Actor Among Activists Arrested at Vandenberg Protest

Share via
From Associated Press

Authorities arrested peace activists, including actor Martin Sheen, during a protest Saturday to return the study of outer space solely to scientific research instead of military purposes.

Air Force police and Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies arrested 23 people on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing and failure to disperse, said Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Burridge. They were cited, warned in writing not to return to the base for at least a year and then released, he said.

The Vandenberg Action Coalition, an alliance of peace organizations, sponsored the “Stop Star Wars” rally outside the base’s main gate. Sheen and Medea Benjamin, the Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate, along with several demonstrators, spoke at the event, said Lawrence Turk of Greenpeace USA.


About 200 people participated, some carrying large puppets representing companies that fund defense research, he said.

Rally organizers said Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and TRW have split more than $2.2 billion in funding for missile defense research and development in the last two years.

The event was part of an international day to speak out against military space technology. Demonstrations were held in 16 countries and 60 cities.

“We are protesting everything from Star Wars to hunter-killer satellites to space surveillance systems,” Turk said.

In response, base officials increased security measures. Barricades blocked much of the main entrance, and officials rerouted vehicles to other gates.

“There have been general threats of activities against the base,” said Air Force Capt. Tom Knowles. “Because of those threats, we’ve asked people to raise their security awareness of things that may or may not occur on the base.”


In July, seven Greenpeace activists were arrested on suspicion of trespassing at Vandenberg during the launch of an unsuccessful national missile defense system test.

An additional five protesters were cited for trespassing at the launch of a Minuteman II missile but they were not detained.