Report on New Mexico Organizing Trip

13 February 2001

from: Bruce Gagnon

From February 7-12 I was in New Mexico for a space organizing trip. Sally Alice Thompson in Albuquerque hosted me and drove me around the state for several talks before we held three days of protest at the 18th Annual Symposium on Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion.

We began the morning of February 7 at KUNM, the public radio station at the University of New Mexico. I taped an interview that was played that day at 5:00 pm and it was heard throughout northern New Mexico. Thanks to long time GN member Bob Anderson for setting that up.

I spoke in Taos that evening to a well attended community meeting and as folks arrived they said they had just heard the radio interview. The next morning I spoke to 50 students at the Chamisa alternative school in Taos. Thanks to Beryl Schwartz for a great Taos reception. I also taped another radio interview here.

On February 8 I spoke at a community event sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque.

On February 9 Sally took me to Santa Fe where we were met by Peggy Prince, Director of New Mexico Peace Action. She had scheduled a meeting with an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (Democrat). We spent about 45 minutes explaining the contents of Vision for 2020 and strongly made the case that "missile defense" is just a Trojan horse for offensive space weaponization. (Key facilities in New Mexico are working on the lasers for Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) and the space-based laser.) Following the meeting at Bingaman 's office I spoke at another good community meeting inside the Santa Fe public library.

In the three days of presentations I spoke to over 150 people. Peace Action decided to take on Sen. Bingaman and will try to turn him around on Star Wars. They invited me to come back and speak at their annual Los Alamos conference/protest to be held July 14-16.

On Saturday, February 10 we had the first of our three vigils at the Hyatt Regency Hotel that was hosting the space nuclear power symposium in Albuquerque. Over 50 people turned out and the exciting thing was that people came from all parts of the state. One local TV station showed up and gave us coverage on the evening news. We held a rally and folks from each part of the state spoke telling how Los Alamos (in the north), Kirtland A.F.B. (central), and White Sands Missile Range (in the south) all are involved in developing new space weapons technologies.

The next day we gathered again at the hotel for a vigil as the symposium attendees came in and out of the hotel. We had just over 25 people for this vigil. A delegation of students joined us from Santa Fe College and expressed interest in becoming more involved in the issue. Sally Alice handed out lots of our brochures.

Our final vigil at the space symposium was held on Monday, February 12 and about 20 people joined with us at the four-hour event. The local paper, the Albuquerque Tribune covered this vigil and another local paper, the Journal put a large picture of the vigil in their edition. This event gave us great exposure to symposium participants; hundreds saw us as they came in and out of the hotel. Some took pictures and quite a few stopped to talk about their support or opposition to our vigil. Many students were at the event, having displayed their space science projects, and several came out to talk with us. We even got expressions of support from Russian and Finnish symposium participants.

On my last night in New Mexico I met with the Vets for Peace chapter in Albuquerque who will be hosting the annual national convention for their organization on August 24-26. They invited me to return and speak at that event and it was decided to include a demonstration at Kirtland A.F.B. (the space laser directorate) as part of the convention.

(See also Bruce Gagnon Interview)

I also wanted to report that back in Florida on February 10, Global Network board member Dr. Michio Kaku was speaking at a fundraiser for the progressive community radio station WMNF in Tampa. We were asked to send representatives to speak and table at the event so Mary Beth Sullivan and John Stewart covered that for us. Mary Beth reports that hundreds of people overflowed the theatre to hear Michio and that she got to give a short pitch on the Star Wars issue. Activity at the literature table was brisk and Mary Beth said that Michio, twice during his talk on science in the 21st Century, reminded folks to check our website as he commented on the Cancel Cassini campaign and Star Wars. Mary Beth said this crowd of science buffs was not the usual choir!

So all in all it has been a busy but effective few days in our effort to take our message out to local people. My experience of traveling 2-3 weeks each month for the past 1 years is that this kind of energy is now popping up all over the nation and around the world. I am lucky that I get to see the signs of a movement coming to life. We need to all keep doing our bit.

Our next stop will be the February 24-25 Teach-In on Corporate Globalization at Hunter College in New York City as Karl Grossman and I are on a Star Wars panel.

And on March 16-18 we'll be heading to the south land as we hold the National Space Organizing Conference in Huntsville, Alabama. It is so important to take these issues into the "solid south" that remains the bedrock of support for Bush and the Pentagon. Hope ya'll will come help us crack open that rock. Michio Kaku will be there as well as South African poet Dennis Brutus who spent time in jail with Nelson Mandela.

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