Pacific Life Community retreat and action at Lockheed/Martin

Pacific Life Community activists enter the Lockheed-Martin missile complex, March 7, 2011. Photo by Jim Haber.

About sixty people came from as far as Albuquerque, New Mexico and Poulsbo, Washington for a two-day retreat of the Pacific Life Community in Menlo Park, California.

The retreat culminated with a two-hour vigil at the gate of Lockheed-Martin’s nearby Sunnyvale missile plant. Twelve people representing the faith-based network of activists who are dedicated to “ending nuclear weapons and war making through nonviolent direct action” walked past the gatehouse to bring their message directly to workers. Their path was soon blocked, and when they did not leave, all were arrested. Most were cited and released a short time later; Fr. Steve Kelly refused the conditional release. He was jailed for two more days before being released on time served. Court dates for the others are set in April.

Larry Purcell, a Catholic Worker from nearby Redwood City wrote about the local contrast in government spending:

Early this month a group of us went to Sunnyvale to protest at Lockheed/Martin Corp – the biggest military contractor in the world.  It’s hard to imagine how big Lockheed/Martin is.  According to William Hartung, “One of every 14 dollars doled out by the Pentagon” goes to Lockheed. Put another way, “that amounts to a ‘Lockheed/Martin tax’ of $260 per tax paying household in the United States.”

If congress wants to find money with which to balance the budget they should look to our military budget first since our military budget is, by far, the largest in the world.

Lynne Greenwald vigils at Lockheed Martin. Photo by Jim Haber.

As the cost of weapons skyrockets, there is a direct impact on our children’s education. For one elementary school in Redwood City, their entire supply budget for 2010-2011 is $7,000. Over half of that was taken to pay the maintenance contract for their copy machine. The rest would be divided up among 8 classrooms and the school’s administration. What a struggle!!!

On the other hand, Lockheed/Martin is so rich that in 2009 they spent $12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions.  They give to both Republicans and Democrats – whomever in the Senate and House are in a position to decide where our tax money goes. As our government tries to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Lockheed lobbyists have successfully pushed to USA to vastly increase expenditures on nuclear weapons this year.

Meanwhile, in Redwood City, our schools must decide between nurses & librarians or buses and student aides. In the school I’m familiar with, the 3rd grade class jumped from 20 students last year to 28 students this year. Two of those 28 children have special needs; but there is no money for a full time aide or even a part time aide.

Lockheed/Martin reportedly has 140,000 employees (probably an exaggeration) in about 46 states and in 2008 they received $36 BILLION from our taxes. Schools and hospitals would employ a lot more people with 36 billion dollars than Lockheed ever would or could.

Having said all of that about money & jobs & education, I was arrested at Lockheed to stop another form of insanity. Lockheed/Martin develops, tests and builds missiles for the Trident Nuclear Submarines.  These missiles will carry nuclear warheads 4,000 miles and have an accuracy of 300 feet. We believe they are being produced to enable the USA to begin and end a nuclear war in a “pre-emptive first strike.” They will be used as a “shock & awe” that hopes to wipe out the so-called “enemy” completely. However, Nuclear Weapons threaten not only other people but also all people on earth. These weapons are so absurd at this point that a number of heavy weight politicians are finally calling for their total ABOLITION. Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nun, George Schultz, Mikhail Gorbachev and others have finally realized that these weapons profit no one except the arms dealers.  Unfortunately, one thing these politicians have in common is that they are all retired—how sad.

As we protested and were arrested at Lockheed, there was very little press coverage. I guess the reporters were out checking Charlie Sheen or something else crucial to our species.

Every Democrat and Republican tells us “the future of our country depends on the education of our children.” Why don’t they put our money where their mouths are? The reason they keep wasting our money on nuclear weapons is that they have been bought (lock stock and barrel) by the gun lobby, which President Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex.” Feel free to join us and if you want more info go to