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PETER WILLCOX: I physically like sailing. I like having a tiller, a steering stick in my hand. I like having feel the wind of the sheets. And on the big sail boats like the Rainbow Warrior, which is 190 feet. You don’t feel those things, but I know what’s going on and I physically like the sensation. I like the sound. I like hearing the engine going off. The ocean is a beautiful place. I remember first showing my daughters the ocean sky, and it’s so much brighter than what you see here on land. And the stars. And you see the belt of the Milky Way coming across and the sunrises and sunsets. I absolutely love being at sea on a full moon night where you can read a book right on deck from the light of the moon. Most people in the world simply want peace.
I think when you get to be a leader, your mind gets a little twisted. You see colors on the map and you wanna change it your color. Having started off in the civil rights movement and saw the effectiveness of nonviolent protest. I’m a strong believer of it. Nonviolent direct action means you try to do something to stop something, I suppose, from going on or to illustrate a problem. Nobody gets touched, nobody gets hurt. You don’t do any property damage. You don’t scratch the paint. We do paint vessels, we do put paint on them. We just write slogans like, stop toxic burning, or whatever you want.
That seems to be okay. We’re willing to hurt ourselves. We’re willing to destroy our own boats, and it’s true that if managed to get you boat crushed between the dock and the ship or something like that, or two ships, you get brownie points and a free beer when you get back to Amsterdam. But we absolutely do not damage anybody else’s stuff. That I think has saved us on a number of occasions, because even if people don’t like us, they know we’re nonviolent. I’ve been arrested about a dozen times, maybe.
I haven’t counted ’em up in a while. Maybe it’s 15 at this point. Some have been more dramatic than others, but, you know, getting arrested is not a bad thing when it’s for the right reason. Not a bad thing at all. I’m Peter Wilcox, speaking to you from Greenwich Village, New York City. I’ve been an environmentalist since I got outta high school, a political activist and a sailor for Greenpeace for 35 years.
My family were politically active. I grew up in Village Creek, which was I think the first intentionally integrated community in New England. It was a co-op started by my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, and a few others. They wanted it to be on the water so that because they were all sailing oriented, their community was a wonderful collection of artists and intellectuals. It was a concept way ahead of its time.
For years in Norwalk it was called Commie Creek. Somebody even came up with the rather amazing thing that if you lined all the houses up they pointed to New York City so the Russian bombers could find their way. I grew up being a sailor. My parents used to take the crib and tie it on the back deck and go sailing. And the story, which I actually don’t remember, is that one day I sat up in the crib for the first time. And watched the water rushing by and got very excited and it’s held with me my whole life.
I feel very fortunate that I was able to combine those two parts of my life, the political activism and the sailing. I had black friends, Jewish friends, it just didn’t matter. And then the concept of segregation was completely strange to me. I attended public schools that were at least 40% non-white. I’m just guessing. My dad woke me up one morning and said, hey, you want to go to a civil rights march? I guess I was 12 years old at the time. I remember going to a lunch counter on our way from the Atlanta airport to Montgomery.
And we were with an associate of my dad’s, an assistant of his. And we were hungry, it was dinner time. And so we went to this restaurant and prominently displayed by the front door was a sign that said we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Which was essentially saying it was a whites only restaurant. And we met the Selma Montgomery Civil Rights March in Montgomery. And then go with the marchers join with the marchers the next day. And I guess there were upwards of 20,000 people that joined the march on the last day.
AUDIO CLIP: We are going to walk nonviolently and peacefully. Let the nation and the world know we are tired now we slavery and segregation.
PETER WILLCOX: You have to remember at the time in Lowndes County, Alabama, when the March marched through it, when the March went through that county, there were no African Americans registered to vote. That’s really the classic example of why the march was so necessary. I have one recollection of African American army reservists lining the street. Along with white army reservists, but to keep the peace because they were afraid of violence. I mean, remember, people were killed on this much and people were killed after it as a result of it.
