April 14, 2017 ~ Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Recognizing that 70% of our nation identify as Christian, we come to the gates of the Hancock drone base to make real the crucifixion today. As Jesus and others were crucified by the Roman Empire, drones are used by the U. S. Empire in a similar fashion. In Roman times, crosses loomed over a community to warn people that they could be killed whenever the Empire decided. So too, our drones fly over many countries threatening extrajudicial killings of whoever happens to be in the vicinity.
On this Good Friday, we recall Jesus’ call to love and nonviolence. We’re asking this air force base and this nation to turn away from a policy which amounts to a modern-day crucifixion. Let’s embrace Jesus call to build the Kingdom of God on Earth instead of killing suspected enemies and innocents, including children. In the process, we are crucifying Children, Families, Love, Peace, Community, Diplomacy, the Rule of Law, the US Constitution, the UN Charter, US Treaties and Due Process.
What if our country were constantly being spied upon by drones, with some of us killed by drones? What if many bystanders, including children, were killed in the process? If that were happening, we would hope that some people in that attacking country would speak up and try to stop the killing. We’re speaking up to try and stop the illegal and immoral drone attacks on countries against which Congress has not declared war.
Those arrested today: Ex-CIA analyst of 32 yrs. Ray McGovern, Jessica Stewart, Ed Kinane, Tom Joyce, James Ricks, Joan Pleune, Mark Colville, John Amidon, Brian Hynes.
MLK: Beyond Vietnam
Some friends of ours held an event last week to commemorate the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s powerful speech at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination. In that speech Dr. King makes a powerful connection between racism and war. Kings’ clear vision lit a new path for us but we were not ready to follow. Now it is more relevant than ever.
In this video, you can listen to Upstate Drone Action members Jim Clune and his wife Ann, Jack Gilroy and others in Binghamton recite the portion of the speech where Dr King explains why we should oppose the Vietnam war.
Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s April 1967 Riverside Church Speech
And if you would rather listen to the original, you can watch below:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
Hancock Nativity Tableau Charges Dismissed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE contact: Ed Kinane 315) 478-4571 home
10 March 2017 John Amidon 518) 312-6442 cell
CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST 12/23 “NATIVITY FOUR” HANCOCK REAPER DRONE PROTESTERS FOLLOWING LAST WEEK’S JURY ACQUITTAL OF THE “BIG BOOKS” HANCOCK DRONE PROTESTERS
In a surprise move, DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon dismissed charges against all four* Upstate Drone Action activists protesting the hunter/killer MQ9 Reaper drones piloted over Afghanistan by the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard at Hancock AFB just north of Syracuse NY.
The four had staged a December 23, 2016 “Nativity tableau” in front of Hancock’s main gate, at 6001 East Molloy Road in the Town of DeWitt. The four protesters were charged with trespass, disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration. (OGA). OGA is a misdemeanor requiring a jury and carrying up to a year’s sentence.
Judge Gideon explained last night’s dismissal by noting that the accusatory documents provided by Hancock repeatedly referred to the 12/23 “Nativity” arrests as occurring on Federal property – which the Judge declared outside his jurisdiction.
In a three-day trial culminating on March 2, 2017, also before Judge Gideon, a six-person jury, after deliberating about a half hour, acquitted all defendants of the same charges for their “Big Books” action at Hancock on March 19, 2015
FOUR ARRESTED ENACTING NATIVITY SCENE AT HANCOCK DRONE BASE
Syracuse, NY – On Friday, December 23, four activists were arrested at the main entrance of Hancock Air National Guard Base as many throughout the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace from Palestine. The base is located on East Molloy Road in the town of DeWitt, E. Syracuse New York.
Upstate Drone Action members engaged in civil resistance by setting up a traditional Christmas nativity scene at the main entrance of Hancock Reaper Drone Base. Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus were attended by a shepherd and a wise man. Angels and carolers played a supporting role from across the street.
A Christmas Nativity
Mary and Joseph Arrested
Angels Call for Peace
While being handcuffed, Mary (Bev Rice) noted that, “If Herod had a Reaper, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have been been incinerated.” Joseph (John Amidon), also arrested, said “The indiscriminate and illegal killings of so many holy families in the Middle East must stop!”
Hancock hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard – the MQ9 Reaper drone hub. Hancock is also the national Reaper maintenance training center.
The MQ9 Reaper is a robotic, satellite-linked, remote assassin drone. Hancock drone pilots fly unmanned missions over Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern, African and West Asian nations. The CIA uses Reapers for its illegal lethal missions over Northwest Pakistan.
