Walking along Broadway in Boulder last Saturday, I passed excited people and families, some with guns, flags unfurling in the breeze, holding signs like “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Keep Calm & Carry a .45.” It was a gun rights rally. An hour earlier on the corner had been a Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center anti-war demonstration with peace activists and their signs opposing violence. And lately, the March for our Lives movement has been challenging the violent status quo in the United States and changing deeply rooted and prejudicial thinking.
I was reminded of Toni Morrison: “Forcing a nation to use force is easy when the citizenry is rife with discontent, experiencing feelings of a powerlessness that can be easily soothed by violence.”
This weekend, we are celebrating the yearlong effort by peace activists 40 years ago to stop plutonium pit production for nuclear weapons at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons plant 8 miles south of Boulder — lengthy, passionate peace activism versus perhaps the ultimate AK-47s, nuclear weapons. They camped in order to make a round-the-clock demonstration and blocked trains from leaving or entering the complex.
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the demonstrators: “The Rocky Flats Truth Force was a grass-roots nonviolent, anti-nuclear group formed during protests at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons plant. Demonstrations and railroad track blockages at the Rocky Flats Plant in 1978 resulted in multiple arrests of the protesters. The Rocky Flats Plant was a U.S. nuclear weapons complex that operated from 1952 until 1992, creating considerable radioactive contamination.”
This year is also the 40th anniversary of KGNU Radio, an independent, noncommercial, community radio station “for Boulder, Denver and beyond.” And we’re celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, born to carry on the spirit of nonviolent resistance.
Tonight is the opening night of “Facing Rocky Flats” at the Boulder Public Library. It is a group exhibit preceding the planned public opening of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge using art and oral history to explore the past, present and future of the contentious site.
A day of panel presentations follows on Saturday at Unity Spiritual Center, at Folsom and Valmont, with three food trucks gathering at noon, capped by a live Skype interactive talk with former military analyst Dan Ellsberg in the evening. Look for films at the library and attend a Joanna Macy-influenced workshop Sunday at Naropa. Visit RMPJC.org for more information.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.