By Evan Brandt, firstname.lastname@example.org
Members of the group FootPrints for Peace, who are walking from Tennessee to New York City for a nuclear-free future, head into Pottstown along the Schuylkill River Trail at the Old Reading Pike crossing on Monday. Photo by John Strickler/The Mercury
WEST POTTSGROVE — There is no shortage of people who talk about the need for nuclear disarmament. But a group of 21 protestors who came through Pottstown late Monday afternoon quite literally walk the walk.
Their particular walk, which brought them down the Schuylkill River Trail on a breezy spring day, started two months ago at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The walk, which will cover a distance of more than 1,000 miles, is called the International Peace Walk Towards a Nuclear Free Future and will end at the United Nations in New York on May 3.
The group’s arrival is timed to coincide with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty review conference that will happen there.
The group will deliver a letter from Tadatoshi Akiba, the mayor of Hiroshima, Japan, target of the first nuclear bomb dropped on human beings.
President of an organization called Mayors for Peace, Akiba urges local government officials to join with his organization — representing 3,400 cities to date — in its call for making the planet free of nuclear weapons by 2020.
The letter is being carried by a group that includes a Buddhist monks’ organization called Nipponzan Myohoji, anti-nuclear protesters from France, two native Americans, one Cuban and three Australians.
One of those Australians is Marcus Atkinson, the walk’s leader and representative from FootPrints for Peace, an Ohio-based organization.
“We believe in a nuclear-free future and a nuclear-free world and that means no uranium mining, no nuclear power and no nuclear weapons,” Atkinson said Monday afternoon during a brief stop in Stowe, where the trail crosses Old Reading Pike.
In a press release he carries with him in a backpack complete with solar power cells, Atkinson wrote, “We also need to use this time to look at the whole cycle of the nuclear industry. Nuclear weapons are the final product of an industry that has destroyed indigenous people’s lands throughout the world, caused the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people and left whole cities uninhabitable.
“There is no ‘peaceful use’ of nuclear power,” he wrote. “This walk will bring attention to all aspects of the nuclear industry and will be demanding progress on negotiations to create a nuclear-weapons-free world, while also creating debate on the nuclear industry as a whole.”
He estimated that the trip may end up being “maybe 1,100 miles now that we’ve made a few wrong turns.”
As for his feet?
He said, “My feet feel pretty good actually, after two-and-a-half-months, they’re good.”
The group found shelter overnight at St. James United Church of Christ at High and Price streets and will leave from there at 9:a.m. today to walk to the Exelon Nuclear Generating Station in Limerick to protest.
“People are welcome to join us at the church or at the plant,” he said.