Edited by Nick Mottern, Knowdrones.com
In what appears to be the only on-going non-violent, direct action anti-war campaign in the U.S., there have been sixteen drone war protest arrests so far in 2019.
Here are reports:
Mark your calendars: Sept. 29 - Oct. 5, 2019 “Mass mobilization” to SHUT DOWN CREECH. We need you! www.ShutDownCreech.blogspot.com
Report Back: SHUT DOWN CREECH, Spring ActionMarch 30 - April 5, 2019
Opposing Drone Killing at the "Belly of the Beast”:
6 Activists Arrested Blocking the Gates at "Drone Murder Central”
by Toby Blomé
We were a strong, hardworking, and dedicated team, arriving from 12 different states in the union, from as far away as Wisconsin, New Jersey and Washington State. We were members of CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Nevada Desert Experience, and other peace groups. We were there for one main purpose: to let the U.S. government, CIA, Pentagon, local police and military and civilian employees know that remote-controlled drone killing is intolerable, illegal, abominable, racist and MUST STOP NOW! We were also there to demand an end to “Endless Wars” and to all war. We got up at the break of dawn each morning, and every afternoon, during each 2-hour commuter rush, to bring our messages to the gates of “Drone Base Central,” Creech Air Force Base, 45 minutes from Las Vegas.
MEDIA: We had fantastic media coverage, including an unexpected interview on Rising up with Sonali on Tuesday morning. Eleanor and Toby were interviewed by Sonali, and it was aired on most Pacifica radio stations and other radio and tv programs across the country.
AP and Las Vegas Review Journal photographers came on Tuesday morning, and a short AP story about the protest and 6 arrests was picked up by multiple media outlets in at least 26 different states.
In addition, filmmaker Kari Barber was present much of the week, finishing up on final footage of a documentary that she and her husband Nico Columbant have been working on for many years, telling the story of our ongoing anti-drone campaign at Creech. This film is expected to be completed within the next year, hopefully.
Large banners and signs we used included: “DRONES KILL INNOCENT PEOPLE,” “DRONES FLY CHILDREN DIE,” “DRONES MAKE ENEMIES,” “BLACK & MUSLIM LIVES MATTER,” “NO to NATO, YES to PEACE,” “DISARM NATO, DEFUND WAR,” “U.S. DRONE WAR IS TERRORISM,” “MURDERING WITH DRONES IS NOT A GAME,” "U.S. Bloody Hands Off Venezuela," and most importantly: “DRONE PILOTS: REFUSE TO FLY!”
Six Arrestees Blocking the entrance to “Drone Murder Central,” just prior to arrest, April 3.
Our drone resistance culminated in a very successful nonviolent direct action on Wednesday, April 3, to “SHUT DOWN CREECH.” To demonstrate the barbarism of drone killing, we painted our hands with fake blood, and held a long banner, “DRONES = BLOOD on OUR HANDS,” at the entrance to the gate. Hundreds of cars passed us in the early morning commute, as we shouted out: “No More Blood on Our Hands, Stop the Terror, Stop the Drone Wars” for nearly an hour. Watch here. (41 sec). Ultimately, with our bloody hands held high, we carried the banner out into the entrance road to "stop Creech drone murder” for as long as we could. Many who were not able to risk arrest still joined some of the blockade, until the 2-minute warning was given. Thank you everyone! Watch here. (11 min.)
The six activists arrested included:
Jade Takushi, (OR), first time “offender,” Thank you Jade!
Michael Kerr (CA), Veterans for Peace
Ray Cage, (NM), Veterans for Peace
Don Cunning, (NJ)
Chris Chase-Dunn, (CA)
Toby Blomé, (CA), CODEPINK
Arrestees were taken to the Las Vegas jail for a short detention, and were cited and and later released, surprisingly, all at the exact same time, in the early afternoon, in enough time to participate in the afternoon peace vigil at Creech the same day! We were all given the same May 16 court date to appear before a judge.
Interestingly, this spring's entire arrest and processing experience was entirely different, and much easier, than last fall’s action. During our October, 2018 direct action at Creech, there was absolutely no warning given (a first in our 10 years of doing this work). Last fall, after the Las Vegas police read aloud the usual, long “riot act," warning us to disperse and that we may experience “bodily harm," etc, the police then rushed quickly into the street, and even arrested one man who had no intent to risk arrest. The 7 arrestees were then taken to the LV jail and released at completely different times from each other, between 9 and 33 hrs after their arrest! This was the longest detention that we had ever experienced before. One thing is certain: There are no certainties when risking arrest at Creech Air Force Base!
Other memorable and successful actions during the week included:
- A solemn Funeral Procession with black clothing, white masks and coffins to mourn for the dead. This also included an altar to commemorate the child victims of U.S. drone attacks.
- April 4 (am): NO to NATO, YES to PEACE, A solidarity action to a call for a global action against NATO, on it’s 70th anniversary year. We also brought messages of “U.S. Hands Off Venezuela,” knowing that it might be the very next target of U.S. aggressive intervention.
