Protesters rally at Beale

October 8 2000

By Molly Green,

Mel Hunt of Arcada, a U.S. military veteran, takes part in the protest at Beale Air Force Base on Saturday as a representative of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission.
(Picture by Sharón Steinmann/Appeal-Democrat)

David Merserve of Arcata and the Balloon!

About 40 people lined up along North Beale Road outside the gate to Beale Air Force Base on Saturday, protesting the militarization of space. The peace activist held signs proclaiming "Keep Space for Peace," "Schools Not Bombs" and "Bombs Kill-Wage Peace." The group was part of the International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space held Saturday in 63 locations worldwide. The organized protest was to create awareness of the testing and development of nuclear weapons in space.

One of the international organizations involved in the protest had a local presence at the demonstration at Beale. It was the second time Barbara Wiedner, founder and director of Grandmothers For Peace, stood outside the gates of Beale. The first time was in 1982 during a protest against nuclear weapons. Saturday, Wiedner found herself once again protesting nuclear weapons in front of the gate to Beale Air Force Base.

"We have protested nuclear weapons for over 18 years, now they want to put them in space," Wiedner said. "The thought of them in space is more than we can bear."

The main focus of the protest was the national defense missile program which includes development of an anti-missile missile system.

President Clinton has postponed the deployment of the program, passing the decision to the next president. Meanwhile, testing of the missile system continues. The most recent test - conducted during the summer- failed, but testing is to resume in January.

It is the government's continuation of a failed program that brought the protesters to Beale. "The protest comes from frustration of silence from officials, we must result to civil disobedience," said Wiedner.

David Meserve came from Arcata to participate in the protest. "We want to call attention to the fact that the government continues to go ahead with this despite that it threatens peace," he said.

Meserve and other protesters fear that if the United States continues to develop missiles Russia and China will also build more weapons. "If the U.S. builds nuclear weapons it leads to an escalation in the arms race," said Pete Horn, of Sacramento.

The protesters were peaceful and the military supported their right for peaceful assembly, said Major Nori LaRue, public affairs officer at Beale. "The military has earned them that right."

Wiedner said the protest was not against the military personnel, "They are serving their country, they are our sons and grandsons."

The protesters want to educate others and gain the attention of political leaders. "I learn more and more and it is scary stuff," said Arron Daugherty, 16, of Davis. "It is a huge waste of money and there are so many other problems that need to be addressed.

"It is an arms race that can't be won, it would be safer and better to use peace treaties."

Protest at Beale
October 10 2000

By Bernice Kring, Grandmothers for Peace

On Oct. 7, 2000, fifty Northern California activists came to the main gate of Beale AFB in Marysville to protest BMD. Beale has an early warning radar system called PAVE PAWS (Perimeter Acquisition Vehicle Entry Phased Array Weapons System). This radar system is tied into a global network that gives the U.S. monitoring and global attack capability.

Our group stood along North Beale Road from noon to 2 P.M. with signs, banners and a large balloon proclaiming "Stop the National Missile Defense" and "Abolish Nuclear Weapons". It was the first protest at Beale in at least 11 years, so we decided not to try civil disobedience THIS time. One airman was assigned to go down our lines and photograph us. The Air Force gave three members of our group the chance to explain our opposition on videotape. Representatives of the Nevada County Green Party, Peace Action and Grandmothers for Peace gave testimony.

We concluded our protest with a circle and song and heard from a local resident what he knew of activities at the base. The sergeant in charge of security called "Good job" as we left. We thanked him for the hospitality and promised we would return.

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Protest at Beale
October 14 2000

Ellen Schwartz Comments

Subject: I went on our local Oct. 7 demonstration to Beale AFB in Marysville. It was the first time there has been a demonstration there in 17 years, so Bernice Kring, who organized it for Grandmothers for Peace, assured the security staff that we would not do CD (she didn't want them to panic and shoot us). The security officer said, "CD?" and Bernice had to explain, and again assure him that we weren't going to do it this time, but maybe when we come back. Says he: ".....You're going to come back???"

There were about 50 of us and a reporter from the Marysville paper came and took pictures and interviewed us. A reporter from the base newspaper took LOTS of pictures. We smiled. He said, "No, I want you to look grim!". We were uncooperative. We liked him. He was a tall, handsome young man who was not interested in shooting anybody except with his camera. We couldn't help smiling.

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