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Peace Activists Go to Court after Civil Disobedience Action at the UN

Published August 23, 2022

Photo by Ed Hedemann.

Eleven peace activists appeared in NYC Municipal Court on Monday, August 22, 2022. They had been arrested on August 2nd during a civil disobedience action in front of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, while diplomats from around the world gathered at the UN for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The activists represented several peace groups committed to ending the threat of nuclear weapons.

At the press conference outside the courthouse after their court appearance, the activists explained their reasons for drawing attention to the continuing and, indeed, heightened threat of nuclear weapons with an act of civil disobedience.

Breaking news that Russia has rejected the call to create a demilitarized zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant and its six nuclear reactors has heightened concern about an imminent nuclear disaster worse than Chernobyl. This year, before war broke out in Ukraine, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight stressing the alarming rise in international tensions and the lack of progress on reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.

The purpose of the Non-Proliferation Treaty — which went into force in 1971 — was to work towards the ultimate goal of global nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, more than 50 years later, humanity still faces annihilation from the nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons held by nine nations around the world. Ninety percent (90%) of these weapons are held by the United States and Russia.

Because there has been so little progress made in the past five decades towards disarmament, the protestors (see sponsor list below) gathered in protest to draw attention to the NPT and the urgent need for nuclear abolition.

Poignantly, the August 2nd protest included some activists who participated in the largest anti-nuclear march in US history, which took place on June 12th, 1982. These activists gathered again in Manhattan, more than 40 years later, to renew their call for an end to nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war.

Since the United States initiated the nuclear arms race in 1945 and is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war, the protestors demanded that the United States initiate a global nuclear disarmament race that would include:

• Stop proliferation of nuclear weapons by dismantling nuclear reactors

• Redirect resources from the military to meet human needs and repair the planet

• End military interventions in other countries

• Each nuclear armed country announce during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference an immediate and significant step towards disarmament, and a plan to dismantle nuclear weapons and safely dispose of nuclear wastes

• Disarm unilaterally, starting with nuclear weapons

• Sign, ratify and implement the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons


Statement from Anti-Nuclear Activist John Breitbart

John Breitbart is a longtime peace activist and is involved with NYC War Resisters League.

August 22nd, 2022

Forty years ago, 1,700 protestors sat down in the doorways of the Missions to the United Nations of the five major nuclear powers: U.S., Soviet Union, China, Britain, and France. Their arrest put a spotlight on the countries responsible for the terror of the cold war and proliferation of Armageddon-based military power.

The coalition that sponsored this mass civil disobedience followed the largest antinuclear demonstration in American history that filled Central Park with a million people. This 1982 demonstration followed the first nuclear bomb explosion in 1945 by 38 years. In these next 38 years the world’s nuclear powers amassed over 57 thousand nuclear warheads.

In 1982 the world’s attention was focused on the hair trigger danger of the possibility of unimaginable destruction.

So here we are today, 40 years later, people have come to accept nuclear weapons as just matters of fact. Thousands of disaster movies later, people have grown accustomed to experiencing horror as a popular form of entertainment. The Department of War is now known as the Department of Defense, and its publicists devote much effort to hiding the truth of what it does while it soothes the public into accepting the logic and the expense of the people’s war machine.

Now 11 people have been arrested blocking the door of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. and their action has received almost no attention, even from progressive media outlets.

Today the press in America talks about Trump’s Big Lie about him winning the election. But we need to remind people of a greater untruth. The Big Lie of militarism and of the continuing nuclear arms race has two parts: one, that nuclear weapons offer safety and two, that guns provide freedom.

Such lies need to be challenged and resisted with the power of nonviolence. Militarism is The Biggest Lie and all of us need to stop it.

No Nukes – For Life and For Planet!


Organizational sponsors of the August 2nd, 2022 protest action were: NYC War Resisters League, World Can’t Wait, Pax Christi NY State, Peace Action NYS, Brooklyn for Peace, Catholic Worker, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World, NY Metro Raging Grannies, Code Pink, Kairos Community, The Nuclear Resister, Extinction Rebellion Peace, Uptown Progressive Action, Nukewatch, Veterans for Peace/Chapter 34, Rise & Resist, Brandywine Peace Community, and Granny Peace Brigade.

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