Published: August 7th 2007June 1st 2007
Due to the site's crash, I've had to re-publish ten of my articles. Sorry for any inconvenience. Thank you.
A good cell, I’d say. 10 foot by 12 foot with high walls. Colors are cream. A red floor of cement lays beneath. Most of the paint-chips and stains are scattered here, my bare feet careful for leftover remnants. Yet with each step, the surface is cool—refreshing. There is a blue pad for resting, which lays on an elevated step; a blanket to the side; and a space-age aluminum toilet is off to the corner. Nearest is the door—a thick steel mass painted blue with a minuscule shutter at head’s height. This, I suspect, is where the food tray will slide through. And besides the collage of etchings in the door’s paint pastes a torn green pamphlet of various schedules and information. This makes up my cell within the Strathclyde Police Station, Divisional Headquarters, Dumbarton, Scotland.
It all started with Footprints for Peace’s
segment of walking from Helensburgh to Faslane just north of Glasgow. Gare Loch of the Clyde Sea was to our left, shimmering in a late afternoon sun. There was a thin layer of cloud, be it fine
Jill from eastern Scotland
enough for the light to shine through, warming our windblown cheeks. To the right led eastward into the land of the Scots. Large stone houses satisfied a mason’s dreams. They rose up the hill behind more stone walls where lush green shrubbery, thick trees and folding lawns as manicured as the trimmed hedges created a mini biosphere of life.
Each harbored their colors to share. There were primroses, clematises, lilies, may flowers to the verdant plumes of rhododendrons blossoming in purple clusters. These were the seashells among the sands; rhododendron bushes like wildflowers, filling roadside ditches, consuming the spaces betwixt heavy woods, and enfolding stands of old oaks in the midst of vast fields. Like purple polka-dotted clouds earthbound, the flowering shrubs were healthier than I’ve ever seen, all bursting in the same hue.
Our walk continued onward past its two-week mark and before long the presence of Her Majesty’s Navel Base Clyde at Faslane, home to the UK’s four nuclear Trident submarines, rose like industrial barracks of gray concrete. Pigments quickly changed as high fences topped with a swirling array of razor wire separated us from the property line. Lean poles were posted at guard along the
Along the Irish Sea
boundaries, each with a remote-controlled closed circuit television camera. As we passed with our flags and banners dashing a rainbow of design, the surveillance shifted and followed our movements like a sentinel filled with bolts. In the Ring of Fire T
he North Gate of the UK’s Trident submarine base is a hotbed of movement around the hour of shift change. It is the main entrance and exit point for all traffic flowing in and out of the base. Four or more police officers guard the gate itself with the base’s Ministry of Defense carrying the larger, more elite weaponry. These patrolmen usually stand inside the gate, dressed in straight black instead of the familiar bright neon weather jackets of the Scottish police. They’re armed with a patrolling scorpion—a light semi-automatic submachine gun ideal for short-range combat, but not fit for Billy’s toy chest or Uncle John’s hunting rack. Just outside the gate lays a roundabout where roads lead off in three different directions—the fourth being the entrance itself. Among the movement, the base acts as its own gated-community, armed to the teeth as its members support the devastation caused by warheads, each eight-times more powerful than Hiroshima.
In Book 1
of Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God
, the dialogue reads as following: One day, if you have a great deal of courage, you will experience a world where making love is considered better than making war. On that day, you will rejoice.
As we approached the North Gate, this thought carried me. I thought of Love and its power. I kept my thoughts here, and again reminded myself of Love. The police were in their regalia, the surveillance cameras in motion. People drove, biked, walked and were bused in and out, all presenting an ID card to receive such permission. Our greeting didn’t come from any of the police guards or workers, but from a dance group moving to their own rhythms of Love.
Come from all over the UK, they danced to their iTunes, moving and flowing, carrying instruments for their own rhythmical creations. Their message was clear, in sync with the fence’s ornamentation of peace banners and anti-Trident flags: They asked to put an end to Faslane, its submarines, and the nuclear industry as a whole.
They made sure we weren’t disrupting traffic.
Glasgow has one of the world's highest crime rates
asked Susanna, a woman standing on top an electrical box what her purpose of dancing was. She continued waving her rainbow-striped PEACE flag while answering.
“If we can’t immediately end the sadness created inside those fences, the least we may succeed in doing is bringing some joy and happiness. Dancing is so freeing. It brings such lightness.”
Susanna was from England. She had come up over the weekend just for this very day—a dance jam outside the gates of Faslane.
