sandwich rally

Demonstrators gather at the entrance of Forestdale School in Sandwich.

Nearly 50 people attended the Cape in the Crosshairs: Mobilizing for Action demonstration, organized by the Sierra Club of Cape Cod, on the grounds of Forestdale Elementary School on Route 130 in Sandwich on Monday, October 12.

The host organization was joined by representatives of Cape Cod Democratic Socialists of America, Cape Cod Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Coalition for Social Justice, Faith Communities Environmental Network, Harwich Climate Action Network, Nauset Fellowship, Southeastern Massachusetts Pine Barrens Alliance and Sustainable Practices as they rallied to demand a more rigorous environmental review for the proposed machine gun range project at Joint Base Cape Cod. The 90-minute event included a rally on the school grounds and a standout at the school entrance.

One demonstrator carried a sign that read, “No Machine Guns.” A second read, “Keep Our Water Clean. No to Machine Gun Range.” Another demonstrator carried a rainbow flag emblazoned with the word “PEACE.”

Christopher Powicki, a Sierra Club of Cape Cod member and event organizer who lives in Brewster, said “the opposition in this time of COVID had not had a time to really gather and get energy from each other, and you can’t do that electronically.”

“The Zoom hearing [last week] certainly showed that there were a lot of people who were concerned about this [machine gun range issue], and we felt like this was a way to bring different organizations together, people who come at this from different perspectives,” he said. “Ideally, a full environmental impact statement will be required and then there’s an opportunity for further gatherings for public comment sessions and to get people out and interested in commenting. This event shows that there’s a strong desire for a diversity of people to come out and fight this [proposed action by Joint Base Cape Cod], to have their voice heard and to influence what’s going to go ahead.”

Mr. Powicki urged Cape residents to email the state’s Environmental Management Commission at to highlight their concerns and call for a full environmental impact statement, to be prepared and reviewed through a transparent process accessible to the public.

Cole Silva of Barnstable, a representative from the Cape Cod Democratic Socialists of America, which advocates increased government aid for people in need among other goals, called Joint Base Cape Cod’s process for deciding on the machine gun range “undemocratic.”

“Part of socialism is that there’s more control in the people’s hands, and it’s essential for something like this, where they’ve been working on it for so long and people have been left out, that our organizations get involved to say, ‘This hasn’t been democratic at all. There’s taxpayer money, especially of people from Cape Cod, that has been going into this, and they should have a say in where that money is going,” he said.

Susan Patterson of Harwich, a member of the Harwich Climate Action Network, was focused on the environmental impacts of the machine gun range and said she opposes the idea of clear-cutting of 170 acres of woodland for the project.

“We need to preserve what intact forest we have, not only in terms of wilderness habitats and protection of the aquifer but also in terms of sequestration of carbon,” she said. “We need to absolutely forbid any clear-cutting and move to encourage increasing of forested land. This is absolutely moving in the wrong direction in terms of what we need globally and what we need on the Cape.”

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