Campaign Nonviolence Arrests at Beale

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On Monday afternoon, September 29, two anti-drone demonstrators were arrested for trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base.  My good friend, The Reverend John Auer, a retired United Methodist pastor from Fresno, offered a prayer for peace and for the earth.  Then he crossed the line onto base property, assisted by my beloved, Guarionex Delgado.  He pushed John’s wheelchair the length of the mile-long road to the Wheatland Gate.  Base personnel detained them when they reached the guard house.  I also walked with them, taking pictures, but turned back when they entered through the gate.

John stated that he was attempting to deliver a letter to Colonel Phillip A. Stewart, the Base Commander, informing him of a recent anti-drone resolution passed by United Methodists in the California-Nevada region.  (I had also signed on to the letter.)  The letter also included The World Council of Churches’ Statement on the Use of Drones and the Right to Life.  Beale is the home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that helps find targets for armed drones.

This action was one of over 250 nonviolent actions carried out in coordination with Campaign Nonviolence, calling for an end to war, poverty, and climate change. John and Guari stated concerns for the children, for humankind, and for the earth as reasons for walking onto base property.  John carried a sign with a picture of the earth that said, “No War, No Warming,” a reference to the relationship between war and climate change.  They both wore light blue scarves that represent solidarity with others around the world who are suffering the effects of war and who are working for peace.

John spoke of his reasons for taking this action:  “I believe in the recuperative powers of the earth and of the people.  We can’t stop trying.  We can’t stop making an offering of our lives and of our hope.

“I oppose drone warfare because the more we depersonalize war the easier it is for us to fight, and to act as if it is not costing us anything.  When we mechanize war it makes others expendable.  Everyone becomes collateral damage.”

“I am committed to a better world for our children and grandchildren, and I mean all our children and grandchildren.  They will ask us one day what we did in this time.  I want to be able to say that we offered some kind of resistance and some kind of hope.”

Guari said, “I am opposed to all forms of violence.  Climate change is violence against the earth.  Poverty is violence against the people.  War is violence against both people and the earth.”

“When I was younger and uninformed, I served the Empire.  Now that I’m older and clearer, I serve my brothers and sisters who are working for peace and healing.  In this case I had the strength to accompany a brother in the struggle.”

 

 

Resolution: A Call to Stop Drone Killings

 

IMG_6062This resolution was passed without debate on the consent calendar at the 2014 California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, held in Burlingame, California, in June 2014.

Be it resolved: That the California-Nevada Annual Conference affirms the 2012 General Conference Resolution 6128, Seeking Peace in Afghanistan, which includes a call for: “an immediate end to drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have escalated exponentially since 2008…”

Be it further resolved:  That the California-Nevada Annual Conference endorses the document “A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings;’

“As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away. Drones have become the preferred weapons to conduct war due to the lack of direct risk to the lives of U.S. soldiers, but these drone strikes have led to the death of hundreds of innocent civilians in countries where we are not at war, including Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

“Some aspects that we find particularly disturbing include:

  • The President and his aides draw up a Kill List in which they play the role of prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. People on this secret Kill List have never been charged, tried or convicted in a court of law, and are given no opportunity to surrender;
  • The labeling of all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, thus justifying their murder, is an extreme and macabre form of profiling;
  • Drone strikes kill not only their intended targets, but innocent people, including children, violating the sanctity of human life;
  • Drone strikes violate other nations’ sovereignty (Pakistan’s elected leaders, for example, have repeatedly called for an end to the strikes);
  • Drones in the hands the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command keep the program veiled in secrecy. The lack of transparency and accountability violate the basic tenets of a democratic society;
  • Drones make killing more abstract, impersonal, antiseptic, convenient and “easy”;
  • The Administration insists that because drones do not risk American lives, Congress need not be consulted, leading to a dangerous abuse of executive power;
  • Drone strikes have replaced Guantanamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants. They fuel anti-American sentiment, radicalize local populations and perpetuate an endless cycle of violence.
  • The example being set by the United States that a nation can go anywhere it wants and kill anyone it wants on the basis of secret information is leading to a world of chaos and lawlessness.

