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: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. @BruceKGagnon

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Roger Leisner holding our 2nd place award for the parade's most original entry

We invited U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) to hold the puppets hand and pose for a photo. I took advantage of the moment to talk to her about the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign

We had a good group of us in the Hallowell parade today near the state capital in Augusta, Maine. As we were waiting to begin the parade we noticed Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) nearby so we invited her to come over and pose for a photo with the puppet.

She graciously did and while she stood next to me I told her we needed for her to be more vocal about ending the war in Afghanistan. I said that we had such great need here at home for our war $$. She replied, "Oh, I understand what you are saying." She went on to say that the Obama plan should get us out in a couple of years and I told her we can't afford to wait. I asked her, "What happens in two years when the corrupt government in Afghanistan is not able to 'take over' security operations?" She didn't seem to have much to argue with me about her position, almost like she was running out of gas.

I told her how our two Congresspersons in Maine (Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree) were now routinely voting against war spending and they had not been politically injured by voting that way. Again, I told her we needed her to be more forceful.

You could help move Sen. Snowe toward a stronger position on war spending by sending her a message here

Please let her know how you feel about wasting all these $$ on endless war.

After the parade 13 of us got together for a planning meeting of the Bring Our War $$ Home Campaign at an office just across the street from the state capital in Augusta. We advanced our efforts for the statewide 30-day Care-a-van (Sept 10 - Oct 10). We are encouraging peace groups across the state to organize local events during that period in observation of the 10th year of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan. We also made the decision to purchase radio ads across Maine during this time.

Our next meeting will be Saturday, August 27 in Brunswick from 1-3 pm following the Veterans for Peace protest at the Navy Blue Angels airshow at the former Navy base. The protest will run from 11am - 1 pm. All are invited.

Friday, July 15, 2011


I am on the bus heading home. It's been a long day of traveling, first on bus from Ocean City, Maryland (I had a great visit with my cousin) to Washington DC where I took the Metro to the airport and then a plane to Boston. Then back on a bus to Portland where MB will pick me up for the 45 minute car ride home. A 13-hour trip in all.

I've kept up with my emails a bit and posted some of the sad news from Jeju Island below. Have not heard much about the July 15 trial yet that Sung-Hee Choi and eight others were facing. I did see something about the trial being delayed until August. That's the third time Sung-Hee's trial has been delayed since she went to jail on May 19.

I've been trying to stay in touch with the U.S. debt crisis controversy in Washington. I'd call it good cop-bad cop as both parties are surely going to keep whittling away at the "social safety net" for the poor and the elderly. The vast majority of Americans want higher taxes on the rich and they want the war $$ brought home but neither party is listening to what the people want. The Dems control the White House and the Senate yet they keep giving way to those in the other wing of the corporate controlled Congress.

I've got to get up early in the morning to head to Hallowell, Maine where a big parade is held each year (kind of a late 4th of July parade) and we are going to have a large Bring Our War $$ Home contingent doing our thing. Last year we joined it and right in the middle of the parade we stopped, made a big circle in the street, and began chanting "Bring Our War $$ Home" and the crowd starting chanting along with us. Was quite wonderful.


Very tragic news to report from Jeju Island in South Korea.

At the crack of dawn on Thursday, undercover police officers came to Gangjeong village and arrested three major leaders of the peaceful resistance: Village Chief Kang Dong-Kyun, renowned peace activist Brother Song Kang-Ho, and base opposition leader Ko Kwon-Il.

The South Korean Navy (ROKN) and Minister of Justice Lee Gui Nam also issued a notice to Gangjeong village leader Kang Dong-Kyun and 76 other villagers and peace activists. This notice is a threat to these 77 individuals and civil society organizations for disturbing the construction of the naval base. It specifies the following:

(1) These 77 individuals are banned from getting into the public water or land near the Joongduk coastline where the naval base will be constructed.

(2) The notice bans the staff and volunteers from five civil society organizations – Peace-Life Association, Jeju Environmental Association, SPARK, Frontiers, and Gangjeong Village Association – from entering the water and land near the naval base site.

(3) It orders the removal of all facilities from the resistance site within seven days.

(4) In the case that the facilities are not removed, the Navy and Minister of Justice will charge the village leader Mr. Kang for removing these facilities.

(5) The village leader Mr. Kang will be responsible for paying the Navy 5,000,000 Won ($5,000 US dollars) for each case of violation.

The South Korean military is trying to quash the resistance by arresting its leaders and inciting fear among the peaceful villagers who are fighting for their land, community and livelihoods. As one of the activists wrote, “I feel the martial law atmosphere here.”

The truth is: the villagers and their leaders are not alone. There is a growing tide of people from throughout the Korean peninsula and around the world who are behind them.

Please forward this to the media and as many people as possible to update them of what is happening. For those in the United States, please call the South Korean Embassy in Washington, DC tomorrow and let them know the repression against the villagers communicates to the world that South Korea has returned to the era of authoritarian rule.

