Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tuskegee, Alabama: “Oasis of the South”

Students gather in Tuskegee for  "War on Earth" Presentation

Tuskegee, Alabama - January, 2014
We took our traveling Power Point Presentation on Militarism’s Environmental Impact in the South to Tuskegee, Alabama, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. We were warmly welcomed by community members, students and faculty from the historic Tuskegee University.

We enjoyed an insiders’ tour with Tuskegee University Alumna Norma Jackson, active with the Alabama New South Coalition. We met with Mujah Shakir, a Professor at Tuskegee and faculty adviser for the Black Belt Deliberative Dialog Group whose focus is to "foster and encourage thinking and acting on important issues that are of past, present and future interest to area residents." One project involved meeting and interviewing surviving family members of those harmed by the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, a study of untreated syphilis in black males — primarily from Macon County — that was finally made public and ended in 1972.
We also met Attorney Lateefah Muhammad, who has thrown her hat in the ring for District Court Judge in Macon County. These women are powerful voices for justice and change.Tuskegee is a point of light and sacred ground in the constellation of hard fought battles to undo the structural racism of Southern Apartheid. The struggles are ongoing.
Lateefah, Clare, Mujah and Norma in Tuskegee

The sprawling, now gated campus, founded as Tuskegee Institute by Booker T. Washington in 1881, is situated in Macon County, part of Alabama’s predominantly African-American Black Belt region, so-called because of the abundant rich and fertile black soil, the legacy of slavery with the plantation agriculture system of the 19th century, and the remarkable 20th century Civil Rights revolution.  The region is rich with Southern cultural history, yet in this 21st century, Alabama’s Black Belt continues to struggle with economic depression and dire socioeconomic conditions.

Confederate Soldier in Tuskegee
As we arrived in the small town of Tuskegee (pop.12,000) and searched for the university, we were caught in the blank stare of a lone Confederate stone soldier who still stands watch in the central town square, a stark reminder of the Old South in a community now over 95% African American. The statute stands near Rosa Parks Avenue, named for the heroine of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Tuskegee is Rosa Parks’ birthplace.

Civil Rights legend,102 year old Amelia Boynton Robinson, a lead organizer and participant in the Selma Voting Rights Movement, also makes her home in Tuskegee.
Mrs. Amelia Boynton Robinson
“Queen Mother,” as she is affectionately called, is a survivor of the “Bloody Sunday” police violence on the Edmond Pettus Bridge at the beginning of the 1965 Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March. Dr. Robinson was gassed, beaten, and left for dead in the clash. The 49th anniversary of the event will bring many back to Selma for commemorative events.

In our presentations throughout the South we always encourage our audience to interrupt us with questions and add any personal insights brought forth by the material – and this crowd did just that.
 You mean we keep a U.S. stockpile of the same chemical weapons that we object to in Syria?  One student asked. Yes, we do.
What college funding sources are available other than through ROTC and early enlistment programs? Another student wanted to know.
 A good question, but one we did not have an easy answer for. Students everywhere face the prospect of  long-term and crippling debt in pursuit of an education.

When we highlighted the Marine Corps’ 30-year cover up of contamination of  Marine family housing drinking water, at Camp Lejeune, N.C. a young Tuskegee Airman, home for a break, said, “… my Sergeant recommends we use bottled water and not drink from the base’s water supply.”

This young airman is fortunate to have a sergeant who took it upon himself to inform the men and women under his command. The U.S. military has no legal obligation to inform soldiers if a base where they are stationed is on an EPA Superfund site, or otherwise contaminated.  The burden has long been left with service personnel and their families to uncover the information.

has been directly affected by coal ash pollution in Perry County ...
TVA Coal Ash Kills
Environmental assaults occur throughout the south. In nearby Perry County, Alabama, where residents are 90% African American and about 45% live below the poverty line, TVA dumped most of the 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash removed from Kingston, Tennessee, after the 2008 coal ash spill there. The ash was shipped to the unlined Arrowhead County landfill which was not designed for coal ash waste.Alabama has 44 coal ash impoundments containing at least 24 billion gallons of coal combustion waste. The environmental assault has a disproportionate impact on people of color and low wealth.

