Citizen inspections and mass occupations disrupt war preparations
European resistance to U.S. militarism has escalated to a scale unseen since twenty years ago at the height of the Cold War and Euromissile deployments. In addition to massive legal protests in major cities, hundreds are protesting in small towns and villages and at known U.S. military outposts.
Shannon Airport in Ireland is a major refueling stop on transatlantic military routes. Mary Kelly left a large anti-war rally at the departure lounge August 17 and, after a cup of tea at the hotel across the street, made her way over the fence and onto the runway with her NO U.S. BOMBERS placard. Once police had chased her down, she did not go quietly back through the terminal, but shouted out about the illegal U.S. bombers. At the station, she found police to be generally sympathetic to the cause, and was released without charges.
On September 4, Eoin Dubsky entered the base and painted peace slogans on a KC-130 Hercules bomber. He was charged with criminal damage and released on orders to stay away from the airport. Dubsky will be in court November 14. Following a demonstration by hundreds on October 12, 150' of fence was felled by some gentle shaking. Surprised demonstrators flowed peacefully onto the grassy margins of the runway. Police worked against the tide, arresting ten people who did not eventually move back outside the airport. They were released and go to court on November 11. For more information, visit refuelingpeace.org.
In England, the Berkshire CIA (Citizen's Inspection Agency) sent a team to RAF Welford on August 24. Four inspectors were refused at the gate when they arrived to check for weapons of mass or indiscriminate destruction and Iraq war stockpiling at the joint U.S.-U.K. weapons store. Anticipating non-cooperation, three other inspectors climbed the fence and searched buildings until stopped by police. No charges were filed, even after one inspector reentered and hung a NO WAR banner from a radio tower.
A day-long peace rally of 160 people at RAF Lakenheath October 6 saw nine people entering the base, three by cutting the fence and six by climbing. The first of the climbers, Southampton law lecturer Juliette McBride, scaled a water tower inside and unfurled a banner - LAW NOT NUKES - from the top. Prosecutions are pending. For more information, visit www.lakenheathaction.org.
Following a mandate from 25 concerned U.S. peace activists, an international group of European Citizens' Weapons Inspectors were commissioned to enter Marchwood Military Port October 20 and assess the risk of any deployment of war material that may be used for war against Iraq. Per Herngren (Sweden), Susan van der Hijden (Netherlands) and Les Gibbons (UK) were denied entrance but invited to return in two days for a select tour by the "officer in charge." The inspectors were not prepared to "negotiate the chosen day of inspection." Determined to "inspect anyway," they were arrested making the necessary entry into the base by cutting through the fence. The trio was held past midnight. Only van der Hijden was charged; she pled guilty to criminal damage.
At police stations across Belgium on September 7, about 1,000 Belgians, including members of Parliament and local council members, filed formal complaints against the illegal storage of nuclear weapons in their country. The unprecedented event was prelude to the October 5 "bomspotting" citizens inspection of U.S. nuclear weapons deployed at the Kleine Brogel Air Base. More than 2,000 people attended the annual protest outside the base, and police arrested 1,117 who entered the base from points all around the perimeter. The protesters were all released later in the day. For more information, visit www.bomspotting.be.