never Again.” Michael Siptroth, Belfair; Mark Sisk, Seattle; and Gilberto Perez, Bainbridge Island carried a banner reading “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons/ Nuclear Weapons are Illegal/ Get them out of Kitsap County.” Sean Foley, Belfair; and James Manista, Olympia held a banner reading “Nuclear Weapons are: Immoral to use, Immoral to have, immoral to make.

Traffic attempting to enter the Main Gate was stopped for almost seven minutes. All eight demonstrators were then escorted from the roadway by Washington State Patrol officers and cited with RCW 46.61.250, pedestrians on roadways.

Although they were in the roadway for a relatively short time, traffic remained backed up for more than 30 minutes with cars crawling along the vigil line where a “We Can All Live without Trident” banner and “No More Genocide in Our Name” streamer were held by supporters. Members of the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple on Bainbridge Island drummed and chanted, marking the solemn occasion commemorating the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. Those cited by Washington State Patrol gave copies of the leaflet “From Trident to Testing to Treaty: The Planet Needs You” to military police and Washington State Patrol officers.

The vigil and nonviolent direct action on August 9 was the culmination of the weekend commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the theme “A Call to Action, Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki From Testing to Trident to Treaty.” A major focus of the weekend was the plight of the people of the Marshall Islands, who continue to bear the burden of U.S. nuclear testing of 67 thermonuclear weapons on their islands between 1946 and 1958.

Rachel Hoffman, secretary of The Marshallese Women’s Association, gave the keynote address “Kijejeto (Persevere): The Marshallese Will Not Whisper.” Her talk focused on the barriers to quality of life faced by her displaced community, resulting directly from nuclear testing, historical trauma and colonization. She spoke of how the U.S. government saw the Marshallese as “simply not worthy of being informed that one of our islands would be wiped off the face of the earth, poisoning tens of thousands of Marshallese and their future generations, and then being tested like animals to inform the rest of the world of how nuclear weapons affect the body.” The U.S. considered the Marshallese and their lands to be expendable commodities in its Cold War nuclear contest with the (then) Soviet Union.
The Marshallese people – their land and waters poisoned by long-lasting radioisotopes produced by so many nuclear tests – struggle to maintain their identity, and suffer poor health outcomes due to the barriers to healthcare here in the U.S. Robin Narruhn, PhD, who is researching barriers to healthcare for the Marshallese, spoke to this issue: “In Spokane, where the Marshallese represent only 1 percent of the population, they represent 30 percent of the COVID cases.” She cited “racism and colonialization” as principal factors behind the discrimination against the Marshallese in terms of access to adequate healthcare. 

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action produced paid public service announcements run on August 6 and August 9 in the Kitsap Sun newspaper remembering the atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our remembrance of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims is critical for understanding the threat of nuclear weapons. 

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane, and indiscriminate weapons ever created. They are unlike any other weapons in the scale of the devastation they cause and with their uniquely damaging radioactive fallout. A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill millions of people. The use of dozens or hundreds of nuclear bombs would disrupt the global climate, causing widespread famine.

photo by Hieu Nguyen

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor is located a few miles from the cities of Silverdale and Poulsbo and is homeport to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the United States. The nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines and are stored in an underground nuclear weapons storage facility on the base.

There are eight Trident SSBN submarines deployed at Bangor. One Trident SSBN submarine at Bangor is estimated to carry about 90 nuclear warheads. The W76-1 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 90 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force. Each of the submarines at Bangor are deployed with a destructive force equal to more than 900 Nagasaki-sized nuclear bombs.

Our proximity to the largest number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons puts us near a dangerous local and international threat. When citizens become aware of their role in the prospect of nuclear war, or the risk of a nuclear accident, the issue is no longer an abstraction. Our proximity to Bangor demands a deeper response.

Remembering the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the countless victims of nuclear production and testing, is essential to preventing the use of nuclear weapons from happening again.

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Photo by Chris Warmedahl Paz