Two blockaders arrested at Des Moines Drone Command Center

Ed and Frank

from Frank Cordaro

The Des Moines Catholic Worker and Veterans for Peace ended their third annual 24/7 Vigil from August 6 – 9 at the Des Moines Cathedral with a rally and direct action August 9 at the Des Moines Drone Command Center. Two protesters were arrested.

The peace gathering was an annual commemoration in Des Moines of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

This year’s three day, three night 24/7 vigil at the St. Ambrose Cathedral was low key and personal. We did not have an opening or closing ceremony for the vigil. The reason? We are in-between Catholic Bishops in Des Moines. The Pope named Father William Joensen, a priest from the Diocese of Dubuque, to be installed as our new Bishop in September. Bishop Pates is retiring and moving back to Minnesota.

This was our last chance to reach Bishop Pates with our message before he leaves. We sighted Bishop Pates walking from his residence to the chancery across the street one morning, but no acknowledgement from the Bishop of our vigil was given. 

We have a year to reach our new Bishop with our message about the Armed Drone Command Center. We are hoping and praying to be on better terms with Bishop Joensen than we are with Bishop Pates.

Our Hiroshima/Nagasaki observance ended with a rally and direct action at the Iowa Air National Guard Armed Drone Command Center. Twenty people joined us for the rally. Thanks to Mary Ann Koch for the opening prayer and closing song, and to Joe Aossey, Gil Landolt and Dr. Maureen McCue for speaking. Jakob Whitson read Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb”.                      

The rally ended with two arrests. Des Moines Catholic Worker/Veterans for Peace members Ed Bloomer and Frank Cordaro walked down the Drone Command base’s main drive and blocked the entrance for twenty minutes before the Des Moines police arrived to handcuff them and put them in a police van.  Both men were booked at the Polk County Jail and spent a long night in a holding cell with 12 other inmates. They pled guilty to trespass charges before the Jail Court Judge on Saturday morning, were fined $200 plus jail and court costs and set free at 2 p.m.