Campaign Nonviolence:  A Call to Transformation

Beale with crosses

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.

Facing Charges–Again

 

Making Peace at Beale

Arrested on Good Friday

I am facing charges again.  I will be arraigned with at least fifteen other anti-drone demonstrators in federal court on September 9 in Sacramento.  I consider it a privilege to be part of a sustained movement of nonviolent resistance to the current unjust global system, which is violent to the core.

Beale Air Force Base is just forty-five minutes from my home, so Guari and I go there regularly for anti-drone protests.  Beale is an integral part of the U.S. drone warfare program.  Beale is where Global Hawk surveillance drones identify targets for attacks by armed Predator and Reaper drones.

It has been four months since Good Friday, April 18, when I was last arrested for crossing the line onto base property.  We had a prayer service at Beale’s main gate that included over fifty people.  International peace activist Kathy Kelly spoke out on behalf of people harmed by US drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and other countries.  Following prayers, songs, and Holy Communion, eleven of us, including four clergy, attempted to deliver a letter with statements from the religious community about moral objections to drone warfare.

Some of the people being arraigned on September 9 were arrested at Beale on a different date, April 29, at a Veterans Unite against Drones action.  Thirteen demonstrators, including six veterans, temporarily blocked traffic at the two busiest gates entering Beale. Protesters were arrested at the Wheatland Gate and at the Main Gate after reading and trying to deliver an indictment charging President Obama, the Beale base commander, drone pilots and others with “crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.”

There have been other arrests:  On March 5, Ash Wednesday, five of us were arrested after sprinkling ashes that symbolized our repentance and the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones.  On April 1, at a “No Drones, No Fooling” demonstration, Elliot Adams, national Chair of the Veterans for Peace, was arrested with Richard Gilchrist, another veteran.

In all, over thirty people were arrested for trespassing onto base property at Beale last March and April.  At all of the above protests, we were arrested, processed, and released, but fewer than twenty of us are being arraigned.  No one knows why.

What I do know is that it’s a privilege to be part of a community of nonviolent resistance to the merchants of death represented by the military-industrial complex and to the whole US project of global domination through the threat and use of massive force.  US drone warfare will never bring peace.  If it continues it can only produce an escalating cycle of violence that will unleash hatred that may last for generations.

I plan to plead “not guilty,” because I was acting to stop and prevent atrocities from being carried out in my name.  My silence signals my consent, so I will speak out:  on behalf of the victims of US drones; on behalf of compassionate, sane, and moral foreign and military policies; and on behalf of the rule of law in international affairs.

Please join us if you can on September 9 at the Federal Courthouse at 5th and I Streets in Sacramento.  At 8 a.m. there will be a demonstration of opposition to drone warfare and support for the protesters.  At 9 a.m. you are invited to come into the courtroom during the arraignment.  Better yet, join us at Beale on September 29 and 30.  Let’s keep the momentum going.

I’m going to court to face charges for interfering with my government’s immoral actions.  There’s no place I’d rather be.

 

Keep 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.

 

 

Detained with Kathy Kelly at Beale on Good Friday

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On April 18 I was detained with ten other anti-drone protesters, including internationally recognized peace activist Kathy Kelly, following a Good Friday prayer service. The others who were detained included:     The Reverend Dr. Gerald O. (Jerry) Pedersen, retired Lutheran pastor and member of Veterans for Peace, from Sacramento;  The Reverend Elizabeth Griswold, pastor of Parkside Community Church, United Church of Christ in Sacramento; The Reverend John Auer, retired United Methodist Pastor from Fresno, California; Michael Kerr, a Veteran for Peace from Bay Point/Pittsburg, Rodger  Stall from San Rafael, Arthur (Buff) Whitman-Bradley from the Bay Area, Nancy Reiner from the Bay Area, Bob Russell from Pleasant Hill, and Pamela Osgood from Grass Valley.

