Keeping Focus

This is the first drone organizer’s bulletin since the 2016 election, and before reporting on strictly drone-related events, I would like to offer a peace agenda that I have found very useful in helping me to keep focused regardless of who is president and of what other human and environmental problems are most immediately pressing.

PEACE AGENDA

  1. Stop all drone attacks and all targeted killing, by cruise missiles, special forces assault teams, and other means.  Seek and international ban on weaponized drones and sanctions for nations undertaking targeted killing. These attacks violate international law.
  2. Immediately remove all U.S. military forces from all foreign nations with reserves of oil, gas and minerals and from waterways used in the commerce of these resources.  At the same time reestablish the export ban on U.S. oil and gas.  
  3. Stop all U.S. commercial and military aid arms export, starting with those areas in which wars are underway.
  4. Immediate stand down of all nuclear weapons; cancel plans for nuclear weapons updating and progressive destruction of existing nuclear weapons.
  5. Establish truth and reconciliation commissions addressing the history and current reality of American native peoples and African-Americans.   Establish similar commissions to examine U.S. penetration of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Central America and Viet Nam.   The work of the commissions would be in preparation for payment of reparations.
  6. Closure of U.S. overseas military bases and payment of reparations to nations housing these bases for social, economic and environmental damage caused by the bases.
  7. Ban on campaign contributions and lobbying by any firm doing business with the Pentagon.
  8. Establish a war profits tax on all sales to the Pentagon.
  9. Demilitarize U.S. police.
  10. Discontinue domestic and international mass surveillance.

Most of us have had some or all of these goals for a number of years.  For others, this is new.  But at this moment, we all find ourselves drawn urgently to act to prevent suffering of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers as we see the Federal government now intensifying its unfairness in what a friend described as a “blitz” of actions that are fundamentally illegal and immoral.  In the midst of this maelstrom of fear and pain, our attention, even among peace workers, is naturally being drawn to our domestic, closest to home, alarms.

But David Swanson quite rightly points out in this petition https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/will-you-stand-for-peace , that it is absolutely critical at this time that we demand that stopping the U.S. wars and demilitarizing the U.S. culture and economy MUST be on our action agenda.

Both major political parties have led us to believe that we can build a safe, healthy, happy American society while at the same time the United States military is used overseas to support repression and attack indigenous people on behalf of the interests of transnational corporations.  Organizers working to halt climate change have, in my opinion, steered clear of challenges to U.S. wars fearing this might erode their base of support.  

We are at a point now where we can no longer risk entertaining the fundamentally immoral fantasy that we can live in a United States insulated against from the horror of war and its meaning, regardless of how much we are encouraged to do that.  This is especially true when the United States global ambitions are translating into war for millions.

I hope this agenda will help in enabling our organizing to embrace the whole of our global reality, which includes war.

Big Books Trial

Bev Rice at the March 19, 2015 “Big Books” anti-drone war protest at Hancock Air Base outside Syracuse, NY.

Bev Rice at the March 19, 2015 “Big Books” anti-drone war protest at Hancock Air Base outside Syracuse, NY.

It appears possible that the trial of five people arrested at the Hancock Air Base “Big Books” counter-drone war protest in 2015 will begin on February 28 after a postponement triggered by the defendants’ request for a racially diverse jury rather than the all-white jury that was chosen.  The request was particularly appropriate because one of the defendants, James Ricks, is African-American.

Whether the trial proceeds will depend on whether a diverse jury pool can be created, and whether DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon allows the trial to go forward if the jury selection again results in an all-white jury.  If the judge decides to go forward, the defendants may have ground for appeal.

It is difficult to impanel a diverse jury in DeWitt, site of the Hancock drone control base, because the community of about 24,000 is nearly 90 percent white, according to Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeWitt,_New_York. Just under 5 percent are African-American; the Hispanic population is said to be 1.35 percent.

The racial composition of the jury is critical not only with respect to fairness to all the defendants.  The charges against the defendants result from their protest of a national war policy that obviously goes beyond issues of well-being DeWitt citizens alone. This means that the DeWitt jury needs to be diverse to better represent national racial diversity.  Racial diversity on the DeWitt jury may give the defendants a better chance in court given results of a Pew Research Center study released in 2015 that found that while 66 percent of whites surveyed supported U.S. drone attacks, only 46 percent of African-Americans and 39 percent of Hispanics approved. http://www.people-press.org/2015/05/28/public-continues-to-back-u-s-drone-attacks/

Those facing trial on February 28 are, in addition to Mr. Ricks, are: Daniel Burns, Ithaca, NY; Brian Hynes, the Bronx, NY; Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY; and the Rev. Bill Pickard, Scranton, PA.  They are charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration, two Disorderly Conduct charges and one Trespass charge.

Juliene Oldfield, of Syracuse, and Bev Rice, of New York City, also face these charges, but they will tried later.  They are also charged of Contempt of Court for allegedly violating an Order of Protection that the Hancock commander took out against the women, attempting to prevent them from protesting at the base.

All were arrested on March 19, 2015 on the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  They blocked the main Hancock Gate with oversize copies of the UN Charter, Dirty Wars, Living Under Drones and You Never Die Twice.

For more details, images and latest developments at: https://www.facebook.com/events/356885151370557/356885161370556/?notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&notif_id=1479853237456107

Beale Arrests

Flora Rogers and Brian Terrell at the entrance to Beale AFB’s main gate.

Flora Rogers and Brian Terrell at the entrance to Beale AFB’s main gate.

Flora Rogers, of Occupy Beale, and Brian Terrell co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence were arrested on January 24, 2017and charged with federal trespass in an anti-drone war protest at Beale AFB outside Sacramento, CA.  The 12th Reconnaissance Squadron, stationed at Beale, operates Global Hawk drones that are used in support of drone attacks by Reaper and Predator drones.

The arrests are the latest in a series that have resulted from Occupy Beale protests.

On September 27, 2016 five people were arrested – Sharon Delgado, Chris Nelson, Toby Blome, Shirley Osgood, and Cathy Webster, pictured below with supporter Barry Binks, a member of Veterans for Peace – as reported on the Reverend Delgado’s blog. https://sharondelgado.org/blog-2/page/3/