Civil Disobedience at Dutch Air Base Links Nuclear War Threat to Climate Crisis

Interview with Jackie Allen Doucot, member of the Hartford, Connecticut Catholic Worker Community, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

In the Netherlands, on the morning of Aug. 8, 10 peace and climate activists (6 from the U.S., 3 from the Netherlands and a German doctor) entered Volkel Air Base, where an estimated 15 U.S. nuclear bombs are stockpiled. The group held banners, knelt on the runway, prayed for peace and glued copies of Article 1 and 2 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons onto the runway. The treaty declares that nations with nuclear arms may not “share” these weapons by basing them in non-nuclear countries.

Twenty-five protesters were taken into custody and later released with a small fine, which no one paid. A few days later, another group of peace activists held a similar protest in Germany. The actions took place during the week commemorating 78 years since the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

The publication The Nuclear Resister wrote, “This nonviolent resistance action took place as part of an international peace camp at Volkel Air Base. The radical branches of the climate movement and the peace movement have joined together for a week of protest and action.”

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus spoke with Jackie Allen Doucot of the Hartford, Connecticut, Catholic Worker Community. Here, she talks about the action and why it was undertaken, the consequences of the protest and the prospects for future collaboration between the climate and peace movements.

JACKIE ALLEN DOUCOT: It was a combination of anti-nuclear and climate change activists, so it was a really good coming together of those two communities, which are kind of united by the fact that our military is violating international law by sharing nuclear weapons with European countries.

And, all of the world’s militaries are violating the Paris accords because they made themselves exempt from having to say what the carbon footprint is from all the flights and all the military stuff – there’s no way to be accountable to any work for climate change, because nobody has any information.

MELINDA TUHUS: So, just tell our listeners exactly what you all did. There was the digging of a tunnel involved, is that right?

JACKIE ALLEN DOUCOT: The first day we went to blockade some of the gates. There were four or five gates and we had blockades at different gates. We were able to close the base for an hour or two, and hang banners and do sidewalk messages on all the areas where traffic drives in through all the different gates.

The second day, 10 of us who are Catholic workers from the U.S. and 2 Catholic Workers from the Netherlands were able to climb onto the base. We did an action on the tarmac. We held a liturgy and we held our banners and also wrote messages to the military.

The third day was an action in concert with some folks from Extinction Rebellion and different climate change groups. We did an action where, the year before folks had begun digging on the outside of the base and they dug a big enough hole to tunnel through and do an action inside the base.

Our action, I think it was 16 people, the minute we put shovels in they would take us and arrest us. It was sort of a symbolic action to call other activists to come and begin to confront the military about the use of nuclear weapons – especially with what’s going on in Ukraine – and also for what’s happening with all the resources and engineering and money and planning put into developing nuclear weapons is something that could really be applied to deal with climate change.

MELINDA TUHUS: Are you done? You got arrested, but were there fines, or do you have to go back to appear in court or what?

JACKIE ALLEN DOUCOT: There might be fines. I don’t think we’ll  have to go back. I don’t think we can go back because most of the Americans, our passports were taken and stamped that we can’t go back to the EU for over a year. I guess we can’t go back for a trial if we’re not allowed to go there at all.

We were just sort of struck by, here’s a group of peace activists that are trying to bring to people’s consciousness what a contradiction it is that the militaries of the world can exempt themselves from treaties and agreements and international problems that are really related to all of our survival and our children and grandchildren, and yet we’ll be the ones who are told we can’t go there for a year and the military can violate airspace anywhere and bring the toxics and poisons and their nuclear loads anywhere in the world.

MELINDA TUHUS: So, it sounds like you had some good collaboration with European anti-nuclear groups and climate groups. Do you see that moving forward, producing more joint efforts, or what do you think?

JACKIE ALLEN DOUCOT: I certainly hope so. I mean, it makes so much sense for the two movements to come together. I think over the summer, the Canadian wildfires making air down here difficult to breathe and while we were there we were hearing about what’s going on in Hawaii and watching all the flooding up in Vermont that had happened, and all of that water came down the Connecticut River and dumped into the sound and the ocean was affected.

I think folks are coming to realize we share one sky, we share one water and folks have to come together and begin resisting and doing the work to make our governments be accountable and deal with what’s happening.

For more information, visit the Catholic Worker Hartford, Connecticut website at

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