5-7th July 2000

By Peter Shaw
Vets for Peace
Port Matilda, PA.

The Peace Center of State College, Pennsylvania, held a 3-day "informational protest" on National Missile Defense at the main downtown pedestrian gate of Penn State University on July 5-7. Three posters were situated to attract attention of those in the vicinity of the information table.

A free cell-phone call was offered to those wanting to call the White House right on the spot. Twenty three people, including one woman from England, took advantage of the offer. At least 15 others "promised" they would make a call from their homes.

Over 400 information sheets (which included the White House number) were handed out, and many people lingered to talk--some at considerable length. Two students from China (one having arrived that very day!) expressed concern about what effect deployment would have on their country. The newly arrived student was quite informed. He said students in China talk about BMD (NMD and TMD) among themselves but don't hear much from the Chinese government on the subject. A student from Russia also stopped by and was quite concerned. He was also mystified as to why so many of the college students he encountered are so uninformed about BMD (and other things.)

A number of car drivers honked their horns and gave a "thumbs up" as they passed by on their way through town.

We had a radio interview and a short exposure on television. The local newspaper did an interview and took pictures at the site, but nothing came of it in the next day's paper. However, that day a long, informative Knight-Ridder article on NMD did appear in the paper as well as a second article on Chinese reaction.

As the NMD action ended, the National Governors Convention (a meeting of all U.S. State Governors) was about to begin on the Penn State campus. Student activists have organized a parallel People's Convention which is attracting many people, including two students from Norway. Students are angry that the elected officials do not listen to the people. To supplement any examples they may have, I gave them an example from NMD: A Spring 2000 ABC poll found that 53% of respondents opposed NMD. In contrast, only 17% of the House of Representatives and a mere 3% of the Senate opposed NMD.

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