Though 2020 and the early months of 2021 have posed a unique set of challenges to Oregon PSR’s work, we continue to learn and implement new ways to grow our movement for a more healthy, just, and peaceful world. With the support of our members and volunteers, we have taken advantage of online meeting technologies to broaden the reach of our Peace Program efforts well beyond the borders of our state, involving new partners and reaching new audiences. If you missed any of our recent events, be sure to check them out on our website, Facebook page, or our new YouTube channel.
Online Nuclear Activism
In January, we partnered with Washington PSR to celebrate the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and explore how it advances nuclear justice with a lively Zoom party. We shared a virtual toast to celebrate and were joined by speakers including Congressman Earl Blumenauer; Dr. Vincent Intondi, author of African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement; Kianna Juda-Angelo, Pacific Islander advocate, founder of Living Islands, and co-founder of the COFA Alliance National Network; Stan Shikuma, President of the Japanese American Citizens League (Seattle Chapter); and Dr. Hideko Tamura Snider, hibakusha (atomic bomb survivor), anti-nuclear activist, and One Sunny Day Initiatives founder. Our host was performing artist, educator, and Oregon PSR Advisory Board member Chisao Hata, with ASL interpretation by Fingers Crossed Interpreting. Our thanks go to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for providing a grant to support this event as part of a worldwide celebration of this historic milestone for nuclear justice.
In early March, our Executive Director Kelly Campbell led an interactive skills-building workshop titled Growing the Nuclear Abolition Movement through Local Resolutions during the Ending Nuclear Weapons Before They End Us online conference organized by Back from the Brink and the Nobel Peace Prize-winning ICAN. The conference featured an expert panel and Q&A followed by interactive workshops to provide activists with the tools to effect change for nuclear justice under the Biden Administration. Kelly led the workshop in collaboration with former Oregon State Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, who championed our Senate Joint Memorial 5 bill in support of the nuclear ban treaty in the Oregon legislature in 2019.
On March 11th, the ten year anniversary of the triple meltdown of the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, we hosted Remembering Fukushima 10 Years Later: A Film Screening & Panel Discussion. In advance of our panel discussion, we screened the documentary film Little Voices From Fukushima, and we were honored to be joined by the filmmaker, Hitomi Kamanaka, along with panel members Norma Field, Ruiko Muto, and Leona Morgan, who discussed the film and the disastrous impacts on communities from radioactive contamination released from the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima. Our distinguished panelists also shared their thoughts on the dangers of nuclear technologies, from uranium mining at the beginning of the nuclear cycle to the precarious burial of nuclear wastes, and explored the concept of nuclear colonialism. This event was part of the Cascadia Arts Film Festival, organized by Oregon PSR Advisory Board member Yukiyo Kawano and CORE (Consequences of Radiation Exposure) member Laura Feldman.
Our online activism for nuclear justice extends beyond these events, with staff and volunteer efforts leading Oregon to have more elected representatives signing the Parliamentary Pledge to support the nuclear weapons ban treaty than every other state in the nation combined! We also continue to gain support for our petition to Oregon State University (OSU), which received a $4.3 million grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration to work on computer simulations relative to ensuring the safety and security of the US nuclear weapons stockpile. If you haven't already, please sign the petition encouraging OSU staff to consider dismantling the US nuclear stockpile in their simulations, as the safest way to secure nuclear weapons is to dismantle and dispose of them.
Racism, Gun Violence, & Other Health Threats
We continue to weigh in on the public health crises of racism and gun violence, as well as police accountability and other issues impacting many of the frontline communities we work with. Due to the pandemic, we’re submitting testimony on these and other pressing issues virtually.
We testified in support of Oregon’s HB 2337 to declare racism a public health crisis and take steps to address the disproportionate health impacts experienced by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) Oregonians. As our recent testimony states: “If ever there was a moment when the health gaps have become acutely evident, it is now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. This virus has shined a light on so many health inequities with a ferocity that none can honestly deny. The virus knows no racial boundaries, yet from the disproportionately high representation of BIPOC individuals as essential frontline workers to the burden of the disease to the disparity of vaccine access, our ability to respond to this pandemic is constrained by the binds of racism.”
We also supported our frontline partners from the Marshall Islands by testifying in favor of SB 706 and SB 557, which would ensure that citizens of the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau living in Oregon have access to the health and dental care they need.
We’re supporting police accountability legislation, including a bill that creates a new, mandatory use-of-force database to track incidents of police brutality. We are drawing connections between how policing in our society, which is deeply rooted in centuries of systemic racism, is linked to a militarized foreign policy, and bringing attention to police violence as a public health threat, especially for communities of color.
We continue to organize around the epidemic of gun violence. We’re supporting legislation to close loopholes that increase the risks of gun violence, enforce safe gun storage, limit the carrying of guns in public buildings, and more. We know that gun violence, like so many public health crises, disproportionately impacts communities of color, and that it is most effectively addressed by communities working together to discern best solutions. As gun deaths rise and mass shootings continue to plague our society, our work for common-sense gun violence legislation feels more urgent than ever.
Though some of the bills to ensure police accountability and sensible gun legislation may not make it through this Oregon legislative session, we’ll continue these necessary efforts to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our communities. Visit our website and follow us on social media to learn more. Interested in volunteering with our Peace Work Group? Email [email protected] for details.
Photo above: Advisory Board member Chisao Hata hosts our online celebration of the nuclear ban treaty’s entry into force.
This article was written by Sean Tenney, Oregon PSR Associate Director.