In our second year, the biggest obstacle to shutting down our local armed drone command center in Des Moines, Iowa, is the willful ignorance and silence of our local Christian and moral leaders about the drone command center and the nature of its mission. More on this later.
The first posting for our Des Moines Catholic Worker (DMCW) and Veterans for Peace (VFP) drone center campaign went out in early May, 2017 as a call-out to Catholic Workers, VFP and friends to join our 24/7 ‘War Zone Picket Line & Vigil,’ risk arrest and ‘stay in jail’ campaign at the newly opened Iowa Air National Guard 132nd Drone Command Center in Des Moines.
With this campaign the geography of the DMCW and the Des Moines Bill Basinger VFP Chapter’s antiwar work changed. Breaking with an over 35 years of history and tradition, we no longer go to Offutt AFB and STRATCOM in Nebraska to protest our U.S. global space-based, nuke-armed war machine. No need, now that the U.S.’s armed drone global war zone has come home to Des Moines! Today Iowans are targeting and killing people from space from the south side of Des Moines, 24/7 at our new Air National Guard Drone Command Center.
This Des Moines-based CW/VFP lead effort is unique. For sure, there many Vets for Peace who work with Catholic Workers in similar peace and justice efforts around the country. The difference in Des Moines is that most of the Des Moines VFP members live and work in the DMCW community. We are a small chapter who do mighty works. Living together in community, doing the works of mercy and nonviolently resisting the U.S. empire makes for a great witness in both movements.
Here is a link to a must-read interview with E. Bloomer, G. Landolt and A. Burney — DMCW/VFP, March 2018 Via Pacis
Our 24/7 vigil at the entrance of our armed drone command center lasted but 10 days. We shifted to weekly vigils with major rallies and direct action 'line crossings’ on the weekends and on special occasions. At the first trial of Ed Bloomer, Greg Boertje-Obed, Brian Hynes, an Iowa National Guard security witness testified that there have been over 40 demonstrations at the entrance of the drone command center since May of 2017.
At least 20 people have been arrested for trespass since May 2017, with many of us getting arrested more than once. I have been arrested five times. Most folks who got arrested spent a night in jail. Those with more than one arrest, who plead guilty before a jail judge, were given time served, fines and or between two and five days of jail time.
Last summer we also pulled off a ‘road block’ in front of the base. Four were arrested. Great Effort!
It should be noted, that everyone who gets arrested also gets an official “ban and bar” letter from the base. If and when the Feds decide to take over the case, the charges of breaking ban and bar letters will come with a possible 6-month jail term.
Our drone campaign has also taken on a second front, with our local Catholic bishop and local Christian leadership.
See: https://frankcordaro.wordpress.com/2018/07/21/how-why-the-dmcw-took-on-their-local-drone-command-center-bishop-the-story-behind-the-aug-6-9-2018-24-7-vigil-this-year-at-st-ambrose-cathedral/ and Frank Cordaro's Aug. 6, 2018 plea to Bishop Pates, St Ambrose Cathedral, beginning of Aug 6-9 Vigil (5 min) https://youtu.be/LAJNfyLZlPs
We started our second-year effort returning to the base for a rally and line crossing May 19, 2018, Armed Forces Day. We returned to the base on Aug 6-9, 2018 for our annual commemoration of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Plus, next year, Mar. 15-1, 2019, “St Patrick’s Day” Weekend, the Midwest Catholic Workers are returning to Des Moines for a repeat of their 2014 Spring Faith and Resistance Retreat that was hosted here in anticipation of the opening of the Command Center.
All are welcome to come join our efforts. The next planned event will be our second annual Feast of the Holy Innocents Retreat and Witness on Dec. 27-28, 2018.
For more info and updates contact:
Jakob Whitson, Des Moines Catholic Worker
785 340 2458
Links below to posting over the last two years. Links may need to be selected, copied and paste into search engine.
2018 DM Drone & Billboard Campaigns’ Postings
2017 DM Drone campaign postings starting May 11