Santa Maria Sun / News
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 33
Three arrested at Vandenberg for 'backcountry' protest
Vandenberg Air Force Base security cited three protestors for trespassing on Oct. 20 and 21 after they attempted to infiltrate the base as part of an anti-nuke demonstration, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Base security forces arrested Fr. Louis Vitale and Los Angeles Catholic Worker community member Rebecca Casa at about 6 p.m. Saturday evening near an entry gate after base personnel became suspicious of their vehicle, according to Vandenberg press officials. After delivering a letter, the pair was cited and escorted off base property.
The following morning at 2 a.m., base security arrested protestor Theo Kayser for trespassing near an inactive facility located near the base’s northern perimeter, officials said. Kayser was cited for trespassing, detained, and released.
The protestors called their breach a “nonviolent backcountry resistance action” intended to demonstrate against a “sweeping global pattern of violent high-tech military abuse.” In a press release posted on the website Vandenberg Witness, the protestors claimed they hiked onto the base under cover of night, hung anti-nuke banners on missile silos, and conducted an unauthorized Christian prayer liturgy and exorcism on base property.
Protestors credited their actions with causing “days of disruptive base alerts,” however base officials said the breach had no impact on ongoing Vandenberg missions.
“It is the right of every American to gather in peaceful protest as well as to practice free speech, and we as military members work daily to ensure those rights are protected,” 30th Space Wing commander Col. Nina Armagno said in a press release. “However, when they illegally enter Vandenberg property, our base defenders must take action to ensure the safety and security of all personnel and property. Thanks to the swift response by our security forces and vigilance by all base personnel, we were able to safely handle base trespassers this weekend while continuing to provide superior access to and from space for the joint force and our nation.”