Though the Confederate soldier's statue still stands in Tuskegee, there is yet no monument in the town square for Sammy Younge, a 22 year old Navy veteran and Tuskegee student shot to death in 1966 as he attempted to use a “Whites Only” bathroom at a Standard Oil gas station. Sammy Younge, Jr. was the first black college student to die in the black liberation movement. His was a brave act of civil resistance and racial disobedience that angered  Marvin Segrest, 67, the white man who murdered him, and was found “not guilty” by an all-white jury.

Sammy Younge, Voting Rights Hero
Younge was a member of Tuskegee Institute Advancement League (TIAL), and Tuskegee’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He worked on the voter registration drive in Macon County. Students at Tuskegee are believed to have been the first in the country to lock up and hold hostage the college's board of trustees with a list of demands.

Esther, Reginald, Coleman and Judy
In Fredonia, Alabama, we visited again with our friends Judy Collins and Jim Allen at the Vine and Fig Tree Community—this activist way-station and rural getaway has welcomed many over the years. Judy and Jim know our interest in collaborative action and strengthening connections through our Southern organizing Initiatives, and they facilitated another round of presentations of our “shock and awe” PowerPoint detailing militarism’s environmental impact on the South—War on Earth: Atomic Appalachia and the Militarized Southeast- Environmental Impact. They introduced us to many of their colleagues in the Alabama New South Coalition, the East Alabama Alliance for Global Justice, and Tuskegee University’s Black Belt Deliberative Dialogue Group.

In Auburn, we were warmly received by Diana Allende and the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, which meets in the former Ebenezer Baptist Church, built in 1870 by freed slaves, and featuring a large wooden North Star as the focal point in the ceiling. Our Presentation followed the regular Sunday meeting where we were given time at the pulpit to speak more personally as native Southerners about our concerns with militarism’s environmental assaults on the region.

In Montgomery we joined anti-death penalty activist Esther Brown, Huntsville activist Reginald Hill,  and others at the state government complex. Esther, who has worked against the death penalty in Alabama for 30 years, is part of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty. She spoke before the legislative committee to object to the fast-tracking of state killing with efforts to make the “appellate process more efficient” with the so-called “Fair Justice Act” that would shorten the appeal process and accelerate its State-sanctioned murder program. Since 1981 seven innocent men have been freed off Alabama’s Death Row.

Our experiences in Alabama have opened new doors for ongoing collaboration in what can only be termed the New South. The richness of conversation and dialogue coming out of this bridge-building exchange will continue to inform our work and provide us with inspiration for the long-haul.

Moral March on Raleigh/HKonJ People's Assembly
On February 7-8 we were in Raleigh, NC for the Moral March on Raleigh/HKonJ People’s Assembly, one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of this ongoing movement under the leadership of the statewide NAACP and the compelling charisma of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President of the NC State Conference of the NAACP. The hard-won voting rights are again under attack and people are rising to say: Forward Together, Not One Step Back!

Clare is off to Selma for the 49th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” She will join with the annual peace walk from Selma to Montgomery. Coleman is back in Asheville organizing to welcome the Coalition of Immokalee Workers  who will be in Asheville March 7 as part of their campaign for justice for farmworkers,  requesting One penny more per pound for tomatoes purchased by Publix. The supermarket chain is building in Asheville.

New South Network of War Resisters and others in Asheville are organizing to confront the “Opportunities 2014” gathering at the Grove Park Inn on March 10 bringing exhibitors from numerous merchants of death and war profiteers in the Military Industrial Complex to town.

More to come...
Help us keep on the road, with action, collaboration & training in organized nonviolence.

Story by New South Network of War Resisters
Lead Organizers, coleman Smith & Clare Hanrahan

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sharpening Our Resolution – From Trident to Tuskegee

Every New Years Eve, for 33 years, there has been a uniquely Southern  peace, social justice, and anti-war gathering at one of the Gates of Hell--the Kings Bay Trident Nuclear Submarine Base--in St. Mary's, Georgia, about 30 minutes north of Jacksonville, Florida, and arguably the third most powerful nuclear state on the planet (if it were to secede and go it alone). Kings Bay is the Atlantic home port for these nuclear submarines - a Cold War relic and still functional First Strike Thermo-Nuclear Weapons Platform.
In the days before our hair turned silver. 
Each submarine, if fully locked and loaded, has the capacity to deliver 24 Trident II missiles;each missile launched can independently target 8 hydrogen bombs; each bomb powerful enough to incinerate a city of 100,000. That’s 192 cities if you’re counting.

