Veterans For Peace sails to Jersey City to rally to end wars, protect the environment


The Golden Rule anti-nuclear sailboat visited Jersey City’s Liberty State Park with an urgent call to eliminate nuclear weapons, war, and to protect the environment.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

The boat, which had a crew of seven, landed at Liberty State Park after sailing from Washington, D.C.

“The purpose is to bring people together. There is a very well-connected fusion of coalitions around social justice,” Water Spirit Public Policy and Justice Organizer Rachel Dawn Davis explained.

Pax Christi New Jersey Coordinator Kathy O’Leary explained that in the 17th Century, Dutch colonizers committed the Pavonia massacre of natives seen as a threat who were fleeing indigenous conflicts.

She noted the massacre occurred at the edge of the park and downtown near the PATH station.

“What we’re standing in is a landfill. This was all very fertile oyster grounds,” she exclaimed.

“In the first World War, this was the Black Tom Island munitions depot,” Rev. Eugene Squeo said, also noting a lot of munitions brought to European allies were first stored there.

Later it was transformed into what he called the “People’s Park,” which opened in 1976.

“It’s really a wonderful legacy of what we can do to places of war. It can be transformed into something we can all enjoy,” he noted.

He noted that Archdiocese of Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin sent a letter that praised their work for social and environmental justice, which he said Pope Francis supports.

“Your presence here is a sign for … integral disarmament. True peace can be built in a commitment to nonviolence and critical trust,” he declared.

Davis read a peon that noted serious issues in the world.

“We pray for justice in our world and our lives: We are the prayer,” she stated.

“It was blown up in an act of sabotage by German agents. They were trying to block us from sending weapons to Europe,” O’Leary said regarding the Black Tom Island munitions explosion.

“The explosion was so large. It was the largest recorded ma made made explosion, outside of a nuclear explosion.”

She said it was felt as far away as Maryland, with windows as far as 25 miles shattered. O’Leary said that it helped draw the United States into fighting against Germany in World War I.

“It’s really critical that we are making connections between the peace movement and the climate movement. We need to be fighting the industries that are allowing this injustice to continue,” added Food and Water Watch North Jersey Organizer Samantha DiFalco.

She also said the chemical Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War was made in Newark in an exploited community.

“Both of these crises intersect and overburden our most vulnerable communities. Our state is the fastest warming state in the United States. We’ve experienced really devastating storms in the last few decades: We’ve basically been at war for oil my entire life,” DiFalco continued.

She noted said seven projects across the state would increase fossil fuel pollution, including the proposed $10.7 billion New Jersey Turnpike expansion.

“We have a governor who said the right things on the environment. Yet these seven projects continue,” De Falco added.

She noted that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) justified the I-78 expansion since only electric cars would be driving on it in the future, even though it would ruin a playground.

“Somehow makes it ok. That’s the kind of logic we’re dealing with,” De Falco noted.

“The United States treats people on its southern border with cruelty,” David Swanson of World Beyond War said.

He criticized the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wars as well as other efforts of the United States in the Middle East.

“The U.S. is a global leader in opposing environmental standards,” Swanson added.

“We need a world of peace and justice and happiness,” Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin declared.

He explained that his father, Morris Pesin, had the vision of transforming an abandoned junkyard on the waterfront into a park.

“There’s been battle after battle over developers. We’re in a major battle against the billionaire (Paul Fireman) … over a 22-acre peninsula. A billionaire wants to destroy that sanctuary,” Pesin asserted.

He noted that a large coalition of groups gathered thousands of petitions to preserve it and the Liberty State Park Protection Act to preserve the area was introduced into the legislature, though it never received a full vote.

“The legislature killed the act. They were bought off,” Pesin said.

Pesin noted the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is holding a meeting on the issue Wednesday evening after being previously postponed.

“They’re playing the race card to support the stadium. There should be equitable access to this free park,” he concluded.

“This little boat that could stop the possibility of nuclear war gives us a lot of inspiration,” Golden Rule Project Manager Helen Jaccard said.

She encouraged told the crowd to urge their member of Congress to support H. Res 77 urging the U.S. to sign a United Nations treaty on nuclear weapons and begin nuclear disarmament.

New Jersey U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12), Frank Pallone (D-6), and Andy Kim (D-3) have signed on board, but are awaiting support from other members of the state’s congressional delegation.

She explained the Golden Rule boat had been sailing for months across the United States, including up and down the West Coast, the Mississippi, and the Great Lakes.

“It’s been a long voyage. It’s not comfortable. Seeing you folks out here and hearing your message is a moment of joy,” said Golden Rule Captain Steve Buck.

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