- April 4 (pm): We broadcasted, via loudspeaker, Martin Luther King’s famous speech, Beyond Vietnam, on the 51st anniversary of his assassination by the U.S., and on the 52nd anniversary of the date he gave the speech. (Interestingly, within 10-15 minutes, the military closed the gate where we were broadcasting the MLK speech. Maybe it was too much truth and wisdom for the U.S. military to hear? You can hear it HERE.)
-Visit to the Nevada Test Site, site of continued nuclear weapons development and testing and the closest thing to hell on earth, just 15 min. north of Creech AFB. (Plutonium was just recently shipped there against the will of the State of Nevada!)
-April 5: FLY A KITE NOT A DRONE: The Last vigil of the week: 5 beautiful kites were flying overhead to remind the airmen and airwomen what our skies should really be flying, and to leave them with a positive vision of joy, peace and beauty. It was a beautiful and positive last exchange that hopefully will help draw some of them to the side of peace.
There are so many things that could be said, but this is a brief summary of a most rewarding and productive week. What made it exceptionally rewarding this year is that we were joined by 5 new activists to our SHUT DOWN CREECH campaign. We were especially grateful to all the many ways people stepped up to the plate and contributed, offering special skills, but also being very eager to help and take on tasks even when not asked. It was a truly very dedicated and committed team. We will hold off specific expressions of thanks, for fear that we may leave someone out, but please trust that we are deeply grateful for the tremendous team spirit we witnessed. We will, however, offer special thanks to two folks who contribute in very special ways, year after year:
Candace Ross, The Goddess Temple Priestess, who does a superior job both maintaining and improving the temple grounds and guest house, year after year, helping to improve the space that is so vitally needed for this work.
Cres Vellucci, “Press Man Extraordinaire,” who assists us with press releases and press contacts year after year. Without him, our outreach would be so compromised.
We were a very hard working and supportive peace community that converged for one week from across the country for a common cause: To Shut Down Creech, and Shut Down Militarism! We want to grow, please help us. Think what we could do with 500 or 1,000 people!
With Much Gratitude and Love, Forever,
Toby, Eleanor and Maggie
Divest from the War Machine! Go HERE to find out how YOU can divest from war!
Join Us Next Time: Sept. 29 - October 5, 2019
To the People of Afghanistan:
We fly these kites for your liberation! May it come one day soon! 17 Years: ENOUGH!!
Report Back: Occupy Beale AFB
“STANDING WITH VENEZUELA at Beale Drone Base!”
2 Activists Arrested While Trespassing onto Beale AFB:
February 28 - March 1, 2019
by Toby Blomé
On Thursday and Friday, February 28 and March 1, 2019, fed up with 17 years of endless wars, we were determined to bring our strong messages of solidarity with the people of Venezuela to one of the most important U.S. drone bases, Beale AFB in Marysville, CA, home of the Global Hawk intelligence gathering and targeting drone and the U-2 spy plane.
As the Trump Administration and Congressional leadership from both parties continue to openly threaten Venezuela with illegal regime change and military intervention, activists gathered for a 2- day protest at Beale to say enough war: “U.S. Bloody Hands Off Venezuela!” On Thursday afternoon we held vigils at two gates, Wheatland and Doolittle, passing out flyers to educate the U.S. military about the truth about Venezuela in order to counter the U.S. government's massive misinformation campaign to market a U.S. coup. Dozens accepted our leaflets.
Early Friday morning, we concentrated our efforts near the Wheatland gate, the main commuter artery into the base. The first banner to greet the airmen arriving said: “VENEZUELA? HELL NO, DON’T GO!”
As military personnel continued down the road, they passed another large banner that read: “WAR IS A LIE.” We held individual signs stretched down the roadway that explained: “PRESIDENTS LIE, CONGRESS LIES, GENERALS LIE, MEDIA LIES, and, CIA LIES.” The last sign to be read simply said: “PEOPLE DIE,” a reminder of the tragic human cost of military “solutions."
Later in the morning, 2 activists, Fred Bialy and Toby Blomé, carrying a sign that said, “LET VENEZUELA LIVE,” crossed the white line the roadway into the base, to bring their grievances to the Beale commander about the imminent U.S. coup and possible war on Venezuela.
In prior actions at Beale, military security forces are usually hovering on the base side of the white line, ready to read the “riot act” and quickly arrest any protester who crosses over. But this time the military police car had left shortly before, and there were no military personnel in sight. Fred and Toby proceeded to carry their sign down the remaining half mile roadway toward the official security entrance gate. Walking backwards, in order to face the oncoming traffic into the pace, they held up peace signs and waved to the dozens of drivers entering the base. What was extraordinary was that many, including those in uniform, flashed us peace signs and waved to us as they entered. We believe that this was a positive sign that many of the military are themselves getting tired of endless warfare. Many have had fellow comrades injured or killed in deployments. For what?
