Wednesday, September 30, 2009

4 activists resisted at Vermont Yankee

4 women arrested at Vt. Yankee

By SUSAN SMALLHEER Rutland HErald Staff - Published: September 29, 2009

VERNON - Four elderly women living downwind of the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor were arrested Monday afternoon when they walked through the first two security gates at the Vernon reactor and sat down on folding chairs, blocking entry to the plant.

The four women, members of the Vermont Yankee Shut It Down Affinity Group, are no strangers to Vermont Yankee protests, and each said they had been arrested multiple times outside the Entergy Nuclear corporate headquarters in North Brattleboro but never prosecuted.

Entergy Nuclear officials said that the response by the plant's security forces Monday afternoon went well and denied that security had been breached. But the women, wearing tie-dye t-shirts and carrying folding stools and signs, ignored the entreaties of the armed guard at the guardhouse, marched right past him through the second chain-link gate and then sat down with their folding chairs and protest signs.

In about a minute, Vernon Police Chief Kevin Turnley showed up in his cruiser, and eventually three Vermont State Police cruisers showed up. The four women were put in the various cruisers and taken to the nearby Vernon Police Department, where they were processed and released.

At one point, a guard tried repeatedly to manually close the exit gate, but couldn't because it was caught on a metal box. The gates are usually controlled electronically.

Several cars and trucks turned around and backed away from the main entrance to the plant, which declared an internal emergency until the women were arrested and removed, according to John Dreyfuss, director of nuclear safety assurance, who came to the guard station to view the arrests.

Turnley said that the four women were asked to leave and when they refused they were arrested for unlawful trespass. Turnley said they were released with citations to appear in court in late December.

The group was led by Hattie Nestel of Athol, Mass., a former Brattleboro resident. She was the first to be arrested. Others included a 90-year-old retired peace worker, Frances Crowe from Northampton, Paki Wieland, 66, of Northampton, and Ellen Graves, 69, of West Springfield, Mass.

"There is no foolproof nuclear power plant," Nestel said before she was arrested.

"There is no such thing as a peaceful, safe, renewable and cost-effective nuclear power facility," she said, saying the plant should be shut down.

Paki Wieland, 66, the retired social worker and former college professor, said that the only rationale for nuclear power was corporate financial benefit.

"We're downwinders," said Wieland, who said it was a "brilliant" calculated decision to build Yankee so far south and so far east - "it wasn't in Vermont."

Wieland said that the radiation releases from the reactor follow predominant winds - that take the radiation away from Vermont to Massachusetts or New Hampshire.

"We're more at danger than Vermonters are," she said.

Wieland said she started protesting nuclear power back in 1977. "I'm an old Clam," she said, referring to the Clamshell Alliance, which protested the construction of the Seabrook nuclear plant in New Hampshire.

Nestel said she had been watching the plant and realized from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., during a shift change, that the gates were left open, making the plant convenient for a protest.

"People are not looking at Vermont Yankee," said Nestel. "We are casting the spotlight on the danger. We will be breathing in the radiation, but we're willing to risk that."

The four women met beforehand at the Burger King restaurant in Brattleboro to discuss their last-minute plans. They were driven to the plant by a friend, who pulled up and blocked the first gate as all four got out. Another friend accompanied them, but didn't walk past the second gate.

The security guard, who appeared to be armed with a handgun, was heard talking to the women about the benefits of nuclear power, but they were intent on their goal of getting through the second gate and sitting down.

Larry Smith, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear, who also came to the plant gates, said that the protesters didn't get anywhere near the security gate, which is much closer to the reactor itself.

"They trespassed on our property and they were arrested," he said.

Dreyfuss said that the protesters posed a serious threat to the plant and to themselves.

"I'm worried. It's a dangerous thing to do. People are putting themselves at risk," said Dreyfuss, noting that the guards are authorized to use deadly force if necessary.

"It's dangerous, and we had an excellent response," Dreyfuss said.

While police have regularly arrested anti-nuclear protesters, they hardly ever get prosecuted, with county prosecutors saying it would take needed resources away from serious cases.

Turnley, who has been a member of the Vernon department, has seen plenty of protests in those years.

