ELF Goes to War
by Cory Bartholomew and Bonnie Urfer
In response to the US-led bombing of Yugoslavia - its towns, bridges, trains, power stations, and even a prison - peace activists have held four protests at the gates of Project ELF calling for its shut-down.
Nukewatch confirmed in April that Project ELF is likely being used to aid in the horrendous submarine and jet bomber attacks. Dozens of Tomahawk Cruise missiles have been fired into the Balkans from the USS Miami and the USS Norfolk, US Navy fast attack submarines positioned in the Adriatic Sea. According to Rob Aiksnoras of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island, who spoke with staffer John LaForge April 12, "Presumably they can 'task' Miami to receive" [messages from ELF] because "all subs have ELF receivers."
|Bonnie Urfer sits at the main gate of Project
in a "No Business as Usual" action in
opposition to the bombings of Kosovo.
Thirty-five demonstrators attend an April 18 protest at the Wisconsin ELF site, where Nukewatch staffer Bonnie Urfer used kryptonite bicycle locks to shut down the main gate. One lock was attached to the fence and one around her neck. It took ELF employees and sheriff's deputies about two hours to remove the locks, cite and release Urfer. Four other protesters were taken into custody and transported to the sheriff's department in Ashland.
Nukewatch later learned that Navy officers would be at the site April 20 for an "inspection." Navy brass are rarely seen at ELF so once again, resisters gathered to oppose its use in the planning or commission of war crimes. By the 20th, all trace of the April 18 action had been erased: The gate was freshly painted, chalk warnings ["NATO crime scene"] were washed from the road. Sheriff's deputies informed us that ELF staff had for days been polishing floors, washing windows and voiding all traces of ELF opposition. It should be so easy to abolish war.
Trespassers have been given citations ranging from $181 to $209. Those choosing not to pay fines are likely to lose their Wisconsin driving privileges for up to 5 years. A federal law makes suspension of one state's driving privileges active for all 50 states.
The US Forest Service and the Navy are pushing ahead with a so-called
"ELF Improvement Plan," but it's anyone's guess as to why.
At an estimated cost of $2 million, each of the following excuses is mentioned
by one source or another as a reason for the "improvement," scheduled
for completion sometime in 2002:
1) to save on power costs;
2) for annual certification;
3) for more efficient grounding of the current:
4) for performance improvement;
5) to improve the safety of the line;
6) to improve the ecological review of aquatic systems;
7) to reduce the cost of manually evaluating the ecological review;
8) to reduce stray voltage; or
9) to strengthen the world-wide communications power of the system.
The US Navy says it wants to eliminate as much of the buried horizontal wire as possible. Copper electrodes will be inserted in up to ten, 100-foot shafts. The electrodes are intended to distribute the millions of watts of electricity that the system jolts deep into the Earth. The existing cable is buried horizontally six feet beneath the surface.
Thirty acres of the Chequamegon National Forest will be razed for this "improvement." Vice Admiral Robert J. Natter, director of the Navy's Space, Information, Warfare, Command and Control, said Dec. 9 last year, "Once design work is completed, it will be submitted to the US Forest Service for approval before any permission to begin construction is given." The US Forest Service says the public comment period for the ELF improvement plan begins in July and will last for 30 days. Send your comments to: District Ranger, Great Divide Ranger District, PO Box 126, Highway 13, Glidden WI 54527, phone (715) 264-2511.
For the 12th Mothers' Day in a row, peace activists gathered in Northern Wisconsin to resist Project ELF and celebrate the original anti-war intent of Mothers' Day. "Moms Not Bombs" was the theme as people from around the Great Lakes region gathered at Anathoth Community Farm and Project ELF for a weekend of food, music, fun and nonviolent resistance.
In 1870 Julia Ward Howe delivered her Mothers' Day Proclamation urging mothers to stop sending their sons to war against other mothers' sons.
Saturday's events included a mock trial starring ELF resister Mary Alice Shemo, of Pittsburgh, PA, who used the event to prepare for her May 11 bench trial. During the real trial, Shemo was denied a defense by Ashland County Judge Robert Eaton. The Judge found her guilty of trespass stemming from the M. L. King Day action, and because she refused to pay a fine, sentenced Shemo to nine days in jail.
|Maggie Drew blows out 80 Birthday candles at Project
ELF on Mothers'
Day and was one of 11 people arrested for opposing the submarine
On Sunday, May 9, about 100 people gathered at Project ELF where we met our guest of honor Maggie Drew, co-chair of MN Metro Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Drew chose to celebrate her 80th birthday by resisting ELF. Maggie was the founder of the Mothers' Day protests at Project ELF in 1987. In 1989 she celebrated her 70th birthday by crossing the same line. Other speakers included Jeanne Larson, of Cable, with members of the 1984 "Women's Peace Presence at Project ELF," long-time peace activist Gail Vaughn and disarmament activist Donna Howard-Hastings.
The whole group began using yarn to tie the entry shut with a colorful "web of life." Eleven individuals who wove the front gate closed were arrested for trespassing. They were ordered to pay $209 or face jail time and the loss of their driving privileges.
As long as it's been "tasked" to threaten and wage war, we've been "tasked" to resist ELF.