In The Middle of Nowhere for Peace: May 1992
“The atom bomb is the best thing to happen to man.” – Phylis Schiafley
The fact that the United States and the United Kingdom still conduct nuclear weapons tests in Nevada isn’t a well known fact among most people. In fact, most people probably don’t know that these tests are being done on land that doesn’t even belong to the United States (it actually belongs to the Shoshone nation, Newe Segobia). Moreover, most people don’t know what nuclear weapons testing actually accomplishes. All of this is simply another example of how our government doesn’t give a shit about anything but its own profits and goes to no length to inform anyone about it.
In ritualized protest, a dedicated group of approximately 500 people started on the 11th of April at an empty reservoir just outside of North Las Vegas. There, for two days, we listened to bands and speakers with their predictable and unoriginal anti-nuclear weapons testing theme. This was put on mainly for the undedicated 1000 or so people from Las Vegas, Arizona and California who were interested but uninformed. For me, the best part of these two days was meeting other like minded individuals so we could boost our egos by telling each other how right we were, laughing at the stupidity of the establishment and painting the most dire picture of the state of the world and culture.
On Monday the 13th, the dedicated 500 set off for the Department of Energy Building in Las Vegas to protest. After unsatisfyingly speaking with a DOE representative, 26 people decided to get arrested for obstruction. While this went on, the bulk of the group had already set off on the walk. The walk consisted of an average of 13 miles a day for 5 days (this was a pale reflection of the truly dedicated protest march that started earlier this year in New York and will proceed until Nevada in October).
Food Not Bombs supplied a vegan menu for all those who didn’t support themselves (which turned out to be so many that by the middle of the walk, they had to resort to “dumpster diving” to feed the lot). The walk was basically a gimmick to demonstrate a strange dedication to the cause and maybe make the mass-media pay attention. Personally, I was glad that the group I was with brought our own food and vehicular support. Actually walking was boring and blistering with an occasional good conversation. The night camps around a polluting fire were perfect for fellowship and soul searching (as it were).
Tuesday afternoon was the stage for the media-compromising incident with Rick Springer and Ronnie Reagan; compromising because the details would inherently be obscured and confused and Ronnie’s head was inadvertently affected. Overall, it didn’t make the masses aware of what was going on more than it simply portrayed Ronnie as a victim of Rick’s emotional instability.
By Friday, we were walking within three miles of our last camp and 50 of the walkers decided to slow the freeway traffic by walking in the middle of the road. Within thirty minutes, the freeway was cleared and the 50 put away to preserve and protect … someone, somewhere. When the remainder of the walkers arrived at the entrance to the road to Mercury (the town that houses the bulk of the test site employees), tens more decided to cross the cattle-guard to get arrested. This continued through the night.
Saturday was the day for music and more arrests. Like the first weekend, the bands played on a solar powered stage and consisted of a few of the same bands. Timbuk 3 played and drew the largest crowd but a single man act by Andras Jones (of the LA band Mr. Jones and The Previous) was the most interested performance of the days presentation. By the end of the day, 125 or so people were arrested. In camp, a few of the active groups were planning some interesting actions for the early hours of the morning. After gathering food and blankets, four people hopped the barbed wire fence and threw the stuff over the fenced cage where they were temporarily holding some recent violators of imperial law. As well, in preparation for the Christian Pagan holiday of Easter, a few had gathered roundish rocks, painted them with peace paint (as opposed to war paint) and hopped the barbed wire fence to hide them in the desert for an Easter egg hunt later in the afternoon. Three more were arrested.
Sunday was pretty much the finale. The Shoshone in charge at large asked for a consolidated effort at getting arrested and at 11 am, 200 people were systematically arrested at the cattle guard while 50 others hopped the barbed wire fence to hunt for eggs and head for Mercury (which is four miles away from the cattle-guard). Most of all the fifty actually made it to town though they were pursued all the way by cheering guards in dune buggies. In town they were casually arrested. Throughout the rest of the day, about 200 more people were arrested and cited. Monday morning most of us left.
I don’t know why most of the others went to Nevada for, but for me it was to show to myself that I can torture my body well for a good cause and still feel good about it. And maybe, just maybe, I might be the 100th monkey that the movement was looking for before it found me.
Nuclear weapons testing is still around and if it stays around much longer the new Russia will start their testing program up again. There will be another protest again in October and maybe by then it will be a victory party for the end of nuclear weapons testing. Maybe not. But hopefully some of you out there will start writing George and other “representatives” and tell them to demand the end of nuclear weapons testing just like any sane rational and compassionate Homo sapien or monkey or whatever.
For more from the SLUG Archives:
Paganism in Utah: April 1992
Book Reviews: April 1992
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