October 15, 2001

Ithacans Join in Star Wars Protest

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For nearly a year, Oct. 13, 2001 marked an international day of protest to stop the militarization of space.

When about 85 people from Cornell, Ithaca College and the city marched along the Sagan Planet Walk on Saturday, the day took on a greater significance because of the U.S. military campaign underway in Afghanistan.

Groups in 113 cities around the world and 80 in the U.S. joined members of the Cornell Green Party, the Cornell Greens, the Cornell United Progressives and other local activists for similar actions on Saturday.

“I actually don’t have a problem with the existence of a military, but I see a problem with an arms race,” said Antonella Romano grad, a lead organizer for the protest.

A physics major with a minor in peace studies, Romano questioned the feasibility of a national missile defense program, citing the research of the Union of Concerned Scientists while pointing out weaknesses in the Strategic Defense Initiative — otherwise known as Star Wars.

On the way from the Ithaca Commons to the Sciencenter, marchers read from federal documents detailing Star Wars and, upon return, the group heard speakers further discuss the U.S. policy, supported by President George W. Bush, and attended street theater presented by members of the Ithaca Coalition for Global Justice.

Sitting at a table to distribute information and answer questions during the protest, Romano said, “I had one guy get a little [upset] that there wasn’t a national discussion about this.”

While space militarization remains largely absent from the major media outlets, however, current national policies continue to spur people across the country, and the world, to action.

“It’s really a dangerous thing. Of course, they are going to be playing with all of our lives,” said Pete Meyers, who worked with Romano while organizing the Ithaca actions Saturday.

While the Bush Administration and many of its predecessors have labeled the move toward space militarization as a defense mechanism, the rest of the world sees it as an offensive move, Romano said.

As a result, some groups participating in the protests on Saturday incorporated in their message a statement opposing the bombing of Afghanistan.

“Recent events show that the use of violence to resolve human conflict only creates more hatred and more killing,” said Bruce Gagnon, secretary/coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, located in Gainesville. Fla, in a statement.

“Instead of moving toward creating more global stability through multilateral arms control agreements and economic justice, the U.S. is now moving toward ‘control and domination’ of space that will give it the military capability to literally win all wars on the Earth,” Gagnon said.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch