Peace Activists Hold Annual Los Alamos Protest

Rev. James Lawson, left, meets with fellow demonstrators at Sunday’s Rally at Ashley Pond Park. The man at right wears sackcloth in repentance for the bombing of Nagasaki during World War II. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Giant peace statue moves through the crowd at Sunday’s rally.  Bonnie J. Gordon/
Los Alamos Daily Post

Peace activists returned to Los Alamos Sunday for a rally commemorating the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.

Activists also were in town Thursday for the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The two events were part of the Campaign Nonviolence National Conference, which took place in Santa Fe Aug. 6-9. More than 300 people attended Sunday’s event.

First, the group walked up Trinity Drive in sack cloth and ashes, and offered 30 minutes of silent prayers of repentance for what the action’s website calls “the mortal sin of nuclear weapons.”

Next, the group returned to the Ashley Pond Park stage to hear from a number of nationally prominent speakers. The stage was decorated with 10,000 origami “peace cranes,” thousands of which came from inmates at San Quentin prison.

Beata Tsosie Pena of Santa Clara Pueblo addresses the crowd. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/

“The head people” have forgotten their connection with the earth, said Beata Tsosie Pena of Tewa Women United. “We had to sacrifice our forests so the waste dump [at Los Alamos National Laboratory] didn’t catch fire,” she said. She was presumably referring to the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000 and/or the Las Conchas Fire in 2011.

Speaking of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility (CMRR), the construction of which has been delayed, Pena said, “We need to keep our eyes on this place so it doesn’t expand production.”

The facility is controversial because critics argue it will allow for expanded production of plutonium pits and therefore could be used to manufacture new nuclear weapons.

Rev. James Lawson speaks at Sunday’s rally. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/

Civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson spoke next. Lawson was a leading theoretician and tactician of nonviolent protest during the America Civil Rights Movement. He continues to train activists in nonviolent protest.

Lawson said the U.S. should repent for the “cultural attack on indigenous people” that has taken place in our country and include Native Americans in planning for the 21st century.

“My country, the U.S.A., is the number one enemy of freedom, justice and peace in the world today,” Lawson said. “Trillions of dollars are spent on weapons, but we have no money to spend on our children’s health and education.”

Kathy Kelly receives the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation annual Peace Prize from Michael Knox. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Michael Knox of the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation presented its annual Peace Prize to Kathy Kelly at the event. Kelly is a long time peace activist, author, lecturer, and co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kelly has journeyed to Afghanistan 14 times since 2010, where she has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in Kabul.

“We think today of the children who are not with us today,” Kelly said of bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Kelly said that the U.S. has not been waging a “humanitarian war” in Afghanistan and that the U.S. should pay reparations for the suffering caused in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

“We must understand the violence we have released. The most important thing we should say is we’re sorry,” she said.

Kelly claimed we have waged war against Iran as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kenneth Mayers, left, co-founder of the Santa Fe chapter of Veterans for Peace, shares a laugh with event organizer John Dear. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Event organizer, former Jesuit priest and longtime peace activist, John Dear ended the gathering with a prayer. “Help us to build a new world without war … as we leave this place, in spite of atomic weapons, let us go forth in peace and in strength,” he said.
Crowd listens to speakers at Sunday’s rally. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/
Protest signs scattered in front of the stage at Ashley Pond. Photo by Bonnie J. Gordon/


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