“The world’s great religions teach us to cherish human life. This impersonal, risk-free killing of people on the other side of the globe runs counter to religious belief and the teachings of our traditions.

“We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society. We call on the United Nations to regulate the international use of lethal drones in a fashion that promotes a just and peaceful world community, based on the rule of law, with full dignity and freedom for every human being.”

Be it further resolved: That the Conference Secretary will send letters to President Barak Obama, and U.S. Senators and Representatives of California and Nevada, informing them of this action and urging them to work to end drone strikes and to develop peace-building alternatives;

Be it further resolved:  That members of California-Nevada Annual Conference will inform their congregations of this action and help raise awareness among church members about the immorality of drone killings and the need to work for peace.

Do We Have the Wisdom to Survive?

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Fires are burning week after week again this year here in the West.   The smoky skies aggravate asthma, give people headaches, burn people’s eyes, and make people grouchy.  We are warned to stay indoors due to unsafe levels of particulates.  As climate change continues to accelerate, other people in other places are also experiencing record-setting fires, heat waves, droughts,  floods, and other extreme weather events.

Do we have the wisdom to survive?  Will humanity rise to the challenge presented by climate change?  Will we change our ways of thinking and acting, will we transform our institutions and systems, in time to prevent climate chaos?  This question is always with me, even as I gather my grandchildren close to me and play and laugh and learn with them.  What will this overheating planet be like for them in twenty or forty or sixty years?

I do have hope.  I am grateful to be part of a world-wide community of people who are aware of what is at stake with the earth’s changing climate and who are willing to take action.  Tomorrow, the largest People’s Climate March in history will be held in New York, as world leaders gather in New York to discuss the climate crisis.  There will be solidarity demonstrations around the world, including here in Nevada City (meet at the Nevada City Vets Hall, 415 N. Pine, at 4 p.m.).  I hope that everyone who can come out will come out.  The time is now.

Or, if you aren’t convinced about climate change or have given up because you don’t think there is anything you can do, come tomorrow night to see the film “Wisdom to Survive” at 7 p.m. at the Nevada City United Methodist Church.  Here is the blurb I wrote for Old Dog Documentaries to help get the word out about the film:

Wisdom to Survive:  Climate Change, Capitalism, and Community is an exquisitely filmed documentary that presents an overview of the climate crisis, including its causes, effects, and directions of hope.  Poignant scenes illustrate the sacred beauty of the natural world, the tragedy of its diminishment, and our human interconnectedness with the rest of creation.

“The film unflinchingly names global free-market capitalism as the system that underlies the current plunder, with scenes of massive technological resource extraction causing industrial devastation.  Indigenous leaders, people from poor and vulnerable nations, scientists, scholars, religious leaders, activists, farmers, and poets make the case for “climate justice” and point in the direction of hope.

“Do we have the wisdom to survive?  The answer is related to community.   We are connected by our shared grief at what is happening to the earth and by our shared hope and commitment to the future.”

I hope you will join us here in Nevada City or at a Peoples’ Climate Rally near you.  This is not the time to give up, but the time to rise up and recommit ourselves to the earth and to the future.  Surely God is with us in this struggle.

One day our children and grandchildren will ask us what we were doing when there was still time to prevent the worst of climate change.  What will your answer be?

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Campaign Nonviolence:  A Call to Transformation

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Why do I engage in nonviolent direct action?  Why will I go back to Beale later this month to demonstrate, even as all the charges against me and other anti-drone demonstrators have been dropped?  Because I believe that through nonviolent action we can be transformed and can contribute to the transformation of the world.

Our September 29 and 30 demonstrations at Beale will be one of over 160 nonviolent actions taking place later this month around the country and around the world.  These locally-organized actions are being coordinated with Campaign Nonviolence, and are focused on calling for an end to war, poverty, and climate change.  Linking of these three critical issues helps to reveal the systemic causes of the grave dangers of our age.

