Vandenberg Protest to Focus on Alternative Energy
Coalition Insists that Windmills Outrank Missiles

October 1 2003


Action Call | Pre-Action Report | Air Force Release | Report | Press Report

The Vandenberg Action Coalition in cooperation with the Global Network Against Weapons in Space is preparing to demonstrate at the Vandenberg Gate on Saturday, October 11th, at 2:00 pm. This is the first demonstration to demand the conversion of Vandenberg to a center for the improvement and use of sustainable energy technologies.

October 4-11 is Keep Space for Peace Week: International Days of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space.  Vandenberg is not only the main test site for the  Missile Defense System, it is a major center for directing weapons to their targets around the world  and has the announced goal of the complete domination of space.

Many billions of taxpayer dollars have not produced a workable system. In fact,  all of the proposed systems are behind schedule and and in trouble. Yet the Bush administration has requested over $9 billion for FY904 to start building this unproved system.

China, Russia and other nations feel threatened by the Missile Defense System, which could start a new and wasteful arms race. At the same time, the launching of sattelites and the testing of missiles has resulted in the perchlorate pollution of Vandenberg and surrounding areas. This chemical in drinking water or on vegetables can cause birth defects and developmental problems in children. Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced legislation to require the EPA to set a safe standard for this contamination at an early date.

WHY WE DEMONSTRATE

We reject the use of our tax dollars for this unproved and destabilizing system at a time when the world is suffering from hunger, disease, ignorance and global warming.. Global warming increases killer heat waves, melts polar ice, which causes the sea to flood lowlands,  and threatens food crops with reduced yields.

Japan is the world9s leading producer of solar panels. Denmark is leading the world in wind enery production. The United States leads the world in spending for death and destruction. We Must Change our Priorities.

We demand the conversion of a large part of Vandenberg AFB to a reasearch center for the improvement of alternative energies and the creation of a wind farm to free this area from dependence on foreign oil.

We demonstrate to increase public awareness of how our tax money is being wasted  when other problems pose a greater threat to our nation, humanity and to the world in which our children must live.

WE MUST CHANGE OUR PRIORITIES

For more information:
Peter Cohen, coordinator, (805) 884-0704
< aerie@silcom.com >
Vandenberg Action Coalition, Bud Boothe   (805) 688-2520

 


7 October 2003
Protest planned at base
By Janene Scully

 
Demonstrators plan to stage a non-violent event Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base's Main Gate to tout investment in alternate energy sources such as windmills instead of missiles.

The Vandenberg Action Coalition is organizing the annual demonstration as part of the International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space. More than 60 similar "Keep Space for Peace" actions are planned around the world.

The local event begins at 2 p.m. at the entrance at Highway 1 and Lompoc-Casmalia Road. Base officials said protesters can park at the Vandenberg Middle School parking lot.

"This will allow them safe passage across Highway 1 at the (traffic) light," said Maj. Stacee Bako, a base spokeswoman.

She added that the Air Force supports people's First Amendment rights to stage peaceful demonstrations within the designated area at the Main Gate.

Instead of missiles, protesters want Vandenberg converted to a center for improvement and use of alternate energy sources.

"The main message is, we have to change our priorities," said Peter Cohen of Santa Barbara. "We can't go on spending a tremendous amount of money on the military and nothing on society."

Cohen, 77, said he became a peace activist after leaving the Army in 1946 and belongs to various peace organizations.

He said he has been to Vandenberg once before for a protest and is coordinating this event because usual organizers are out of town or on probation for previous trespassing violations at the base.

He estimated that a few dozen people will attend this fall's action, designed as a "happy and peaceful event" where demonstrators are encouraged to bring creative signs.

"There is no plan for any non-violent protest," he said. "This is a peaceful protest. This is joyous
protest."

He doesn't expect anyone will trespass onto the base.

"I do not encourage that," he said. "I have no plans for that. I think there are better ways to protest and don't feel that's the right direction."

Staff writer Janene Scully can be reached at 739-2214 or by e-mail at janscully@pulitzer.net .

 


10 October 2003
Airmen ready base for weekend protest
By Maj. Stacee N. Bako
30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Vandenberg AFB, California


http://www.vandenberg.af.mil/space-missile-times/story_2/story2.htm

Base personnel may be diverted to alternate gates if demonstrators for the International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space block the Santa Maria Gate Saturday.

Protestors from the Vandenberg Action Coalition plan to stage a nonviolent protest at the main gate here from 1 to 4 p.m. Should the group block the road, base traffic will be re-routed to the Utah or Lompoc Gates for base access.

The group is conducting the protest as part of a week-long, worldwide action entitled "Keep Space for Peace." According to the group's Web site, their goal is to encourage the redirection of funding to alternative energy sources, like windmills instead of continued funding of the Missile Defense Program.

Demonstrators are allowed to park in the Vandenberg Middle School parking lot and to protest in the areas designated by snow fencing put up by the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron.

The 30th Security Forces Squadron patrols ensure no laws are broken during the protest and will be on hand to detain trespassers if required.