I remember marching and walking through the black section of town and having kids come up and hand you a glass of water. I remember clapping and cheering, and then when we got to the business section, it all became quiet like a funeral march. Nobody’s saying anything. So it was, there was tension, but again, there was this amazing sense of optimism and feeling that we could do this. I’ve never gotten in any other thing I’ve been involved with, whether it was the Vietnam War protests or the environmental movement today.
I suppose, what was it, 1967? I was in the seventh grade. I went to Russia for, I think it was seven or eight weeks because my family wasn’t afraid of reds under the bed. Socialism wasn’t a dirty word. So I went. I went to a young Pioneer youth camp called Camp Arteca, but it was an international camp. We bunked with the Swedes. It was very nice accommodations. It wasn’t tense. It was almost a hotel type setting. One of the things I took away from it. It’s probably the strongest memory was that people would find out we were the American delegation, and I’m talking about simply adults on the street, adults at the camp.
And they’d come up and very sincerely say, we just want peace. Russia lost 27 million people in the great patriotic war, and that was only 20 years previous to my going there. And 20 years ago they were in a fight for their lives against Hitler’s Germany. Probably one of the lessons I learned in not judging a country by what its government is doing. I mean, my God, I certainly wouldn’t wanna be held responsible for what this country has done. One night I watched Walter Cronkite on the CBS Evening News.
Describe a village in South Vietnam, and this is in the winter of 1967. That was doing better as a community when the Vietnam were running it. Than when the South Vietnamese were running it. And I was passionately interested in that.
AUDIO CLIP: To say that we’re closer to victory today is to believe in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past. To say that we are mired in stalemate seems the only realistic yet unsatisfactory conclusion.
PETER WILLCOX: And for me that was a jaw-dropping moment. Because here was the established journalist on the evening news saying things were so bad over there, people were better off with the Vietcong running things than the South Vietnamese. And I thought, well, the war is lost. That is just craziness. I knew I didn’t wanna get involved. There was no question of that. The question was, You wait and see what your draft lottery number is? Well, fortunately mine didn’t leave a whole lot of debate. I was number one. Oh, I wasn’t gonna do it. The options were going to Canada, going to jail, or in my case, what I did was, thanks to my father, I got a conscientious objectors deferment.
What I said at the time was, I can never conceive of supporting the United States in a war. Which I felt quite safe, quite logical. In doing so, I couldn’t imagine that we would actually get involved with a war that I would think was a good thing. When I said that, my draft board said, okay, well he’s a lost cause.
AUDIO CLIP: Hudson River Sloop cause it’s a replica of the old time sloop.
PETER WILLCOX: Well, Clearwater is a replica Hudson River Sloop that was started by Pete Seger and a bunch of other people on the up in Beacon, New York, Cold Spring that does environmental education on the Hudson River. It’s still sailing today. Still a very successful program. That made Clearwater federally approved conscientious objector duty, so I just applied to go to the Clearwater. It was a great place to start off. I mean, I started sailing on the Clearwater when I was 19. I stayed six years there. Well, I started off being a mate, and then I was captain in 1976 to 1980, and I was entranced.
I mean, it was a bunch of hippies living in an old wooden boat, and I was like, whoa. We did mostly educational programs, just advocating for a clean Hudson River. And it still is today. I suppose after my first couple years, I could see enough of a future that I thought, boy, this is really what I want to do. I’m just gonna stay and ride this horse until I get thrown off. College was not a big draw for me.
I really didn’t know what I was gonna study. But at age 19, I had the perception that I do Clearwater for four or five years. We’d have great environmental success. And we did have some, and then I’d move on to serious adult work. That’s the last thing, never quite happened. My time to Clearwater was coming to an end and I had read the book, Warriors of the Rainbow by Bob Hunter.
AUDIO CLIP: And the only workable plan we were able to come up with was to take a boat and go right out in the ocean and against whatever odds, we had to face into whaling.
PETER WILLCOX: And that looked amazing to me.
