Protest planned for Saturday

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By Tris DeRoma

PAX Christi New Mexico, led by anti-nuclear activist Father John Dear, plans to arrive at Ashley Pond Park at 2 p.m. Saturday to remember the 71st anniversary of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.
The event will begin with speeches from Dear and members of the group, followed by a march up Trinity Avenue to the boundaries of Los Alamos National Laboratory at Omega Bridge. The group will carry sackcloths and ashes.
They will then walk back to Ashley Pond Park to meditate and pray. The event will last until 4 p.m.
The sackcloth and ashes protest is taken from the biblical text found in the Book of Jonah. God was angry with people the citizens of a city called Nineveh. To repent for their sins, the citizenry wore sackcloth and poured ashes on their bodies as a form of repentance for their sins.  
Dear said that Los Alamos National Laboratory and the people that work there must repent for their participation in the manufacture of nuclear weapons, he said. He said that what they’re doing is a sin against mankind.
“We call upon all people of faith, especially Christians, to quit their jobs at Los Alamos,” Dear said. “You cannot be a follower of Jesus who said to love your enemies, and still build nuclear weapons. It doesn’t work. We’re taking our cause to a higher power and we are praying for nuclear disarmament.”
Though there may be discussion and speeches at the event, it is a nonviolent group and will “protest” in a peaceful way.
“We are calling for what we’ve always have, the closing of the labs and an immediate end to nuclear weapons, so that money will go into environmental cleanup, funding nonviolent global conflict resolution, especially in these violent times,” Dear said. “We all think that nuclear weapons are useless. They are the ultimate form of terrorism. No one should be building nuclear weapons anymore.“
When asked about what he thought of President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima this year, Dear said he didn’t do enough.
“More money is going to Los Alamos and other places under his leadership than…in decades,” Dear said. “So, I don’t believe President Obama. I’m glad he went, but if he were serious about the dangers of nuclear weapons, then he should be working to end them, not fund them and rebuild Los Alamos so we can make them better and vaporize more people.”
LANL did not have any direct comments about Pax Christi’s pending visit Saturday, but referred the Los Alamos Monitor to an editorial Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan gave in 2013.
“Our mission is as important as ever,” McMillan said in 2013.
“It’s important to remember the President’s words during a speech in Prague in 2009. He spoke of his goal of a world without nuclear weapons – but he also said this might take decades or a lifetime. As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective deterrent. Los Alamos will continue to play its key role.”
Last year Pax Chrisit had 300 to 400 people, but this year Dear expects a smaller crowd.
“This is the 13th year and row we’ve been there,” Dear said. “I know this year a number of Buddhists are going to be joining us, but I think the numbers are going to be much smaller.”