Shoshone host community of resistance at nuclear test site
Over 200 people participated in the October Action for Nuclear Abolition events in Nevada, culminating in 66 arrests over several days of nonviolent direct action at the nuclear weapons test site, northwest of Las Vegas, and the neighboring Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.
On October 5, the People's Nuclear Abolition Summit brought speakers from indigenous and environmental justice organizations to Las Vegas to educate and inspire anti-nuclear activists. The Summit also welcomed the Family Spirit Walk, an 800-mile journey of international activists that began on sacred Tewa land near Los Alamos, New Mexico on August 9, and would conclude five days later at the Test Site Peace Camp.
Ceremonies and other events at the Peace Camp marked Indigenous Peoples' Day on Saturday, October 13. That evening, 23 people crossed the line. Passive resisters were handled roughly, but all were soon released with a simple citation.
Two groups of eleven, including many who had walked from New Mexico, entered the test site early Sunday morning. One headed for the chapel in the closed town of Mercury, while the other intended to protest at a building used by the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab. When many refused to identify themselves, they were transported to the Nye County Jail in Beatty, 60 miles away. Fourteen eventually identified themselves and were released after 12 hours; the remaining eight were jailed overnight.
The ACLU intervened because a recent Ninth Circuit federal appeals court ruling invalidated the Nevada practice of arresting people for failure to identify themselves in such circumstances. The eight were released pending November court dates.
Monday morning, October 14, five people were arrested as they made their way to hang an anti-nuclear banner from the North Portal of the Yucca Mountain repository. They were cited for trespass and released. Back at Peace Camp, spiritual leader Corbin Harney of the host Western Shoshone people led 175 people through the boundary fence and into the test site for a sunrise ceremony to reclaim the land. Security guards did not disrupt the event.
As he vigiled at the gate that morning, Greg Getty walked about, talking to drivers as they waited to enter. One truck struck him but did not stop. Getty was arrested but not seriously injured. Later in the day, during a rally with street theater and puppets at the gate, more trespass arrests were made, citations issued, and resisters released on site.
The final arrests of the gathering were reported Tuesday morning, October 15, when the Green Party candidate for Governor of Nevada, Charles Laws, was arrested along with two others at the gate. The three were cited and released.
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