Just before dawn on February 12, two dozen people lined up at the
main gate of Sikorsky Aircraft, a defense contractor based here,
and blocked the main entrance to the plant. Across the street, 75
people held banners proclaiming "Sikorsky kills Colombians."
The action marked the first major display of civil disobedience
at Sikorsky over the sale of Black Hawk helicopters to the Colombian
military. The protest, called by Colombia Action Connecticut, included
members of the Catholic Workers--a faith-based pacifist group--drug-law
reformers and the Connecticut Global Action Network. At a previous
protest in December, six people were arrested when they tried to
deliver a letter to CEO Dean Borgman protesting Sikorsky's sale
of the helicopters.
Concern over Colombia has grown since President Clinton signed
a $1.3 billion aid
package last July. Defense contractors were the primary lobbyists
for Plan Colombia, which includes 30 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters
due to be delivered there by the end of this year.
Protestors block the enterance
to Sikorsky Aircraft.
The protesters tied up traffic for almost four miles. Many workers
were visibly angry. "We're in favor of selling these Black Hawks,"
says Jeff Cederbaum, head of the Teamsters local that represents
most Sikorsky employees. "We've actually been pushing our congressional
delegation to make sure these go through. Our concern is making
sure our members are working."
But at least a dozen passing motorists honked their horns in support.
And after an hour and a half, protesters ended their blockade, without
arrests. "We stopped business as usual," says Mark Colville, a resident
of the New Haven Catholic Worker house. "I think we touched the
consciences of people who work here. What they do with that is up
The coalition plans to organize more blockades at Sikorsky. "I
dread getting arrested and going to jail," adds Colville, who was
arrested for the first time at the December action. "But I think
it's necessary. There needs to be a dramatization of the fact that
we're killing people daily in Colombia."
A version of this story originally appeared in the New Haven