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On Hiroshima anniversary, Syracuse Peace Council calls for changes to U.S. nuclear policy

About 70 people marched in the streets of downtown Syracuse Tuesday in a silent procession to remember the lives lost in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, 74 years ago, this week. Approximately 200,000 people died in the attacks. Demonstrators are calling on elected officials and organizations to endorse the national “Back from the Brink” campaign, which outlines policy changes in the U.S. to prevent nuclear war.

Hilary-Anne Coppola with the peace council said the changes include renouncing the option of the U.S. using nuclear weapons first, and ending the unchecked authority of the president to launch a nuclear attack.

“There are no checks and balances in place," Coppola said. "This is left over from the Cold War. And this is also insanity! No single person should have the ability to make such a decision that can murder hundreds of thousands of people.”

Diane Swords with the peace council said the platform is a way to educate and organize the public while they pressure elected officials like Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, to endorse it.

“It’s been really devastating in these last years, watching as treaties that we worked so hard to build in the 80s, are coming unraveled," Swords said. "Hearing the same old blame Russia clichés that worked then, must not be allowed to start a new arms race.”

Caroline Kim Tihanyi said the changes are particularly needed in the age of President Donald Trump.

“We don’t want Trump who has little self-control and has engaged in racist rhetoric and actions, to have that kind of power, or any other president,” Tihanyi said.

The “Back from the Brink” campaign also calls for cancelling plans to replace and upgrade U.S. nuclear weaponry and technology and working with other nuclear-armed countries to eliminate the weapons entirely.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.