On Tuesday, November 26, I was at Beale Air Force Base when four more people were arrested while nonviolently protesting drone warfare. Flora Rogers, Mike Kerr, MacGregor Eddy, and Shirley Osgood (with whom I was arrested at Beale in October 2012) were attempting to deliver a letter to Colonel Phillip A. Stewart, the base commander, demanding a halt to Beale’s participation in the U.S. drone warfare program. Beale is home of Global Hawk Drones, surveillance drones that assist in finding targets for drones that carry weapons to targets half a world away.
Not everyone lives near an air force base that actively participates in drone warfare. I feel both privileged and responsible, since Beale is a half hour from my door.
People have been demonstrating at Beale for over three years, with occasional arrests for civil disobedience. During that time, as the killing of civilians has multiplied, opposition to drone warfare has become more widespread.
Through ethically-motivated, sustained, nonviolent resistance actions, movements are built and public support grows. At that point the opposition becomes more vocal and punitive, but that is part of the evolution of successful nonviolent struggles, as described by Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
Civil disobedience has a long and respected history and is an effective method for bringing about social change when all other means have been exhausted. It is a form of freedom of speech.
For the most part, the relationship between demonstrators and Beale personnel has been cordial and courteous. But on November 26, in addition to the arrests, there were two incidents of violent endangerment of nonviolent protesters by irate drivers who were angry at being stopped by the blockade at the Beale entrance. We understand their anger. But we are nonviolent demonstrators who accept the legal consequences of our actions, and we should not be targets of aggression.
To find out more and to support the safety of Beale anti-drone protesters, read and sign this letter to Colonel Phillip A. Stewart. Here is a KPFA interview about the action with Flora, Shirley, and Toby Blome. For a written first-hand account of events, see Demonstrators Assaulted at Beale.
Let’s keep this movement of resistance to drone warfare alive and growing. Who will join us?
Go here for more of Sharon’s blogs on Beale actions and drone warfare.