Kathy Kelly begins 3 month sentence on January 23 at FMC Lexington for drone resistance

Screen-Shot-2014-06-02-at-1.27.39-PMby Jane Stoever

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (based in Chicago), was sentenced on December 10 to three months in federal prison for crossing a line on the entry road to Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Missouri on June 1. Kelly was opposing all drone warfare, including drones guided by remote control from Whiteman.

At the December 10 federal trial in Jefferson City, Missouri, lawyer Henry Stoever asked Kelly to comment on her “rap sheet” of prior resistance that the government had prepared. “We have a right to claim our right not to kill,” said Kelly. “I’ve lived alongside people in war zones while the bombs explode. It’s been a privilege to be involved with these communities.” Indeed, Kelly told Judge Matt Whitworth, “I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan, Gaza and the West Bank, Lebanon, Bosnia, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and several other countries because there were wars raging in those countries. … I’ve been with people who’ve been in bombardments from drones. … The people I was with were trapped. Knowing as much as I did about great loss and terror, I felt I should exercise my right” on June 1 to free speech and to the presentation of a grievance to the government.

Kelly will begin her 3 months of confinement at 2 p.m. on January 23, and letters may be sent to her at this address:

Kathy Kelly 04971-045
FMC Lexington
Federal Medical Center
Satellite Camp
P.O. Box 14525
Lexington KY 40512

[In an interview with Medea Benjamin (published on January 22 on Common Dreams), Kathy Kelly said that people can support her by supporting the work of Voices for Creative Nonviolence as well as the duvet project of the Afghan Peace Volunteers (making warm blankets for people in need).]

from Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Dear Friends,

Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kathy Kelly will turn herself in to the federal prison camp in Lexington, KY on Friday, January 23. She will begin serving a three-month sentence for her June 1, 2014 protest of drone killings at Whiteman Air Force Base, in Missouri.

Kelly asserts that drone warfare jeopardizes the security of ordinary people and that the U.S. Constitution protects her right to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance. She was arrested when she went with Georgia Walker and other activists to the gates of Whiteman Air Force Base to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of the base, which operates drones over Afghanistan. At her trial in December, Federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth found her guilty and sentenced her to three months.

Before leaving Chicago for Lexington Kelly wrote, “When I was imprisoned at Lexington prison in 1988, after a federal magistrate in Missouri sentenced me to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites, other women prisoners playfully nicknamed me “Missiles.” One of my sisters reliably made me laugh today, texting me to ask if I thought the women this time would call me “Drones.”

It’s good to laugh and feel camaraderie before heading into prison. For someone like me, very nearly saturated in “white privilege” through much of this arrest, trial, and sentencing process, 90% (or more) of my experience will likely depend on attitude.

But, for many of the people I’ll meet in prison, an initial arrest often begins with something like a “night raid” as armed police surround homes, burst in, remove their prisoner from children and families, often with helicopters overhead, and then sequester the prisoner in a county jail, often with very little oversight to assure that guards and wardens treat the prisoner fairly. Some prisoners will not have had a chance to see their children before being shipped clear across the country. Some will not have been given adequate medical care as they adjust to life in prison, possibly going without prescribed medicines and often traumatized by the sudden dissolution of ties with family and community. Some will not have had the means to hire a lawyer and may not have learned much about their case from an overworked public defender.

If people ask how to support Kathy Kelly while she is away, she suggests assisting the Afghan Peace Volunteers and considering involvement in and support for Shut Down Creech, March 4-6.

In winter 2014, the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) started their street kids project with 21 local children. Now they are able to provide 30 children with one day a week of school, teaching basic literacy, math and global awareness. The children’s families receive a sack of flour and a tin of oil each month. The APV are working to increase the program to serve a greater number of children and families, and provide additional days of schooling each week.
Donations to support the school can be sent by check to Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 1249 West Argyle St. #2, Chicago, IL 60640. Please note “street kids” in the memo.

While she is in prison, Kathy can receive letters through the mail. If you would like to write, please address your envelope to:

Kathy Kelly 04971-045
FMC Lexington
P.O. BOX 14525

Paperback books may be sent, but only if shipped directly from a publisher or bookstore. (For Bureau of Prisons regulations on sending books, mail and money to inmates click here)