"I've seen a few," he said.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Press release: Protesters demand Obama end Afghanistan War

Anti-war groups demand end to Afghan War,
demonstrate at the White House

For Immediate Release Sept. 27, 2009
Contact: Pete Perry, 202-631-0974; Gael Murphy, 202-412-6700

Washington – Disappointed with President Obama’s unwillingness to significantly change course from the Bush administration in Afghanistan, and alarmed by the recent troop build-up there, national anti-war groups will be joining together October 5th in a day of nonviolent direct action, during the week the Afghanistan War begins its ninth year. The coalition includes the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Code Pink, Peace Action, the Black is Back Coalition, Progressive Democrats of America, the War Resisters League, the Washington Peace Center, World Can’t Wait, Veterans for Peace, and Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Joining them will be Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Casey Sheehan, a soldier killed in Iraq in 2004.

The White House action — the first such protest aimed specifically at the war in Afghanistan — comes at a time when domestic support for the war is slipping badly and members of Congress are asking that the Obama administration rethink the entire approach to the conflict. The war increasingly appears unwinnable, unnecessary, and misguided, draining American lives and resources, causing immense suffering among Afghan civilians, and rallying a broad-based insurgency whose main goal is to end the US occupation — not to engage in long-range terrorist attacks against the United States. By destabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan and stoking greater hatred of the United States, the war further weakens American security.

The coalition will deliver a letter to the president and request a meeting with him at 11:45 a.m. on Monday, October 5th. If the meeting is refused, dozens of peace and justice activists are prepared to risk arrest, in the tradition of Gandhi, Dr. King, and Dorothy Day, in order to persuade the commander-in-chief to meet their demands. The October 5 coalition demands:

1) That the U.S. cease its combat operations and military occupation of Afghanistan as well as its military operations in Pakistan, withdrawing all troops as soon as possible.
2) That the U.S. engages in vigorous international aid efforts, particularly medical assistance and infrastructure reconstruction, in Afghanistan.
3) That the U.S. closes the prison at Bagram Air Base, releasing those who have been held with no charges, and prosecuting suspected terrorists in civilian courts. The same should happen immediately at Guantanamo.
4) That money appropriated for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq be used for life-affirming programs in the U.S. and abroad, such as health care and housing for the poor.

“We are coming to the White House to insist that the government confront the realities of the war in Afghanistan and change course,” says Jeff Leys, co-director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence based in Chicago. “How long will the American people be asked to pay for death and destruction there, when we face so many urgent problems at home?”

The action at the White House will be preceded by a rally starting at 10:30 a.m. in McPherson Square. Lifelong war resister Liz McAlister of Jonah House will be the featured speaker.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear Friends,

10/5 will be a great day and will mark a key step in the revival of
the anti-war movement, post Obama-mania. Altogether we are at
approximately 100 people signed up to risk arrest.

As decided on the last conference call, we will have one final
planning call before the Oct. 5 action.

As Frida noted, we need to talk about media. Are there other specific
things that people want added to the agenda? If so, please forward to

Here is the tentative program for the rally in McPherson Square:
MC Welcome and Intro (5 minutes)
Poet 1 (one poem) (3 minutes)
Song by Emma's Revolution (5 minutes)
Poet 2 (one poem) (3 minutes)
Elizabeth McAlister (10 minutes)
Song by Emma's Revolution (5 minutes)
Black is Back Spokesperson (10 minutes)
Max Obuzsewski -Closing Remarks (5 minutes)
Song by Emma's Revolution (5 minutes)

I will make up the agenda and get it out along with a reminder early next week...

In peace and resistance,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dialogue with the pres. before Oct. 5th

September 15, 2009

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear president Obama:

We are writing on behalf of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance to seek a meeting to discuss the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. We are greatly concerned that the people of Afghanistan, like the people of Iraq, are suffering greatly from the U.S. invasion and the continued assault on this beleaguered country.

We feel you are stuck in the same trap, which ensnared President Lyndon Johnson. His decision to continue that awful war in Vietnam brought down his presidency. He failed to listen to the peace movement, and history has not been kind to him.

Today's peace movement is baffled by your persistence to wage war on the people of Afghanistan. Not only is your policy flawed, but it is doomed to failure. Afghanistan surely does not need more killing and destruction. It needs financial assistance and the willingness of the United States to build roads, schools and clinics. The people, especially the women and children, need food, medicine, shelter and an end to the fighting. Moreover, the U.S. military is unsuited to do humanitarian work in Afghanistan.

Please meet with us as soon as possible in order to explain your exit strategy, which must include a plan to provide aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan through nongovernmental organizations. After dialogue with a variety of people in Afghanistan, the U.S. government would then fund international efforts to assist Afghans with the rebuilding of their decimated infrastructure. This would include the funding of medical assistance needed to care for hundreds of thousands of people seriously wounded since the invasion in October 2001.