AUDIO CLIP: And then drive out right in front of the harpoon. So that the harpooner wouldn’t have a shot at the whale without…
PETER WILLCOX: And I saw this advertisement in a fisherman’s newspaper called the National Fisherman, which I used to read at the time. Engineers, mates and Deckhands wanted aboard the Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior. And I went, wow, actually doing something physical to effect an issue that just resonated so strongly. Four days later I was up there. I went up to New Bedford. I had called up, you know, had an interview and they said, well, come back if you want to. And I was, I never left. I never got off.
The Rainbow Warrior came to the United States in 1981. It was a rusting Hulk in the docks of of London. And we bought it with a grant from the World Wildlife Fund from the Dutch. And I think we spent 70,000 pounds on it. While I was on board. We must have put another $120,000 into it because we put the sailing rig on it and we put all new engines in it. We then built another one that sailed until about four years ago when she was replaced by the third. So there have been three boats by that name. We just do it to confuse people.
My specialty is running the boats, not as a campaigner. It’s the campaigner’s job to know everything about an issue. Whether it’s toxic pollution in New Jersey or baby seals in Canada or whales in the West Coast or whales all over the whole world. That’s their specialty. Some captains and Greenpeace don’t take part in the actions. I like it. I was hired as a possible deckhand. I think they liked my resume. They liked that I had been doing environmental work for six or seven years.
And I seemed interesting, so I was told I could come on as a possible deckhand. That was 1981. I got there the first day and the captain came to me and said, do you know how to paint? At that point, I’d been a professional sailor for 10 years, and of course I knew how to paint. And he said, okay, well, I want you to redo the name on the stern. I thought to myself, oh man, I, I never said I could do lettering.
So he went back and showed it to me, and it was the worst lettering job. It looked like a six year old had taken a spackling brush and about four seconds tried to cut the name into the stern. And then I looked at it again and I saw that somebody had punched the outline of what should be the lettering into the steel. I thought, oh, I can do that. At the end of the day, the captain was so impressed with my painting ability. He made me the first mate. This is not how it usually works.
Very first one was Perth Amboy, where national lead industry was dumping about a million gallons of sulfuric acid solution into the ocean every day, right with inside of the Jersey beaches. We shadowed the tug and barge in and out of the Raritan river to the factory, and one day they anchored in the fog because they didn’t wanna move. So we took an inflatable over there and a bunch of the crew chained themselves to the anchor chain so they couldn’t pick it up or let it down or do anything before the Coast Guard came to break everybody free.
We made the five o’clock news, the six o’clock news, the seven o’clock news. Within six months, the factory was closed. Actions that had dramatic effect on making the issue part of the public discourse. Making people aware that something was happening. Late fall of 1981, that I was giving the amazing salary of $300 a month to captain the boat. And I thought, this is great, now I’m making money and I’m doing exactly– I was so happy to be there.
You start off by being really clearly nonviolent. You don’t push anybody, you don’t yell at anybody. You don’t run if you can help it. And that calms things down. And we always try to have women involved with the boarding teams, and that calms things down a little more. It’s logical to try to understand what laws you’re breaking. Normally, there’s quite a careful review of local laws and things like that. One of the next campaigns we did was against whaling in Peru. Peru announced that it was not going along with the IWC moratorium to end commercial whaling.
And so when we went up and climbed on board the whaling ship in the northern fishing town, they came out and arrested us. And a few hours later when we were in the barracks, the lawyer for the government and the prosecutor, I’m not sure who he was. Said, you know, we’ve looked at the laws and we’re gonna have to do you for piracy. In Europe, the definition, and in the America, the definition of piracy is to steal the cargo, to take control of the boat, to do anybody injury. And we clearly don’t do any of those things. In Peru, the law is different. They weren’t pulling a fast one. It’s simply the way they had written the law.
In Peru, if you go on board the boat, they’re gonna nail you. That’s 15 to 20 years in Peruvian jail. In Peru, there’s no bail. They don’t feed you in jail. You have to have people on the outside that feed you. People knew that we weren’t out for our own gain, and the prosecutor, when he finally dropped the charges, said that we were rather misled, but well-intentioned young people who were not out for their own gain.
