Tempers flare at nuke protest

Tempers ran high among people trying to enter Subase Bangor during the latest protest Saturday by members of Ground Zero for Non-violent Action.

One unidentified man got out of his car, walked up to the line of protesters and began yelling at them. After a few minutes he returned to his vehicle.

Later an unidentified female, who had to be restrained by a friend, opened the passenger door of one of the cars and also began yelling. Unidentified voices from among the two dozen or so cars backed-up included, “We’ve got our kids over there ... this (protest) isn’t helping.”

Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies, Washington State Patrol troopers and Subase Bangor security officers started clearing protesters. A dozen of the 65 protestors were arrested for blocking the Main Gate.

“I don’t understand it,” said Brian Watson, editor of Ground Zero’s newsletter and spokesman for the group. “Usually, everyone’s cool. We come out to protest, make our point, some are arrested, and employees then drive in to work. The Sheriff’s deputies are particularly respectful of us. Those in the backed-up traffic usually wait patiently ... but not this time.”

He said it was the first time there were threats directed at protesters from passer-by.

Those arrested were: Ellen Kohjima, 53, of Auburn; Bill Bichsel, 75, Tacoma; Larry Kerschner, 57, Pe Ell; Lynne Greenwald, 54, Bremerton; Anne Hall, 58, Seattle; David Hall, 57, Seattle; Betsy Collins, 68, Kingston; Mary Hanson, 57, Seattle; Hap Bockelie, 47, Bremerton; Alice Zillah, 30, Olympia; Michael Hill, 60, Elbe; and Glen Milner, 52, Seattle. They were all booked and released.

“If formally charged, it will be the first attempt to prosecute non-violent demonstrators since February of 2000,” said protest organizers. “Prosecutors have been unable to get convictions against non-violent activists at Bangor the last three times they’ve tried them. Juries and judges have found that people arrested at Bangor protests have the legal right to redress grievances under international and (United States) law (with) non-violent direct action.”

Ground Zero stages protests several times a year.

The non-profit group’s main interest is getting rid of nuclear weapons, but they are opposed to military conflict in general.

“We just feel the money spent on weapons is a human tragedy,” said Watson. “The only way we can change this is to make people stop — literally — and think of the world they’re leaving their children.”

Subase Bangor and law enforcement officials could not be reached for comment.

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