According to “LIVING UNDER DRONES: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan,” published by Stanford University and New York University Law Schools, such missions are responsible in that region for the deaths of hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, and for the terrorizing of thousands more.
Today’s civil resistance action is one chapter in Upstate Drone Action’s Gandhian Wave, a six-year scrupulously nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock AFB war crime. Since 2010 there have been over 170 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock.
John Amidon, Albany, NY, (518) 312-6442 cell
Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY, (315) 478-4571 home
Jules Orkin, Bergenfield, NJ, (201)566-8403 cell
Bev Rice, New York, NY., (646) 335-2404 cell
They were charged with Trespass, 2 Counts of Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing Governmental Activities. Their next hearing will be in late January.
MultiFaith Anti-Drone Conference
I attended the Multifaith Anti-Drone Warfare Conference at Stony Point Retreat Center in the lower Hudson Valley. It was a busy event with good food, good company and interesting discussions. The videos were made by Wilton Vought and can be found on Other Voices Other Choices, along with a lot of other interesting materials including audio podcasts.
The panel Friday evening featured ex CIA officer, Ray McGovern, ex Airforce Intelligence Officer Christopher Aaron who served in Afghanistan, and Kambali Musavuli of the Friends of the Congo. Between them, they revealed the connections. . . between lethal drones flying over Africa and the ongoing theft of resources in Africa. . . between government service and service to one’s country. . . between telling the redacted truth to the rest of us and joining us on the street in active resistance. Both kinds of action are necessary for democracy to thrive, good information – right action.
Saturday morning, Arun Kundnani, Arun Kundnani is Adjunct Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University and author of “The Muslims are Coming” and most recently, “Violence Always Comes Home: Terrorism, Empire and Islamophobia” gave the first Keynote. He spoke about the misleading social and cultural distortion of our perceptions about Islam and terrorism.
Followed by Medea Benjamin of CodePink Women for Peace who spoke about US policies, including drone warfare, that disrespect the people in foreign lands, exacerbate misunderstandings and invite continued threats and violence.
In the afternoon, a panel of religious people discussed the place of activism in a religious context and the insight that our faith can give to the ongoing wars and terrorism that our country is engaged in.
Multifaith Perspectives on Drones, Islamophobia & Movement Building featuring Featuring: Muhammed Malik, Rabbi Michael Feinberg,
Imam Hamin Rashadah, Aaron Stauffer & Irene Siegel
Code Pink, Veterans For Peace, Muslim Peace Fellowship, Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia, Standing Together Against Racism and Islamophobia, WESPAC, United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), Muslims for Ferguson, Middle East Crisis Response, Veterans For Peace
Inside Drone Warfare Symposium
If, like me, you were not able to attend “Inside Drone Warfare”, the Whistle Blower Symposium organized by Nick Mottern and Ann Wright in Las Vegas this spring during Shut Down Creech!, you can still view the speakers in these YouTube videos. I watched them and was glad I took the time. Ann Wright moderates the event.
Part 1: Jesselyn Radack of Whisper Whistleblower and Resource Protection Program and Cian Westmoreland, former Drone Maintenance Technician
Part 2: Christopher Aaron, former Air Force Intelligence Officer with the Drone program in Afghanistan and Reverend Chris Otto, Unitarian Universalist Minister and former Chaplain with the US Army in Afghanistan
Part 3: Shelby Sullivan Dennis of Reprieve with Faisal Bin Ali Jaber
Part 4: Marjorie Cohn
Part 5: Brian Terrell, Catholic Worker Drone Activist, Q&A
Anti-drone protesters executed waves of multiple non-violent peaceful actions at Creech Air Force Base throughout the morning last Friday, April 1, with the intent of interrupting the drone killing activities that take place there. Creech AFB, in southern Nevada, is the primary Command Center for the CIA’s and President Obama’s Drone Assassination program. At the most heavily used eastern gate, a total of 13 people were arrested in 4 separate actions. After military personnel re-opened the main base gate in the later morning after the 1st action there, three more waves of blockades occurred. The 3rd and 4th waves breeched a barricade near the gate and continued to block the road, ultimately stalling gate operations for nearly an hour totally, counting all actions at that gate. Another 4 were arrested at a 2nd gate.
