Two peace activists arrested on Armed Forces Day at drone command center in Iowa

photo by Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs

Veterans for Peace and Des Moines Catholic Worker 2nd Annual Armed Forces Day “Stop the Killing” Rally and Direct Action at Iowa Air National Guard Drone Command Center

On May 19, Armed Forces Day, members of Veterans for Peace, Des Moines Catholic Worker and Iowa’s religious community held a rally and direct action at the Iowa Air National Guard’s Drone Command Center on the south side of Des Moines.

Elliott Adams, former national president of Veterans for Peace, stressed the fundamental importance of diplomacy, rather than violence, in resolving international conflicts. 

Reverend Bob Cook (Presbyterian), Reverend Chet Guinn (Methodist), and Srs. Elaine and Jeannie Hagedorn (Catholic Sisters of Humility), spoke from their religious perspective about the immorality and injustice of the drone warfare conducted at the base, noting that these actions of the U.S. government terrorize families and communities in the Middle East while decreasing the safety of Americans by fanning the flames of terrorism against the United States.

Frank Cordaro, co-founder of the Des Moines Catholic Worker, called on Bishop Pates to follow through on the U.S. Catholic Bishops 2014 statement on U.S. drone warfare, which decried the immorality and injustice of the “War on Terror” and found that U.S. drone warfare fails the criteria of the Catholic teachings on “Just War.” This statement was signed by Bishop Pates as head of the U.S. Catholic Bishops International Justice and Peace Committee in 2014. Today, in 2018, U.S. drone warfare has grown “exponentially” again. Cordaro not only challenged Bishop Pates to speak out, he also called on all priests, pastors and members of religious orders to speak out too.

At the conclusion of the rally, Frank Cordaro and Elliot Adams peacefully crossed the line onto the base in an act of civil disobedience and were arrested. Both spent the night in jail, pled guilty to trespass at jail court, and were fined and released the following day.

The next action in this campaign will be the second annual August 6-9 vigil at St. Ambrose Cathedral, begging the Bishop to join the effort against the Des Moines Drone Command Center, in accordance with the U.S. Bishops’ 2014 statement finding U.S. drone warfare to be immoral and unjust. August 6-9 commemorates the U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Prior to the August vigil, the campaign plans to sustain a continued presence at the Drone Command Center. The campaign is also planning another retreat and action on December 28, the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

photo by Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs