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Protests to mark Mother's Day at Wisconsin ELF site

Mother's Day is an antiwar holiday, despite what Hallmark says," says Joel Kilgour of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth. That statement, based on an 1870 Mother's Day proclamation by feminist and peace activist Julia Ward Howe calling for...

Mother's Day is an antiwar holiday, despite what Hallmark says," says Joel Kilgour of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth.
That statement, based on an 1870 Mother's Day proclamation by feminist and peace activist Julia Ward Howe calling for a congress of women to bring an end to war, explains why Kilgour and other activists will spend the holiday protesting Project ELF at Clam Lake, Wis.
"The Navy operates Project ELF and sends orders to its fast attack and Trident submarine fleet, and its connection with the Trident is the object of our protest, because the Trident submarine system is simply the deadliest, costliest and the most aggressive nuclear weapons system in history," said John LaForge, who works with Nukewatch in Luck, Wis.
"Project ELF exists only for an offensive nuclear war," adds Kilgour. "It doesn't have defensive capabilities."
Another objection is environmental. The communication system "constantly jolts the bedrock of northern Wisconsin with 3,000 kilowatts (3 million watts) of electricity in order to send messages to submarines," said a press release announcing the event. LaForge said researchers at Lac Courte Oreilles reservation are researching possible health effects.
Still, LaForge said his main concern is the "abominable" morality of Trident. "There is so much overkill capacity, and the consequences of threatening this kind of war are so ... well, in many people's view, the consequences are criminal."
He and the Nukewatch Web site ( http://www.nukewatch.com ) also cited international court rulings that bear out their criticism.
Kilgour outlined several American legal challenges to the project -- including proposed legislation and a passed referendum in Michigan to close a similar facility -- but each has been nullified on the grounds of alleged national security.
"All legal means have been exhausted, it seems," said Kilgour.
Protests at the site have been going for 25 years.
The weekend's events, sponsored by Nukewatch, Loaves and Fishes, Anathoth Community and another peace group, Food Not Bombs, kick off with a benefit concert Friday, May 12, at St. Scholastica's Mitchell Auditorium, headlined by singer-songwriter Dar Williams. The performance will be translated into American Sign Language. Cost is $18.50, $12 with a student ID. Tickets are available through the Mitchell box office, 723-7000. The concert benefits the homeless, Loaves and Fishes and Anathoth Farm.
Saturday, May 13, events continue with nonviolence training for the Mother's Day protest. The training runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Peace Church, 1015 E. 11th Street.
Finally, at 10 a.m. Mother's Day, protesters will caravan to the ELF site from the Dorothy Day House, 1712 E. Jefferson, and engage in a protest. Some protesters plan to engage in "civil resistance," risking arrest to draw attention to the cause. "The exact character of that situation ... will be chosen and developed by the people at the nonviolence training on Saturday," LaForge said.
Kilgour noted that legal protests, with no risk of arrest, will also be held, and said those engaging in civil resistance were required to have nonviolence training.
"We, as world citizens, have a duty to shut it down, to call our government to accountability to international laws and treaties and to take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary," said Kilgour.
The public is invited to participate in the protests. For more information,
call Loaves and Fishes at 724-2054.

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