Celebration that Baltimore is a legally binding Nuclear Free Zone
On January 22 at 4:30 PM, members of Baltimore’s activist community came out to celebrate that Baltimore is a legally binding Nuclear Free Zone. Eventually fifteen concerned citizens participated in the rally with many signs and banners on a very busy York Road suffering through a rainy and cold evening. Charlie Stevenson drove from Virginia to join us, and the comptroller of Baltimore City, Bill Henry was there. Lou Curran, one of the organizers of the rally, was instrumental in getting new NFZ signs placed around the City. And he had a letter to the editor published in the January 24th edition of The Baltimore Sun calling for a Nuclear Free World. See below the letter which describes the rally and details Bill Henry’s long quest for an end to nuclear arsenals. As a college student, for example, Bill was a member of Students for Social Responsibility.
See the enclosed photographs taken by Margaret Baldridge of some hearty souls holding up some very important anti-nuclear messages as legions of cars passed by. The gathering took place near the NFZ sign on York Road, just up from Gittings Avenue.
This day of the rally was chosen as on January 22, 2021 the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons took place. This historic treaty is international law in the 68 countries which ratified the TPNW.
The rally was organized by the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter Veterans for Peace, Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, Maryland Peace Action, Maryland CPUSA & Pax Christi Baltimore. The idea was to use the rally as a teaching moment. Speakers were to address various issues, including nuclear free zones, Back from the Brink, the TPNW, a Congressional resolution to support the Treaty, the DOOMSDAY CLOCK which is now 90 seconds to nuclear midnight, the campaign to remove US nuclear weapons from Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, and a Pastoral Letter by the Most Reverend John C. Wester, archbishop of Santa Fe.
Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to speaking out. So I was not able to remind those who gathered on January 22 that our colleague, John LaForge of Nukewatch, is serving fifty days in jail in Germany for protesting that US nuclear weapons were placed in Europe.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska met Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico in November during the US Conference of Bishops held in Baltimore. She was to share these thoughts about his pastoral letter in support of nuclear weapons abolition and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was shared with all the parishes in his diocese.
In the letter, Wester outlines the risks and consequences of the new nuclear arms race and highlights the unique role of New Mexico in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and of the Santa Fe diocese to support nuclear disarmament. He calls for an open dialogue on nuclear disarmament and redirecting resources from the nuclear arms race to peaceful objectives, like cleaning up nuclear contamination and addressing climate change.
New Mexico is at the heart of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, with two major nuclear weapons laboratories – the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories- located in the state and nearly 40% of the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons budget is allocated for work in New Mexico. It was also the site of the first nuclear test explosion in July 1945 and has the largest repository of nuclear weapons in the country.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a “special responsibility” he states, to support the TPNW and to encourage its active implementation. “It is the duty of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, to support that Treaty while working toward universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament,” Wester writes.
The Catholic Church has been a leading proponent of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which the Vatican has signed and ratified. At a Vatican-sponsored symposium in November 2017, the Pope said that the treaty “filled a significant juridical lacuna” and showed that “a healthy realism continues to shine a light of hope on our unruly world”. In a visit to Nagasaki in 2019 Pope Francis declared, “We must never grow weary of working to support the principal international legal instruments of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons.”
Should I received any other statements I will share them with you. In 2024, we will gather again in supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Working toward a nuclear-free world | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun
Jan 24, 2023 at 5:51 am
A Minuteman III missile is seen in a training launch tube at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. File. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) (Charlie Riedel/AP)
The enforceable Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and effective Jan. 22, 2021, is now two years old. In all, 68 nations have ratified it, declaring nuclear weapons illegal in their territories, and another 24 countries are actively in the process of doing so. Maryland nuclear weapons abolitionists celebrated the anniversary at the Baltimore-Baltimore County line on York Road, where one of the city’s road signs advises inbound travelers that they are entering a Nuclear-Free Zone (”U.S. must take action to prevent nuclear holocaust,” Dec. 2, 2022).
In 1992, Baltimore became the first major city to declare itself a nuclear-free zone, prohibiting all nuclear weapons-related activity within its boundaries. Violators face fines up to $1,000 per violation per day. Among the York Road celebrants was City Comptroller Bill Henry who worked with Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke to achieve unanimous passage of the NFZ ordinance. There are hundreds of NFZs around the United States including in Takoma Park, Garrett Park and Sykesville.
As a city councilman in 2018, Henry spearheaded the passage of Baltimore’s Back From The Brink resolution that has also been passed in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the city of Frederick. The resolution urges Congress to end several Cold War policies that many believe make a nuclear war more possible by accident, mistake or terrorist activity like keeping bombs on hair-trigger alert and giving the President of the United States the power to launch a nuclear strike without consultation. Congress has committed to upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal for $1.7 trillion, which Back From The Brink proponents demand be spent on domestic needs, including debt reduction, or not at all. A verifiable enforceable global nuclear disarmament treaty such as the UN Treaty, would make that $1.7 trillion expense unnecessary.
On Monday and Tuesday, Maryland pacifists are visiting the embassies of the nine nations that ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in the past year, delivering colorful formal certificates of appreciation and symbolic bouquets, as it did at the embassies of the 59 nations which had ratified the treaty by its first anniversary.
Prevent Nuclear War Maryland, an all-volunteer coalition, urges Marylanders to let their member of Congress know if they want to live in a world without nuclear weapons.
— Lou Curran, Baltimore
Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212. Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
“The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose–especially their lives.” Eugene Victor Debs