The first incident at the eastern gate occurred at approximately 7:00 AM when a group of six children and eight adults all dressed as angels, performed a mock drone attack on a funeral. The activists were demonstrating the gruesome U.S. practice of firing drone missiles into funerals for victims previously killed by U.S. drone attacks, with hopes that militants might also be killed. A ballerina led the procession, laying red roses on the entry road of the main gate, followed by the other children carrying a casket. The funeral procession was interrupted by a simulated drone attack that killed and injured many of the mourners. Ultimately seven adults were arrested after they refused to leave the roadway after a 5 minute warning.
At approximately the same time, actions took place at the other two base gates, leading to more arrests. The blockade at the 2nd gate focused on the criminal aspects of the U.S. drone assassination program. Activists stretched yellow crime scene tape around the base sign and across the entrance to the gate, preventing vehicles from entering. One protester laid across the roadway to portray a drone victim. And at the seldom used most western gate a small group held a silent meditation vigil for peace. Activists successfully delayed Air Force personnel (and presumably some drone pilots and technicians), from entering the base throughout the morning.
“Many Creech personnel arrived to the base before the normal 6-8am rush hour on Friday, presumably to avoid the protest. Activists who participated in this collective effort consider even that a success because the protest is having a direct impact on daily drone operations. These sustained actions are forcing the military to change their daily routines, and potentially stimulating more discussion about the drone policies in question and the growing national opposition to drone killing,” says Toby Blomé, one of the organizers. “We deeply hope that our voices will one day soon be heard, and the expanding use of these deadly and destabilizing weapons against the most vulnerable people in the world will cease.”
On Thursday, the day before Friday’s gate blockades, 8 activists, including 7 veterans were arrested in a earlier blockade at the heavily used eastern gate, blocking morning traffic as well.
The two days of actions were part of a week-long protest at the base, culminating in a total of 25 arrests during the 2nd Annual National Mass Mobilization against Drone Warfare known as SHUT DOWN CREECH. Activists from over 20 states converged at “Camp Justice,” the peace camp directly across from Creech AFB, for daily rush hour vigils,
nonviolence training workshops, and strategizing meetings to prepare for these nonviolent blockades to impede drone killing.
These activities were done to highlight the Obama administration’s drone killing program that leads to many civilian deaths and violates international law.
(Photos by Holly Severson and Toby Blomé)
Veterans and Activists Arrested Protesting Drone Terror at Creech AFB
Veterans and Activists Arrested Protesting Drone Terror at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada
Veterans For Peace national President Barry Ladendorf, Board member Tarak Kauff, and Advisory Board member Ann Wright were among eight peace activists who were arrested early Thursday morning, after physically blocking the main gate to Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada.
Also arrested were VFP members Barry Binks (long time, often arrested drone protester),Ken Mayers, Chris Kundson and Leslie Harris, along with Joan Pleume of the New York Granny Peace Brigade.
Drone pilots based at Creech AFB, directed by the CIA and the Pentagon, regularly carry out drone strikes against targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing many civilians and terrorizing the population.
A larger civil disobedience action is planned for Friday.
Military Veterans Arrested at Creech Air Force Base Trying to Stop Drone Warfare
Indian Springs, NV – During peak rush hour traffic on Thursday March 31st at Creech AFB, military veterans and friends were arrested while waving Veterans for Peace (VFP) flags and nonviolently blocking traffic at the East Gate on Hwy. 95, the primary commuter gate into the base. As the traffic was impeded, Las Vegas Police diverted cars up the highway to less used, alternative gates.
At the same time, 20 people held vigil between the frontage road and US Highway 95 as four other peace and justice activists greeted the diverted traffic with a second peaceful anti-drone blockade expressed as a sitting silent meditation in front of the second gate.
The arrests at 7:50 AM today were part of a week-long orchestrated effort by over 100 activists from over 20 states in the country, mobilized to oppose the U.S. drone program that uses remotely controlled planes controlled at Creech to indiscriminately drop missiles on some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. Thursday’s traffic was delayed for fifteen minutes, as Creech employees and contractors were diverted to the 2nd gate, and then to the 3rd gate once demonstrators blocked the 2nd gate. The prayer-activists at the 2nd gate were not arrested.
This was the first of several civil resistance actions planned during the week-long National Mass Mobilization against Drone Warfare known as SHUT DOWN CREECH. All of the demonstrators who were arrested were taken to the Las Vegas Metropolitan County Jail.
Meanwhile the remaining activists at “Camp Justice” across from the base continue the regular schedule of nonviolence training and strategy sessions for creative and nonviolent ways to stop the illegal assassination program at Creech Air Force Base for as long as possible.
