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Local nun, college student detained at Vandenberg protest

Local nun, college student detained at Vandenberg protest


They knowingly cross property line, prompting arrests, trespassing charges

Mar. 25, 2003
by Ryan Huff
The Tribune

SAN LUIS OBISPO - After hours of silently demonstrating against the war, Sister Mary Pat White and Cal Poly student Sheila Baker knowingly crossed over a green property line near the gates of Vandenberg Air Force Base and were detained by base security officers Saturday.
I felt I needed to take a public stand against this war, said Sister White, associate director of the Newman Catholic Center near Cal Poly. I think its immoral. One nation does not have the authority to go up against another nation with a pre-emptive strike.
Sister White cautioned that she supports the U.S. troops, and was protesting President Bushs reasoning for attacking Iraq. Last year, she went on a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan to provide support to families inadvertently bombed by U.S. forces.
About 50 people, most with the Vandenberg Action Coalition, silently protested the war, at times lying on the ground to symbolize casualties of war. Meanwhile, a group of military supporters waved flags and chanted USA on an adjacent street corner. White, Baker and a man from Ojai were the only ones arrested for crossing the property line.
Sister White has been arrested about 10 times for civil disobedience, she said, most of those coming at a Nevada nuclear test site over the past two decades.
If Sister White and Baker are convicted by a federal judge for misdemeanor trespassing, they could face up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. But Sister White said she hoped the judge would instead punish her with community service.
She also mentioned she was fairly treated by security officers and released after about four hours of paperwork at a base detaining center.
Ryan Huff covers higher education for The Tribune. He can be reached at 781-7909 or rhuff (at)

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