Coast Guard Attacks Democracy to Protect Navy from Critics

August 1st, 2023 - by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Seafair Fleet Week Parade of Ships and peace protesters.

US Coast Guard Unlawfully Creates
“No-protest” Zone a
s Peace Activists
Prepare to Meet US Navy in Elliott Bay

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

POULSBO, WA (July 31, 2023) — The US Coast Guard, in its July 31 announcement in the Federal Register, unlawfully established a temporary “no protest” zone in Elliott Bay, blocking peace activists from entering or leaving Bell Harbor Marina at Seafair.

This Coast Guard no-protest zone is in response to the annual Peace Fleet! event during the US Navy Fleet arrival. The Peace Fleet event on August 1 will mark the twenty-second year for demonstrations for peace, and the protest of military recruitment and the glorification of war at Seafair.

The no-protest zone is unlike any other Coast Guard “safety” zone in the United States—unique only to Elliott Bay with the sole intention of unlawfully preventing the movement of peace demonstrators on the water.

The temporary zone is an unlawful revision of a smaller and less restrictive no-protest zone, 33 CFR § 165.1330 that is still in effect and in force from 8 AM to 8 PM on August 1. With the arrival of the Navy Fleet around 1:30 PM, demonstrators could be either blocked from leaving Bell Harbor Marina before the arrival of the Navy fleet, or prevented from returning. This could dangerously force peace demonstrators in kayaks to stay out in the middle of Elliott Bay for hours during summer heat.

The Coast Guard imaginatively states that the 100-yard no-protest zone directly in front of Pier 62 and Pier 66 is necessary to ensure safety during the annual parade of ships and aerial demonstrations.” In past years, peace boats have often outnumbered other boats passing through Elliott Bay or other boats present to view the fleet arrival. In the past twenty-one years, the three or more peace boats and peace kayaks in Elliott Bay have never endangered aerial demonstrations or the parade of ships.

What: Peace activists at Seafair. Peace Fleet! This is the twenty-second year for this demonstration.

When/where: Tuesday, August 1, Peace Fleet on the water at noon in Elliott Bay. And on the shore at Pier 62 at 1:00 PM.
New Coast Guard no-protest zone for August 1, 2023, extending from Pier 66 to Pier 62, blocking Bell Harbor Marina

The zone is unlawful because the exact same situation occurred last year when the US Navy, Coast Guard, Seafair, Navy League Seattle, Friends of Waterfront Seattle, and the Port of Seattle realized that the no-protest zone at Pier 66 could not be extended to the Parade of Ships ceremony at Pier 62. The Coast Guard had an entire year to revise the rule, with public comments, as it has done in the past. Instead, the Coast Guard announced its unlawful rule on the day before the August 1 event — giving no opportunity for comment or intervention by citizens.

Peace demonstrators at Seafair were also recently told by Friends of Waterfront Seattle that they could not use the floating dock at Pier 62. Use of the floating dock, which will be used by Navy and Coast Guard personnel before and after the fleet arrival, would have made access to Elliott Bay much easier for peace activists with kayaks. The floating dock, on the south side of Pier 62, is outside of the no-protest zone now established by the Coast Guard.

The first Peace Fleet was on August 2, 2000 when peace demonstrators met the USS Alabama, a Trident submarine loaded with 192 nuclear warheads, in Elliott Bay during Seafair. In subsequent years, peace demonstrators were illegally surveilled by the FBI, Coast Guard, Port of Seattle and the Navy and threatened with imprisonment and heavy fines.

In later years, the Coast Guard became more creative with new no-protest zones and continued misuse of Naval Vessel Protection Zones and other “security” and “safety” zones.

Why would we demonstrate for peace at a Seattle maritime festival? We are here for the unrepresented and forgotten victims of these weapons of war and to call attention to the crimes of our nation. And because the celebration of warships in our harbor helps bring about the normalcy of modern war.

The fleet arrival at Seafair is a public relations and recruiting event for the US Navy. Previous years have brought Trident nuclear submarines complete with nuclear warheads and Navy warships used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles in the first and second Wars on Iraq and the twenty-year War on Afghanistan. The fleet is displayed for five days in downtown Seattle.

Peace Fleet organizer Rodney Brunelle said, “The US Navy fleet arrival and the F-18 Blue Angels that fly overhead are humiliating to peace-loving people in the Puget Sound region. Seafair is used as a major public relations and recruiting event for the US Navy. The fleet is on display in downtown Seattle at tremendous cost to taxpayers at a time while crucial social services in education, health care and transportation are being cut for lack of funds. But the Peace Fleet, for me, is a personally liberating experience. I can accept what comes at Seafair without anger or despair.”

For more details, please contact Mary Gleysteen at; Rodney Brunelle at; or Glen Milner at

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
16159 Clear Creek Road NW
Poulsbo, WA 98370