Protesters to target Redstone's arms work
Group's members cite their concerns about militarization of space

15 March 2001

By BRIAN LAWSON, Huntsville Times Business Writer

Huntsville's reputation was made through its contributions to the U.S. space program, but a group set to protest here this weekend worries that the Rocket City is fueling another arms race.

The Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space plans to bring about 100 people from some 20 states to Huntsville for a vigil at Redstone Arsenal on Friday, a conference Saturday and another protest at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center on Sunday.

Bruce Gagnon, Global Network coordinator, said his group selected Huntsville for the protests because the city hosts space-based missile defense and space work.

''We're going to protest at Gate 9 at Redstone as people are getting off work,'' Gagnon said. ''We want to let them know that, despite what they're being told about how 'patriotic and wonderful' the work they're doing is, people all over the world are concerned that they are going to create a whole new arms race and move it into the heavens.''

Al Schwartz, chief of public affairs for Redstone Arsenal, said Friday's protest scheduled from 4 to 5:30 p.m., said the group has the right to free speech, and the arsenal's main concerns are making sure "travelers and protestors are safe" and minimizing traffic disruption.

The group has a permit from the Huntsville Police Department for Friday's vigil.

Saturday's conference, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Holiday Inn, will feature Dr. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physics professor at City University in New York. Several panels will also discuss such topics as ''Nuclearization and Weaponization of Space: Current plans and programs,'' and ''Military Satellites for Warfighting, Intelligence and Counterinsurgency.''

Sunday's protest at the Space Center was inspired by Gagnon's visit there, which included a tour of the museum's second floor exhibit on the advantages of a space-based missile defense system.

Gagnon called the exhibit "a promotional effort to indoctrinate people about missile defense."

The Global Network was formed in 1992 as a joint-effort of the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, Colorado-based Citizens for Peace in Space and New York-based journalism professor Karl Grossman. The group holds general membership meetings each year, including a public demonstration at a space-related facility or event, according to its Web site.

The Web site reports the most visible and successful effort by the Global Network was the Cancel Cassini Campaign in 1997. The campaign was aimed at raising public awareness and concern over the Cassini space probe, which was powered by 72 pounds of radioactive plutonium. The spacecraft, which was designed to circle Venus twice, orbit Earth then circle Jupiter, launched without incident in October 1997.

(See also Huntsville and "The Nazi Legacy" and Conference & Protest details)

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