12 March 2014
Activists target VAFB's mission : Keep Space for Peace planned for this weekend
By Nora K. Wallace
News-Press Staff Writer
Santa Barbara News-Press


Dennis Apel leads a protest at Vandenberg Air Force Base


David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, will speak at a public forum during Keep Space for Peace this weekend.

A protest at Vandenberg Air Force Base and a public forum on the complex's role in missile defense and space are the focus of a conference this week.

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space is hosting the 22nd annual Keep Space for Peace event Friday through Sunday.

The Global Network includes 150 peace and religious groups worldwide working to "oppose the development of a new arms race in space," according to organizers.

The theme for this year's gathering focuses on what organizers call Vandenberg's role in the "U.S. Global Domination: Implications of U.S. Pivot into the Asia-Pacific."
"Vandenberg plays a key role in Pentagon military satellite launching, testing nuclear missiles, and most recently as a deployment site for so-called 'missile defense' interceptors," said Bruce Gagnon, a network coordinator. "Increasingly, the U.S. military is aiming at the Asia-Pacific region as the Obama administration-announced 'pivot' of 60 percent of Pentagon forces moves to encircle China."

The conference kicks off with a protest at Vandenberg at 4 p.m. Friday.

"For years there have been peace protests outside Vandenberg with many people arrested for their non-violent witness," Mr. Gagnon said in a statement. "Global Network members are coming from all over the world to honor and encourage these dedicated local citizens. We will share our deep concerns about current U.S. plans to 'control and dominate space' and the Pentagon's pivot into the Asia-Pacific."

In the past, such gatherings at Vandenberg's main gate have included the arrests of numerous attendees for trespassing onto the classified military base's secured property. The base sets aside a small grassy area near the main gate on State Route 1 for protesters or vigils and the plot is near a green line painted into the asphalt on the roadway.

Once people involved in a gathering pass across that green line, they are warned about trespassing and eventually detained by military security police if they do not leave.

Last week Vandenberg security forces detained two activists, Guadalupe Catholic Worker Dennis Apel, and Steven Keller. Mr. Apel recently lost a Supreme Court case involving his previous convictions for trespassing at Vandenberg and his argument about use of a public roadway easement for such activism. Mr. Apel will attend on Friday and is a speaker at the public forum for the conference.

The public forum will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara.

Dave Webb, national chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the United Kingdom, said he will attend to support groups concerned about "the role of Vandenberg in aggressive, destabilizing and dangerous military projects such as 'missile defense.' Far from being defensive, these systems are part of a strategy involving the possible use of nuclear weapons without having to worry about retaliation."

Speakers for the gathering will include David Krieger of the Santa Barbara-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Christine Hong of the Korea Policy Institute and UC Santa Cruz; Andrew Lichterman of Western States Legal Foundation; and Mary Beth Sullivan, a social worker and peace activist.

Earlier in the day, at La Casa de Maria Retreat House in Santa Maria, Norwegian journalist Bard Wormdal will speak about his book, "The Satellite War." In the afternoon, Canadian peace activist Tamara Lorincz will discuss "conversion and demilitarization," followed by a talk by Japanese activist Masaki Toda on the U.S. use of X-Band radar and its impact on the Kyoto region.

For more details and cost on the conference, go to: www.space4peace.org/actions/gnconf_2014.htm.

Global Network