Report from Alaska Peace Caravan

12 June 2002

From: Bruce Gagnon

I am writing from the woods outside of Fairbanks, inside the one room cabin (with no running water) of Stacey Fritz who leads the Alaskan GN affiliate called No Nukes North.

We've just arrived from several days of our No Star Wars peace caravan that has taken us hundreds of miles across this beautiful state.

I joined the tour last Saturday night after landing in Anchorage.  Stacy Studebaker, from Kodiak Island, met me at the airport and we drove 5 hours south to the coastal town of Homer.  We arrived at the campground in Homer about 2am and the night sky was still light enough to find the peace caravan RV camper that was surrounded with tents.  Folks had already stopped in Seward and Kenai the previous two days with the caravan, unloading tables, literature, T-shirts, banners and signs at each stop to inform the public about U.S. plans to walk away from the ABM Treaty and deploy so-called "missile defense" interceptors at Fort Greely.

Sunday evening in Homer we spoke to local folks who assembled at a local activist center and Stacey Studebaker urged them to pay more attention to what was going on at Kodiak Island, just across Cook Inlet, where the Pentagon is now flight testing missiles for Star Wars.  Folks on Kodiak were originally told that the launch facility was going to be for civilian use but all six launches so far have had military applications.

On Monday we set up on the main drag in Anchorage (largest city in Alaska), just across the street from the place where bus after bus unloaded tourists coming in off the cruise ships to see the city.  A covered walkway that serves as an overhead crosswalk across the main street was soon sporting our huge banner that read "Star Wars = New Arms Race".  It was seen by tons of people as they unloaded from their bus or drove down the street in the midday traffic.  Our 3-4 hour vigil there was a great success.

Later Monday we headed north to Talkeetna, a small town nearby the Denali National Park (Mt McKinley).  We parked our rented RV in the local campground, fully decorated with our banners, including one that read "No Missiles in Alaska."

Tuesday morning, after a wonderful Alaskan breakfast at the Talkeetna Roadhouse, Stacey Fritz and I then went on NPR's "Talk of Alaska" live call-in show where we debated Chris Nelson (the state liason for all missile defense activities.)  About nine folks called in during the one-hour show, that was aired statewide, and each one of them agreed with us that Star Wars would cost us the national treasury, would not work, and would be destabilizing.  It was a wonderful experience to hear one caller after the other, in this Republican dominated state, say they had no faith in the orthodoxy.

From Talkeetna we headed to Fairbanks but could not pass up the chance to get ahead of the Amtrak train that carried car after car of tourists through the state.  We surged ahead and pulled up to a railroad crossing and jumped out of the RV with our banners just in time for the train to pass.  Plenty of friendly waves came our way.

On Wednesday morning we will go to downtown Fairbanks for several hours of bannering and then on to Fort Greely.  There we will set up our peace camp over the following four days where we will stage protests at the base to coincide with the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and ground breaking for missile silos.

We urge folks to write letters to the editor and letters to Congress in the coming days in solidarity with events here in Alaska.  Please let folks know that we don't want Star Wars and that we'd rather spend our tax dollars on education, health care, child care and social security.  One thing we can say from this Alaskan caravan is that folks are concerned and looking for leadership.  Let's don't let them down.

Peace to all

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