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.
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