Suspicious activities should be reported to the Security Forces Control Center at 606-3911. For more information on protest advisories, visit the Web at http://www.vandenberg.af.mil .

 


11 October 2003
Vandenberg Action Coalition From Missiles to Windmills a success!!
From Sheila Baker

 
Peter Cohen organized the Vandenberg Action Coalition's From "Missiles to Windmills of Peace", a Conversion Now Project to convert the trillions that Vandenberg spends on missile launches to peaceful environmentally sustainable and renewable energy.

This was an official international Keep Space for Peace Week event organized by Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

Peter reported that over 35 people attended, from up and down the coast. People carried little wind pinwheels and flowers on colorful 'stems' to illustrate the event. The Green Party had a strong showing, and of course, the Friends of Santa Barbara, as well as other groups. Peter shared that the base passed out the obnoxious pepper spray FAQ sheet, and the base security was excessive with their usual 'stop the terrorists' attitude.

Later, the participants circled together to share feelings and future strategy. Overall, Peter felt, the
event was positive and beautiful.

Congratulations to Peter and to all who came or somehow supported this event; and many thanks to the University of California Santa Barbara Nexus for their media presence.

 


10 October 2003
Protesters Want Peaceful Work at Vandenberg



http://www.ucsbdailynexus.com/news/2003/5707.html

Demonstrators are meeting on Saturday to demand the conversion of Vandenberg Air Force Base from a missile facility to a center for the study and development of sustainable energy sources, like windmills.

The protest, which is scheduled to take place outside the main gate of the base from 1-4 p.m., is organized by the Vandenberg Action Coalition and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (GN). Both organizations are committed to changing America's priorities from defense spending to funding for alternative energy technology so as to free the Santa Barbara area and ultimately the United States from dependence on foreign oil.

Peter Cohen, Santa Barbara area coordinator for GN, said military projects like a missile defense shield are bad for the country because the technology is untested and will lead to an international arms race.

"All the spending that we're doing on the military is not going to help us in regard to terrorism," Cohen said. "We're spending $9 billion in 2004 - it's not going to make us any safer."

Cohen, a World War II veteran who served in Japan and the South Pacific, said he was asked to organize this year's Vandenberg AFB protest because several of the regular organizers trespassed last year, resulting in their restriction from the area. This year, Cohen said the group has had several conversations with base security, and the hours and the area for the protest have been cleared.

"We have no plans for any civil disobedience," Cohen said. "If people want to do that stuff, they're on their own."

The VAC and GN advertised the protest through e-mails to group members and news media. Cohen said he is unsure of how many people will attend, but he expects the number will be "in the dozens."

Protest participants will be carpooling to the base. Cohen said that if people need rides, they are encouraged to bring a sign and meet between noon and 12:30 p.m. at the Goleta Borders Bookstore, where they can find space with someone already heading up.

 


9 October 2003
Activists plan rally to end missile tests


http://search.newspress.com/2003/10/09/100903briefs.htm?now=40727&tref=1

VANDENBERG AFB A group of activists who want to "Keep Space for Peace" will rally Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The gathering, set for 2 p.m. at the main gate of the classified military installation, will include participants asking base officials to convert Vandenberg's space and missile mission into a "center for the improvement and use of sustainable energy technologies."

Activists want the base to start testing windmills instead of missiles. Vandenberg is the site of a portion of the government's planned national missile defense system, and the base regularly test launches unarmed intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"We reject the use of our tax dollars for this unproved and destabilizing system at a time when the world is suffering from hunger, diseases, ignorance and global running," organizers said.

The rally is part of an annual Oct. 4-11 worldwide "Keep Space for Peace Week,"
designed primarily to protest the "militarization of space."

More than 50 rallies, demonstrations and protests are planned around the world.

The demonstration may slow traffic a bit at the busy intersection of Highway 1 and Lompoc-Casmalia Road

Unlike past anti-military protests, organizers of Saturday's rally don't expect participants to conduct civil disobedience or get arrested by trespassing onto Vandenberg property.

 


13 October 2003
Missile Protests Continue

Demonstrators Gather at Vandenberg Air Force Base to 'Keep Space for Peace'
Daily Nexus


http://www.dailynexus.com/news/2003/5713.html
A Global Network member holds up a packet he was given by military personnel at a protest on Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The packet contained a letter from the commanding colonel explaining that the base is closed, an information sheet on pepper spray and a description of what happens to protesters if they are detained.
Paul Pan / Daily Nexus
A Global Network member holds up a packet he was given by military personnel at a protest on Saturday at Vandenberg Air Force Base. The packet contained a letter from the commanding colonel explaining that the base is closed, an information sheet on pepper spray and a description of what happens to protesters if they are detained.

A thick green line painted across the roadway separates protestors from the most advanced space weapons and missile testing facility in the world. Outside the main gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), located six miles north of Lompoc in northwestern Santa Barbara County, demonstrators gather with rocket-shaped signs. Pinwheels protrude from these mock rocket engines in place of superheated exhaust.

