Early Sunday morning in Scotland protesters serenaded workers arriving at the nuclear-armed Trident submarine base in Faslane. Later the same day in Vermont protestors serenaded police and private security at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon. Each action was the latest in decades of resistance to these nuclear installations. Each was peaceful and ended with the arrest, citation, and release of dozens of protesters.
At Faslane, Brian Larkin succeeded in melding with the workers and getting inside the submarine base, where he was arrested and charged with breach of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SCOPA), and then released.
At Vernon, about 300 people rallied on the Brattleboro Commons before trekking by bike and bus to the main gate of Vermont Yankee, which was defended by forty state troopers, a line of eight state police cruisers, and a rope with a “No Trespassing” sign.
When Brian Larking was released, he made this comment:
“The serious organized crime happens inside the base and not in these actions for peace and disarmament. It is the ongoing deployment of Trident submarines – each carrying 48 warheads, eight times more destructive that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima which killed 200,000 people – that constitutes serious organized crime and violates every principle of humanity in international law.”
The Vermont Yankee demonstrators first confronted the police line with song and a giant cardboard “Trojan Cow” named Rosie who harbored a contingent of subversive, cardboard solar panels, symbolizing the need to replace nuclear power with more benign forms of energy. Each protestor committing civil disobedience than took one of the solar panels and deliberately crossed the police line, thereby committing “trespass” and inviting arrest in a well-choreographed bit of protest theatre in which the police were willing actors.
In Scotland, the naval base was locked down for about 45 minutes after another four protestors slipped onto the base disrupting normal operations and stalling traffic. This was part of a campaign called “30 Days of Action” to mark 30 years of continuous resistance to nuclear weapons by the Faslane Peace Camp. Since the campaign began June 9, supported by a Trident Ploughshares affinity group, more than thirty people have been arrested.
In Vermont, 40 troopers arrested 40 protestors without incident. An 82-year-old man and his legally-blind wife, 57, who have been fighting nuclear power since 1970, were cited and released at the plant. Police bussed the other 38 arrestees some 15 miles north to Putney, where they processed and released them, to be called into Windham County criminal court in the near future.
Those arrested protesting the nuclear-armed submarines took letters to the workers in side the base, explaining that the International Court of Justice had issued an advisory opinion in 1996, finding that the use of nuclear weapons would be illegal, and even the threat of use, through deployment, maintenance, and upgrade is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that took effect in 1970.
The Trojan Cow escaped arrest in Vermont and will appear today in a Fourth of July parade in Brattleboro. Made of cardboard, newspaper, and latex paint over a wooden frame of 2×4’s, the black and white Holstein is eight feet tall and 14 feet long, mounted on a trailer that takes four people to maneuver. Made in her free time over three weekends by Dutch artist Ria Blaas who lives in Norwich, the cow has been promised a long and active life at political demonstrations.
The SAGE Alliance that organized the Vermont Yankee protest has scheduled its next protest for August 18, when they plan to launch a flotilla of small boats on the Connecticut River, to highlight how the nuclear plant is warming the water and leaking radioactive Tritium.
It is expected that Rosie the Trojan Cow will be spared exposure to either the water or the radiation.