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Divine Strake Protest


Jim McMahon arrested at Divine Strake protest

MERCURY, Nevada - About 150 people peacefully demonstrated on Sunday May 28, 2006 to stop the planned Divine Strake bomb test at the Nevada Test Site. More than 40 were cited for trespassing on federal land when they crossed over onto the site.

The Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency planned the 700-ton Ammonium Nitrate fuels explosion to test the effects of ground shock on hardened targets, but critics worry that such a large blast will disrupt radioactive particles left over from Cold-War era atomic testing there as well as send ammonium nitrate drifting for hundreds of miles throughout the West.

For some at Sunday's protest, it was about more than the health consequences of the large blast.

A large portion of the group comprised members of the Western Shoshone Nation and supporters who argue that the test site - along with most of Nevada and parts of California, Idaho and Utah - is still Western Shoshone land. They say the federal government is violating the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley by testing weapons there.

Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said part of the demonstration was to remind the U.S. government it is trespassing on the land of a sovereign state, the Western Shoshone Nation.

As the large group marched up to the test site entrance, Goldtooth told the security guards why they had gathered.

"Your government has contaminated this land - has abused this land," he said. "But we are here in peace."

To prove their point, about 40 demonstrators crossed over the boundary onto the site in an act of civil disobedience. Site security provided by NSA and Nye County, Nev., sheriff's deputies arrested those crossing the line and escorted them to a nearby holding facility. Organizers expected security to release them within a few hours, as they have at similar demonstrations.

All those crossing the line had permits from the Western Shoshone to be on the land and argued that the government troops and sheriff were the ones trespassing, not them.

"This is treaty land," said one Shoshone man as he stepped over the line. "You're in violation of the treaty. We're not breaking the law; you're the ones breaking the law."



Gathering before the gate



Waiting at the gate



In the 'lockup'


In the pen with Will Parrish and Father Louie Vitale. We were cited for trespassing on federal land, though whether we were or not is debatable.'s the thing: I don't think we need to blow up bombs and have contamination drift to places where people live. And I happen to live downwind of this site. I don't think we should aerial spray pesticides as BLM plans to do on 1 million acres of land in the West. I don't think that government should lie to its citizens or that people should claim to know an answer when they don't. And we, as proud Americans, are obliged to speak on behalf of truth. You may learn more about the fight against nuclear proliferation here:

As Shoshone elder Carrie Dann, a grandmother, says:

"Enough is enough."

The Pentagon and Defense Threat Reduction Agency announced that Divine Strake has been cancelled as of February 22, 2007. Read about it in this Las Vegas Review-Journal article.Thank you to the many who submitted their comments and lobbied their legislators! NDE's Stop Divine Strake webpage.



James P McMahon ecologist

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