The courtroom was filled with supporters today as nine people faced arraignment in U.S. District in Sacramento for trespassing onto federal property at Beale Air Force Base last October while protesting U.S. drone warfare. Charges were dropped against four of the defendants: Fr. Louie Vitale, MacGregor Eddy, Barry Binks, and Toby Blome. We don’t know why their charges were dropped, but it could have to do with the fact that they were arrested separately from the other group, at a different gate. The five of us who were arrested at the main gate are David and Jan Hartsough, Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman, and me.
The remaining five of us pled “not guilty.” Yes, of course we engaged in civil disobedience. There are videos showing that we blocked traffic, stepped across the line onto federal property, held signs, and refused to leave. We tried to deliver a list of demands to the base commander.
I chose to plead “not guilty” by reason of necessity; that is, I acted in order to prevent a greater harm from taking place. My co-defendants and I will be discussing defense strategy with our team of lawyers, who are working pro bono in order to help bring the issue of drone warfare into the public eye.
Our trial is scheduled for April 15, Tax Day. That is the perfect day for this trial. Beale is the home of Global Hawk Drones, which are used for surveillance and for targeting of weaponized drones. According to the New York Times, the Air Force’s Global Hawk program costs $12 billion; the estimated cost for one of these drones is $218 million. The Navy is on board with its own version of the program, for an estimated $11 billion. That’s where our money goes.
For those of you who have Facebook, here’s today’s Facebook event site where pictures have been posted. The Occupy Beale AFB website gives background and updates about scheduled events. Earth Justice Ministries will keep people updated through our website, Facebook page, and email newsletter. I’ll also be keeping people informed who follow this blog.
Thanks to everyone who is supporting our efforts to raise awareness about this issue. Please pass on information and action opportunities as they become available so we can turn the tide against global domination through violence and sow the seeds of world peace.