Thirteen disarmament activists arrested in nonviolent blockade of Trident nuclear submarine base

George Rodkey, Gary Cavalier, Sue Ablao, Julia Ochiogrosso

by Felice & Jack Cohen-Joppa, the Nuclear Resister

Thirteen nuclear abolitionists blocked traffic leading into Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington on March 2, as part of a public protest of the United States’ Trident nuclear-missile launching submarines based there.

The direct action came at the conclusion of the annual gathering of the Pacific Life Community, a network of spiritually motivated activists from the Pacific Coast and other western states committed to nonviolent action for a nuclear-free future.

Washington state police arrested nine people for obstructing traffic after they carried banners that stretched across the roadway just outside the base main gate. Their banners read “Trident Threatens All Life on Earth” and “Abolish Nuclear Weapons”. While they stood in the road, one of the blockaders read aloud from the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2017, the Treaty will enter into force when ratified by 50 nations. Thirty-five nations have ratified to date.)

Shortly thereafter, four people carrying signs crossed one at a time onto base property. Before stepping over a blue line painted on the pavement, each made a statement to the assembled activists, police and military personnel. Each in turn was arrested by Navy security and taken into custody. They were issued trespass citations and released shortly thereafter, pending arraignment in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The nine arrested by state police had also been quickly cited and released.

Those cited by state police are: George Rodkey, Gary Cavalier, Sue Ablao, Julia Ochiogrosso, Rush Rehm, Ed Ehmke, Mary Jane Parrine, Elizabeth Murray and Clancy Dunigan. Arrested on base property were Jim Haber, Charlie Smith, Betsy Lamb and Steve Dear.

Sam Yergler dropped a 20 foot banner from a nearby overpass visible to the demonstrators and traffic. It read, “Base closed for survival”.

Activists also held a sign that read “We love you, Fr. Steve Kelly”. Kelly, a Jesuit priest and member of the Pacific Life Community, has been in a Georgia county jail for almost two years after his April 5, 2018 arrest with six other Catholic nuclear disarmament activists at the Kings Bay Trident base in Georgia. The seven members of the Kings Bay Plowshares await a sentencing date. (More information at

The weekend gathering and protest, attended by about 50 people, were hosted by the local Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. The annual Pacific Life Community gatherings and actions are scheduled to mark the anniversary of the largest nuclear weapons test ever, Castle Bravo, that devastated Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands on March 1, 1954.

There are eight Trident submarines deployed at Bangor, which is believed to hold the nation’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. Six Trident submarines are deployed on the East Coast at Kings Bay, Georgia.

Each Trident submarine was originally equipped for 24 Trident missiles. In 2015-2017, four missile tubes were deactivated on each submarine as a result of the New START Treaty.  Currently, each Trident submarine deploys with 20 D-5 missiles and about 90 nuclear warheads (an average of 4-5 warheads per missile). The warheads are either the W76-1 100-kiloton or W88 455-kiloton warheads.

The Navy has recently deployed a smaller W76-2 “low-yield” or tactical nuclear weapon (approximately 6.5 kilotons) on Trident submarine missiles at Kings Bay, Georgia and is expected to deploy from submarines at Bangor, dangerously creating a lower threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

One Trident submarine carries the destructive force of over 1,300 Hiroshima bombs (the Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons),

For more information, visit and
Scroll below for photos by Felice Cohen-Joppa.

(This was written for and sent to local media in Eugene and Bend, OR.)

MARCH 2, 2020
CONTACT: Stephen Dear,
Charles Smith,


POULSBO, WA — Two activists from the Eugene area and a woman from Bend were among those cited at a protest at Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base outside Seattle today.

Stephen Dear, 55, and Charles Smith, 70, this morning crossed the blue property line onto the base and quietly refused to leave, a federal offense. They were protesting the Trident nuclear submarines and nuclear missiles at the base, which has the largest known collection of nuclear weapons in the world.

“We face an existential threat from these first-strike weapons systems,” said Dear, an organizer from Elmira with Extinction Rebellion—Eugene and Planet Versus Pentagon. “The military is the largest polluter in the world, another existential threat through climate chaos. We hope people who care will stop wallowing in despair, and take risks for peace, and for protecting our planet. “

Betsy Lamb, 81, of Bend, and Jim Haber, 57, of San Fransisco also walked onto the base.

The four face a maximum of six months in prison, a $5,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service for third degree trespassing on the Navy base.

Nine other protesters were cited for blocking the roadway outside the entrance to the base, a state offense. They held banners reading “Trident threatens all life on Earth” and “Abolish nuclear weapons.”

Samuel Yergler, 34, of Eugene draped a banner reading “base closed for survival” over a nearby overpass, but he was not arrested or cited.

Last August around the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing Dear and Smith blocked the same roadway at the entrance at the Kitsap base. Both received a citation and fine. Smith then reentered the roadway and blocked it again. His charges were later dropped. He and Dear were also arrested at the Nevada Nuclear Test site last year for trespassing. Smith spent two days in jail.

Smith was also arrested at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada protesting the US Air Force drone bombers, which are remote controlled from the base.

In December, Yergler and Dear were arrested at a sit-in at the governor’s office in the State Capitol along with 20 others. They were calling on the governor to oppose the proposed Jordan Cove liquified natural gas pipeline. They spent the night in jail, and prosecutors later did not file charges.

Dear and Smith also committed civil disobedience at a half dozen other protests last year. In January Dear, dressed as a polar bear, joined protestors who shut down four blocks of traffic in Washington, DC at a funeral for planet Earth sponsored by Extinction Rebellion. At at nuclear weapons plant in Sunnyvale, CA Smith was arrested for trespassing.

“We hope people of conscience and good will see the need more and more to disrupt the system that has brought us to the brink of oblivion,” said Smith, a brother in the Roman Catholic Franciscan Order and who helps maintain the Eugene Catholic Worker.

About 40 people participated in the protest at the naval base today. It was sponsored by the Pacific Life Community, a network of spiritually motivated peace activists, and the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, located in Poulsbo. WA.

“We need millions and millions of people to take personal responsibility for the threats of nuclear war and climate chaos,” Dear added.

“We need mass, nonviolent protest now. What else matters? Everyone and everything we know is threatened.”


Before crossing onto the Bangor Trident base

Sam Yergler

Sam Yergler

Rush Rehm, Mary Jane Parrine, Ed Ehmke, Elizabeth Murray, Clancy Dunigan

Gary Cavalier

Sue Ablao

Rush Rehm

Ed Ehmke

Jim Haber

Jim Haber

Jim Haber

Steve Dear

Steve Dear

Steve Dear

Steve Dear

Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Betsy Lamb

Betsy Lamb