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.”