Still at it after all these years!
The Alternative New Year gathering is the longest continual annual anti-war/ disarmament event in the South. 

This year a group of early arrivals held signs and handed out literature at the two main gates as workers left for the holiday. John Linnehan, of the Metanoia Peace Community, and one of the founders
John Linnehan nabs an infiltrator
of the gathering, composed an excellent one-page flyer. He assured the Sailors, Marines, and other base workers that we respected them and their right to gainful employment and that we did not come in judgment of them personally.

It’s not about you, it’s the weapons,” became our refrain as we stood at the traffic median and had brief encounters with workers waiting for the light to turn. Our messaging was clear:  “…we do condemn a system of weaponry that has the very real potential to so affect the ecological systems of the Earth as to make human life and, perhaps, all life on this planet, unlivable."

Submarine surfaces behind Geri at Trident Gates

 The general  response from the base employees was accepting and polite – as if they already knew the risk of operating this thermo-nuclear nightmare– that Trident “… is not a fail-safe system, and the intentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons has ultimate consequences for us all. One failure could be the last one.”  

As is always the case in this kind of direct action, we were occasionally reminded by a handful of passing motorists where to stick our flyers, with whom to have sex, and how easy it is for some to ignore others from barely three feet away. 

Wendy, Ann & Robert Feasting in the New Year!
During the rest of our time at the Crooked River State Park, we filled our Celebration of Life with food, spirits, social networking and community building. We shared workshops and reports from the year of Peace Work, and plans for the next.

Our late night New Years' Eve Vigil back at the main gate is held next to a full-scale concrete replica of a submarine surfacing from underground. The vigil is a time of expressing the many reasons that bring us together year after year, with reverence and contemplation, among a community of long-haul activists, faith-based and dissidents, and all fierce peace warriors  juxtaposed against the heavily-guarded base of operations for a fleet of continually deployed, lethally armed, hidden and hair-triggered killing machines--evidence of humanity's inhumanity to itself and to the Earth.

Our eclectic literature at Auburn UU Congregation
As the New South Network of War Resisters, we helped to coordinate the gathering, working with others with decades of presence at the gates.

In our ongoing communications with friends, other war resisters and community activists across the Deep South, many have offered to host our power point presentation: War On Earth! Atomic Appalachia & the Militarized  Southeast US: Environmental  Impact!
Judy Collins & Jim Allen of Vine & Fig Tree with Clare & Coleman

Thanks to our friends at the Vine and Fig Tree Community in Fredonia, Alabama, we were able to speak of our Southern Organizing initiatives and present War On Earth! in several Alabama venues in January, including the Auburn Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, and in Tuskegee where we presented to a group of Tuskegee University students, faculty, and community members on Martin Luther King Day. We also visited Montgomery with anti-death penalty activist Esther Brown who was speaking before the legislature to object to a fast-tracking of state killing by shortening the appeal process.

Tuskegee Students, Faculty and Community members gather for presentation and  discussion on Military Environmental impact in Southeast
Tuskegee's Historic Campus
These experiences in Alabama have opened new doors for future, ongoing collaboration in what can only be termed the New South. The richness of the conversations and dialogue coming out of this bridge- building exchange can be partially summed by the comments of Tuskegee Alumna Norma Jackson, our new friend and contact with the Alabama NewSouth Coalition and the Black Belt Deliberative Dialogue Group -

The work that you are doing is truly sacred work and I am grateful for it. The young people were profoundly changed by (your) presentation. I look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration with you…”     

Stay connected with our travels and story as we write more about our Tuskegee experience in our next ACTION South post.

Report by Coleman Smith; Photos: Clare Hanrahan & Coleman Smith

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Mapping our Connections - Looking to the Future"

32nd Annual Alternative New Year Gathering
 Celebrate Life Instead of Nuclear Madness. For over 3 decades Southern peace and justice activists have gathered on New Year's Eve at the gates of Kings Bay Trident Nuclear Submarine Base to protest this Cold War, Offensive First Strike Thermo-nuclear Weapons System. Each sub having 24 Trident Missles, each Missle having 8 warheads makes this the center of nuclear madness and an unneccessary risk to life on this planet....
Monday, December 30, 2013 to New Year's Day, January 1, 2014!  
We are expecting a good crowd with folks coming from FL, GA, AL, NC, SC.

