9 arrested blocking gates of Beale Air Force Base in drone protest

On October 30, nine military veterans and peace activists were arrested at Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, California.  The group – Barry Binks, Toby Blome, Fr. Louie Vitale, MacGregor Eddy, David Hartsough, Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Janie Kesselman and Shirley Osgood – was charged with trespass after blocking two different gates of the base.  The front gate was closed for four hours.

About 100 activists from throughout California unfurled large banners and carried model drones and large photos of child victims of drone strikes to show the dark side of drone warfare.

Beale Air Force Base has been a target of anti-drone protests for years. It is home to the U2 and the Global Hawk, the unmanned surveillance drone that is an “accomplice” in drone killings.

Activists demanded: (1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing, (2) A halt of all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, (3) A prohibition on the sale and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security and (4) The U.S. must immediately stop this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.

“U.S. military and CIA drone attacks have killed thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, in the Middle East, Somalia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. In the name of combatting terrorism against the U.S. we are terrorizing innocent people, and creating many more enemies and potential terrorists in the process,” said a statement issued by Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, Chico Peace and Justice Center,  Nevada County Peace Center, Peace Fresno, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and World Can’t Wait.

“Our government has become a lawless power, acting as judge, jury and executioner, just because they can. They use remote-controlled drones to kill women in their kitchens, elders meeting in their jirgas, mourners at funerals, and rescuers who try to help the wounded. By most independent studies, the vast majority of those killed are civilians,” said Toby Blome, of Code Pink’s Peace Delegation to Pakistan.

“When I learned about what we are doing with drones…killing innocent civilians, and see the faces of dead children and their mourners, I find the passion to do something. That’s why I’m taking some action at Beale,” said Shirley Osgood, Occupy Nevada County and Nevada County Peace Center and Nevada County Green.

David Hartsough’s statement at the drone protest at Beale Air Force Base before his arrest on federal changes protesting drones Oct 30th

We are one human family. All people in the world are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacks our blood brother or sister, we would do everything in our power to stop them.

This is the way we feel about innocent civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Drones are totally immoral and illegal under international law and are against everything we have been taught in our religious Faiths: Love one another, Love your enemy and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

How would we feel if Russians or Chinese or Afghanis or Pakstanis were flying drones over the US and killing innocent people?

It is illegal under international law to go into another country and drop bombs on people our government doesn’t like.

The United States is making decisions to kill people without them ever coming before a court or found guilty. The US government is playing Judge, Jury and Executioner.

Using drones and killing many innocent people is creating more and more enemies of the US. Every person we kill has at least 50 family members and friends who will mourn the loss of their loved ones and seek revenge on the people and nation that has killed their loved one or friend.

Instead of drones and dropping bombs on people we need to send peace corps people to build schools and medical clinics and help people in these countries recover from the wounds of war. We could be the most loved country on earth rather than the most hated.

By our silence we condone this senseless killing. We must speak out and act to stop this madness. We call on our fellow Americans, people in churches and synagogues and mosques, students, all people of conscience to join us in stopping Drones before they kill more innocent people and recruit more people into Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, this is a receipt for perpetual wars and endless suffering and death for people around the world.

David Hartsough