A public forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16 in Santa Barbara will feature 15 people accused of committing acts of civil resistance before the launch of a Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in February.
The group will stand trial on trespass charges in federal court on Oct. 17.
Members of the “Vandenberg 15” include Daniel Ellsberg, a U.S. nuclear weapons strategist who released the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971; Cindy Sheehan, a founder of Gold Star Families for Peace whose son Casey was killed in 2004 in Iraq; the Rev. Louie Vitale, former provincial superior of the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Barbara; and David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization that works for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.
The Vandenberg 15 and dozens of others were protesting the Feb. 25 launch of a Minuteman III ICBM from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The United States keeps 450 Minuteman III missiles on high-alert status, ready to be fired upon an order. The missiles are armed with thermonuclear warheads and can reach nearly any place on Earth in 30 minutes or less. Once fired, the missiles cannot be redirected or recalled.
As a land-based missile, the Minuteman III is easily targeted and, in a time of crisis, there would be pressure to “use them or lose them.” These missiles make launching to a false warning and accidental nuclear war far more likely.
The free public forum will be held in the Faulkner Gallery of the Central Library, 40 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.
— Rick Wayman represents the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.