SPACE ORGANIZING CONFAB SET TO BEGIN
|Global Network board member Dennis Apel from Santa Maria, California reads a statement at Vandenberg AFB during a recent protest vigil at the base. He was arrested after making his statement. Apel is hosting the GN's 22nd annual conference this year.|
Groups to hold vigil at Vandenberg
Protest part of Santa Barbara conference by peace activists
The Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (GN) will hold its 22nd annual space organizing conference in Santa Barbara. The GN is made up of 150 peace and religious groups opposed to what they say is the development of a new arms race in space.
The theme for the conference will be “Vandenberg’s Role in U.S. Global Domination: Implications of US ‘Pivot’ into the Asia-Pacific.”
Conference organizers cite Vandenberg’s role in launching military satellites, testing unarmed nuclear missiles and developing “missile defense” interceptors.
The conference weekend will begin with a vigil at Vandenberg’s main gate from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.Friday.
“For years there have been peace protests outside Vandenberg AFB with many people arrested for their non-violent witness,” GN Coordinator Bruce Gagnon said in a press release. “GN members are coming from all over the world to honor and encourage these dedicated local citizens. We will share our deep concerns about current US plans to ‘control and dominate space’ and the Pentagon’s pivot into the Asia-Pacific.”
Santa Maria resident Dennis Apel, who is part of the Guadalupe Catholic Worker movement, said he plans to attend the protest and expects to be arrested for the second time since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the military has the right to bar him from even being in the designated protest area along Highway 1.
The ruling says the law doesn’t remove a commander’s authority “to exclude individuals who have vandalized military property and been determined to pose a threat to the order and security of the base.”
While the Feb. 26 ruling favored the military position, justices noted it didn’t deal with First Amendment issues. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said “it is questionable whether Apel’s ouster from the protest area can withstand constitutional review.”
Apel joined with approximately one dozen other activists for a monthly protest last week and was arrested again, his first since the Supreme Court ruling.
The conference and protest are expected to attract representatives from England, India, Norway, Canada, the United States, Japan and South Korea.
Approximately 50 people are expected at the retreat in Santa Barbara.
Apel is listed among the speakers scheduled for a public forum at 7:00 p.m. Saturday at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara. David Krieger from the Santa Barbara-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation also is set to speak.