We gathered at Beale, in the shadow of killer drones, modern-day equivalents of the cross, to pray, to act, and to continue our work of building a community of peace.  Although the Global Hawk Drones that are operated from Beale are surveillance drones, they assist in finding targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones and are an integral part of the US drone warfare program.

Over fifty people attended the service, which included prayers, songs, Holy Communion, and reflections by Kathy Kelly.  Following the service, eleven of us crossed the demarcation line onto Beale property in an attempt to deliver a letter to the base commander, along with two statements about drones from religious groups:  The World Council of Churches’ Statement on the Use of Drones and the Right to Life and “A Call from the Faith Based Community to Stop Drone Killings,” signed by religious leaders from around the country.

As I write about these events, it is already Easter.  Christ is risen.  But even, perhaps especially, in the events of Good Friday, the resurrection is apparent.  The Spirit of Christ is alive.

Empire goes along just fine for a while, unchallenged.  The dominant institutions demonstrate the prevailing wisdom of our current global corporate Empire:  that money equals value, that might makes right, that nature is commodity, that victims are expendable, that the status quo of the current order must be maintained at all costs, that people who are not enthralled by the system must be forced to comply under penalty of imprisonment or death.

But wait–here come the people, awakened to what is at stake.  Here we stand at the gate of Beale as others take their stand at other gates of Empire, defying the demand for obedience, defying the fear that paralyzes, demonstrating that where two or three of us are gathered in his name, Jesus is in our midst.

While we were detained, we women were separated from the men.  We got taken into an air-conditioned room with comfortable chairs and a bathroom.  The officers who were processing us were cordial, even joking at times.  We didn’t know that the men had to stand outside facing a wall with their hands gripped behind them by base officials, or that our friend John Auer, in a wheelchair, had to sit all that time in the hot sun.  (Fellow demonstrators called out to base officials, who finally got him a drink of water.)

We were all fingerprinted, photographed, and released.  We all received “ban and bar” letters, which prohibit us from entering Beale without permission. (Well, we already knew that.)  The only people who received citations were those who had previously been detained at Beale:  Jerry, Elizabeth, Michael, and me.

Christ is alive among us as we stand in solidarity with the crucified man Jesus and with all who are crucified on the altars of Empire through the ages.  Christ is alive among us as we speak truth to power and witness to our hope of a world transformed by Love.

I invite you to join us.

 

To find out about upcoming actions go to Earth Justice Ministries or Occupy Beale Air Force Base websites.  More detailed updates can be seen on the Earth Justice Ministries FaceBook Page or the Occupy Beale FaceBook Page.

For a theological rationale of this Good Friday Action, see my blog posting “Why I’ll be at Beale on Good Friday.”

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.

 

 

Why I’ll be at Beale on Good Friday

 

On April

Ash Wednesday 2014 Service at Beale

Ash Wednesday Service at Beale

On April 18, Good Friday, I will gather with others at the main gate of Beale Air Force Base at 3 p.m. for a prayer service and demonstration against drone warfare.  Kathy Kelly, an internationally recognized peace activist, will join us there.

Why Beale?  Because Beale is home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that assists in finding targets for unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones.”  U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, many of them civilians, including children.

Why on Good Friday?  Because on the day set aside to commemorate Jesus’ death some of us choose to stand in solidarity with those who are being “crucified” today,  to demonstrate opposition to the worldly Powers that inflict suffering and death, and to witness to our hope that divine Love will carry us through this present darkness to a new dawn of justice, compassion, and peace.

Good Friday is not just a day to remember and mourn the death of Jesus, which happened so long ago, but to lament the many ways that the crucifixion is ongoing.  In the words of Dorothee Solle, “In the mist of reality stands the cross.”

I encourage you to join us at Beale or at some other venue that represents today’s system of domination, to “take sides” with the victims of violence and oppression, to challenge the ruling Powers as Jesus did, and to bear witness to the hope of resurrection.  Another world is possible.

 

Find out more about plans for Good Friday at Beale here.

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.