Aug 15

July 17, 2013 – Week #31


It was sunny and I was by myself.

A man and a woman walked out of the Irving Shipyard and past me down Barrington Street. I gave them my usual “Happy Wednesdays against Warships” greeting. I felt something odd about them.

A young navy guy then stood beside me at the crosswalk. I said hello and asked him how long he has been in the navy.

“Two years,” he replied.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great,” he said.

“Why?” I wondered.

“Because I like the guys, they are good to work with,” he explained.

“Have you sailed to the Middle East?” I asked.

“No, just down to Virginia,” he said.

“What do you guys do down in Virginia?” I asked.

All of a suddne, he got all flustered and stammered“I don’t know. I don’t know. I have only been in the navy for a year” and quickly walked away.

Across the street, an attractive, middle-aged woman walked by and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up. I could feel her solidarity sister vibe.

A young, smartly dressed woman walked out of the DND dockyard and up to the crosswalk. I have seen her before but have never said more than my usual greeting. She was by herself this time, so I asked her how long she has been working at Irving.

“I work for DND and I have been there for five years,” she replied.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great,” she said and crossed the street.

Then, the odd man and woman who walked by me at the beginning of my protest walked back to the shipyard and passed by me closely. I could see that they were wearing Lockheed Martin lanyards around their necks. No wonder I felt a bad vibe about them!

“Oh, Lockheed Martin is the worst company in the world!” I said to them, “The world’s largest weapons manufacturer. The ship contract is guaranteed to be a boondoggle with Lockheed’s involvement. Look at your failed Littoral Combat Vessel program in the US.”

“The worst company?” the man said incredulously and kept walking.

“Yes,” I shouted, “The worst.”

As I was returning to my car across the street with my signs, a young engineer walked by and said, “I agree with you.”

“You saw me protesting?” I asked.

“Yes, I was watching you as I walked down the hill,” he said smiling and carried on to the shipyard.

I got 14 honks and waves and no negativity.

Dedication – To the memory of Trayvon Martin – the 17-year old black boy in Florida who was killed while walking home with ice tea and Skittles to share with his younger brother. My heart breaks for him and his family. On July 13, George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. So many black teenagers and men are stopped, frisked, arrested, beaten and imprisoned in the United States. Justice for Black America! Justice for Black Canadians too!

And in solidarity with the work and words of black leader, Dr. Cornel West. West gave an impassioned interview on Democracy Now! about the verdict “Cornel West: Obama’s Response to Trayvon Martin Case Belies Failure to Challenge ‘New Jim Crow’”.  West said that Obama was a “Global Zimmerman” for killing Afghan, Pakistani, and Yemeni children with drones.

Aug 15

July 3, 2013 – Week #29

Tamara with warships bad for oceans

At the start of my protest, a shipyard employee came to the crosswalk and said to me, “I agree with your signs.”

“Thanks,” I replied and told him a little about my protest.

Then he said, “I’m not responsible for the federal government wanting to build warships. I just work here.”

I told him that I thought that we are all responsible in some way, “Canadians voted for the Harper government. The shipyard union didn’t object to the warship contract and didn’t put pressure on the government to build something else. There aren’t enough citizens standing up to oppose this,” I said.

Then two more shipyard workers came up to me and also said that they agreed with my signs. I asked them how they were doing.

One of the workers said that he wasn’t going to be working at the Irving Shipyard for much longer. There is not very much work right now and more layoffs are expected he explained.

“What is going on in there,” he said pointing to the shipyard, “is not what is portrayed in the media.”

The light changed and they crossed the street.

A few minutes later, a naval engineer in his late 50s walked by and said, “I agree with you.”

“Really,” I exclaimed, “Wow! I didn”t expect that. Why?”

“Because combat is a small part of what the navy does. What the navy needs are new joint supply ships to deliver humanitarian aid. That’s what the need is now and is going to be in the future,” he explained.

The runner ran by and waved. After many months of protesting, the runner has finally warmed up to me a bit. I had told him that I ran the Bluenose Marathon in my protest shirt and I think he respects my feat and now acknowledges me when I protest.

Toward the end of my protest, a young shipyard worker drove into the gate, pulled over and started to talk to me from his car. I walked over and he said to me through his window, “What you need to be worried about are volcanoes not climate change. It’s a hoax. You should watch the documentaries on Youtube.”

I said to him that it in the opinion of thousands of scientist worldwide that it was undeniable that we are facing severe environmental degradation and global warming and that it is one of our greatest human security challenges along with poverty. Warships will not help with climate change and they certainly won’t help with exploding volcanoes.

A couple more shipyard workers drove by and yelled at me to get a job.

A Metro newspaper van and a CTV news SUV drove by – neither media outlet has covered my protest.

At 1:00 p.m., two female Irving employees walked by. They always exude an “uncomfortable” vibe toward me and I always say to them “Happy Wednesdays against Warships.”

14 honks and waves of support and 5 thumbs down, head shakes and swears.

Dedication – To the truth tellers: Horace Campbell and Clare Daly. Horace Campbell is a Professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University. He gave this incredible interview on Democracy Now! about President Obama’s visit to South Africa. Listen to it here: “Obama Takes “Imperial Tour” of Africa as World Honors Ailing Mandela”.

Clare Daly is an elected member of the Irish Parliament. She gave this 5-minute riveting speech condemning President Obama during his visit to Ireland. She called Obama “a war criminal and the hypocrite of the century” Watch it here.