Please also send an email to U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stevens and let her know that U.S. Forces in Korea oversee the South Koran military, and as American citizens we won’t stand for more military destruction in the name of so-called national security. Email Ambassador Stevens:

Call the South Korean Embassy in Washington: (202) 797-6343

We must not let the Lee Myung Bak regime repress democracy. We must not let darkness snuff out the hope that has inspired so many people around the world to act for peace. We must remain firm in our resolve to support those courageous villagers who are standing up to their military and government. We must join them in saying, “No Base on Jeju Island.”

For more information on the Save Jeju Island effort please visit

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Latest bad news from Gangjeong village. The South Korean government is trying to push all protesters away from the rocky coastline and from the ocean.

Tomorrow there will be trail for 9 people on Jeju Island. Please pray for them. Kang-Ho Song, KwonIl Ko, JongHwan Kim, Kyong bo Jeong, Hyoknam Kim, JongDae Che, Bongheon Kim, Jin Taek Jeon, SungHee Choi. They were the people who had been arrested on 19 May, when the construction companies had demolished tents and vinyl house on Joonduk coast and arrested Sunghee. Sunghee has been in prison since then.

Jeju District Prosecutors' Office plans to merge her case and other 8 case together. So at the same day all of 9 people should stand trial on court.

In addition.....

1. yesterday, 14 villagers of Kangjeong got the claim for damages from Navy through Jeju local court. The total amount is 289,780,810 Won (annual interest rate 20%)
in this claim, there is not any activist but all Gangjeong villagers

2. today, 72 persons + 5 organizations got a letters "Notice of the interrogation date". This interrogation is regarding "applying by Navy, prohibition for disturbing construction and its provisional disposition"

What the government wrote..

1. the offeree shoud not get in public water surface area, cannot disturb applicant [Navy] using the public water surface area and their staying.

2. the offeree should not do any kind of behaviors that could be disturbing construction work in each public water surface areas

3. the offeree Peace-Life Association, Jeju-Participation Enviromental Association, SPARK, The Frontiers, Gangjeong village cannot let the staffs or member of them violate No. 1 and NO. 2

4. the offeree Gangjeong village, Kang dong Kyun, Ko Kwon Il, Kim Yeong Sam should remove all facilities in this area, in 7 days since date of determination to deliver the original copy

5. The offeree Gangjoeng village, Kang dong kyun, Ko Kwon Il, Kim Yeong Sam, in case of default number 4, applicant can let the executors who applicant delegated could remove these facilities by the cost of The offeree.

6. the executors should announce properly regards its purpose.

7. The offeree in case of default the number 1, 2, or 3 responsibility, then, the executors can make the appropriate disposition in order to remove the violation.

8. The offeree in case of default the number 1,2, ro 3' responsibility, then the offeree should pay to applicant 5,000,000 Won for each case of violation.

9. applying cost is coverd by the offeree' charge

The Offeree list
1. Kang Dong Kyun
2. Kang Moon Sin
3. Kang Min Bu
4. Kang Seong Bo
5. Kang Seong Won
6. Kang Yong Gun
7. Kang Yong Bo
8. Kang Jong Gun
9. Kang Jeong Sun
10. Kang Jeong Sun
11. Kang Chong Ja
12. Kang Hee Ung
13. Ko Kwon Il
14. Ko Nam Seng
15. Ko Nam Suk
16. Ko Myong Jin
17. Ko Bok Jun
18. Ko Si Lim
19. Ko Yeong Jin
20. Ko Jong In
21. Kim Gab Duk
22. Kim Kyong Il
23. Kim Kyong Ja
24. Kim Kyu Nam
25. Kim Mi Ryang
26. Kim Min Soo
27. Kim Bu Yong
28. Kim Bu Hyun
29. Kim Se Ri
30. Kim A-Hyun
31. Kim Yeong Sam
32. Kim Jae Hu
33. Kim Jong Il
34. Kim Jong Hwan
35. Kim Tae Won
36. Kim Hun Sob
37. Kim Hun Seong
38. KIm Hun Chol
39. Park Se Beom
40. Park Youn Ae
41. Song Kang Ho
42. Song Yeong Sub
43. Yang Yoon Mo
44. Yoon Kyong Pil
45. Yoon Gun Ho
46. Yoon Sang Don
47. Yoon Sang Hyo
48. Yoon Yeong Pil
49. Yoon Yong Pil
50. Yoon Chan Bum
51. Yoon Chang Sub
52. Yoon Chun Gwang
53. Yoon Ho kyong
54. Lee Dal On
55. Lee Dok Gun
56. Lee Bang Gun
57. Lee Yang Jun
58. Lee Yong Ja
59. Lee Jeong Hoon
60. Lee Hang Jun
61. Im Sang Beum
62. Jeong Kyong Bo
63. Jeong Sun SeonJ
64. Jeong Yeong Hee
65. Jo Kyong Chol
66. Jo Su Jun
67. Jo Seong Bong
68. Jo Yong Jin
69. Jo Yong Hun
70. Jin Se Jong
71. Choi Sung Hee
72. Han Jeong Ae
73. Life-Peace association represetative : Hwang Dae Kwon
74. Jeju participation emviromental association representative: Lee Ji Hoon, Jo Seong Yoon.
75. SPARK representative Moon Kyu Hyun
76. The Frontiers Hur Chol
77. KangJeong Village Leader Kang Dong Kyun


Wednesday, July 13, 2011




My dear friends,

There are many reasons I thank you for signing the petition to stop the naval base on Jeju Island – and any one would be enough.