These three evils are intertwined in so many ways, in both cause and effects.  For example, war unleashes blood lust and creates carnage while consuming resources that could be invested in education, health care, renewable energy, job creation, and services that could create a strong society and lift the poor out of poverty.  Modern warfare, dependent on fossil fuels for high-tech weaponry, is also a big contributor to climate change.

Meanwhile, the poor and vulnerable are generally hit first and worst by both war and climate change. They not only suffer the immediate effects of war and extreme weather events caused by climate change, they also lack the resources and political power to escape these crises.

The most obvious way that war, poverty, and climate change are related is that they are exacerbated by a global free market capitalist system that is destroying both human life and the natural systems of the earth.  Economic globalization, dominated by global corporations, is based on the concept of unlimited growth.  Such growth creates extremes of wealth and poverty and depends upon the increasing use of fossil fuels which cause climate change.  Climate change is high on the Pentagon and CIA’s lists of threats to national security, and resource wars are already being waged.  “No blood for oil” has been a refrain of peace activists for decades.  As climate change continues to accelerate, “water wars” will also increase.

Modern high-tech warfare, poverty, and climate change are not the outcome of a natural social evolution, but the predictable result of a global system of domination built upon the values of profit, prestige, and power over others, a system designed to harness human energy and exploit the gifts of the earth for the sake of the few.  This system is created by human beings and is sustained by our common consent.  When we the people withdraw our consent, the system will not be able to stand, and transformation will happen.

As Joanna Macy said, “Action is the antidote to despair.”  One of the personal benefits of nonviolent action is the knowledge that at least you are doing what you can to help turn things around.  Such action also plugs you in to a global community of people who are taking action for a peaceful, just, and ecologically sustainable world and helping to bring it about.  Through coordinated nonviolent action we can be transformed and we can be agents of transformation in the world.

 

Find out more about our planned September actions at Beale.

Stay informed and updated.  Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.  Go to the Occupy Beale Air Force Base Facebook page or Occupy Beale website for updates on this court case, background information, and announcements about upcoming Beale demonstrations and direct actions.

 

 

Beale Case Dismissed

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The government has dismissed the case against sixteen of us who were arrested last April for civil disobedience at Beale Air Force Base.  Beale, outside Marysville, California, is home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that identifies targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.

We’ll be back!  In fact, we’ll be back later this month.  For nonviolent direct action to be effective, it has to be sustained.  History has shown that sustained nonviolent resistance is an effective means of social transformation.

Committed peacemakers have sustained a presence at Beale for the past three years, calling for peace and raising awareness of the grave harm caused by the US drone warfare program.  I am privileged to be among them.  Last March and April, 31 people were arrested at Beale in four separate nonviolent actions.  We didn’t hear anything until mid-August, when sixteen of us received notices to appear for arraignment on September 9.  Now, at the last minute, all charges have been dismissed.

Why?  It may be that increasing numbers of people crossing the line create more publicity than the government wants, and prosecution of the cases creates even more publicity.  Again, sustained resistance “gets the goods.”

In the midst of all the confusion, Occupy Beale activists have continued regular, ongoing demonstrations at Beale.  This month, on September 29 and 30, we’ll be there again.  On September 30 nonviolent direct action is again planned at Beale, this time in coordination with Campaign Nonviolence, a national campaign that highlights the links between war, poverty, and climate change.  Campaign Nonviolence already has over 160 actions planned around the country.

Witnessing for peace there at Beale, with the roar of the U-2s overhead, we know we are taking a stand against the system of global domination that is creating war, perpetrating injustice, unraveling the web of life, and destroying hope for the future.  Will this global movement toward a peaceful, just, and environmentally sustainable world be successful?  No one knows.  But that is certainly a goal worth living or even dying for.

Movements of sustained nonviolent resistance can change people’s minds and hearts, and can inspire hope and action for a better world.  Join us.

 

Stay informed and updated.  Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.  Go to the Occupy Beale Air Force Base Facebook page or Occupy Beale website for updates on this court case, background information, and announcements about upcoming Beale demonstrations and direct actions.