“Blockade the Bombmakers” was coordinated by the War Resister’s League (WRL) in cooperation with sponsors: Catholic Peace Fellowship, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Friends Peace Committee, Mobilization for Survival, Thomas Merton Center, Pax Christi, SHAD Alliance, Kairos, Jonah House, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and others.
Ed Hedemann, one of the key WRL organizers of the June events and arrested that day at the U.S. Mission, “One hundred and sixty-six separate affinity groups officially registered for the June 14th non-violent civil disobedience campaign, and each had specific staging areas assigned to them. The groups were required to hold nonviolence training beforehand in preparation.
Refusing to arrest the parents with children, at the end of the day the NYPD had arrested 1691 people, the second-largest single-day arrest in U.S. history. Mayday 1971 against Vietnam was the largest.”
Although there were differences in style and a number of the more moderate campaigners feared the civil disobedience action would mar the reputation of the June 12th protest, in reality, June 14th was successful and grabbed the attention of the lawmakers and diplomats of the Second Special Session on Disarmament, including the younger Mikhail Gorbachev who would in 3 years time become the General Secretary of the Soviet Union, and cite these June actions in his call for total disarmament to Ronald Reagan. In his Memoirs Gorbachev would write they came within a hairs breath of agreeing on total disarmament, but that a secret hand would slide in soon after (the industry).
June 14th got yet more vital publicity than the two earlier events of the 11th and 12th.
Ed Hedemenn, “Blockading the Bombmakers got tremendous publicity here, and around the world. CBS alone had ten TV news teams covering civil disobedience across the city. There were those of us who believed in and were part of all the weekend events, but many were also wanting something more urgent. We wanted to show that we were tired of the talk talk talk, the inaction of the past decades. We wanted more than just a Freeze and non-proliferation. We wanted to go non-violently directly to the five nuclear nations and demand unilateral disarmament. We wanted to say, No more nukes, Stop holding the world hostage. We wanted more urgently to instead use that money for our human needs.”
The American people have already voted very comprehensively on nuclear disarmament, with their hearts, minds and feet. Through resolutions and declarations across the country in the halls of power and on the street. In June 1982 all races, national backgrounds, all professions and levels and intersections of society spoke up clearly. Simply because the military-industrial complex assumes it is outside the realm of democracy, we need not re-invent the wheel, nor repeat the obvious. It’s time.
As people are given the facts and the history, we are transforming this irresponsible industry of total destruction into one that will urgently prioritize on saving the planet and can insure a positive future for all our grandchildren.
In 2017 the world listened to the experienced voices and experts around the globe and voted for a clear, common sense Nuclear Ban Treaty that builds upon and supports all the work of the previous generations of negotiators and activists for a nuclear-weapon-free world. The TPNW answers these prayers and long dedication. Let’s honor and carry forward the inspiration of those lives before us.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapon’s First Meeting of States Parties is being held in Vienna next week, this June 21st.
Anthony Donovan’s site: www.anthonydonovan.com