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Memorial Day rally/CARE-a-van: Pandemic pivot from warfare to human care

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“A Pandemic Pivot: From Warfare to Human Care” will be the focus of PeaceWorks-Kansas City’s ninth annual peace witness this Memorial Day, May 25.

The tradition has focused public attention on actual and potential deaths from nuclear weapons production—the 65-year toxic legacy of the old Bannister Federal Complex impacting employees and nearby residents, and the lethal potential of atomic weapons being made at the new Kansas City National Security Campus, 14520 Botts Road.

Drivers in the CARE-a-van will meet at 9:30 a.m. at 30th Street and Harrison in KC MO. They’ll drive to a 10:00 a.m. rally to kick off the event in the parking lot of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church, 3800 Troost, KC MO.  Social distancing will be observed as participants hear speakers urge legislators to “Move the Money” from militarism to humanitarianism. Among the speakers will be spokespersons for PeaceWorks KC, the Poor People’s Campaign, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, and Vets for Peace.

From St. Mark’s, rally participants will form two caravans, one going through midtown Kansas City and the other to the National Security Campus in south Kansas City. Social distancing due to the COIVID-19 pandemic will curtail the tradition of a peace march and symbolic die-in at the Botts Road plant, but PeaceWorks co-chair, Henry Stoever, will speak there, as well as PeaceWorks board member, Charles Carney.

Each Memorial Day for the past eight years PeaceWorks KC has memorialized those who sacrificed health and life in the production of nuclear weapons, noting that even if never detonated, nuclear weapons have already been lethal by exposure to toxins, and by contamination of soil and groundwater.

Beginning in 1949, the now inactive Bannister Federal Complex at 1500 E. Bannister Road in Kansas City grew to produce 85 percent of the non-nuclear components of the United States nuclear arsenal. Multiple investigative reports by NBC Action News and 41 Action News documented 2,400 toxins that workers were exposed to during the plant’s 65-year history, and “hundreds of former employees at the site who reported severe diseases and rare forms of cancer that likely came from their time on the job (41 KSHB, May 6, 2019).”

The prospect of a future nuclear weapons exchange, with extensive radioactive fallout and ensuing nuclear winter, has led PeaceWorks KC to resist the construction and ongoing operation of the KC National Security Campus. More than 150 persons have been arrested during nonviolent peace witnesses at the site in the past decade. Despite these efforts, the number of employees at the plant has doubled to 5,000 since its groundbreaking ceremony in 2014, and its budget has increased to more than a billion dollars annually.

Nonetheless, PeaceWorks co-chair, Henry Stoever, insists that the Memorial Day event he initiated eight years ago will continue, saying “For human survival we must move from the culture of death that nuclear weapons epitomizes, to a culture of life that affirms the sacredness of all creation and all creatures.”

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Jim Hannah, PeaceWorks communication team, 816-719-5583, jim@jays.net

Henry Stoever, PeaceWorks co-chair, 913-375-0045, henrystoever@sbcglobal.net

Man hanging origame peace cranes.