One of the truths I’ve learned in this business was that when a factory’s polluting, it’s generally more dangerous for the people working in it than for the people working– living five miles away. In 1987, we were doing a series of actions against a boat called The Volcanos, which was owned by Waste Management Services here in the United States. And they were burning toxic waste in the middle of the North Sea from a tanker that had huge incinerators on board. It was affecting the fish in the North Sea. It was affecting the fishermen.
The crew had been told if we came along and demonstrated that we were gonna cost them their jobs. Well, unfortunately that was true. We did shut them down. They did lose their jobs. They’re seamen, I certainly hope they were able to get good jobs elsewhere. 1988, July 4th in Aalborg, Denmark. And the US had a destroyer named The Cunningham that was licensed to carry nuclear weapons. Denmark at the time, and I hopefully still does, has a strong anti-nuclear policy. Where they do not let nuclear weapons into their country. Denmark said, you know, we don’t want weapons in here. We’re gonna trust you to do the right thing.
So they were steaming up the channel at 18 knots. Six of us got into the inflatables and started jumping off right in this path. Which was about as effective as trying to kill a moose with a fly swatter. And they went right through us. It’s on the high seas and the boat puts you on the outside of a turn. It may develop enough current to push you under into the propellers. But when it’s going up a narrow channel, it can’t do that. Really quite easy just to make sure that all your body parts are on one side of the bow or the other. As long as the boat goes straight, you don’t get sucked into the propeller.
So you can actually have conversations, short ones with the sailors on deck who are looking down, thinking you’re just completely outta your mind. And we did that, I don’t know, five or six times as it’s going up the channel, and they didn’t slow down a knot. As they’re getting into the harbor. I jumped onto the bow and hooked on with a little hook. When the tugboat saw me in the water, they refused to come alongside.
So the ship had to anchor in the middle of the harbor. And that’s when the atmosphere changed dramatically because all the US sailors, it was 4th of July, they were all in their dress short going blues, looking really proper. And all of a sudden they had to get back into their seagoing detail because they had to anchor, they had to be on deck. And they could see those beers just sliding over the horizon.
And for a sailor that’s been on a dry ship for a month, you’re messing around. But we did it. We held them out in the harbor for six or seven hours before the police came and arrested us. And the local townspeople had heard of our action and about 50 of them threw themselves into the water in front of the ship. We actually inspired people to help us.
AUDIO CLIP: 5:30 this morning, Greenpeace activists launched a covert operation. Greenpeace has a salacious ad on the internet. Greenpeace. Halfway around the world, Greenpeace marked 25 years.
PETER WILLCOX: If the press doesn’t cover an action, it’s like it didn’t happen. And sometimes actions don’t get covered. One story, probably the most dramatic activity I’ve did in Greenpeace, was the relocation of 350 Islanders from Rongelap in the Marshall Islands that had been used as Guinea pigs in nuclear radiation testing.
AUDIO CLIP: A brilliance of 500 suns lights, hundreds of miles of the Pacific. And the force of a million tons of TNT is released.
PETER WILLCOX: We use the Marshall Islands intentionally as Guinea pigs by the US military to test the effects of radioactive follow.
AUDIO CLIP: 15 seconds later, the light is still unbearable. Observers may well squint, or they may have witnessed a prelude to world destruction.
PETER WILCOX: The islanders were 120, 150 miles away. When this bomb went off, they could feel the heat at 10 o’clock in the morning and hear the sound from one 20 megaton blast.
AUDIO CLIP: These are fishing people savages by our standards. The Marshallese is by fallout, got 175 roentgens of radiation. Most humans are exposed to less than 20 roentgens in a lifetime.
PETER WILLCOX: People were all getting sick from radiation sickness. Vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, skin burns, and the Navy realized they were gonna have to move them off the island right away, or they wouldn’t live. So they moved them away. But then three years later, after monitoring their health for the three, three and a half years and watching their background radiation levels go down. They moved them back to Rongelap, knowing it was still hot, and monitored their radiation levels as they went up again.