Gathering is at the Crooked River State Park,  located 7 miles north of St. Mary's, GA on Spur 40.  Go to for more details on all that is offered in this beautiful state park.   (see directions below)  

There is still cottage/bed space available.  Please call or email now if you want to reserve your place call  828.301.6683 or  Email New South Network

ARRIVAL: Monday, December 30th.  Check-in starts at 4 p.m.  Upon arrival, purchase a parking pass for your vehicle ($5) at the Office. Cabin fees will be settled with the Cottage Contact in your cabin.
  COST:  Space in a shared cottage is approx. $20 per night, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on how many share the space.  Please make arrangements to pay your Cottage Contact your share of the expense.

ACCOMMODATIONS:  Each cottage is furnished with two or three bedrooms with two queen size beds in each bedroom. Linens, some towels, a living room, and a furnished kitchen with stove, refrigerator, and some pots and pans and utensils (including coffee maker and toaster).


Clothing:  Check the weather for Camden County, GA and bring clothes appropriate.  It can get pretty cool at night, especially for our Candlelight Peace Ritual at the Gate to the Base on New Year's Eve.
 Towels:  An extra towel or two is a good idea
Food:  We will have a community potluck dinner on Monday evening (6:30 p.m., Cottage #2 - O'Byrnes are bringing the turkey) and a community potluck dinner on Tuesday evening before the New Year's Eve ritual.  Please bring side dishes, casseroles, vegetables, etc. to share for these 2 meals.
 For breakfasts and lunches, coordinate with your Cottage-mates as to what each of you can bring for those meals in each of your cottages.

CANDLE HOLDER for Tuesday night Candlelight Peace Ritual at the Gate:  Cleaned-out gallon or half-gallon plastic milk container works well.  Simply cut off the bottom of the plastic jug, leaving the handle and screw cap in which to drip wax and hold the candle.  

LITERATURE or MERCHANDISE from your Peace Group:  We will have a table for these.

MUSIC, POETRY, READINGS:  Please bring your instruments, CD's and other creative offerings to share with the group on New Year's Eve. Bring a CD player if you need one, as they are not provided in the cottages.


Monday, Dec 30th
3:00 - 5:00 P.M. - Stimson Gate -- signs and leafleting against nuclear weapons
4:00 P.M.  -  Check-in begins
Storytelling time: Listening to Movement Elders
6:30 P.M.  -  Community Pot Luck Dinner and Group Sharing -- Cottage #2

Tuesday, Dec 31st
Breakfast in Cottages
Various speakers and topics throughout the day - Times and Locations To Be Announced: 
  •  John and Martina Linnehan -- The Great March for  Climate Action 
  • Ann and Haven Whiteside -- Israel/Palestine Trip 
  • Frank and Lucy Fuchs and Anne Richter -- El Salvador trip 
  • Clare Hanrahan & Coleman Smith -- "From Atomic Appalachia to Kings Bay: Connecting the Nuclear Dots in the Southeast" 
  • Sam Marshall --  How to exist In a world in  economic collapse--a discussion 
  • Open Source Scheduling for Other Interests ( Sign up when you get there) 

6:00 P.M.  -  Community Pot Luck Dinner -- Cottage #2
7:30 P.M.  -  New Year's Eve Candlelight Peace Ritual at the Gate
 Wednesday, Jan 1st
Breakfast in Cottages
9:00 A.M.  -  Wrap-Up, Evaluation, Planning for Next Year's Gathering -- Cottage #2
11:00 A.M. -  Check out

 DIRECTIONS:  Crooked River State Park is located 7 miles north of St. Mary's, GA on Spur 40.  Go to  for more details on all that is offered in this beautiful state park, located at 6222 Charlie Smith Sr. Highway, St. Marys, GA 31558.

1.  Take I-95, Exit 3
2.  Take Georgia State Highway 40 towards St. Mary's
3.  Turn left onto Kings Bay Road (This will take you to the intersection of Kings Bay Rd & Spur 40 where the Stimson Gate and our Monday leafleting will take place 3:00-5:00 p.m.)
4.  Turn left onto Spur 40.  Crooked River State Park is impossible to miss as Spur 40 ends right there.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Under a Blue Sky in Tennessee

We followed the back roads from the great Appalachian Mountains to the Mighty Mississippi, this Fall with presentations in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee, finding hospitality along the way with friends and family.

