Desert Peace Protest
The war in Iraq has inspired many people to take to the streets, but by no means is it the only cause that peace activists want to highlight. During the Cold War, the United States set off hundreds of nuclear explosions in Nevada and research is still done there. Since 1981, hundreds have been part of an annual pilgrimage to “the most bombed place on earth.” Reed Galin has their story.
Taking in the beauty of the Nevada desert, it’s hard to imagine 900 nuclear bombs have been tested on this land.
Corbin Harney/ Demonstrator: “I’ve been here since ‘85 trying my best to put a stop to this nonsense of testing a nuclear bomb.”
Nat singing: “Walk with me. I will walk with you…”
For 25 years, these peace activists have come here to cross a line in the sand.
Nat singing: “Gonna lay down my burdens, down by the riverside…”
The demonstration is controlled by federal guards who usher people into holding pens. After a short time of reflection, they have to leave the property.
Sister Megan Rice/Demonstrator: “We had a very prayerful gathering inside, and a blessing of the land.”
Margaret Fuller-Lindgren/Culver Palms United Methodist Church: “When I come here, it’s very humbling but it’s also very empowering.”
They’re here to pray for peace and bring attention to the effect nuclear testing has on the environment.
The Rev. Diana L. Johnson/United Methodist Minister: “When it rains and snows and the wind blows, all of this shifts and comes not only into this beautiful land but it goes all over the world.”
Back in the 1980’s hundreds of people joined this annual sit in. Recently numbers have dwindled, but this group of United Methodist protestors says their continued presence is as important as ever.
Joyce Georgieff/Member, Spurgeon United Methodist Church: “I’m a grandmother and I can’t not be here for my children and my grandchildren. And I thank God for the people out here who keep this memory alive.”
Nat singing: “I will walk with you.”
Demonstrators who travel to the Nevada test site annually believe, though small in number, their voices are being heard.
There was a time when tourists would make it a point to stand and watch the mushroom clouds rise from the desert during the nuclear tests. People in the hotel rooms in Las Vegas could see the clouds.
To find out more about Peace with Justice efforts, contact Peace With Justice coordinator Joyce Georgieff at jGeorgieff@earthlink.net or check out www.cal-pac.org/peace.
Also, see Group marks Lent with protest at nuclear test site.