And the people began to experience more and more health issues. Women had multiple miscarriages. Seven or eight miscarriages wasn’t unusual. Women had jellyfish babies, which is exactly what it sounded like. Unformed, no bones that would live for a few hours and then die. There was stunted growth, there was mental retardation, there was premature aging. And instead of protect the people, instead of building up their economy. Instead of building up their education. Instead of bringing them into the 20th century. It used them as Guinea pigs to test nuclear weapons, and the ugliness still continues today.
When we went there in 1985, they had already been on record for a number of years as asking to be relocated. They appealed to their own government. And then to the US government to move them off the atol. When we came, we contacted their Senator Jeton Anjain, the first dentist in the Marshall Islands. And he said, yeah, you can get us the heck off the island. And it wasn’t really till we got there, we realized what we were undertaking. It wasn’t just moving people, it was moving as much of their village as we could.
We couldn’t, we didn’t move the church, but we moved tons of roofing material, two by four and plywood to build houses on the new island. I guess we had upwards of a hundred people on for some of the trips. We did four trips. 1985 was our year of protesting nuclear testing in the Pacific. The first place we went to was the Marshall Islands. The second place we intended to go was French Polynesia. Where the French were doing underground testing. And there are a number of radiation leaking fissures in the atol now that are– the radiation’s just pouring into the Pacific Ocean.
The idea was to stop off in New Zealand, re-provision the ship and then take off from Moriori. About half the crew had gone ashore. They all scattered in different directions. That evening we had a meeting with the other Peace Fleet boats. We were gonna be leading a fleet of boats out to Moriori. Quarter of 12, I was laying in my bed. The boat shook. First thought was we’d been involved with a collision with another ship at sea. I looked out my forward porthole and saw the lights of the dock and realized nothing much can be wrong, we’re safely tied to the dock. I laid back in bed and realized I didn’t hear the generators going.
By the time I got to the engine room door, which was only 15 feet down the hallway, the chief engineer was standing there muttering well it’s over. She’s finished, she’s done with. I looked where he was looking, and I could see water less than three feet below the deck I was standing on. Which meant the whole engine room was already flooded. There was only four or five people gathered in the hallway. I said, let’s all get on the dock and we’ll figure it out there. That’s when the second bomb went off and you could feel the whole boat jump. Abandon, ship everybody off now.
I went up forward. I was worried about people up in the theater area, which is where we’d just been having the meeting. It wouldn’t have been at all surprising for half a dozen people to still be down there. And I stepped into water, so I knew I wasn’t gonna do any good there. Went back to my cabin. I was naked at the time and I was gonna try to find some clothes. The boat started to heel over against the dock as it slid down the bank as it sank. And I just had time to go once more down the back, the accommodation deck, and calling out to abandon ship. Poking my head into cabins, and get out on the dock and look at the boat, sinking in the water.
Chief engineer Davey Edward came up to me and said, well, Fernando’s down there, photographer Fernando Perrera. And I said, oh, come on. He always goes ashore at night and Dave said, no, he’s down there. Seems what happened was the second bomb wrenched his door, so he couldn’t open it. At that point, the water was thick with diesel fuel bubbling out of the tanks. I don’t think I could have dove down and done any good then I didn’t try, which is something I’ve always regretted. One of the women off the other boats had come up to me with some clothes and said, when the second bomb went off, I saw a bright blue flash underwater.
Plus, I knew that we had nothing that could explode like that in the engine room. Diesel fuel doesn’t explode like that. Gasoline might, but we didn’t have any gasoline down there. There was nothing in the engine room, so I was convinced that the bombs had been planted on the boat. 10 minutes later, the fire department showed up, ordered us off the boat, asked us if there were any more bombs on board, and I said no. The cops were skeptical. We were taking over the police station where we were grilled pretty hard by a couple policemen. At about 10 o’clock. The divers were able to get down through the mud and find the first hole.
And it was a six by seven foot hole on the side of the hull.. You could drive a Volkswagen through it. Blew it apart like your fist going through a paper bag. And the divers confirmed that the bomb had definitely been on the outside. All the torn metal was going inwards. And that’s when the cop said, okay, well I think now we believe it wasn’t you guys. And they lightened up a lot.
