ACLU Sues Over Peace Protests at Vandenberg
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit Tuesday challenging the right of officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base to arrest peace activists demonstrating on public roads at the perimeter of the base.
The suit, filed on behalf of four activists who have been repeatedly arrested on trespassing charges for demonstrating near the base’s main gate, challenges the constitutionality of the base’s policy and seeks an injunction barring any further arrests or letters barring entry of demonstrators to base property.
Within minutes of a press conference announcing the lawsuit, the Air Force announced that it is relaxing its policy and will allow “peaceful demonstrations” on public roads at the base in Santa Barbara County, although military officials said the policy change was not prompted by the suit.
“This policy change resulted from a safety evaluation of past protest procedures, which involved significant vehicle and people congestion. . . ,” Capt. Teresa V. Waddell said. “Air Force officials will evaluate each protest to assess mission and safety impact and reserve the right to restrict access accordingly at any time.”
Carol Sobel, attorney for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, said the policy change is insufficient, because the military will continue to issue “bar letters” preventing repeat demonstrators from entering base property.