From August 6th–9th a US national coalition marched, rallied, and held vigils, teach-ins, and non-violent direct action in over 70 cities in 27 states, commemorating the 61st anniversary of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki under the banner, “From Hiroshima to the Yucca Mountain to the Middle East: No Nukes! No Wars! Support Indigenous Rights!” While the major events on the 6th focused on key US nuclear weapons facilities, many of the events later that week shifted their focus to the Bechtel Corporation, one of the world’s top nuclear and war profiteers. August 9th also marked the UN’s “International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples,” and many of the day’s events reflected this, noting that indigenous peoples around the world have been victims of the entire nuclear cycle, from uranium mining to atmospheric testing.
In San Francisco, over 200 protestors gathered at Bechtel’s corporate headquarters, and were met by a march from the UN plaza organized by the International Indian Treaty Council. Speakers included Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor) Keiji Tsuchiya, who served as a rescue worker in Hiroshima, and Antonia Juhasz, Bechtel scholar and author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World One Economy at a Time. Protestors then marched around the block in a Four Corners ceremony, after which the two female Native American MCs read a litany of Bechtel’s abuses, negligence, and greed over drums. Finally, roughly 20 people participated in non-violent direct action, successfully shutting down all entrances to Bechtel headquarters for roughly an hour. Seven people were arrested.
In New York over 50 representing a wide variety of groups converged on Bechtel’s office in Manhattan. Code Pink distributed 1500 fake pink checks made out to Bechtel, signed by George Bush for nearly $3 billion to illustrate the lucrative no-bid contracts Bechtel has received for rebuilding in Iraq, and the Billionaires for Bush performed street theater.
Following protests at the Y12 National Security Complex on August 5th and 6th, two dozen protesters gathered at 6:30am at the Federal Building in Oak Ridge, TN on August 9th to call for an end to war profiteering. Shelley Wascom read an open letter to Riley Bechtel, CEO of the Bechtel Corporation. The group marched three miles from the federal building to Bechtel's Oak Ridge headquarters building near the Y12 nuclear weapons complex.
Demonstrators hoped to deliver their message to Riley Bechtel through the local office, but discovered that Bechtel officials had barricaded themselves in the building. Demonstrators attempted to gain entry, but were informed that Bechtel had asked Oak Ridge police to clear the premises, arresting the demonstrators if necessary. Wascom noted the Bechtel response was perfect proof of our message—a company that received four billion dollars of our taxes last year believes it has absolutely no responsibility whatsoever to account for those funds to the public.
50 demonstrators walked to the entrance of the Trident submarine base at Bangor, WA, located 20 miles west of Seattle, and 6 demonstrators entered the highway and briefly blocked the main entrance to the base while Navy and support personnel were arriving for work. After Kitsap County Sheriffs arrested the six demonstrators, four more entered federal property to block the same entrance. Those four were arrested by Naval Base security. Bangor Naval Submarine Base currently has nine D-5 missile submarines carrying approximately 1,760 nuclear warheads, and demonstrators note that Trident submarines, which operate in secrecy, are ideally suited for use in a nuclear first strike.
In Colorado Springs, CO, nearly 100 demonstrators gathered outside the gates of Peterson Air Force Base, home of the Air Force Space Command, on August 11. The protest spotlighted the role the base plays in coordinating first strike for both nuclear and conventional weapons.
The group protesting outside the base included “Sisters Witness Against War,” a gathering of more than 60 sisters from Catholic orders around the nation. The event featured keynote speaker was Liz McAllister of Jonah House in Baltimore.
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