Military police have again arrested nuclear abolitionists vigiling along a public highway outside the main gate of Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where missiles to launch nuclear war are tested. California Highway 1 passes through the base, with the main gate actually in the interior of the sprawling installation along the coast north of Santa Barbara. The commander has issued his own interpretation of the Bill of Rights regarding demonstrations at the gate, and it is capriciously enforced, to boot.
At the monthly first Wednesday Vandenberg witness on November 3, several people who have been arrested and barred from returning to the base for up to three years were present. Police, however, only approached three of them: vigil organizer Dennis Apel and Frs. Louis Vitale and Steve Kelly. They were politely informed that if they did not leave within two minutes, they would be arrested for trespass in violation of a previous ban.
The men, believing their peaceful protest of nuclear war is supported by international law, refused to leave and were arrested. While in custody at the visitor’s center, police asked the arrestees if Scott Fina, another barred demonstrator, was present at the vigil. The men replied they did not know.
The officer then returned to the vigil and identified Fina from photographs. Fina was taken directly into custody without further warning, and despite his willingness to leave the area. The four men were cited for trespass, then released at a public school parking lot opposite the gate where vigilers are permitted to park.
For more information, visit http://vandenbergwitness.org/
Fr. Louie Vitale and Sr. Megan Rice will be on trial Thursday, November 18 at 9:00 a.m. at the Santa Barbara Federal Court, 1415 State St., Santa Barbara, California. They were charged with trespass on August 22, 2009 when they walked onto Vandenberg Air Force Base to protest the nighttime test launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (hydrogen bomb delivery system).
For more information, see MacGregor Eddy’s Blog or call 831-206-5043.