While Americans Dither, Activists Disable U.S. Military Machinery

Ingmar Lee notes in Alternative Press Review that “when the Italian Christian Peacenik, Turi Salvatore Vaccarro recently destroyed two US Navy F-16s with a sledgehammer, not a single headline turned up on my Google search of the incident. Vaccaro simply climbed over a fence into a US/NATO air base in the Netherlands where about 20 nuclear bombs and some F-16s were stationed and managed to completely destroy the cockpits of the jets.”

Lee goes on to list what to me seems a remarkable number of recent incidents of effective freelance decommissioning of military machinery:

  • On , Ciaron O’Reilly and three others entered Griffiss Air Force Base in New York and began hammering on a KC-135 (a refueling plane for B52s). They then proceeded to smash the engine of a nearby cruise-missile-armed B52 bomber that was to be used in the strikes against Iraq. They also destroyed some of the runway, chipping at two sections, one being nearly five feet in diameter.
  • In , Andrea Needham, Joanna Wilson, Lotta Kronlid and Angie Zeltner broke into the high security hangar owned by British Aerospace in Lancashire to disarm a newly built Hawk jet. The jet was slated for delivery to the Indonesian Government to use against villagers of East Timor. They broke into the hangar and set about destroying the war machine. They developed a steady rhythm, once they realised that the security was not coming. Over a period of about an hour the women methodically destroyed the plane’s weapons system with their hammers.
  • On , Rosie James and Rachel Wenham swam 300 metres in wetsuits into the Vickers dock yard at Barrow in Furness to reach HMS Vengeance. They swam in freezing conditions in the dark with their disarmament equipment of hammers, chisels, crowbars, screwdrivers and paint. The women then climbed around the submarine and dismantled radio equipment used to launch weapons of mass destruction. They hung a banner on the conning tower which read “Women Want Peace”, painted the words ILLEGAL DEATH MACHINE and peace / women’s symbols on the hull and smashed testing equipment on the conning tower.
  • On , Sylvia Boyes and Anne Scholz entered the water in the dark to the south of the perimeter of the Faslane nuclear submarine base. They swam round the perimeter fence and after two hours in the water were intercepted while swimming under the jetties where the Polaris submarines were formerly berthed. Anne said: “My plan was to get onto a Trident sub and lock myself to it. Sylvia had a hammer to use on the exterior and spray paint to use on computer monitors inside the boat.” ¶ A Trident SSBN (Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear) has 16 missile tubes. Each missile can carry eight warheads, and each 100 kiloton warhead is eight times the size of the Hiroshima bomb. A Trident submarine is on patrol 24 hours a day, every day of the year, on reduced alert but able to fire missiles within days.
  • On , Bonnie Urfer and Michael Sprong used hand-held Swede saws to cut down three poles supporting transmission lines for a controversial U.S. submarine communication system located near Clam Lake Wisconsin. After performing their “act of nonviolent direct disarmament and crime prevention,” the two waited over an hour for the arrival of Ashland County Sheriff’s Deputies who took them into custody. This was the fifth time that the transmitter — known as Project ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) — was shut down by activists who simply walked up to poles supporting the 28-mile-long transmitter antennae and cut them down with hand saws.
  • On , Eoin Dubsky and Tim Hourigan were arrested at Shannon Airport for “Defacing an Aircraft.” Mr Dubsky took a can of fluorescent orange paint to a USAF Hercules plane, and afterwards, wishing to be accountable, he phoned airport police himself to inform them of his actions.
  • On , the Sisters Jackie Hudson, Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert broke into a Minuteman Ⅲ nuclear missile silo. They pounded on the silo with hammers and smeared it with their own blood. The nuns said they were compelled to act as war with Iraq moved closer and because the United States had never promised not to use nuclear weapons.
  • On , anti-war activists breached the security at RAF Leuchars in Fife twice in twenty-four hours. The so-called “Citizens’ Inspections” were made all the more embarrassing for military chiefs by the fact that one of the activists is a wheelchair user. At 4.30am wheelchair user Roz Bullen and Petter Joelson entered via holes they had cut in the boundary fence at the base. They were able to paint the slogans “A flower in your gun” and “Peace and Responsibility” in blood red paint on part of a hangar and military vehicles.
  • On , Ulla Roder destroyed a Tornado jet at Leuchars airbase. She went into a hangar at the Fife airbase and discovered the plane completely unguarded. She said: “I took my hammer to the nose-cone, the cockpit, the fuselage, the wings, the tailplane and other parts of the plane which were safe to damage. I don’t see it flying again. I then sat down and waited for the security people to arrive. I am pleased that this particular aircraft will not be dropping bombs on innocent people in Iraq.”
  • On , Mark Colville, Sister Susan Clarkson, Joan Gregory, and Brian Buckley went aboard for a tour of the USS Philippine Sea during the 16th Annual Fleet Week in New York City. The USS Philippine Sea was the first warship to attack Afghanistan after . Once on the ship, they poured their blood and hammered on the missile hatches that hold Tomahawk Cruise Missiles. They held up pictures of Iraqi children who had been injured and maimed by US weapons.
  • On , Mary Kelly caused extensive damage to a US Navy C 40 Boeing 737 aircraft at Shannon Airport by smashing it with a hatchet-type hammer. She caused more than 500,000 euros worth of damage to the nose cone, the nose wheel, the hydraulics and electrics of the plane.
  • A week later, at the same airport on Ciarron O’Reilly smashed the same plane which was being repaired after Mary Kelly’s disarmament action the previous week. They spray-painted the hangar with “PITSTOP FOR DEATH” and “THE WAR STOPS HERE! PHIL BERRIGAN R.I.P.” and constructed a shrine with photos of Iraqi children. Human blood was poured on the runway and a mattock was used to begin to take the runway up. Mr. O’Reilly said “that it was an emphasis on taking responsibility to help others”. He said that after 5–6 minutes of beating on the aircraft, the group knew it would definitely have to be grounded.

I’ve mentioned some of these incidents before, particularly on , and I reported on how difficult it was proving to be to prosecute Mary Kelly later that month.