The two Santa Cruz men arrested for allegedly trying to destroy a $50-million satellite at the Rockwell International complex in Seal Beach are both peace activists and believe that they were following the Book of Isaiah's mandate to "beat their swords into plowshares," friends of the men said Monday.
Peter Allen Lumsdaine, 37, is the founder of the Santa Cruz-based First Strike Prevention Program, a nonviolent direct-action group opposed to the Trident nuclear missile system, friends said. Arrested with him was Keith Joseph Kjoller, 31, who was described as a disciple of Lumsdaine.
The pair scaled an eight-foot-high, chain-link fence at the Rockwell International complex in Seal Beach over the weekend and dented a $50-million navigational and targeting satellite with an ax. The two were arrested early Sunday morning by Seal Beach police minutes after breaking into a storage room where the satellite was kept before shipment.
They will be charged in Federal District Court this morning with malicious destruction of government property, FBI spokesman Gary Morley said. The charge carries a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison. They each are being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $1-million bail.
Marion Pack, head of the Santa Ana-based Alliance for Survival, a nonprofit peace and nuclear disarmament organization, said Lumsdaine phoned her from the jail Monday to explain the reason they targeted the Navstar Global Position System satellite.
"Peter's motivation was to prevent the deployment of these two satellites because of the important part they play in the Trident Nuclear weapons system," she said. "What Peter did was an act of conscience, a motivation out of concern."
A statement issued by the pair from jail said the satellite's primary function is "to guide military search-and-destroy missions across the planet and to give the United States a nuclear first-strike capacity.
"The truth about the satellite's mission has not been told."
Janet Dean, a spokeswoman for Rockwell, said the satellite, which was to be delivered to the Department of Defense in August, is used for both military and civilian purposes.
The Navstar Global Position System is a space-based radio navigation network that uses a group of satellites to provide precise locations for Trident submarines, troops and various types of vehicles.
According to the Dictionary of Space Technology, the satellite is used for "precision weapons delivery; en route navigation for space, air, land, and sea vehicles; aircraft runway approach; photomapping; geodetic surveys; aerial rendezvous/refueling; tactical missile navigation system updating; air traffic control; range instrumentation and safety, as well as search and rescue operations."
Damage to the satellite, which is about the size of a small car, was limited to its outer shell and estimated to be at least $50,000, said Rockwell officials.
"It doesn't make any sense to me," Dean said of the incident, which is believed to be the first such break-in at the Seal Beach plant. "I liken it to breaking into a hospital and wrecking equipment used for health care."
Friends of Lumsdaine and Kjoller in Santa Cruz said it would not be surprising if the two were involved in the vandalism given their history as peace activists.
Lumsdaine, who has been arrested about six times for civil disobedience, has been a peace activist since 1979, said Santa Cruz City Councilman Scott Kennedy, a longtime friend of Lumsdaine.
"He lived on a shoestring budget. He lived well below the poverty level," Kennedy said. "I'm sure Peter saw his action as part of the prophecy of Isaiah. This was a nonviolent direct action against nuclear weapons.
"He didn't tell me about this but I'm not surprised, given his history of strong commitments, that he was moved to take more dramatic action."
Kjoller, who moved to Santa Cruz from San Diego several years ago and is single, worked at a concession counter at a movie theater part time. He was a member of Lumsdaine's group and volunteered at the Resource Center for Nonviolence as a draft counselor during the Persian Gulf War.
Lumsdaine and Kjoller also belonged to the Lockheed Action Collective, a protest group which staged demonstrations and blockaded the entrance at the Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. test base in Santa Cruz in 1990, according to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper.
Last week, Kjoller told his supervisors he wanted the week off to visit his mother in Southern California for Mother's Day.
"I'm very surprised he was arrested," said Julie Atkinson, Kjoller's supervisor at the theater. "He talked about his beliefs and he's got very strong convictions. As an employee, he did everything meticulously. . . . He's not someone to fly off the handle, but if he believed in something strongly enough he would follow through."