In August, New South Network activists Clare Hanrahan and Redmoonsong visited with Bro. Utsumi & Sr. Denise of the Nipponzon Myohoji Buddhist Order at the Great Smoky Mountains Peace Pagoda near Newport, Tennessee.  Work is underway with dedicated volunteers and, when completed, the Peace Pagoda will be visible from miles around, including to those traveling through East Tennessee on Interstate 40. Bro. Utsumi & Sr. Denise will be leading their 11th annual peace walk to Fort Benning and the SOA Watch vigil November 16th through 24th. 

Sign-painting table in Johnson City
In September Coleman and Clare were up around Johnson City, in the Eastern mountains of Tennessee for an activist picnic with Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity. EATS is an outgrowth of the Tri Cities Occupy Movement and is doing great work on issues of social justice, environmental activism and community building.

 In October at the Appalachian Public Interest and Environmental Law Conference in Knoxville we joined with several hundred eco-minded and socially conscious activists, attorneys, students and scientists working to achieve environmental and social justice throughout Appalachia and surrounding areas.
Brethern Pastor Ken Edwards of Jonesboro, Tenn.

Keynote speaker Tom Butler of the Foundation for Deep Ecology, editor of Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth made a compelling presentation as a voice for the inherent rights of wild nature, challenging the view of the natural world as "commodity."
While there we connected and reconnected with folks working on many fronts for environmental and social justice, including Ken Edwards, Brethren Pastor and member of the Appalachian Peace Education Center and Aerojet Action Project. We met with Ken in Jonesboro, Tenn. in August when he hosted the Christian Peacemaker Teams in town to raise awareness of the environmental and human rights impacts of  Aerojet/Rockedyne, a Jonesboro based plant manufacturing "depleted" uranium weapons and polluting the soil and water with uranium.

OREPA Sunday vigil outside gates of Oak Ridge bomb plant
The climate for environmental activism in Tennessee has its challenges.  In June 2013 Huffington Post reported on the chilling remarks of the deputy director of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's (TDEC) Division Of Water Resources who warned a public assembly: " need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there's no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism."  Nothing new there. The Green Scare rears its head everywhere people speak and act on behalf of the Earth.

Educating & Activating along the road
In Oak Ridge, Tenn. we joined with friends from Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance at their long-standing Sunday vigil at the gates of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)nuclear bomb plant. The 35,000 acre site contains hundreds contaminated areas and contaminated surface water and sediment outside the boundary fence,  including the Poplar Creek, the Clinch River, and lower Watts Bar Reservoir of the Tennessee River. From EPA Superfund info. We appreciated the overnight hospitality of Eric & Libby Johnson in Maryville.  On the way to Nashville we passed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman. On December 22, 2008, a failure of the  dike used to contain fly ash spilled over one billion gallons of fly ash sludge into Watts Barr Lake and the Emory River. The environmental catastrophe was 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, which released 10.9 million gallons of crude oil.

In Nashville we were hosted by the Nashville Peace Coalition to present our PowerPoint:  Environmental Impact: Atomic Appalachia & the Militarized SouthEast.We appreciated the warm welcome at the Nashville Friends Meeting and the overnight hospitality at Nashville Greenlands, a Catholic Worker Urban Agriculture community, home to legendary war tax resister Karl Meyer.

Traveling West we detoured to Milan, Tennessee, and the WWII era Army Ammunition Plant. The 22,540-acre site is on the EPA Superfund list of most contaminated sites. It has a ground water contamination plume that continues to spread. The once thriving ammunition plant is now a desolate-looking wasteland.  Primary include 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) and RDX, also known as cyclonite.

Janice Vandarhaar with Atty. Jeribu Hill 
We were in Memphis for the 10th Annual Gandhi-King conference organized by our long time friends at the Mid South Peace & Justice Center. The Keynote speakers were two powerful voices for justice:  Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, speaking on the dangerous use of weaponized  Drones, and Attorney Jeribu Hill, orator and organizer extraordinaire of the Mississippi Workers Center, fighting for the human rights of low-wage workers. Both women spoke with compelling urgency and a call to action.

Setting the Record straight
Memphis is Clare's hometown, and while there we visited the Viet Nam Veterans memorial in Overton Park, taking action to add the names of her two brothers, Dan & Tom, and remembrance of all the victims of PTSD, Agent Orange and Suicide whose names have yet to be etched on the war memorials.  Clare has joined the VFP working group on an alternative/accurate/counter commemoration of the American war in Viet Nam.