So the Peace Walk moved side-by-side with the Dance and Movement group. We protested, waving our flags, tying up our banners, drinking tea, eating hot soup and fresh bread, and mingling with our fellow peace pilgrims from around the world. Secretly, our presence went further then a mere protest. We were all on a reconnaissance mission for the next day’s action. 365 Days to Act Faslane 365
: Here is a core group of individuals with a bull’s eye on making a difference. Based out of Helensburgh and the Faslane Peace Camp, these activists have created a campaign from October 1st, 2006 to September 30th, 2007. The intent? Bring international activism together by inviting multifarious groups
On the edges of Faslane approaching the North Gate
to join in an act of civil resistance and non-violence. And the goal? Create a just and peaceful world through education and action without the presence of the nuclear industry, war, and fear. The demand is surely high enough, the belief and yearning for peace is certainly great enough, and not a day passes outside HMNB Clyde at Faslane without one form of protest or another.
Designed, thought out and planned from a pile of ideas to which we each contributed to and pondered upon for hours on end… we were ready… somewhat. Our Peace Walk had arrived to act, and so our day began at Coulport. Here, at the Royal Navy Armament Depot where the actual warheads for Faslane are kept in storage facilities, we did what we always do: we walked.
The day was calm and relaxing; devoid of any rain. Escorted and watched by a constant caravan of police vehicles, we headed for Faslane for our inevitable arrival.
Once there, the action unfolded with a split decision. Each of us had a layout of the land—the roundabout, the gate, the guards and police, the intensity of traffic. Our prey had been stalked on the
previous day’s recon, and like a mountain tiger emerging from the pines of the forest, we appeared with cunning speed.
The police had no chance. A total of eight walkers crept with lightness to the gate’s entrance, sending the guards into confusion. They saw our banners, our flags flying. They hesitated, and before long, the pavement was slain like a comatose goat. The group was in the heart of the gate; forming a circle, linking arms and sitting. It was a sit-in, blocking the entrance to the North Gate as shifts changed around four in the afternoon. Perfection. The Act of Humanity W
hat unfolded was enchanting; eight peacemakers standing up (or sitting down) for what their heart and soul sung. They were in solidarity, using their arms for linking, and bringing an international message to the gates of Her Majesty’s Navel Base Clyde at Faslane. They thought, spoke and acted, expressing “YES” to peace and “NO” to nuclear weapons, war, and fear. Meanwhile, as the guards gave their words of warning to either remove themselves or be arrested, a man from Belfast named Mark—the ninth activist—slipped off. Originally, he joined us back in Ireland, and he came
to take part in our action. A veteran of civil resistance directed toward the nuclear industry, Mark now attempted his plan.
Like any gate, the metal is riddled in a pattern of wire and more wire, and with a hope for possibilities, Mark sought to become one with this mesh. So, judging the attentions of the security personnel, Mark suddenly leapt a metal barrier and headed for his counterpart. Like Spiderman, the calm, gentle man—who doesn’t emit the slightest sense of daring defiance—was soon climbing up the grid in search of higher clime. And around his waist strapped a harness, which was adorned with various carabineers and hooks. Yes, Mark wanted to be Spiderman. He wanted to suspend from walls, especially this fence. He wanted to get high enough, just out of reach of the guards, to hang from Faslane’s North Gate in order to make his statement more demanding, and his removal more arduous.
His act caught us all off guard. Nobody had any idea when he would strike, and when he did, he fixed all of our interests, including the police. But once upon the fence like Spidey, or more like a man escaping an enraged
Crowned in Neon
Breaking up the circle
bear, Mark was quickly wrestled to the ground, pulled at by the legs just as he reached toward the fence’s summit with his hooks. On the ground, detained and handcuffed, he was out quicker than we imagined.
In short, the sit-in was removed with the last resisters (Americans Father Bix and Erik) clinging to one another and claiming their love for all life. The action’s statement was strong and effective: the nuclear industry is illegal and immoral according to International Law, which states any proliferation to be such.
And the very last to go was he himself. Representing the group, as well as Faslane 365, was the very own The American Gandhi. In person he is Bernie Meyer from Tacoma, Washington; but bald, tan, bifocaled and in character he is Mahatma Gandhi reincarnated. The Mahatma has come back at a critical time to advise the world of the power of ahimsa
, or non-violence, and the movement of satyagraha
, or the search for Truth, be it Love and Peace. As he was taken into legal custody, one of the supporters asked the policemen, “How does it feel to be arresting Gandhi?”