Fred and Toby nearly reached the entrance security gate by the time the first military police car arrived. With his car’s flashing lights on, a security officer got out to ask questions and begin to read us the “riot act,” reminding us that we were trespassing and illegally on military property. Toby chose to sit on the roadway with her sign, “LET VENEZUELA LIVE,” temporarily blocking the oncoming traffic into the base. Fred soon joined her. Within a few minutes, two more security cars arrived. One officer approached Toby and ordered her on her feet. Toby informed him that, out of conscience, this time, she could not do that, not after 17 years of endless U.S. warring, and one more country imminently threatened to be devastated by U.S. military intervention.
Ultimately two security officers carried Toby to the other side of the roadway. Fred and Toby were handcuffed. Only Fred was subjected to a "pat down," that included having his pants pulled down to below his hips, (a rare occurrence at Beale). Ultimately they were detained on the spot for about an hour, otherwise treated professionally and later cited and released. Their sign was also returned to them.
Under the Trump Administration and in the latter years of the Obama regime, peace activists arrested on Beale property have only been detained for 2 hours or less, then cited and released. No trial, no jail. The Sacramento U.S. Attorney has chosen NOT to prosecute.
"Our only hope for peaceful solutions in today’s world is to win over the hearts and minds of the lower ranks of the U.S. military,” Toby said. "The U.S. war machine cannot function without troops. There is overwhelming evidence that the Vietnam War came to a dramatic halt largely because the troops were resisting the war at home and in Vietnam. “There is no war without the warriors.”
All of the activists at Beale on Friday ultimately took their banners and signs in support of Venezuela to a downtown Marysville street (Hwy 70), holding a peace vigil for nearly an hour that included some meaningful dialogue with passersby.
“Occupy Beale Air Force Base” is a group of Northern California activists who bring their anti-militarism and anti-drone messages to Beale AFB monthly. We sense that we are having immeasurable impact on the hearts of minds of many of the troops stationed there, through flyers, dialogue, and other means. Beale AFB is a key player in the illegal U.S. drone targeted killing. Home of the Global Hawk surveillance drone and U2 spy planes, it is a critical U.S. base used for ISTR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance).
PLEASE read this important flyer that we distributed at Beale to those who would accept, about the poisoning of military base land and ground water with fire retardant foam used by the U.S. Air Force on bases at home and abroad. The flyer was prepared for our Beale protest by Pat Elder, who has done in-depth research about this shocking topic. Pat has been on a tour this week at multiple US. Air Force bases across the country, holding press conferences at each one, to alert the public about this extremely hazardous situation that threatens our communities. We will continue to pass these flyers out at Beale each month to alert the military personnel, who are coming down with high rates of miscarriages and cancer, as a result of this horrendous poisoning of our mother earth. More on this later. Please read Pat’s flyer here: www.Civilian Exposure.org
Des Moines Iowa Air National Guard Base
Veterans for Peace and Catholic Workers from across the Midwest converged on the Iowa Air National Guard Drone Command Center in Des Moines on Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 1 p.m.
The Midwest Catholic Workers – a loose collection of dozens of autonomous communities spread out in urban shelters, soup kitchens, and rural farmsteads across the region, were holding their annual “Faith and Resistance Retreat” March 15-17 in Des Moines. This year's focus, the two year DMCW & VFP "Close the DM Drone Command Center" Campaign https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/national-cw-e-mail-list/YXTjg5KJuR4
Five years ago in 2014 on St Patrick's Day the Midwest CW Faith and Resistance Retreat was hosted by the DM CWers and VFP and it ended with a protest at the announced site of a yet to be built IA National Guard Armed Drone Command Center. https://youtu.be/ThlWP8_4Aoo
Sunday’s rally featured speakers, Kathy Kelly, three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Voices for Creative Nonviolence organizer; Dominican Sisters Carol Gilbert and Ardeth Platte, Plowshares Activists and Washington, DC CW’ers. Speaking from MN Vets for Peace; David Logsdon, National VFP Board Member and Michael Madden, President of VFP Minneapolis. Also speaking were: DMCW Jakob Whitson and Gil Landolt, President of the “Bill Bassinger” DM Vets for Peace Chapter.
The Rally ended with a nonviolent direct-action witness with protesters walking onto the base, led by the eight Catholic Workers and Vets for Peace, risking arrest in an attempt to shut down the site. They got arrested blocking the main entrance gate with their message from St Patrick himself “In Christ there is no killing” Shut Down the DM Drone Command Center!
The eight arrested were: Steve Jacobs, Columbia MO CW; Mike Miles, Anathoth CW Farm, Luck WI and Gabe McMahan, roaming CW currently at Lake City CW Farm, WI; joining five Des Moines CWers and Vets for Peace; Ruth Hart, Ed Bloomer, Jakob Whitson, Al Burney and Frank Cordaro.
All eight were taken to Polk Co. Jail. Al Burney was bailed out. The other seven stayed in jail overnight, plead guilty before a jail judge on Monday morning and were fined between $100 and $1,000 and set free.
Frank Cordaro, DMCW, <firstname.lastname@example.org> 515 490 2490
Jakob Whitson, DMCW, <email@example.com> 785 340 2458
Gilbert Landolt, DMCW & Pres. DM Vets For Peace, <firstname.lastname@example.org> 515 657 0354