Seven activists arrested at Volk Field mourning children killed by drones

photo by Bob Block

by Joy First 

Camp Douglas, WI – Seven peace activists walked onto the base at Volk Field on November 12, wearing black veils, carrying limp dolls and posters of children killed by drones, and reading a statement.  They were arrested by Juneau County officers, handcuffed and taken to the station in Mauston, where they were cited for trespassing and released.

The action was organized by the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.  This group of dedicated activists have been vigiling monthly at the gates of Volk Field since 2011. This is the sixth action leading to arrests at the base.

Volk Field is an Air National Guard base that trains personnel to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone, which is an integral part of the United States drone program and used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and acquisition.  The drone program started under President Bush, got worse under President Obama, and worse still under President Trump.  Tens of thousands of people have been killed, including many children, with only an estimated 2% being people who were targeted.

Our government is using drones to kill people in over eight different countries in the Middle East and Africa.  Though the reasoning is to kill terrorists, the program actually has the opposite effect, and as loved ones are killed by drones, their friends and family can be recruited into what we call terrorist groups to retaliate.  Drone warfare is illegal by standards of our U.S. constitution and international law, and has been condemned by the United Nations, yet our country persists in this devastation.

Seven people – Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Bob Graf, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, and Brian Terrell – walked onto the base mourning the children who have died in attacks through drone warfare, while reading aloud the following statement.

photo by Cassandra Dixon

Reading while walking onto the base at Volk Field on November 12, 2019

We come in peace.

We come because we mourn the children who have died from attacks by U.S. military drones.  We remember these children, whose lives have been cut short while also remembering their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents who continue to mourn the deaths of these beautiful children.

We come because the United States is solely responsible for the deaths of many thousands of people from drone attacks, including thousands of children who have been killed by drones. 

We come because our government covers it up, and it is impossible to really know how many innocent lives have been lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries in the Middle East and in Africa, yet the Journal for Investigative Journalism claims that between 8,000 and 12,000 people have been killed by U.S. drones.

We come because we are causing unimaginable grief to mothers and fathers, sons and daughters whose loved ones have been murdered by the US government.  We must remember that these are real people with names and families who love them.  

We come because the personnel working with and training with the RQ-7 Shadow Drones at Volk Field are an integral part of and are complicit in the whole US drone warfare program.

We come because killing with drones is a violation of human rights and international law.  Drone attacks are clearly extrajudicial assassinations, going against the constitution and have been condemned by the United Nations.

We come because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, but It Bends Towards Justice”, and we want to be a part of making the arc bend towards justice and call on you to be part of it also.