Shut Down Creech arrests as activists blockade drone base entrance and Highway 95

April 26 highway blockade, Photo by Jerry Monroe Maynard

Drone warfare resisters gathered for the 3rd annual Shut Down Creech actions, April 23-29. Activists from across the United States joined daily themed vigils at the gate of Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, while two blockades shut down non-emergency traffic on Nevada State Highway 95, the main road leading from Las Vegas to the rural air base where lethal missions are remotely piloted for the Pentagon and CIA. Complementing the nonviolent actions were evening educational programs in Las Vegas, including one featuring two Air Force whistleblowers who worked in the drone program. A commercial aired on Las Vegas TV stations during the week, urging that drone pilots “refuse to fly.”

Creech AFB entrance blockade, Photo by Chris Nelson

On Wednesday morning, April 26, seven activists, all dressed in black and holding symbolic tombstones marked with the names and ages of children killed by U.S. drone strikes, blocked the base entrance. Stretched across the road in front of the activists were seven child-sized coffins bearing the names of the countries where U.S. drones have waged constant war: Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and Libya.  Arrested were Brian Terrell, Michael Rufo, Michael Kerr, Dennis DuVall, Frank Pauc, Ray Cage, King Ron Mecklosky and Sharon Fritsch.

April 26 highway blockade, Photo by Jerry Monroe Maynard

Simultaneously, several miles south, eight others blocked traffic on Highway 95. For almost 15 minutes until police arrived on the scene, some protestors slowed the speeding traffic with signs and props, while others stretched huge banners across the highway to express their demands: “Shut down Creech” and “Drone Pilots, Refuse to Fly.” Another activist talked to drivers in stopped vehicles about the crimes committed by the drone pilots and operators at the base. No arrests were made at this highway blockade.

Toby Blome and Ronald Mecklosky, April 27, Photo by Marcus Collonge

The next day, April 27, activists again blocked Highway 95 several miles away from the base, stopping only Creech-bound traffic until police arrived. Toby Blome and Ron Mecklosky were arrested on the scene and taken into Las Vegas, where they were held on $2000 bail each. Later that day, Blome’s daughter Margeaux Temeltas, who had been present both days providing support for the highway blockades, was lured by police away from the group’s camp site and also arrested. Mecklosky and Temeltas were released that evening, while Blome was held until 4 a.m. the next day.

Shut Down Creech was collectively organized by CODEPINK, Nevada Desert Experience, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom and Veterans for Peace.
Seven arrested at anti-drone warfare protest northwest of Las Vegas
Updated April 26, 2017 – 6:33 pm

INDIAN SPRINGS — Anti-drone warfare demonstrators briefly blocked traffic as airmen and workers arrived early Wednesday at Creech Air Force Base, continuing a series of protests this week aimed at heightening awareness about deadly airstrikes the U.S. military conducts overseas in the global war on terrorism.

Metropolitan Police Department officers arrested seven protesters about 6:30 a.m. for unlawful assembly on an entrance road to the base off U.S. Highway 95. They were transported by van to the Clark County Detention Center and booked, Metro Lt. Nick Farese said.

Scattered along the highway as far as 4 miles from the base were small groups of protesters holding signs for motorists with slogans such as “Muslim Lives Matter” and “Prepare to Stop War.”

“What would you say to a 3-year-old child with three limbs blown off and blind from a drone strike?” said Mary Dean, of Chicago and the World Beyond War movement who has traveled to Afghanistan to meet civilian victims of drone airstrikes.

The Creech base, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is a hub for MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator drone operations conducted in the Middle East and Afghanistan by the 432nd Expeditionary Wing. Pilots and sensor operators control surveillance and reconnaissance operations via satellite link from ground stations at Creech and other U.S. locations after the remotely piloted aircraft are launched from airfields in the combat zones.

A Nellis Air Force Base spokesman provided a statement on behalf of Creech officials in response to the protest.

“The Air Force respects the right of assembly and free speech,” the statement reads. “Our members serve this country to ensure that its citizens, including those gathered today at Creech, are provided the opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights.

“We are also committed to our responsibility to safeguard lives and government property and to carry out one of the nation’s most critical national security missions,” according to the Air Force statement.

Protest organizers from several peace organizations — CODEPINK, Nevada Desert Program, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and Veterans for Peace — blame a Reaper air strike for the loss of 46 lives at a mosque near Aleppo, Syria, on March 16.

Out-of-state protesters converged on the Creech base from Maine, Wyoming, Washington, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, organizers said.