Veterans For Peace “Golden Rule” Sailing to New Jersey to Bring Message of Nuclear Disarmament and to Uplift Local Struggles for Environmental Justice & Peace

By Pax Christi New Jersey, May 18, 2023

New Jersey- The world-renowned Golden Rule anti-nuclear sailboat, the first boat to engage in environmental direct action in the world, and its current crew are visiting Newark and Jersey City on May 19th, 20th, and 21st . The Golden Rule crew and ship are coming to our New Jersey ports to share their message of past nuclear disarmament and demilitarization victories and to highlight the ongoing environmental injustice struggles of Newark, Jersey City, and other Passaic and Hudson River communities that have wrestled for too many years with the toxic polluting legacy of manufacturing and the military complex, as well as current pollutions that still persist in overburdened, diverse communities. The series of events will bring together hundreds of people from dozens of organizations across New Jersey in what organizers intend to be a strengthening of bonds between organizations focused on peace and disarmament with those focused on social and environmental justice and the climate crisis.

“When I made the career change that brought me into this incredible environmental field, it was all about saving wetlands,” recalled Hugh Carola, Program Director at Hackensack Riverkeeper. “It’s still very much about that – but much more. It’s about putting the needs of people – especially marginalized people – at the center of what we do. Captain Bill Sheehan once told me, ‘When we work for the needs of people, we’re more likely to win our battles – and when we do, the wildlife, the wetlands and the river – they win, too’.”

Organizers also intend for the events to be a celebration. Despite still waiting for the cleanup of dioxin in the Passaic River and being embroiled in the battle to stop yet another fossil fuel power plant in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, Chloe Desir, environmental justice organizer for Ironbound Community Corp. recalls the recent adoption of rules under New Jersey’s environmental justice law, the first of its kind in the nation, as cause for rejoicing, and offered a hopeful vision of a sustainable future. “To combat environmental injustice, we pushed to pass the strongest environmental justice law in the country, denying permits to facilities that contribute to the cumulative impacts of industry pollution in affected neighborhoods. We aim to protect communities targeted by these facilities that have polluted our air and turned our rivers into superfund sites. The ICC community envisions an environmental justice future that prioritizes the transition away from fossil fuel production towards alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar, and municipal-wide composting. All communities deserve clean air and waters,” she said.

There is also a sense of urgency with both the gatherings and the goal of uniting the seemingly disparate groups. Paula Rogovin, Teaneck Peace and Justice Vigil, co-founder explains — “It is urgent that the Peace and Environment activists work together. Wars are being waged over fossil fuels. Civilians and soldiers are being harmed by war’s chemical toxins. Trillions of dollars for wars must be brought home for people’s needs – health care, education, and housing.”

Sam Pesin, the president of The Friends of Liberty State Park “thanks the world-famous Golden Rule anti-nuclear sailboat, for bringing your message of world peace and justice to Liberty State Park, right behind the world’s greatest symbol of democracy, freedom and human rights.” He is also grateful “for The Golden Rule veterans for advocating for public access to open space which all people need for our quality of life, especially in this crowded, concrete urban area.”

Though the worsening climate crisis and the ongoing threat of war, particularly nuclear war, are existential threats, organizers are hopeful that change is coming. David Swanson, executive director of World BEYOND War, who travelled from Washington DC to be present and address attendees in Jersey City, sees the backdrop for the event in Liberty State Park as a source of inspiration. “I look forward to joining people in Liberty State Park to celebrate nonviolent action against nuclear weapons. As we stare into the greatest risk yet of both nuclear war and slower climate collapse, we should take hope from the Statue of Liberty, from the Teardrop Memorial, and from the Golden Rule, all of which suggest that moments can appear when people create public policies less bent on self-destruction and more in line with the good intentions that most of us usually share,” he said.

The visit of the Golden Rule has been well received throughout its recent voyage as it travels the Great Loop and New Jersey is no exception. They have even received a written message of welcome from Cardinal Tobin which will be read at all events. The Cardinal recalls St. John XXIII’s commitment to peace in his  letter of welcome. “Your presence here is a sign of your support for what St. John XXIII called “integral disarmament.” As authentic peacemakers, you affirm the important idea that true peace can only be built in a firm commitment to nonviolence and mutual trust,” he said.

An environmental, peace and social justice consortium of co-sponsors for these two events include-  Catholic Worker NYC; FCNL- Northwest NJ Chapter; Friends of Riverfront Park; Friends of Liberty State Park; Hackensack Riverkeeper; Ironbound Community Corp.; NJ Coalition for the Philippine Human Rights Act; NJ Peace Action; Northern NJ Veterans for Peace; Northern NJ Jewish Voice for Peace; Office of Peace Justice and Integrity of Creation- Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth; Passaic River Coalition; Pax Christi NJ; People’s Organization for Progress; St. Patrick’s & Assumption All Saints Church; St. Stephan’s Grace Community, ELCA; Teaneck Peace & Justice Coalition; Waterspirit; Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center; World Beyond War


New Jersey Events

Dennis P. Collins Park in Bayonne
Friday May 19th starting at Noon
Join Northern NJ Veterans for Peace as they greet the Golden Rule from shore as it sails through the Kill Van Kull on its way to the Newark Bay. On board will be environmentalists and activists from Ironbound Community Corp and Hackensack Riverkeeper who will discuss the various sources of pollution and injustice visible from the water.

Riverfront Park in Newark -(by the orange sticks)
Friday May 19th from 6 to 8 pm
The Golden Rule crew along with music
Speakers include: Larry Hamm, Chairman People’s Organization for Progress; JV Valladolid, Ironbound Community Corp.; Owl, representative of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation; Paula Rogovin, co-founder Teaneck Peace & Justice Vigil


Liberty State Park in Jersey City – (near Liberation Monument)
Saturday May 20th from 11 am to 1 pm
The Golden Rule sailboat and crew along with music by the Solidarity Singers Speakers include: David Swanson, Executive Director of World BEYOND War; Sam Pesin, Friends of Liberty State Park, Rachel Dawn Davis, Waterspirit; Sam DiFalco, Food & Water Watch

Assumption All Saints Parish Hall
Organized by NJ for the Philippine Human Rights Act
(film screening, panel discussion and potluck dinner)
344 Pacific Ave., Jersey City
Sunday May 21st from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Screening of documentary Making Waves: Rebirth of the Golden Rule & Panel Discussion on US military war games in the Indo-Pacific and the nonviolent popular resistance past and present.

About the VFP Golden Rule Project
In 1958 four Quaker peace activists sailed the Golden Rule toward the Marshall Islands in an attempt to halt atmospheric nuclear weapons testing.  The US Coast Guard boarded her in Honolulu and arrested her crew, causing an international outcry. Rising public awareness of the dangers of radiation led to worldwide demands to stop nuclear testing.  In 1963 USA, the U.S.S.R. and the U.K. signed the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In 2010 the Golden Rule sank in a gale in Humboldt Bay in Northern California. For the next five years, dozens of Veterans For Peace, Quakers and other volunteers restored her. Since 2015 the Golden Rule has been “Sailing for a Nuclear-Free World and a Peaceful, Sustainable Future”. It is currently making the Great Loop- down the Mississippi, through the Gulf of Mexico, up the Atlantic Coast and then up the Hudson and through the Great Lakes. More information on the Golden Rule Project and its schedule can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate To Any Language