The 8 activists arrested were:
Barry Binks, VFP, California
Leslie Harris, VFP, Texas
Tarak Kauff, VFP, New York
Chris Knudsen, VFP, CA, California
Barry Ladendorf, VFP, California
Ken Mayers, VFP, New Mexico
Joan Pleune, NY Granny Peace Brigade, New York Col.
Ann Wright, VFP and retired 29 year army veteran, and former U.S. diplomat, Hawaii
Shut Down Creech, 1st Report
REPORT # 1: SHUT DOWN CREECH
by Toby Blome
Tues. Mar. 29, 2016
We had a most successful 1st vigil on Mon. Mar. 28, with a good crowd of about 20 “Creechers” joining us for the very 1st morning vigil, with over 16 campers for the first evening at Camp Justice Sunday night.
Monday afternoon spring desert winds picked up ferociously, at times with gusts at over 60mph (evening weather reports said 70mph winds), and temperatures dropped drastically, testing our inner strength to continue our protest of drone warfare at the killer drone base known as Creech AFB, in southern Nevada. Large banners were substituted for smaller visuals and signs, including the 7 small coffins with names of 7 of the predominantly Muslim nations we have been bombing over the last 15 years. We also showed a banner for GI RIGHTS HOTLINE with its phone number. Surprisingly, we stayed our ground throughout most of the 2 hour planned vigil, in spite of strong winds and dropping body temperatures.
The winds were still blowing fiercely throughout the night, and CODEPINK welcomed all campers onto the sacred grounds of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality, where the walls of the modest guest house/mobile home provided a haven and protected us from nature’s elements. Everyone was well nourished with a simple meal and friendship…and space was found in the guest house for even the campers, as many of their tents had been blown into uninhabitable shapes! The winds howled through the night, and continued into the morning, letting up for only brief moments. Gigantic thanks to Don Kimball who held the peace fort at Camp Justice thru the night, keeping all secure. Dennis, Ralph and Ray have also been super generous, taking on the role of peace camp security crew for the entire week!
Col. Ann Wright joined us in the wee hours of the night, and woke up at 5am with the rest of us for today’s vigil….with continuing very cold gales, some of us dared to hold a few of the medium sized banners, and smaller signs and visuals. As body temperatures continued to drop, an impromptu silent “funeral procession” was created with most of the 7 coffins/countries represented, with activist Susan Witka carrying the final message, following the coffins: “Who’s Next?” The procession gave a somber tone about the overall human costs of global wars, while allowing some of the activists to warm up while being in continuous motion.
Counter protesters from town, the same 3 to 4 that have been coming regularly for years, are holding their space, in at times a very confrontation-seeking fashion, but thus far we have been able to do our best to stay within our nonviolence guidelines, and keep the confrontations from escalating, though it has been trying for some. The police have lined up barricades on most of both sides of the entrance into the base, anticipates the major civil resistance planned on Friday, but also showing favoritism, at times, to the counter-protesters. A beautiful sight this morning was seeing Phil, a local counter-protester deliver a cart load of firewood for our fire circle.
Peg With Upstate Drone Action Banner
1st Morning Vigil at Creech 2016
Dan and Mauro at Shut Down Creech, 2016
Dennis at Shut Down Creech, 2016
Shut Down Creech, March 30, 2016
Ralph & Ray of VfP at Shut Down Creech, 2016
Toby at Shut Down Creech, 2016
As I write this message the early afternoon winds continue to blow, with a forecast for calmer weather in time for our 3pm vigil today….let us hope so. Weather predicted to warm as week progresses. The EEK Team, “Environmentally Evolved Kids”, our beautiful children’s affinity group from Northern California, has been working hard today getting their “Angel attire” ready for the big day on Friday to SHUT DOWN CREECH.
The peace keepers bright yellow headbands were completed yesterday, thanks to the help of Arla, Maggie, Casey and Toby, ready for the “big day.”
More folks are due to arrive tonight, as we all get ready for 3 days of more scheduled activities, including civil resistance/affinity group preparedness, the Drone Whistleblowers Symposium on Wed. night, the Concert with David Rovics on Thurs. night, and the big climax on Friday to peacefully and nonviolently put a halt to the killer drone operations at Creech, for as long as possible.
We will try to update you all throughout the week.
Please consider joining us next time.
TOGETHER WE CAN:
Ground the Drones & Stop Global Warfare,
Indian Springs, Creech Home
Video by John Amidon that reflects on the presence of Creech Airforce Base, a national center for Military Drone control, beside the town of Indian Springs.
Indian Springs has Fallen shows some of the affects of the USAF on Indian Springs, NV and invites you to join with VFP at Shut Down Creech!