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Ground Zero sends cranes against Tridents

"Sheriff’s deputies and Subase Bangor police arrested more than 15 anti-nuclear weapons protesters after a peaceful demonstration and program just outside the base’s main gate.It was the second annual event by the Poulsbo-based Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.The protesters read quotes from speeches by King, such as the one on a banner held by protesters who blocked the entrance to the base: “Together we must learn to live as brothers and sisters or together we will be sure to perish as fools.” Sheriff’s deputies observed the action from the base’s exit road, and from the overpass west of the gate.The 50 or so protesters, including a young mother pushing her baby in a carriage, gathered in front of the gate and began with an American Indian ceremony and flute music by a Ground Zero member known as Raven.“Those of you on the other side of the fence, and those of us on this side of the fence, we’re all on the same side of the fence,” Raven observed as he offered an American Indian chant in honor of “all living beings.”Said author and theologian Jim Douglass of Birmingham, Ala., “Martin Luther King gave us a way out of this world through love — by employing the power of love in regards to our opponents, it matters not if they’re on this side of the fence or the other side.”Douglass, who is writing a book about the assassination of King, introduced the main speaker, Andreas Toupadakis. Toupadakis is a former nuclear weapons scientist at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., who changed his mind about what he was doing and quit his job. He since has become a speaker against nuclear weapons.“When I started looking at the ... work and the results it would have in the future, I could not live with the thoughts and visions that I would be a part of, so I had to resign,” Toupadakis said.In the process he came up with a purpose statement for himself:“We are what we can become. We can become what we believe we are.”He added, “We should not trust institutions to take care of us, that’s why we’re in the predicament we’re in. We should take care of one another.”The protesters carried signs, sunflowers, banners and long chains of turquoise and royal blue origami cranes. After the speeches they draped the tiny origami cranes, strung like leis, over the tops and through the links of the barbed wire fence of the eastbound gate.The cranes were a special gift, sent by nuclear protesters in Uzbekistan, where the former Soviet Union tested nuclear weapons.The cranes have a special significance for the protesters, who would like to see the base and the Trident submarines shut down.“It’s a Japanese custom, a prayer for good luck, hope,” said Ground Zero spokesman Brian Watson. “The significance is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never happen again.The custom holds that if you fold 1,000 cranes, your wish will come through, according to Watson.He said the custom started with a little girl named Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to the atomic fallout in Japan, and contracted cancer in the 1950s. She began folding the cranes while she was in the hospital with the wish that she would get better.She had folded 640 cranes before she died.“The reason people fold cranes is they’re finishing the 1,000” for Sadako, Watson said.After draping the cranes on the fence the protesters observed a few moments of silence, then moved west toward the overpass, where they unfurled their banners and stood across three lanes of incoming traffic.Deputies peacefully arrested three successive waves of protesters when they refused to clear the road.“One of the reasons we have the defenses we do is to protect their right to do this,” said Paul W. Taylor, public affairs officer for the base. “I don’t think there’s another country in the world where they could (have a peaceful protest). We respect the people for being peaceful protesters.” "

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