We protested the belligerency of the Bush administration, and now we are demonstrating against your misguided efforts in Afghanistan. We are mystified that in the midst of a horrible economic crisis, you are wasting precious tax dollars and other resources in a futile war without end. To call this a war of necessity is an attempt to rewrite history.

Develop time lines for the withdrawal of combat troops, close down all military bases, including the notorious prison at Bagram Air Base, and stop the bombing of Pakistan. We need an economic revival in this country, and not a war of choice in Afghanistan. A better use of your time and the country's resources would be to embark on a massive program of promoting clean energy throughout the United States and to get legislation passed guaranteeing health care for all.

Please respond by indicating when and where a meeting can be scheduled. We want to assist you in ending this very tragic chapter in U.S. history. Then you can go about the very painful process of trying to restore the world's trust in the U.S. government. Continuing the war in Afghanistan will further alienate our country from the global community. We look forward to your response and further dialogue.

In peace,

Joy First, Co-Convener, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Pete Perry, Co-Convener, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Max Obuszewski,Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Ellen Barfield, Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Malachy Kilbride, Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance

Kevin Zeese, Director, Voters for Peace

Gael Murphy, Co-Founder, Code Pink

Mike Ferner, President, Veterans for Peace

Leah Bolger, Vice President, Veterans for Peace

Elaine Brower, Military Families Speak Out

David Swanson, Co-Founder, AfterDowningStreet Coalition

June Eisley, Coordinator, Delaware Pacem in Terris

Don Muller, Sitkans for Peace and Justice

Patricia Wieland, Nothampton Committee to Stop the War in Iraq

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Resisting a lost war...

President Barak Obama presses on with an escalation in a war he cannot win. A majority of the Afghan people view U.S. military forces as a foreign occupying force, and now a growing majority of Americans no longer support this war. The United States empire can not sustain this military occupation. The facts on the ground and a myriad of historical examples prove this.

Afghanistan's history is replete with the tombstones of foreign occupiers. In the 18th centuries it was the Persians, twice. In the 19th and early 20th century it was the British, three times. In late 20th century the Soviets were thoroughly defeated in what was considered "their Vietnam."

Commander-in-chief Obama tells us this is a just war, a war we must fight to avenge those those killed on September 11th. However, President Karzai in his recent campaign and subsequent re-election has indicated a desire to sit down at the negotiating table with the Taliban. Furthermore, his brother-in-law is a known opium runner, while our military pledges to burn the poppy fields, a fantastical dream of cutting off the Taliban's primary funding source.

The American people tire of war, Osama bin Laden's whereabouts remain unknown, and we decimate civilian populations in both Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan (widening the war) with daily drone bombings. Latest polls show between 51-54% of the American people want this war to end. They are not stupid, they realize there is no "victory" to be had. Who is Obama doing this for? High-ranking military brass? Military contractors (who donated heavily to both his and Hillary Clinton's campaigns)? Surely it is not for the American people who are being told our government cannot afford comprehensive health care reform.

Now we are told August has turned out to be the deadliest month yet for the Afghanistan War. When will it end? It has resulted in lost lives, lost hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, and lost direction and morality.

On October 5th the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance will join with a growing coalition of other anti-war groups by acting in a dramatic civil resistance action at the White House. We, as people desiring a more peaceful and just world, are demanding the following the same week the Afghanistan War begins its ninth year:

1) That the commander-in-chief remove all U.S. combat troops and halt to the occupation of Afghanistan. This would allow the Afghan people full autonomy and self-determination without foreign influence.

2) That the U.S. take part in an international aid effort, focusing on both medical assistance and the rebuilding of Afghanistan's infrastructure. That this work be done for the benefit of the Afghan people, not private contractors.

3) That the U.S. close the prison at Bagram, and those with no charges be freed. Those with charges should be tried in civilian court.

4) Immediately halt the disastrous and blatantly immoral drone bombing of Pakistan. This further threatens the stability of the entire region, and only produces further hatred of the U.S.

Sadly, despite promises of change we have been given continued war and a continuation of indefinite detention. It is now time for all people of conscience to act. It is time we begin forcing Obama's hand. Won't you join us in D.C. on October 5th?

For further information:


~ Pete Perry is a D.C. native and peace and justice activist. He is also the co-convener of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.