34 arrests at Nevada nuclear test site/National Security Site

photo by Mike Wisniewski

photo by Mike Wisniewski

from the Nuclear Resister

Over the first weekend in March, about 60 people took part in the 8th annual gathering of the Pacific Life Community (PLC).  This year the group met at the Las Vegas Catholic Worker.

The PLC is largely comprised of peace activists motivated strongly by their religious faith to engage in and support civil resistance at locations across the American west involved in preparation for nuclear war. Many are part of the Catholic Worker movement. This year, attendees ranging in age from their 20s into their 80s came from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and even Maine and New York to break bread with, protest with, learn from and support each other.

Some rose before dawn on Saturday, March 8 to travel 45 minutes away and vigil at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, a major drone training and operating base. On Sunday, the group held another early morning vigil at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, once a major nuclear weapons storehouse with an unknown number of warheads still on site. A steady stream of traffic on its way to a major car racing event passed the vigilers. There was a generally positive response from many of the NASCAR fans who answered the “Honk for Peace” sign or waved.

The group rose early again on Monday, March 10 to travel to the Mercury gate of the nuclear weapons testing grounds northwest of Las Vegas, now known as the Nevada National Security Site. An ecumenical liturgy incorporated the burying of the ashes of Peter Ediger, Mennonite minister, poet and anti-nuclear activist who died two years ago. A recording of Peter’s commanding voice reciting his trenchant poetry highlighted the service.

photo by Mike Wisniewski

photo by Mike Wisniewski

The group then proceeded to the cattle guard crossing on the entry road that marks the NNSS boundary, where Nye County sheriff’s deputies were waiting. Over the next 30 minutes, 34 people crossed the line. They were eventually arrested and held in the large holding pens built more than 25 years ago when thousands came and crossed onto the site to demand an end to nuclear weapons testing. All 34 were issued citations and released a short time later without further consequence.

The community of resisters returned to town for a final protest at the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration field office in North Las Vegas, not far from the Catholic Worker house. Several people entered the office to speak with people inside, while others picketed out front and hung banners over the signs at the road.  A printed statement was handed to drivers, condemning nuclear weapons and nuclear power, and memorializing the downwind victims of nuclear testing in the Pacific and at the Nevada site, and of the ongoing nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima, Japan. Some protesters spoke with the head of public relations before leaving, to share their concerns.

Arrested at the Nevada Test Site/National Security Site were:

Katie Kelso
Jed Poole
Mike Wisniewski
Ann Havill
Cynthia Wilson
Betsy Lamb
Lisa Redmond
Peggy Coleman
Charlie Smith
Karan Benton
Marcus Page-Collonge
Gary Cavalier
Jerry Zawada, ofm
Lynne Greenwald
Felice Cohen-Joppa
Sam Yergler
Nicole Linsmeier
Theo Kayser
Susan Crane
Louis Vitale, ofm
Bill “Bix” Bichsel, sj
Millie Gorman
Jack Cohen-Joppa
Ross Weaver
Faustino Cruz
Catherine Morris
Larry Purcell
Ann Boden
Dennis DuVall
Jim Haber
Mark Kelso
John Yevtich
Robert Majors