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TORONTO – The Cruise Missile Conversion Project marked the 39th anniversary of the August 9th bombing of Nagasaki with a day of remembrance and resistance at Litton Systems Industries in Rexdale. (Litton manufactures the guidance system for the cruise missile.)
Over 50 people took part in the commemoration, including 23 who were involved in the civil disobedience action. The day started with a procession to Litton, followed by a commemoration service at the main gates which ended with the placement of wreaths and tombstones against the fence of the plant.
On the tombstones were the names of Asian countries and islands that had suffered through wars since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “We wanted to remember not only the victims of Nagasaki, but all the others who have died in Asia as the result of incessant warfare since the end of World War II,” said Dan Anstett, one of those involved in the civil disobedience action.
Anstett pointed out that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the only time that nuclear weapons have been used in Asia. “They have been used, like a gun pointed at someone’s head, to threaten,” said Anstett, and he cited Korea and Vietnam as occasions when the U.S. actually threatened to use nuclear weapons.
The protestors also wanted to remember those who died as a result of testing in the Pacific.
Shortly after the commemoration service, 23 people began a blockade of the main gates, which caused quite a traffic snarl as the morning shift began to come in. After about 30 minutes police arrested all 23 and charged them with mischief.
The 50 non-violent demonstrators were met by well over 100 police.
One of the protestors, Paula Rochman of the Cruise Missile Conversion Project (CMCP), suggested that the police are cooperating with Litton to discourage the demonstrations.
“It has been demonstrated repeatedly,” Rochman said, “that Litton is working directly with the police to stop our non-violent demonstrations.” According to Rochman, the police arrested the wrong people.
“We were arrested for interfering with the lawful use of property,” she said, “but is the guidance sytem for a first strike destabilizing nuclear weapon lawful? Certainly not. It violates moral and international law, we have also tried to show how it violates Canadian law.”
In addition to the arrests, the police followed people as they left the demonstration, barricaded the police station to prevent supporters from going inside, and arrested three people for unpaid fines, two of whom elected to stay in jail rather than pay their fines.
A bail condition that they could not go back to Litton was imposed on all of the demonstrators, an action which many people felt was a violation of their rights. Eleven people stayed in the Metro West Detention Centre overnight rather than sign the bail conditions. The bail conditions were dropped for the women the following morning, but, despite an attempt by the group’s lawyer, Charles Roach, bail conditions were not dropped for the men. Further court action is planned on the restrictive condition.
Trial dates are planned for December 4 and 10, 1984.
The Nagasaki action was supported by 10 people from Covenant for Peace, a Michigan-based peace group who are working to oppose the production of cruise missile engines at Williams International in Walled Lake, Michigan.