"Missiles into windmills," the signs read at last Saturday's anti-weapon in space protest.

However, signs near VAFB's designated protest area - a narrow strip of grass between the busy Highway 1 roadway and a plastic orange snow fence - are not so easily read. Base security covered area street signs and all signs identifying VAFB with black sheets.

Oct. 11 was the last day of Keep Space for Peace Week, an international campaign organized by the Global Network Against Weapons in Space (GNAWS), which has 170 affiliate groups worldwide encompassing "literally millions of people," National Coordinator Bruce Gagnon said. GNAWS sponsored dozens of nationwide protests last week - and hundreds of protests over the past 11 years - calling for the end of government spending on space-based military technology like the missile defense shield.

At VAFB, home of the Air Force's 30th Space Wing, protestors from GNAWS and the Vandenberg Action Coalition (VAC) wanted more - the devotion of base facilities to the study of alternative energy sources rather than to the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

"We feel the priorities of our government are wrong," said Peter Cohen, Santa Barbara Coordinator of GNAWS. "We'd rather see Vandenberg direct its energy to so many other things, like solving global warming, poverty and ignorance. I'm not opposed to the military; I'm opposed to the policy."

Cohen, a 77-year-old retired mural painter, served in the south Pacific during World War II. He said he has been an advocate for peace ever since, and campaigned against the Vietnam War during an unsuccessful 1968 candidacy for a Pennsylvania congressional seat. He agreed to organize this protest after eight other organizers were banned from the base following incidents of trespassing. In one incident, a protestor was arrested for splattering human blood on a VAFB sign in protest of the war in Iraq.

The 30 people who turned out for Saturday's protest, mostly retirees, were a better turnout than Cohen was expecting.

"We do our thing and [our message] starts to sink in," Cohen said, as he clutched a mock rifle barrel with a flower stuffed in it. "Over the course of time, we won't have to be here."

That thick green border demarcation line in front of the main gate guardhouse is easily crossed, but nearly a dozen uniformed VAFB security guards and cameramen are waiting and watching from the other side, documenting faces of protest participants and ready to record any trespassing attempt on film.

A helicopter flies over the roadway at regular intervals, and a base security officer hands out information packets to the crowd of about 30 people. The packet's first page is a reminder that unauthorized base entry is forbidden. The second page is a fact sheet about the effects of pepper spray.

Second Lieutenant Michelle Mayo, a representative from 30th Space Wing Public Affairs who was observing the gathering, said the military cameras are there for visual documentation of the protest. She said that anyone who is arrested for crossing the green line gets a ticket, photographed and barred from the base for three years.

"Once they pass the line, we don't know what their intentions are," Mayo said.

As for the black sheets covering the VAFB signs, Mayo said they are covered to prevent protestor photo opportunities, but she did not elaborate.

Reached by phone the day before the protest, Major Stacee Bako, VAFB Public Affairs Officer, said the base is a national security asset and that operations are unaffected by protests.

"They have the right to protest whatever they want, but that doesn't change our mission," she said.

In response to protestor demands that VAFB convert to a center for alternative energy research, Bako said that in fact, the base is engaged in research of windmill-driven power generation.

"We're in the preliminary design stage," Bako said. "We're looking into a small wind farm on the north side of the base that will generate 3 megawatts and supplement the base's commercial power. It should be installed and functional by September of '04."

Bako said VAFB is also one of the largest federal users of electric and natural gas-powered vehicles.

"We're always looking at different ways to conserve energy," Bako said.

At around 3:00 p.m., the protestors gathered in a circle to introduce themselves and state aloud their feelings about weapons in space. Several minutes later, the helicopter that had been flying over the roadway returned to circle the crowd. Some demonstrators wondered aloud if this was an intentional form of harassment, since noise from the rotor blades made it very difficult to hear each other speak.

Dorothy Boothe, of Los Olivos, said a major person was missing from this gathering: her husband Bud, who took her to a protest on a first date 14 years ago.

Bud Boothe, 78, was one of the original co-founders of the VAC in 1983. He has been arrested several times for trespassing on base property. In October of 2000, he was one of 22 other protestors who was arrested with actor Martin Sheen for crossing the green line and attempting to deliver a letter to the base commander.

Reached by phone the day after Saturday's protest, Boothe said "it hurt" not being able to participate in the demonstration because he was arrested - he says unjustly - again last December, three days before his probation from the Martin Sheen incident was due to end.

Boothe said backpackers have entered the base and escaped undetected, even after security was heightened after 9/11.

"People have backpacked deep into the base and hung banners on antenna equipment before," Boothe said. "None of them have been arrested, but they arrest me for stepping over the green line."

While some protestors say current windmill research is positive step for VAFB, most see it as a very small step-especially when compared to the billions of dollars still spent on space-based weapon systems.

Patrice Acuna, an 83-year-old Isla Vista resident who attended the protest, said she has marched for peace, civil rights and other causes throughout her life.

"I don't like the way this country is going," Acuna said. "No matter how hard I march, things just keep getting worse; it's kind of depressing."
 



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