Don't Make a Wave

West Pender Street in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia was effectively shut down. The American Consulate Office was surrounded by a sea of people. Many of them were yelling. Chanting. Some shaggy-haired kids were playing guitars and singing. Others were camped out on the sidewalks, with their children, sitting, playing cards, passing the time. Newspaper reporters mixed in with the more animated members of the gathering. The aroma of burning cannabis was unavoidable.

Irving was pleased at the peacefulness of the turnout and paused to listen to a man with a microphone addressing the crowd.

“... Five years ago, there was an undersea earthquake in Alaska that sent a wave rolling all the way across the ocean that nearly wiped us out... and now the American military wants to tempt our fate again? Ask Port Alberni if this is a good idea! They remember! How can the Americans not? If they detonate that bomb in October, it could set off a series of earthquakes along the fault line resulting in...”

Irving stopped listening for a moment when he noticed a placard that was being held up near the speaker. It read “Don't Make a Wave! It's Your Fault if Our Fault Goes!”

“Hey, Bob,” he said to the journalist next to him, “Look at that sign.”

Despite the protests, the United States government proceeded with the Aleutian Island nuclear blast.

Two years later, when a second test was announced, Irving Stowe, Bob Hunter, and a collection of other Quakers and environmental and social activists broke away from the Sierra Club in order to take action.

On May 4th, 1972, the “Don’t Make a Wave Committee” officially changed its name to Greenpeace, in honor of the little halibut seiner that the group first used to help direct worldwide attention to nuclear testing.

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