Ten days in prison for Vandenberg Air Force Base backcountry action

Theo Kayser and David Omondi of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, and Fr. Louis Vitale, OFM

On February 21, L.A. Catholic Worker Theo Kayser appeared in federal court in Santa Barbara, California.  He pled guilty to trespass for his backcountry action at Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 22 and was sentenced to 10 days in prison.  Kayser will begin his sentence on February 25.

His court statement:

Upon receiving a copy of the Statement of Probable Cause for my arrest at Vandenberg AFB on October 21 I noticed an error in the statement. It says and I quote “Kayser was asked what he was doing on Vandenberg AFB. Kayser stated ‘nothing.’” I would just like to say that this was not my response because “nothing” is precisely the opposite of what I was doing. “Nothing” is what far to many people of good will do. While schools loose funding and people sleep on the streets of this country billions of dollars are spent on preparations for nuclear war and most people do “nothing”. While ICBMs are tested at Vandenberg AFB polluting the water of the Marshall Islands with depleted uranium and the coast of California with exhaust from rocket fuel most people do “nothing.” I was not doing “nothing” because I did nothing for too long and I can do nothing no more.

After turning myself into military police I spent the next 10 hours on the base. During that time I spoke with a number of men employed there and I assure you I did not talk with them about “nothing”. I talked about this country’s illegal and immoral preparations for nuclear warfare and I talked about my firm belief that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us in this country to oppose these preparations for what could ultimately lead to the destruction of this planet. This sort of opposition is, in fact, what I was doing at Vandenberg AFB that night. I was attempting to disrupt the preparations for war that go on at this base with the only tools I have at my disposal – my body and my prayers.

My presence did not go unnoticed (as I am sure my prayers did not) and for at least some time the Air Force had to respond to what they considered a threat to their security. I was no threat to any of the Air Men I encountered as my actions were completely nonviolent and my demeanor nothing less than polite. I know my enemy is not those men and women who participate in the US war machine but rather the machine itself. I know that they are not bad people but merely suffer from what can only be described as paralyzed conscience and that given the chance (and perhaps just a little hope) they too would stop doing “nothing” and help create a world where the taking of and preparations for the taking of innocent life is not accepted because in the event of nuclear war it will be all peoples including military personnel who will become victims. Exactly 50 years before that night, during what is referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis, this past October the world was brought to the brink of this very sort of destruction. I can only say that we have not yet learned our lesson and that there has been far too much “nothing” during those 50 years.

I understand that by deciding not to do “nothing” I have put myself at risk. I understand that perhaps those who have been commissioned by the state to make such judgments may deem it necessary that I be punished with imprisonment for refusing to do “nothing.” I am prepared for this, as I cannot in good conscience pay fines that will ultimately support a system that defends the rights of war makers at the expense of peacemakers. I am prepared for whatever sentence might be passed down but I am not prepared to do “nothing.”