Gandhi’s message—the Gandhi of yesterday, today and
Mark from Belfast
tomorrow—is universal: ahimsa
. This thought contradicts the world as we know it, from modern society, to today’s governments and their politicians, including humanity’s obvious attachment to fear. And connected to this obsession is the nuclear industry, which creates blatant mass murder as a result to its immediate and long-term effects.
So, for their action and proclamation of Love, Peace and Non-violence, the protesters spent one night in the Strathclyde Police Station. All nine of them (from the seven sit-ins, to Mark & Gandhi) were detained in the early evening on Tuesday, May 29th and were subsequently released the next morning around ten. This left us just enough time for the planning of one last action. Locked On For Peace A
t the other end of the Trident submarine base is the South Gate. Here, less traffic flows and less guards patrol. As we welcomed back our criminal activists on the following day of their arrest, we put our heads together with renewed aspirations.
Locking-on is a method of protest. It requires the linking of persons, hand-in-hand, usually connected via carabineers. But in order to make this more solidified from wrestling policemen, a large tube is fitted over
the individuals’ grips extending from one’s elbow, over the hands, and up onto the other’s arm, ending at the elbow. At this point, once locked-on with hands and carabineers, the police are forced to cut a hole through the tube so as to pull apart the activists’ grips. The stronger the material, the harder the policemen’s task, the longer the lock-on.
With excitement flying inside the Peace Camp’s “Peace Bus”, a lock-on became a must. That being said, a plan was devised to target the South Gate around shift change while keeping the lock-ons hidden and unseen. For our material, the group purchased four three-foot plastic tubes about a quarter-inch thick and with a large enough diameter to squeeze our arms through. I was lined up, and soon, camouflaged with large rain ponchos, Marcus and I slipped through the woods to meet our group near the gate.
Timing was perfect once again. Everything fell into place, and at the right moment in traffic, five of us formed a line across the road. We fitted ourselves with the lock-on tubes, and then we laid down. The traffic came to a standstill and the gate closed. We were locked-on for
In the heart of the North Gate
This very act afforded me the pleasure of solitary confinement. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, “A crime is a crime is a crime”, and I was arrested, booked and processed, before being tossed into my cell from which I introduced you. There, confined to a small cream room within thick walls, I fasted, I drank my own urine, and I thought of my own thoughts, words and actions: What would Love do?
I could find no other answer to this question but what had transpired outside the North and South Gates of Faslane on that Tuesday and Wednesday. I could not find any other whisperings within my heart and soul that urged of another action. And I saw no future for the nuclear industry if mankind wanted to continue its’ own... This was my time for “The Breach of the Peace”—an official charge brought down to a mere warning by the Strathclyde Police. N
uclear power—whether for weaponry, energy usage, or otherwise—inevitably ends up destructive. From its processes of mining throughout Australia, Canada and Africa, to its shipment as ore across the world’s oceans, to the amount of energy used for enrichment, to the transfer of
the fuel rods, to the unknown hands in which it ends up in and their indefinite uses for it—yes, nuclear energy. This does not even count for the money spent on the construction of the nuclear facilities and bases, the factories and machinery, the security and surveillance, as well as the fuel and resources from start to finish—the water for mining and the transfer from one locale to the next.
And what of morale? What of humanity and the respect for life? Or do we all just wish to allow others to kill each other, not only one another, but ourselves? Do we ever think of tomorrow’s tomorrow? Our children’s children?
If the drive and allowance for nuclear power continues, and if this trend of fear proceeds without a transformation within our own patterns of thought, word and action, the world as we know it will follow this path to its own death. The nuclear industry and its current push as an alternative energy source is at the frontline of this destruction. It is the epitome of disrespecting life. It is the antithesis for respecting life. The nuclear industry contradicts any belief that holds life to be sacred,
A train & speed: strange after days of walking
and it is up to the people, every last citizen upon this planet, to help inform each other of this inevitably and begin to see one another as one’s self. We must learn to love others as we learn to love ourselves. And we must learn to love ourselves as we learn to love others.
Gandhi knew the power of Love and Non-violence. With his guidance, he helped India gain independence from the British Empire. And just hours before his assassination, Life Magazine
journalist Margaret Burke-White interviewed the Mahatma. She asked him what he thought of the atom bomb: Ah. How should I answer that? I would meet it by prayerful action. I will not go underground. I will not go into shelters. I will go out and face the pilot so he will see I have not the face of evil against him. To be continued..
There are more photos below