My four friends and I were sentenced today to ten hours each of community service by the judge who convicted us last month of trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base during an anti-drone protest. Judge Carolyn K. Delaney in U.S. District Court in Sacramento acknowledged that we were motivated by conscience and by “deeply held ethical and religious beliefs.” We were delighted with the light sentence, which sets a precedent for other protesters. The judge could have imposed up to six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and/or five years probation.
Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman, David and Jan Hartsough and I had engaged in civil disobedience by crossing a line onto Beale Air Force Base last October during a demonstration against the U.S. drone warfare program. Global Hawk surveillance drones, based at Beale, assist in finding targets for weaponized drones. Here is the statement I made in court today:
Sharon Delgado’s Statement at Sentencing
Judge, although you did not allow us to use the necessity defense or to appeal to international law or to use expert witnesses, the facts are still there. My faith compelled me to act, and I’m willing to accept the consequences.
We stepped onto Beale property because of conscience. US drones are killing people, including children. US drones are creating enemies who will want to take revenge. US drones are not making us more secure, but less secure. By acting outside of international law we are making the world a more dangerous place.
The classic metaphor when talking about the necessity defense is the image of a house on fire. There’s a house on fire, with a child crying from the window and a No Trespassing sign on the door. What is the right thing to do in such a situation? Can a person ignore the sign and enter the house in order to save the child? That’s what we’re talking about here.
In 2011, Brian Terrell was arrested with 14 others for protesting drones at Creech Air Force Base. At their trial, Brian said, “The house is on fire. And we fourteen are ones who have seen the smoke from the fire and heard the cries of the children. We cannot be deterred by a No Trespassing sign from going to the burning children.”
People are dying. The house is burning. We crossed the line at Beale to try to stop the conflagration and keep it from spreading. We were obeying a higher law.
Judge, I am non-repentant. I do not regret standing in front of the gate at Beale and holding our sign. I think our action was a success. More people are talking about the drone program than they were before this action. I would do it again. In fact, I encourage others to take action, including nonviolent direct action, to interfere with the U.S. drone program and to stop the most recent rush to war.
I will not pay a fine, but I will gladly go to jail or accept community service. My faith compelled me to act, and I’m willing to accept the consequences.
Previous blogs that give an in-depth account of this case can and of the harm caused by drone warfare can be found at Sharon Delgado’s blog. The statements of the other defendants will be posted there over the next few days.
“Follow” this blog by signing up to receive an email message when a blog is posted or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook Page.