Retired attorney and Catholic priest arrested at Volk Field drone base during air show

IMG_1848from Bonnie Block

Six hardy souls vigiled at the gates of Volk Field in Wisconsin on May 17 for over an hour with a new banner, a kite flying, and Kathy’s colorful signs saying “Fly Kites, Not Drones” which was repeated on our new t-shirts. Vigilers were Kathy (the birthday woman), Mary Beth, Jim, Cassandra, Charles, and me. Charles had to leave for his meal program dishwashing duties so he dropped off Jim and me at Nelson Park. There were carnival rides and a stage with a National Guard musical group from Peoria, IL but there weren’t many people there at all.

We boarded the bus for Volk Field. There were no ID checks there or at the gate house. National Guardsmen drove the bus and narrated the tour all over the base which must have lasted about 45 minutes–lots of interesting info about what happens on the base and not much that’s good. We drove by the TUAS facility where the drones are apparently housed but there was no word about what they did there other than “they can use remotely controlled cameras to triangulate where ordance has landed” or words to that effect. Not a word about their being used in drone warfare.

The final stop was at the National Guard Museum where we could get off the bus. Jim (Fr. Jim Murphy) and I were in the front seat so we got off first and I opened my jacket so the t-shirt was visible and we offered our handout to people getting off the bus–which I think was six or seven other people. One of the Guardsmen quickly said we couldn’t do that on the base and that we had to stop handing out “propaganda.” They hadn’t read the handout so I gave two of them to one of the men and said it was just a series of questions they should read.

One of them then called base security. Five arrived within minutes (the guys in the dark blue uniforms) so we had nine people in uniforms surrounding us. They said we couldn’t leaflet and had to leave. Jim said we wanted to see the museum and would continue to leaflet so they called the Sheriff. Two squad cars arrived within minutes and we were handcuffed and taken to Mauston in separate vehicles. Officer Gary Peterson who handcuffed me was clearly angry at us because we were disrupting the open house and he was supposed to be at the parade that was occuring in Camp Douglas at the same time. He asked, “ How could you come today of all days?”

We were processed fairly promptly at the Jail and released on a signature bond. The charges are criminal misdeamenors– trespassing and disorderly conduct again. We have the initial hearing on June 18 at 9 a.m.

Special thanks to Mary Beth, Kathy, and Cassandra for support and for picking us up from the Jail and getting Jim’s car from Volk Field to Mauston. We then went to the park along the river behind the Mauston library and had lunch and some of Kathy’s delicious birthday cake.