First, nine years ago when I saw this island at the tip of South Korea, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is said that the only people who do not know Jeju is the most beautiful place on earth are those who have not seen it. From snow peaks, wild flower covered hills and ancient nutmeg forests to goddess groves and coral reefs, there is good reason why UNESCO named it a World Natural Heritage Site.

That would be enough.

So would the truth that the world does not need one more monument to death and destruction taking money, human effort, energy and resources away from preservation and life. As an American, I am ashamed that a naval base is being built to support U.S. nuclear-powered submarines – the same ones now being serviced elsewhere. As global citizens, you and I have a duty to stop it.

This May, I went to Jeju again, and saw two more living realities.

First, I stood on the edge of the sea where volcanic rock carries fresh water streams down from the snow peaks, and saw workmen breaking up those rocks so that their huge machines could descend and pour cement over living coral reefs. Even the dolphins were crying.

Then I met with dozens of people from Gangjeong which is the closest village. They’ve been living in tents on this shoreline for four years, braving weather, arrests and absence from their families in order to protest a naval base that endangers their land, their livelihoods and their guardianship of this ancient island. Only bribes and illegalities have given the government of South Korea any pretense of democracy. The people want you to know that is a lie.

Several outsiders there – from South Korea itself and from as far away as France – came to support them, and just stayed. One young couple have been there for six weeks, with only the clothes they arrived in.

This contagion is causing the South Korean Defense Minister to pressure the Prime Minister to accelerate its construction. It has caused the Navy to say it will destroy the trail to the protestors’ camp and cut local power lines that broadcast this resistance.

In other words, the resistance is working.

This is how you and I can help the villagers, save our World Natural Heritage, and stop natural destruction in the name of military destruction:

1. Forward this petition to at least 10 friends and family. If each signer does this, we could have nearly 20,000 more signatures --fast.

2. Go to the website: and do at least one of the actions on the "Get Involved" page.

If we stop this naval base, it will be contagious for peace, the environment, and democracy.

Jeju Island means Women’s Island. It stands for an ancient balance. We must save it from the cult of militarism that endangers us all, women and men.

With high hopes,

Gloria Steinem

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Our trial yesterday was continued to August 29 after a confused beginning that was caused by the government lawyers handing out a document to our lawyers as we arrived in court that changed the charges against us.

A new law was passed in Washington DC in May that made it easier to prosecute those who protest at places like the White House. So the prosecution decided to charge us in violation of that new law. But our arrest was on March 19 so our lawyers asked for a dismissal of these charges for obvious reasons. The judge denied our request for dismissal.

But then as the judge tried to proceed with the process it became clear that he could not move forward because when he asked the defendants if they had seen a copy of the charges against them everyone answered No because we had just been made aware of the new charges that morning. How could we be expected to properly prepare for trial when the government had changed the charges?

So back we come on August 29. My take on the whole thing is that the system is a total mess. I can't imagine how anything gets done.

So now unexpectedly having extra time on my hands, I made my way to Ocean City, Maryland to visit my long-lost cousin who has a vacation place on the shore. When my mother divorced my father when I was about two years old I was torn from the Gagnon side of the family. My cousin, the son of my father's brother, tracked me down and we've been corresponding for several months. It has been wonderful to make contact and much to my utter joy he is a fan of the Baltimore Orioles and The Kinks. It seems impossible to believe but it is true indeed.

It's what I'd call heaven sent.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I am sitting in the courtroom a half hour before our trial is to begin. Luckily they have wireless here. A real nasty young woman U.S. Marshall just came into the room looking for bombs and is bossing those of us in here around. I see they pick hard and unhappy people for the job.

We held an hour long vigil outside the courthouse where we stood behind banners and signs and sang songs. One TV camera showed up and filmed statements from several of our people. We handed out copies of our news release to folks on the street who would take them.

In the photo above are four others who are here on trial for our March 19 protest at the White House. Yesterday we met at a local church for several hours to make plans for today. We have two volunteer attorneys and some of the 19 defendants will represent themselves.

I stayed at the Catholic Worker House last night and friend Art Laffin, who lives there, is also on trial today.

It will be interesting how this all plays out. Art says our judge, who heard a recent trial when Guantanamo protesters had the charges dropped on a technicality, was moved by testimony about international law as justification for that particular protest and arrests. So we'll soon find out how open he really is.

The judge just came in and I'd better shut this down for now. More later.

Just one other note: I got an email this morning from South Korea saying the villagers had purchased a boat and motor with the funds we raised at their request. They had enough left over that they will also purchase a sea kayak. So many thanks to those of you who contributed to the fund.

Sunday, July 10, 2011