Ground Zero brings King's message of peace to Bangor

Eradicating terrorism through military force has been the nation’s top priority since Sept. 11.

But members of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action believe Trident nuclear nissiles represent terrorism in their own right, and that peace is as strong a statement as war.

“If Martin Luther King (Jr.) was alive today, he would say Trident is a terrorist, too. He would speak out against it and risk arrest,” said Brian Watson, a Ground Zero member from Bremerton.

Thirty members of the peace organization, founded in 1977, participated in the group’s annual non-violent protest at the main gate of Subase Bangor on Monday, Jan. 21. The demonstration ended with the arrest of seven members, including one from Kitsap County.

Participants said the year’s events illustrate that peace is more important than ever. Several talked about the brewing conflict between nuclear-capable Pakistan and India, while others mulled the war in Afghanistan.

“Sadly, I think one of the most important lessons of Sept. 11 is that these weapons do not protect us and will not protect us ... the path to success is to act for the common good,” said Silverdale resident Mack Johnson.

Protesters — there were 30 of all ages — recognized that they faced a tough crowd in military-dependant Kitsap County, but said it was important to remember nuclear weapons don’t discriminate.

“One challenge is trying to communicate our message of love and respect for people who work at Bangor. Some might tend to see us as the enemy, but it is not us and them. We are all threatened by nuclear war,” Watson said.

For Ground Zero activists, Martin Luther King Jr. Day began with a seminar on Ghandian principles of non-violence. Early on, a handful of members decided to risk arrest by blocking traffic.

“We never go into action without specific non-violence training. We are non-violent in our means, but that does not always come naturally,” said Jackie Hudson, spokeswoman for Ground Zero.

Later, the group gathered at the base’s main gate and read aloud from King’s writings. Some participants gave mini-speeches — accusing the government of valuing military spending over social programs — while others sang songs.

At about 3 p.m., seven members fanned into the street, blocking the base gates with a banner, and were arrested when they ignored a Kitsap County Sheriff’sdeputy’s warning to disperse.

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