Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A DAY AT VANDENBERG'S PROTEST ZONE

Last night I spoke, along with Rev. John Dear and two others, at a church in Santa Barbara. I sold 11 books which is twice the amount I usually sell at such an event so I'd say it went pretty well.

Today we had a bus take us to Vandenberg AFB, about an hour drive north, where over 150 people gathered to protest the 25th anniversary of missile testing protest at the base. A second bus came up from Los Angeles, organized by the L.A. Catholic Worker house. Three people from the Catholic Worker community in California were arrested for walking over the line onto the base.

It's been a few years since I have been back to Vandenberg for a demonstration. I was arrested there myself in 2000 and got two years of supervised probation for trying to deliver a letter to the base commander that outlined our opposition to the base's role in moving the arms race into space. On that particular day there were about 25 folks arrested.

They have made some changes since I was last there. Now they cover the signs on the fancy stone wall that displays the base name. They put up temporary fencing all along the front of the base to make it hard for us to gather people - we had to string out in a long line with just a narrow patch of grass to stand on. They had an unmanned aerial vehicle flying overhead sending back "real time" surveillance data as if we were a grave danger to the nation. I'm sure the "brass" inside enjoyed watching our die-in via the surveillance plane.

After things were over we crossed the street back to the local elementary school where our cars and buses were parked. For just a moment Dennis Apel, the host organizer for the weekend who runs the Guadalupe Catholic Worker house in a nearby town, tried to gather us in a big circle to close the action. A host of military police quickly stormed into the middle of the circle and told us we had to disband and leave immediately.

We of course were doing no harm and the military was purely just doing an exercise in displaying their vast and arrogant powers. The sad thing is that we were much too quick to comply with their demands. As people were dispersing I made my way toward the Major in charge of the security team and asked him "who do you think you are?" He quickly scurried away like a rat running from a garbage can in a dark alley when a light was shined on it.

I then told the assembled security team that it was impossible to serve two masters at once. I said that "you have to either serve the constitution that gives us the right to peacefully assemble or you have to serve the military industrial complex." They all immediately turned away.

While the military likes to beat their chest alot about fighting for democracy to "protect our freedoms", they in fact are slowly but surely squeezing us into our little "protest zones" and those boxes are getting smaller and smaller each year. I am quite fed up with complying with their game playing and intend to keep telling them so. When you do speak that truth to them they run away fast because they know that what they are doing is shameful and downright wrong.

I have to be up early in the morning to catch a 6:00 am flight back east. Once again the three airport trip will take 12 hours. It will be a long day.

But this was a magical weekend and I was joyfully honored to be in the same place as these wonderful activists who call themselves the Pacific Life Community.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is so biased, and a waste of time. Your protests are meaningless, and fail to change anything that happens there.

11/12/09, 4:27 PM  

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