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Hilo Peace Vigil on Friday, July 17

July l8, 2009 Marks 25th Anniversary of the Hilo nuclear warship swimming blockade

I, Jim Albertini, organizer of the blockade, extend an open invitation to come and join the Friday, July 17, 2009 –Hilo Peace Vigil now in its 409th consecutive week. We will have an open microphone to share thoughts for peace, then and now. I will talk story about the blockade, the journey to prison and beyond.

Today in 2009, it has been confirmed there is military radiation contamination on Hawaii Island from weapons training at the Pohakuloa Training Area. In July 2008 the Hawaii County Council voted 8-1to call for a halt to all live-fire at Pohakuloa, and a clean up of the radiation along with several other points of action. Once again, the military arrogantly ignores the call to action.

The Nuremberg principles established following WWII state that citizens have a moral and legal duty to act in resistance to the crimes of their government. What was applied to Nazi Germany needs also to be applied to the U.S.A.

Silence and indifference in such times, then and now, is not acceptable. Break the silence. Come alive. Speak out and act for justice and peace. Stop the Wars. End U.S. occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Hawaii, etc.

Jim Albertini

Some background:

In l98l the Hawaii County Council unanimously passed an historic law –the first in the U.S. declaring Hawaii County a Nuclear-Free Zone.

The military ignored the law, sending in nuclear-powered and/or armed warships on junkets. For 3 years peace activist politely asked the military to respect the Nuclear-Free law. Copies of the ordinance were presented to Navy ship captains. Picket lines were set up of the visiting nuclear ships for the Merrie Monarch Festival, and the Festival of the Pacific sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. Besides –what’s merry or festive about a nuclear warship. It’s a death machine with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).

Finally in June of l984, Malu ‘Aina announced that a non-violent blockade would take place for the next ship if the military kept ignoring the law. The drama began. The Navy asked the Coast Guard to declare civilian Hilo Bay a security zone where people would be subject to felony violations if they entered anywhere in the Bay to protest the entrance of the Nuclear warship on the day of its arrival. County Council chair Steven Yamashiro called emergency sessions of the council to amend the nuclear-free law to “EXEMPT” THE MILITARY. That would be like having a no smoking law and exempt the smokers. The law was rushed through in what appeared to be a clear violation of the sunshine law requirements of proper notice. The questionable legal amendment was signed into law the day before the ship arrived.

On July l8, l984 hundreds of people gathered in protest on the Hilo docks. I had numerous phone call death threats that if I even showed up on the docks on July l8, l984 I would be shot dead between the eyes. There was a charged atmosphere in the community.
Dozens of people expressed interest in jumping in the bay to protest the warship. As a leader, I urged caution. I told people not to do the right thing for the wrong reason. With possible serious consequences of physical injury or death and the risk of a felony conviction, I urged people NOT to act unless they had thoroughly discussed the situation with family and searched their motivations and conscience.

Given the heavy-handed military response of Navy Seals, helicopters, speed boats, zodiacs, and several Coast Guard Cutters, escorting the USS Ouellet nuclear armed-warship Hilo Bay looked like a Persian Gulf war zone.
In the end, three of us entered the water as a symbolic protest to uphold the spirit, if not the letter of Hawaii County’s Nuclear-Free Law. We swam toward the warship and help our hands up to say “STOP”. Indeed the warship was stopped if only for a brief time before Warren Wineman –a former Naval officer, Jim Snyder, and myself were arrested.

We were tried in U.S. Federal Court before visiting Judge Spenser Williams from California, a former 25 year Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy. He declared our Nuclear-Free law irrelevant along with the Nuremberg conventions and other international law that condemns weapons of mass destruction. Basically denied a defense, we were speedily convicted and I was sentenced the very next day to 3 years in Federal prison and ordered into custody within 2 weeks. The judge then left town like a Mafia hit man. My co-defendants were sentenced later –by a different judge. Warren Wineman (who lost his job as a Bishop Insurance salesman) was not given jail time but was fined $l0,000. Jim Snyder was given 60 days in jail

I spent the entire year of l988 and part of l989 in Federal custody at a variety of prisons. I was kicked out of federal prison after a little more than l year mainly because of international protest. But a year in prison is still a long time for a swim for peace.

Jim Albertini

Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action
P.O.Box AB
Kurtistown, Hawai’i 96760
phone: 808-966-7622
Visit us on the web at:

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