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Hiroshima Walk: Rocky Flats, CO

Isn't Boulder where Mork From Ork lived?
Our first day in Boulder, CO. Pretty hip happening town. I haven't been able to hook up with any of the IMC people. I wrote them a couple of times years ago (or at least it seems like that now) and never received anything but a form email saying I can post my news on the newswire. I should've posted a newswire.

We're staying at Polly's tonight and people are coming back from the Hiroshima Flame presentation. I left early to get some work done and was able to go through the pictures I took - I haven't yet hit saturation point on photos of the walkers. I still have to go through audio and, man, I haven't had any time to get to the majority of audio I've collected. OK, its getting noisy and I'm anticipating the first, "Are you online?"

The day in Boulder started out downtown at the peace pole. I got a ride down there with Polly who was nice enough to show me where the Naropa Institute is - it certainly looks nice. Boulder was starting to get on my list of places to check out after the walk is over but everyone's going on about how high the cost of living is here. Damn internet economy.

About 80 people joined us on the walk for this lovely Sunday afternoon. We got started at 12:30 and we're only doing 12 miles. Easy except for all the hills and the fact that we're a mile above sea level. Since we're going through town and don't want to bother with police they're making us walk single file - makes me reminisce about "Who's streets? Our streets." I spent the first part of the walk wishing things were a bit more radical and noisy. I've been having some doubts about my own commitment to non-violence and for now I'll just say that from the conversations I've been having there is a big gray area around the dividing line between violent and non-violent actions and that gray area seems pretty interesting.

I first spoke with Mejaera, who moved to Boulder a couple of years ago. She complained bitterly of commercial news and the absence of substantial news in mass media. She's taken on the task of gathering pertinent news (she likes Democracy Now - but who doesn't?) and trying to spread news herself. There's been many stumbling blocks but the one she's found to be the biggest is the fact that many Americans are not willing to believe what their government is really doing in the name of freedom. We spoke at length of current affairs. I'm thankful to find people who can tell me what's happening out there since I don't really have the resources to do that on the walk. While its sad to hear what's going on out there in the world it helps me to know what to do out here.

Majaera also told me an interesting story of an Iranian women she met in Idaho Fallsin 1979. The woman was Iranian but grew up in Sweden. Her father worked in research at the INEEL and Majaera noted on her yearly visits that he always seemed healthy but when he retired in his mid 50s he died rather quickly and found his body to be riddled with cancers. He was supposed to retire with awards and commendations. After he died, they would not give the awards to his wife as well as some money and any kind of written commendation. On top of that, FBI agents were sent to the widow's house and accused her and her family of sending nuclear secrets to Iran. Rouhani.

The ceremony at Rocky Flats was cool. We were able to sit next to the Rocky Flats sign without having to worry about "traffic". After the chanting, we created a circle around a group of Native drummers who tried to get a circle dance going but perhaps we were a bit too walked out to dance. There was a young man who sang and danced his heart out. I didn't get his name but more power to him. Tom closed the event with a peace smoke to all the walkers.

I spoke with Patrick from DOE on some of the cleanup efforts of RF. At first he mentioned that all the wastes and the buildings of RF will be gone from the area. Most of it will be buried at Carlsbad and RF will turn into a national park. I asked him some more questions and then brought up something I read on how the DOE is turning radioactive sites into wildlife refuges because complete clean up is impossible and since humans don't live in wildlife refuges complete cleanup isn't needed. He went back and said complete cleanup is impossible and said something about how we gotta keep in mind that uranium is a naturally occurring element. Hmmmmm....

After the walk, I talked with Ellen of KGNU (88.5 FM next time your in the area - I hear its supposed to be almost as cool as KBOO) who gave me a short history of the demonstrations at Rocky Flats (RF). RF started off around '57 and was a manufacturing point of nuclear triggers. Protests have been on going since 1976 and a huge protest went down in 1978. In April of that year a massive civil disobedient action was to take place. Protestors were going to sit down on the train tracks to RF. Organizers told the cops that a sit-down on the train tracks were being planned but would only take place on Sunday and the tracks would be cleared for business as usual on Monday. Monday came and the protestors did not move. Security said no big deal since we don't use those tracks anyway. Still the protestors did not move. In fact they started talking about starting up a Peace University on the tracks. That's when the arrests happened and just in time since a blizzard was on its way in. It was after this protest that people started realizing that RF was a major center for the nuclear arms industry.

Since then, there's been a variety of different types of protests that have taken place at RF. There's even been a Nipponzan Myohoji monk, Sawada, who's led numerous peace walks there.

Ellen also told me an interesting story of an Aztec dancer and traditional healer from Mexico who's been married to a US citizen since 1996 and with whom he fathered a child in 2000. He was denied entry into the US in August of 2001 after he admitted to a doctor that he had used peyote. When you enter this country, they not only ask you if you are a communist or anarchist but they run a variety of medical tests and exams on you, including HIV testing. The doctor ran through the typical drug use questions and unfortunately for the man, he said yes he had used hallucinogens. He tried to explain to the doctor that for him as well as for many others, Peyote is a sacred medicine. The doctor would not listen and classified him as a drug abuser. With this classification there are no appeals. He has one year before he can try again to enter the US but its unsure what this prior classification will have on his outcome. Freedom of religion?

Dinner was a big feast held at the Friend's house. I'm really amazed by the genorosity of the Quakers. The walkers thank them deeply. Ah, so tomorrow is another day....