AUDIO CLIP: The Rainbow Warrior sank just four minutes after the second bomb was detonated. So there is no doubt this was a well planned attack.
PETER WILLCOX: What had happened the night of the bombing was that the two divers had tied an inflatable boat across the dockside. Using rebreathing equipment, swam underwater to the Rainbow Warrior, planted the bombs, gone back to their inflatable driven away. And when they were going in the, the yacht harbor, they had taken the motor off the inflatable and dumped it in the water, dragged the inflatable up the beach and left it there. The members of the yacht club saw this and they said, oh my God, these, the damn kids are back again. So they copied down the name of the camper van as it left.
AUDIO CLIP: A former French Secret Service agent has admitted planting the bombs, which blew up a Greenpeace ship more than 30 years ago in New Zealand, killing a Portuguese photographer.
PETER WILLCOX: The two French agents were apprehended trying to return a camper van. And they were posing as Swiss tourists. French agents were questioned all day long, separately, this man and a woman. And later that night they found out their Swiss passports were fake. So they found pretty quickly that there had been French involvement. Had it been approved by President Mitterand? An act of terrorism, state sponsored terrorism in a foreign country.
AUDIO CLIP: Two of the bombers captured by New Zealand were jailed for 10 years, but served only two after France threatened trade embargoes.
PETER WILLCOX: In some weird way. It was a huge pat on the back that if we had scared a nuclear superpower so much that they were gonna set out to kill us, that we must be doing something right. The bombing in 1985 in New Zealand really put Greenpeace in a lot of places it hadn’t been before. Fundraising ran up dramatically. The whole tone within the organization changed overnight. Made it possible so we can do many more things. I took a year off. I wanted to do some courses. I became an EMT, I took a radio course, went sailing with some friends. It was at the end of 1987 that I moved to Hamburg, Germany to rebuild the second Rainbow Warrior. Went from being an eight month job to a year and a half job.
The second Rainbow Warrior was another North Sea trawler that we converted to sail. We had the amazing amount of money of three and a half million to put into it. She was dramatically faster, better, bigger than the first Rainbow Warrior. Now, the current Rainbow Warrior, that boat cost 22 million. She’s a very modern ship in every way.
We just did a trip from Durban, South Africa to Sydney Australia. And we sailed 80% of the distance without the engine on at all. And that’s us getting a chance to put our money where our mouth is. And leaving a smaller carbon footprint by sailing. And I’m just thrilled to be able to do that. Climate change has generally been what we have come to work on. When I started in Greenpeace where we were doing whale actions. My admiration and respect to organizations who are still working on that. But my feeling is that if we don’t get a handle on climate change, there aren’t gonna be any more whales anyway.
As we pump more CO2 into the atmosphere, the ocean absorbs almost an equal amount of it and changes it to acid. So the oceans are becoming too acidic. The Arctic is one of the biggest oil producers in the world, and their Siberian fields are running low. Putin believes. That the future to Russia’s success is to drill for oil in the Arctic Sea. Which is becoming increasingly more opened. As climate change gets worse, the ice becomes less, but Putin’s not getting the message. So that’s why we went there. We went there to say, look, Russia’s drilling for oil, it’s stupid. They shouldn’t be. All we do is climb up on this rig a little bit, hold some banners, take some pictures, and go. We’re going up for a photo op.
When we went up in the summer of 2013, almost as soon as we got alongside of the rig, they started firing machine guns at us within three feet of our boats. They were spraying them with freezing water from the hoses above, and they were pulling on their climbing ropes out, away and smashing them against the steel structure. Fortunate that nobody got shot. Since that action, when people start firing, we start running and there’s no, there’s no carrying on. We got two people arrested and we spent the next 30 hours just doing donuts around the rig, outside the safety zone. Hoping to negotiate getting our arrested activist back. The notion that we’re gonna take over this oil rig, which is full of hundreds of men and armed soldiers is so ludicrous. It’s just not to be remotely possible.
