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, August 26, 2012

TWO DAY AIRSHOW PROTEST

 Joshua Chamberlain Civil War statue at Bowdoin College
  Two international students at Bowdoin joined the protest
The march from Bowdoin College to the former Navy base on Saturday
Walking uninterrupted through the airshow crowd on Sunday
Starting our Sunday action in front of B-1 bomber
Ending our very successful action under the B-1

Yesterday 75 activists from around Maine joined our peace march and vigil in Brunswick at the Air Force Thunderbirds airshow.

We walked from Bowdoin College to the former Navy airfield and then stood with signs and banners while the much smaller crowd than normal drove into the show.  One policeman told us that only 1/4 of the crowd that came in the past had ventured in this weekend.  The likely reason is that when the Navy base was still open the airshows were free to the public.  Now that the base is closed, and a redevelopment agency is running the place, they are charging $20 a head to enter.  Since most of the folks going to these airshows tend to be working class they are being priced out of the equation.

Then this morning 14 of us (mostly members of Veterans For Peace) bought tickets and went inside the airshow to carry the powerful banner made by Maine artists Natasha Mayers and Nora Tryon and to hand out flyers.  Six of us were prepared to risk arrest while the others had the roles of taking photos, video, and handing out flyers.

Much to our surprise those running the airshow did not try to stop us when we unfurled the banner in front of the biggest plane on the tarmac, a B-1 bomber flown in from Texas for the occasion.  Since they left us alone we spent the next hour or so walking back and forth through the large staging area giving the crowd an up-close view of the banner.  Our leafletting team trailed along with us and kept offering literature to the public.

We got a few hostile comments ("get a job; you can only do this because the military protects you") but many more actually took the flyers.  Two times I saw men in military uniforms request a flyer.  Finally after the first hour of walking through the crowd we went back to the B-1 and stood in the shade under one of the wings.  It was then that several security men came up and ordered our photographers to stop taking pictures of us in front of the plane - a "Homeland Security" matter they said.  When our photographers challenged them to explain why the general public was allowed to take unlimited photos of the bomber, they were told it was because of what we "would be doing" with the pictures.

It was a great action, one that Maine VFP member Tom Sturtevant wanted to do last year but we weren't able to get it together at the time.  So this year we were determined to take a banner about military recruitment (Tom's favorite issue) into the airshow.  We tip our caps to you Tom.  Presente!

See alot more photos here and here

3 Comments:

Blogger Starr Gilmartin said...

Excellent! Wish I had been there!!! thanks for the posting and the courage to make the public aware that these shows are pathways to the death of our children and our society.

8/27/12, 6:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks to each and every one of you who marched against the air show. I would have joined you but had to work the weekend. I was with you in spirit!

tina

8/27/12, 6:51 PM  
Blogger Joseph Penn said...

They do actually have a reason to not let you take pictures of a B-1B as there is a system on the engines to make them much quieter than regular after-burning turbofans in order to travel at supersonic speed 200 feet off the ground and only really be heard after the bomber has passed. There are also some systems on the B-1B that they do not want people taking pictures of most likely in the low observability coating and maybe radar absorbent paint there is a chance that people may take pictures of this stuff and sell the pictures to the Russians or Chinese. Lastly people at airshows tend to find protestors annoying as they are usually the visitors are usually there to see some cool looking planes and watch some of the most skilled pilots in the world do what they do best. Also a lot of these people are just pilots wanting to see some of the General Aviation displays which can be old planes that pilots from the past would have flew or ones they may want to buy in the future. The problem is the protestors do whatever they can to harass and disrupt everyone else who are just there to enjoy their time and meet other people with similar interests in aviation but groups like yours just do all sorts of stuff to put an end to that.

4/20/16, 7:13 AM  

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