On Monday, February 3, I attended the support rally and federal trial of the “Wheatland 4.” The four anti-drone activists, Toby Blome’, Robin Ryan, Martha Huber, and Bill Daub, had been arrested last April, 2013, during a nonviolent protest for crossing the demarcation line at the Wheatland Gate onto Beale Air Force Base. The judge found them “guilty,” sentenced them to 10 hours of community service, and issued “ban and bar” letters to prevent them from crossing onto base property in the future. Veteran Barry Binks also attended the trial. He had been arrested with the four, but was subsequently released.
This was the second trial of Beale anti-drone protestors. (I was one of the defendants during the first trial.) A third group will be arraigned next Tuesday, and protests at Beale continue.
At the trial, it was interesting to hear the prosecutor question a Beale officer about the unique importance of Beale in the structure and role of the US military. The officer said (paraphrased): “Beale has a unique role in the overall mission of the US military, and has for over 60 years, because both U2s and Global Hawk Drones (housed at Beale) participate in surveillance that supports military activities around the world.” In other words, in addition to finding targets for drones, Beale has an integral surveillance role in varied U.S. military missions around the world.
We cannot know for sure, but I believe that these kind of ongoing anti-drone actions at Beale may be contributing to the growing public opposition to U.S. drone warfare, and perhaps even to decreasing drone attacks. I do know that sustained resistance is an effective means of bringing about social change. That’s what we are trying to do with our ongoing actions–to plant seeds of peace that will ultimately bloom in a culture of peace.
To find out about the monthly anti-drone vigils at Beale, go to Occupy Beale AFB. At the demonstration on February 24-25, Colonel Ann Wright, a dedicated peace activist, will join us. On Ash Wednesday, March 5, there will be a “Service of Repentance” at Beale’s Main Gate.
Go to the Occupy Beale FaceBook Page to keep abreast of actions and issues related to Beale. Go to Sharon Delgado’s blog to read more of her writings about drones, anti-drone actions, and trials and statements of protestors.