Protestors shut down Naval Base Kitsap Bangor main gate

Anti-nuclear protestors blocked traffic on Washington State Route 308 heading into Naval Base Kitsap Bangor’s main gate for approximately 26 minutes during their Martin Luther King, Jr. rally Jan. 14.

“Cars were stopped and people were confused, trying to figure out what was going on as they turned around,” said Anne Hall, a member of The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Silverdale. “This is what we were trying to accomplish.”

Armed Navy security personnel watched from behind the blue line which divides state and federal property as nine anti-nuclear protestors stretched their banner across the road, blocking all inbound traffic lanes.

The banner read, “Enriching the Few at Everyone’s Expense: Occupy Trident” on one side and “Care for Sailors & Marines: Peaceful Jobs for All” on the other.

Washington State Patrol was given notice that the group would arrive at 2 p.m. to protest nuclear weapons at the main gate to Bangor base, but never arrived, said Leonard Eiger, spokesman for Ground Zero.

Hall conjectured that state troopers might have deliberately arrived “a few minutes late” to allow the group to exercise their message before being cleared off the street.

“It was a miscommunication,” said Russ Winger, a spokesman for the state patrol.

“We received information earlier in the week that this would be a non-arrest vigil,” Winger said. “State patrol chose not to deploy their assets to Bangor base until needed.”

State troopers arrested seven Ground Zero members in May 2011 for blocking traffic and again in August 2011 for the same offense, that time protestors using a 44-foot inflatable missile to stop cars. All 11 protestors were tried and fined in Kitsap County District Court last week.

Winger said that he is not sure who made the call to state patrol or what time it was received, but believes that it was “probably Navy security” who was at the gate when protestors arrived.

The three state patrol units which arrived after nearly half an hour after pretoestors arrived and cleared them from the road and began issuing citations.

“There was no need for physical intervention,” Winger said. Protestors complied with troopers requests to move to out of the road and did not reattempt to block the road. “But it did back up traffic for a bit.”

“No Navy operations at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor were affected by the peaceful protest,” said Tom Danaher, spokesman for Naval Base Kitsap who explained that the command honors the protestors right to assemble on state property.

Anti-nuclear protestors Louise Bollman, Larry Kerschner, Gabriel La Valle, Peggy Love, Jack Smith, Carlo Voli, Marion Ward, Robert Whitlock and Alice Zillah were issued citations for civil infraction.

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