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According to Adams, Washington is a large producer of nuclear weapons, though not a lot of residents realize it. // Photo Courtesy of Lilly Adams

Mia Steben

The Whatcom Justice & Peace Center hosted a presentation on May 9 on the presence of nuclear weapons in Washington, and its negative impact on communities.

Presenter Lilly Adams is security program organizer for Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. Adams said she runs the anti-nuclear weapons campaign through a social and racial justice lens.

According to Adams, Trump’s discretionary budget request for 2019 includes $1.7 trillion of funding to the nuclear arsenal plans over the next 30 years adjusted with inflation.

Adams said that individuals think of nuclear weapons as a Cold War-era issue, but it is just as important today due to the  accessibility of nuclear weapons and the ability to utilize them.

“Washington state is nuclear hotspot and not a lot of people in Washington realize,” Adams said. “If Washington state were a country, we would be the third-largest nuclear weapons country in the world.”

The process of creating and using nuclear weapons often hurts low-income communities and communities of color, according to Adams. 

“We see indigenous people and minorities in colonized countries being exploited and harmed in order to produce nuclear weapons,” Adams said. “We see that these communities are still bearing the health and environmental burdens of this today, and they are not being compensated properly by the government.”

Adams said the two takeaways are that nuclear weapon production hurts communities even without use and production of these weapons are being prioritized over our communities.

“The human cost is simply not considered,” Adams said.

Neah Monteiro, executive director of the Whatcom Peace & Justice Center, said that any organizing around eliminating nuclear weapons needs to be informed by what’s happening in communities now.

“I really admire the work Lilly is doing to help the traditional nuclear abolition movement build awareness about what it means to be in solidarity with social justice movements,” Monteiro said.

Monteiro said the most moving point of the presentation was the walkthrough of the nuclear weapons process and how communities of color are and have been most impacted.

Attendee Tracy Powell said his goal was to meet others who were involved in this issue.

“We have to get together and work together and to hear what these other folks are trying to do. It’s such a huge task,” Powell said. “It’s going to take all of us working together.”


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