First we are thrilled by the job 60 Minutes did on the Cassini story and our hat is off to the producer Richard Greenberg for keeping his word and fairly giving both sides of the story. It's something that few journalists have done during this long, difficult campaign.
Yesterday at Cape Canaveral we had just over 1,000 folks turn out. Busses pulled in from Gainesville, Sarasota, Tampa, Miami/Ft Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Good work to all the local organizers who made those busses happen!
Our two hour rally went right on schedule and was wonderfully moderated by Mary Beth Sullivan. Over 50 media outlets signed in at our press table and CNN was there the entire day, doing several live remote broadcasts throughout the day on CNN International and CNN in the USA. ABC International radio (broadcasting to 83 nations worldwide) also did several live remotes during the day.
Following the rally our Grandmothers for Peace delegation led the march, behind a Scottish bag-piper as we marched the 3/4 mile to the front gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As we approached the gate we saw over 200 SWAT team outfitted police lined up along the fence line inside the bases gate, a tank and assorted helicopters, airboats and base loudspeakers blasting away in the background just to make it interesting.
Our Grandmothers delegation, led by 87 year old Peg McIntire from St Augustine, Florida, were the first to enter the base. The Air Force decided to open the gate just enough for the elder women to slip in and then theyclosed it as the crowd moved up to the fence to cheer the grandmothers as they were taken away by the heavily armed police. Then a ladder was put up to the gate, carpet remnants placed over the barbed wire and folks began going over the fence in their non-violent attempt to enter the base in order to sit on the launch pad.
In all 28 were arrested and they were from eight states in the U.S. All but four were released after spending about five hours in jail. None had to pay a bond and they were given a court date to appear later in October. The four who remained in jail overnight were second time Cape "offenders" but were finally released around noon on Sunday, again without paying any bond.
The bond issue was a big question mark prior to the event as the local
authorities kept changing the story about what the consequences would be for first time CDers and repeaters. As it turned out the Air Force/NASA and
Brevard County Sheriff lied in order to frighten people so they could reduce
the numbers willing to risk arrest.
During the five hours that most of the CDers were in jail, the Brevard
County jail administrator would not allow our lawyer in to council those who
had been arrested. It was not until around 9pm Saturday evening, after
supporters began making a nussance of themselves in the jail lobby, that
they finally let our lawyer see the four repeat CDers who would be kept in
jail over night.
Newspaper coverage that has been seen so far was fairly typical. Crowd
counts were reported to be between 500-800. The county police said 500 and those "space buff" reporters who are closest to the space center tended to use those more conservative numbers. We did see reports though in the space coast papers of a rocket test in Nevada that blew up. The rocket was intended to prove the safety of launching rockets from the Nevada desert.
Could future plutonium launches be intended for Nevada since it is now being
viewed as our nuclear dump site?
Launch date of Cassini is still set for Oct 13. During the next week we will hold morning vigils at the main gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force
Station from 6-8 am and from 3-5 pm. We encourage folks to come to the Cape
to help with these vigils. We further encourage the formation of affinity
groups to plan actions to non-violently stop the launch.
We thank those all over the earth who have worked so hard to help us Cancel Cassini. We have one week left. Please keep the pressure on Clinton as he has final launch responsibility.