We took time out to spend an evening on Beale Street with VFP's Elliott Adams and enjoyed warm Memphis hospitality with Clare's brother Robert and family.

Visiting family & discussing the persistence of racism in Memphis
Coleman Smith & Rev. Charles Utley of S.C. at NRC hearing
 Back home in Asheville, we took the bus to Charlotte, North Carolina to testify before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to emphatically say:  "No More Nukes: We have no confidence in the NRC to safely manage 70,000 tons of existing nuclear waste. Don't make any more! There is no safe level of radiation.

Tennessee is the only state that incinerates nuclear waste, and the state accepted into municipal landfills 38,343,961 lbs of radioactive waste. In 2000, Tennessee accepted 75% of the nations' so-called low-level radioactive waste. 

We're back on the road in November where Clare will be presenting our Powerpoint on Atomic Appalachia and Militarism's environmental impact in the South at the Drone Summit and Coleman will be in Columbus, Ga. at work with the Puppetista Collective for the SOA Watch vigil at the gates of Fort Benning.  In December we've been asked to present at the U.S. Human Rights Forum in Atlanta.  Stay tuned for reports.

Thanks to the ongoing support of our local friends for helping to keep us on the road.  Your support is welcome and much needed to keep us on the ground weaving connections in the Southeast. We especially need help to get to Fort Benning for the annual SOA Watch vigil at the gates.

Photos & Story by Clare Hanrahan

Folks I've just been down, down to Memphis town,
That's where the people smile, smile on you all the while.
Hospitality, they were good to me.
I couldn't spend a dime, and had the grandest time.

The Memphis Blues  (1912)
by W. C. Handy (music) and George A. Norton (lyrics)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"A Rose by any other name..."

New South Network of War Resisters' eclectic table of literature and info.
Dateline Johnson City, Tenn.
September 14, 2013

"A rose by any other name would smell 
as sweet."

Shakespeare's Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things "are."

The folks in Johnson City are demonstrating the truth of that adage.  They are keeping the best of the Occupy movement alive, building friendships throughout the mountain region, strengthening activism and  "promoting healthy communities through mutual aid."

Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity (EATS). put out the call to all comers for a "Free To You BBQ" on Saturday afternoon. And eat we did!  As a line up of talented mountain musicians kept the music flowing, a team of volunteers cooked up a feast seasoned with wide smiles and hearty hellos.

EATS organizer Lou P. on task at the BBQ
The picnic was held at the Old Kiwanis Park, a block or so from the James H Quillen V.A. Medical Center, so our assortment of literature from our Veterans for Peace 099 Chapter in Asheville was well received. 

Smiling servers at the "Free to You BBQ"
Many folks picked up copies of the War Crimes Times! which we distribute throughout the region, and keychains with the GI Rights Hotline Number. In the Volunteer State of Tennessee, there are many, many veterans struggling with the emotional and physical consequences of going to war.

Johnson City is just over the mountains from Asheville, NC. We crossed over the Appalachian Trail and past beautiful farmland and breathtaking mountain scenery.

"Mr. Paintman" mixing up colors
The beauty of Atomic Appalachia belies the nuclear dangers: We passed Erwin and the Nuclear Fuel Services Uranium enrichment facility that supplies fuel for the first-strike Trident Nuclear Submarines. We also drove  past the nearby road leading to the story-telling city of  Jonesborough, where one story is kept far too quiet: the presence of the Aero-Jet Ordnance weaponized uranium bullet factory, components of the widespread Military Industrial Complex that has such a devastating impact in the South.
Kevin, the Irish Balladeer

There were nice people everywhere in the park, sharing information, mountain music and art.

Coleman, who the kids came to call "Mr. Paint man"  brought cardboard and paint and set up a poster making table.  The kids loved it!
Something for Everyone at the EATS picnic

Clare was happy to see her old friend and fellow Irish traveller Retha Ferrell, who entertained us with mountain music under a shade tree, followed by Irish balladeer Kevin.   Inside, as folks shared the meal, two more lovely mountain musicians added their lilting voices to the day.

Thanks to  Everyone Acting Together in Solidarity( EATS!) and all who had a hand in making the gathering so fun.

