Report from Kennedy Space Center

13 October 2002

From: Bruce Gagnon

On Saturday, October 12 people gathered early at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida  in order to be there as the tourists arrived for the day.  The call went out to arrive at 9:00 am, which made it hard for some folks who had to drive for 3-5 hours, but still over 40 people came from all parts of the state (Miami, St Pete, Lakeland, Gainesville, St Augustine, Brevard County, Orlando, etc).

Security had roped off the "designated protest area" and they had quite a large force taking pictures of each of us.  Just after we started several thousand tourists began to arrive on buses and cars and had to walk just past us to get to the ticket booth and entrance.

Our signs and banners protesting war and the nuclearization/weaponization of space were read by the tourists who walked by.  Some would approach us to take a leaflet that told the story about how the military has taken over the space program.  We noticed a high percentage of foreign tourists approached us to talk and take a leaflet.  You could tell that security was not at all happy to see the "visitors" take a leaflet -- that is why they had boxed us in.  They wanted people to be afraid to approach the animals inside the cage.

After three hours of this presence we gathered in a circle and we shared how NASA is now heavily involved in providing satellite imagery to the military to direct attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We got media coverage from only one TV station but they showed our protest Saturday evening and twice on Sunday.

Following the protest most of us met in the back room at a local restaurant where we talked even more about the history of peace protests at the space center.  I told the story about how in 1983 or 1984 we had our first action at the space center with only seven people, and I asked John Stewart (St Pete) and Cathy Stanton (Melbourne) who were there that day to stand up. The space shuttle was launching a military satellite and thousands of people lined up at the space center entrance to watch the launch.  The seven of us were roundly booed as we turned our backs and bowed our heads upon launch.

Bill Park, our longtime friend and GN resident artist that does the covers for our Space Alert Newsletter, informed us on Saturday about a short film he has just created called "The Poster" about an old woman from a conservative family who is wanting to go out to protest at the space center and is urged not to do so by her family.  Bill told us he advertised in theatrical publications for volunteer actors to play the roles in the film and got 40 volunteers.  We will have more information about the film once he is finished editing and Bill has offered the profits from sales of the film to the GN as a donation.

So we feel we've come a long way since nearly 20 years ago.  During this 2002 Keep Space for Peace Week we had over 90 actions in 13 different countries.

Thanks to all around the world who have stayed faithful to this work.  Your efforts are changing history.


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