About 30 hours after the action, it was the evening of the second day. They flew out with Spetsnaz troops on a helicopter and abseiled down onto the heli deck of the boat. They were all armed, of course, and they took over the boat and arrested us all. Routine was they tow you into Murmansk cuz we refused to run the ship. They arrest you. They spent a couple days processing you. And you stay on the ship and then they say, get the hell out. And that’s what we expected to happen. They said, okay, you’re all gonna come in for a couple hours just to answer some questions. And we got in there and that’s when they said, okay, you’re all on jail for two months. That was a shot. Charging us some piracy.
There’s an expression in Russian prisons. Don’t hope, don’t fear, don’t beg. They were hard. I mean, the attitude of all the Russians we saw was that, okay, you’re gonna be here a long time. It was a month before I could meet with a lawyer. I lost 20 pounds in three weeks. Not from not eating, just from stress. And I didn’t particularly feel stressed. But it’s in the back of your mind. You know, am I gonna really spend 10 to 15 years here? For the young women that were part of the crew, they’re thinking, well, maybe I’m never gonna have a family. I’ll get out before I die, but I may not have my health. December of 2013 was also leading up to Sochi Olympics. We assumed that Putin didn’t want us in jail during Sochi, cuz there would probably be demonstrations.
The last week in jail there. If I could look out and see some trees, I could see the Neva River out, one side of the window, just a corner of it. And I’m thinking, I am really ready to get outta here. We were actually going to trial. We all had to go to trial again separately for an additional three months in jail. When you’re in the detention hearings in Russia, you’re kept in a cage, an iron cage. And if there’s anything that makes you feel like a dirty, rotten scumbag, it’s everybody’s dressed nicely in the court and you’re sitting there in the, pretty much the same clothes you walked in with a month before.
And I get into court and finally they take me back over the sentencing and I had a pretty bad translator at that point. She’s talking into my ear and the judge spends like three minutes going on and on about why I can’t get bail, and I’m going lower and lower and lower. And then she switches and she spends about 45 seconds talking about why I should get bail. Halfway through that process, I realized she’s simply summarizing the investigator prosecutor in the defense lawyer’s cases. And then she says, and bail is granted. Whoa.
Two days later I was released. Greenpeace had to put up 60,000 euros each. In the 40 odd years I’ve been working for the environmental movement, we’ve simply watched the world go right down the tubes. So there just hasn’t been success. I wanna leave my two daughters and my stepson, a planet that they can live on and feel comfortable enough to have children of their own. And right now, I’m, not sure if they’re there. I’d like to see the US make a serious effort at all its infrastructure.
We are so backward and behind the times. And it’s simply because we don’t have the initiative to go out and put in a decent high speed rail service between Boston and Washington DC. And it’s because we don’t have the initiative to go out and build wind farms the way we need them. And really get down the cost of solar panels. And we’re just stuck in the past and it’s so frustrating. We could be spending money on changing our energy system to something that’s not gonna pollute the world and kill people. And we’re not doing it. We’re not doing it nearly fast enough.
Well, I’m gonna be speaking on Islesboro Maine next week to the graduating class of the high school. And I’m gonna tell them, if you want to lead a more rewarding life, get involved. It will make you happier to get involved to try to do something outside your immediate sphere of concerns and influence. The English and American surveys I’ve read on this issue say that being a political activist to the extreme of getting arrested and possibly hurt does not make you a happier person.
Being a political activist and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, if you will, does make you a happier person. My prescription for leading a more fun life for doing something with your life is not to be overly concerned with your bank account. It’s not to be overly concerned with the size of your house or your job title. Do something where you can feel like you’re a functioning member of society where you can feel you’re contributing. And I think it will make your life better. And I think everybody can do something. Whether it’s walking down the street and picking up some trash. Getting involved with any extent, whether it’s going down to your political party and put licking stamps. Everybody can find something they can do. I advocate it. I have found it a pretty good life so far.
PRODUCER: And then, so that kind of leads to the next question, like how do you wanna be remembered? Can you say the question? Too so we can get the…
PETER WILLCOX: How will I be remembered? I don’t have a clue. You know a funny guy that had some fun, a sailor that had a political conscience.