In the early 1960s, the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) frequently staged protest demonstrations at and around the General Dynamics: Electric Boat facility in Groton, Connecticut — the place where some of the world’s first nuclear-armed submarines were being built at the time. Many of those CNVA EB demonstrations involved attempts by young activists to physically block, board, or otherwise disrupt the launch of those submarines. They used canoes, other small boats, or just their bodies swimming in the Thames River to disrupt public ceremonies, drawing attention to the fact that 1) there were people in their community who had deep and well-considered misgivings about the area’s involvement in producing such weapons, and that 2) even just a few strong swimmers or paddlers armed with nothing but their convictions could outmaneuver dozens of other military watercraft and reach the nuclear leviathan to pose the question: were these weapons really worth the taxpayer money and the danger of annihilation?
Neither the CNVA nor modern anti-sub activists have expected their demonstrations to immediately end the construction of nuclear submarines in southeastern Connecticut. Instead, these groups have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate to bear witness to the tragedy of our area’s nuclear-armed submarine manufacturing: weapons ostensibly designed for the express purpose of killing as many people as we can after we have already lost a nuclear war. Transforming society most often requires community organizing, collective action, and large systemic changes — but those things don’t happen overnight. They start with small groups and actions that eventually grow, inspire more acts, and build more momentum, until they become an unstoppable force.
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The CT Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons organizes pro-disarmament demonstrations throughout the year. To participate in these demonstrations against nuclear arms and in support of the UN’s Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, please get in touch with us on Facebook at facebook.com/voluntownpeacetrust or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“Crisis and the Individual.” Polaris Action Bulletin. 6 May 1961 (Bulletin #22), insert.
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