Demonstrators are meeting on Saturday to demand the conversion of Vandenberg Air Force Base from a missile facility to a center for the study and development of sustainable energy sources, like windmills.

The protest, which is scheduled to take place outside the main gate of the base from 1-4 p.m., is organized by the Vandenberg Action Coalition and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space (GN). Both organizations are committed to changing America’s priorities from defense spending to funding for alternative energy technology so as to free the Santa Barbara area and ultimately the United States from dependence on foreign oil.

Peter Cohen, Santa Barbara area coordinator for GN, said military projects like a missile defense shield are bad for the country because the technology is untested and will lead to an international arms race.

“All the spending that we’re doing on the military is not going to help us in regard to terrorism,” Cohen said. “We’re spending $9 billion in 2004 – it’s not going to make us any safer.”

Cohen, a World War II veteran who served in Japan and the South Pacific, said he was asked to organize this year’s Vandenberg AFB protest because several of the regular organizers trespassed last year, resulting in their restriction from the area. This year, Cohen said the group has had several conversations with base security, and the hours and the area for the protest have been cleared.

“We have no plans for any civil disobedience,” Cohen said. “If people want to do that stuff, they’re on their own.”

The VAC and GN advertised the protest through e-mails to group members and news media. Cohen said he is unsure of how many people will attend, but he expects the number will be “in the dozens.”

Protest participants will be carpooling to the base. Cohen said that if people need rides, they are encouraged to bring a sign and meet between noon and 12:30 p.m. at the Goleta Borders Bookstore, where they can find space with someone already heading up.