Story and photos by Clare Hanrahan
On the Ground in the Southeast

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Weaving the Fabric of Resistance in Southeast

We've been asserting First Amendment rights in Asheville and throughout the Southeast this year, building relationships and alliances across issues and campaigns - working to stimulate strategic discussion on the environmental, economic, and cultural impacts of the Military Industrial Complex on the Southeast.

Backbone Campaign's Bill Moyers: Arrest  Rumsfeld!
In April we traveled to Dallas to join others who brought some truth telling to the ceremonial opening of the G.W. Bush "Lie-bury" at Southern Methodist University. It was good to be with such a feisty group of committed and capable organizers in Dallas. It was especially fun to have the opportunity to play in the streets and practice the craft of projection art with tactical arts master Bill Moyer of the  Backbone Campaign.

Clare and and her friend Kit Jones, a Fort Worth activist on the Move-On council and a sister SMU alumna, shared some luminous direct action, projecting "Arrest Bush" messages on the side of a downtown Dallas building.

New South Network's presentation War On Earth! Atomic Appalachia and the Militarized Southeast: Environmental Impact was well received,  both in Dallas and later back in Asheville at the National War Tax Resisters May gathering. As members of the local planning group, we organized and hosted this four day national convergence, providing local hospitality and program for scores of long-time war tax refusing activists, those just beginning war tax refusal and other interested persons.
NWTRCC Activists take to the streets in Asheville: Resisting War and Redirecting Resources

Linda Modica, Jerry Condon, Helen Jaccard & Coleman Smith
Following the NWTRCC gathering we welcomed to Asheville, Jerry Condon and Helen Jaccard, of VFP's Environmental Costs of War & Militarism National Working Group.  Linda Modica of nearby Jonesborough, Tenn. came to Asheville to talk about the work to expose Aero-Jet Ordnance DU weapons making and its environmental impacts in the tiny mountain community of Jonesborough.

As veteran peace activists and associate VFP members, we are collaborating with the VFP working group and others as we continue our travels in the militarized Southeast presenting on militarism's environmental impact. We are always appreciative of any help to keep us on the road.

 Asheville rally against Genetically Engineered Trees.
In May we participated as Legal Observers supporting a rally and week long series of events protesting Genetically Engineered Trees. The week of education and resistance, energized by  Earth First!, Global Justice Ecology Project and the STOP GE Trees Campaign, took place in conjunction with the International Tree Biotechnology 2013 Conference.

In mid July, we joined with Linda Modica, and other members of Erwin Citizens' Awareness Network to welcome the Chicago-based Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT ) Jonesborough, Tenn. for a week of research, canvassing, and action to draw attention to the environmental costs of depleted uranium weapons production at Aero-Jet Ordnance. CPT places teams at the invitation of local communities that are confronting situations of conflict, often in war zones. The DU munitions factory is located in the small mountain town of Jonesborough, Tennessee, known as the Storytelling Capital of the World. 
CPT: Telling the story: Weaponized Uranium in Jonesborough

There is a very dark story unfolding in Jonesborough. It is disconcerting to realize that this lovely, peaceful community  not only has DU contaminated water and soil within it's limits, and contributes to 95 miles of downstream and multi-state downwind radioactive contamination, but is also the site of an ongoing War Crime due to the nature of Depleted Uranium weapons' radioactive contamination of battlefields around the globe. Some of this radiation persists for billions of years affecting future generations with a silent killer. This is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions which prohibit the use of weapons with Inter-generational impact.  

With so many current sabres rattling to carry on the War Mongering Profiteering, where does a war resister turn next? 

Bro. Utsumi helps launch Peace Lanterns on Nagasaki Day
We remembered Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in early August. On the same day we could have been at a related Vigil at the gates of the Kings Bay Trident Nuclear Submarine Base in St. Mary's, Georgia. We had to miss the 30th year remembrance of the actions against the School of the Americas at the Gates of Fort Benning, Georgia on the same day.      
With Sr. Megan Rice at Courthouse

Sentencing in Knoxville is September 30th for the three Disarm Now Plowshares who took bold action to reveal the inherent insecurity of the Oak Ridge Nuclear Weapons Y-12 complex. 

Now there's Syria .... Please look us up again for more reports from the militarized Southeast and all the people rising to End This Perpetual War.

Report and Photos by Hanrahan & Smith: On the Ground in the Southeast