Report on Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and Ohio Trip

9 April 2001

from: Bruce Gagnon

I've just returned from a couple of weeks of intense travel that took me to Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and Ohio. These trips were largely done to promote our October 13 "International Day of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space."

My stop in Pennsylvania was to the congressional district of major Star Wars promoter Rep. Kurt Weldon (Republican). Our friends there are working hard to organize opposition to Lockheed Martin's facilities in Valley Forge, PA. and Moorestown, N.J. and plan to hold actions there on October 13. The Brandywine Peace Community will coordinate those efforts. Thanks to Scotty & Bill Stewart Whistler for arranging that visit.

In New Orleans I spoke at Loyola University at an event organized by Rev. Tom Warren of the United Church of Christ. He is now coordinating efforts to hold actions at the Stennis Missile Center in Mississippi (the new test facility for the space-based laser -- a $30 billion testing program that will lead to a first flight test around 2012.) Protests will be held there for the first time ever this coming May 13 (Mothers Day) and on October 13. Tom took me to Mississippi to check out the Stennis Center (in the southwest corner of the state) that is basically in a swamp near the Gulf coast. We all send our best wishes to our new friends in Louisiana.

My mid-west trip was coordinated by Cleveland Peace Action and took me to Detroit in Michigan and Yellow Springs, Toledo, Columbus, Kent, Akron, and Cleveland in Ohio.

While on the trip I spoke at four college campuses (Antioch, Kent State, University of Akron, and Cleveland State University) and one high school in Columbus.

The Detroit meeting, organized by Sigrid Dale of Michigan Peace Action, had the largest turnout on the trip. They got a full page interview with me published in the Detroit Metro News (thanks to Keith Gunter) in advance of my speaking event. I also did a radio spot there.

While in Cleveland I also met with people to plan for a joint Global Network and Cleveland Peace Action event from October 12-14 in that city. We will hold a major "Keep Space for Peace" conference at Cleveland State University on October 13 and organize protest vigils at the national headquarters of TRW in town on October 12 & 14. TRW is working on the airborne laser and THEL systems for Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) and the space-based laser. NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland is also part of the development team for the nuclear rocket.

Our goal is to draw people from the region to the October 13 conference in Cleveland as well as a sprinkling of others from around the country. Even though we are strongly encouraging local actions on October 13 we feel it important to have one event as a centerpiece for the day in the U.S. so that we can "highlight" another key space facility (just as we helped to do at Vandenberg AFB in California last October 7.) Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has agreed to speak at the October 13 Cleveland conference. Some of the other speakers will include: Karl Grossman, Joseph Gerson (AFSC), Loring Wirbel (Citizens for Peace in Space in Colorado), Patricia Mische (Antioch College professor of Peace Studies), Bruce Gagnon, and Mike McMurray (PAND in Cleveland).

I will return to Ohio on September 17-24 for another speaking tour to promote the October 12-14 events and to meet again with the local organizing committee.

We are now gathering co-sponsors for the Cleveland event (any donations of $25 or more are required for groups to be listed as an event co-sponsor.) A brochure advertising this event will be forthcoming.

Special thanks to Francis Chiappa and Don McPherson in Cleveland for all their hard work and support.

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