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December 9, 1982 – CBS World News Roundup – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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December 9, 1982 – Drama at the Washington Monument to start this day’s news. In what was initially a standoff between a protestor and Park Police, ended with Norman Mayer being shot and fatally wounded.
On December 8, 1982, Mayer drove a white van bearing the message “#1 PRIORITY: BAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS” in large letters on its side up to the base of the Washington Monument and jumped out wearing a black motorcycle helmet, a bright blue snowsuit and carrying a remote control. Mayer claimed that he would destroy the Monument with 1,000 pounds (500 kg) of TNT loaded in his van unless a national dialogue on the threat of nuclear weapons was seriously undertaken. Mayer also claimed that he had a hidden accomplice who could also detonate the explosives.
The U.S. Park Police evacuated nearby buildings and closed down streets for several blocks. Eight tourists were initially trapped inside the Monument, but were released after AP reporter Steven Komarow began negotiating with Mayer. Ten hours into the negotiation, Mayer jumped into his van and started to drive off, threatening to become “a moving time bomb in downtown Washington”. The police opened fire, striking Mayer four times—twice in the head.
The Park Police later claimed that they did not intend to shoot Mayer, but were instead aiming for the van’s engine. Their subsequent investigation disclosed that Mayer had neither explosives nor an accomplice.
Mayer was one of a number of individuals connected to the White House Peace Vigil at Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.. The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue (2012) by Tim Wilkerson, a documentary commissioned by the Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, recounts the lives of Mayer, Thomas, Concepcion Picciotto and Ellen Thomas. Thomas, who believed in nonviolence, refused to take part in Mayer’s plan to destroy public monuments, as Mayer was unable to assure him of the safety of civilians and officials.
In other news: The Israeli Judicial commission was investigating the killing of between 460 and 3,500 civilians, mostly Palestinians and Lebanese Shiites. The massacre was purportedly done by a militia close to the Kataeb Party (also called Phalange), a predominantly Christian Lebanese right-wing party, in the Sabra neighborhood and the adjacent Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. From approximately 18:00 on 16 September to 08:00 on 18 September 1982, a widespread massacre was carried out by the militia in plain sight of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), its ally. The Phalanges were ordered by the IDF to clear Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) fighters out of Sabra and Shatila, as part of the IDF maneuvering into West Beirut. The IDF received reports of some of the Phalange atrocities in Sabra and Shatila but did not take any action to prevent or stop the massacre.
And Marty Robbins, Country singer, songwriter, actor, multi-instrumentalist, and NASCAR racing driver died earlier this day. Robbins was one of the most popular and successful country and western singers for most of his nearly four-decade career, which spanned from the late 1940s to the early 1980s.
Robbins developed cardiovascular disease early in life. After his third heart attack on December 2, 1982, he underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery. He did not recover and died six days later, on December 8, at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. He was 57 years old.
And that’s just a little of what happened on this December 9, 1982 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.