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!
Harry Murray’s Sentencing Hearing (videos)
Harry Murray initiated a discussion about drone warfare, and about civil disobedience with Judge Gideon at his sentencing hearing, and through a sentencing memorandum sent to him before this hearing. You can read that memo in the previous post, if you haven’t alread read it. There was some disagreement regarding how those of us present felt about Judge Gideon’s response. You should read the memo before deciding what you think.
You can see a complete video by Wilton Vought of the Press Conference and Harry’s Sentencing Hearing HERE.
Videos below by Charlie Bowman –
Harry Murray Reads his Sentencing Statement (not the Memorandum he had mailed to the Judge in advance)
Judge Gideon Responds
Courthouse Press Conference (Videos)
On March 10, we held a Press Conference at DeWitt Town Court before Harry Murray’s sentencing hearing. The Press Conference provided an opportunity for Harry to speak about his trial and his activism, and Mary Anne Grady Flores was present to talk about her time in jail, her recently granted stay and her appeal which is pending before the New York State Supreme Court awaiting a decision as to whether they will rule on it.
Syracuse Resident Ed Kinane introduces the event and talks about recent actions at Hancock:
Ithaca Resident Mary Anne Grady Flores talks about her conviction and jail time, and about her appeal:
Nazareth College Professor Harry Murray talks about his conviction and upcoming sentencing:
Ithaca College Professor Beth Harris talks about the veil that has been drawn over the US drone program:
Videos above by Charlie Bowman.
You can see a complete video by Wilton Vought of the Press Conference and Harry’s Sentencing Hearing HERE.
Press Conference: Drone Resisters Speak
Harry Murray to be sentenced at 8pm
Mary Anne Grady Flores released on bail
DeWitt Town Court, E. Syracuse, N.Y.
March 10, 7:15pm
Syracuse, N.Y. The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars invites the press and public to hear from drone resisters Mary Anne Grady Flores, released on bail Monday night, and Prof. Harry Murray. Judge David Gideon will sentence Nazareth College Professor Murray in the DeWitt Town Court on Thursday at 8pm. Convicted of a trespass charge, Murray faces 15 days in Jamesville Correctional Facility. His conviction stems from the Hancock 31 action (April 28, 2013) denouncing drone killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are directed by drone operators sitting in computer rooms at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on E. Molloy Rd. in DeWitt, NY.
After completing 49 days in the Jamesville jail, Mary Anne Grady Flores, grandmother of 3, was released on $5,000 bail. She had been convicted of criminal contempt of an order of protection signed by a DeWitt judge on behalf of the Hancock base commander who claimed that he wanted the protesters away from his base. Grady Flores’ attorney Lance Salisbury submitted an appeal of her conviction to the NYS Court of Appeals, the highest state court. He writes, “There exists a split within the decisions of the Onondaga County Courts on the validity of the order of protection at issue in this case,” and that the Court of Appeals must resolve this difference. Salisbury argues that the New York Criminal Code requires that orders of protection be issued only on behalf of a crime victim or witness, not for the protection of property, including a military base, as happened in the case of Grady Flores.
Hancock air base commanders have used orders of protection to silence First Amendment protected rights to protest the crimes committed by entire chain of command of the US drone program. These crimes include violation of sovereignty laws, extra-judicial killings, violation of due process rights, and the killing of innocent civilians. “We know from leaked government documents, the Drone Papers, during a five month period in Afghanistan, 90% of all drone victims were bystanders. If the American people knew the impact of the drone program, they would shut it down, “ said Grady Flores. Four former drone operators wrote President Obama,
“This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world. When the guilt of our role in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD.”
Prior to Professor Murray’s January trial, a Hancock base lawyer argued to quash the subpoena, which Judge Gideon had signed, for the base commander to produce information about Hancock drone strikes. Professor Murray recounts,
“He told the judge that the information I had requested, including the number of children killed by drone strikes piloted out of Hancock, was classified and that Col. Semmel could be prosecuted if he answered any of those questions. If letting the people know how many children its military has killed threatens the security of our nation, what does that say about the US as a country and as a democracy?”
Grandma Drone Resister Released on Stay
Grandma Drone Resister Released on Bail Pending Court of Appeals Decision
A court has ordered that Mary Anne Grady Flores be released on $5,000 cash bail from the Onondaga County Correctional Facility in Jamesville NY on Monday, March 7, pending the New York State Court of Appeals decision on whether it will consider her case. That decision could take a month or two. Should the court decide to take the case, it could be quite a long time before it is heard.
Grady Flores’s appeals case, which was submitted on Feb. 19 by attorney Lance Salisbury, hinges on the validity of the order of protection granted to Colonel Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (Syracuse) by a judge. Orders of protection are generally issued to protect vulnerable people from domestic violence. Grady Flores was arrested for ostensibly violating this order while standing in the road outside the base and simply photographing peaceful drone protesters.
She was sentenced to six months (reduced from the original 12 months) and began serving the time on January 19. She has now completed 49 days in the prison. She would have to return to serve the remaining 65 days if the Court of Appeals decides not to hear the case.
On Friday, February 26, as she wrote in a public letter, Mary Anne was granted a deathbed visit to her mother, Teresa Grady, who had entered hospice care (at home) on February 19. As she wrote us afterward,
“I walked, shackled, wrists to waist and ankles, to be at mom’s side,
leaning over her to kiss her big smiling face. I told her over and
over that I loved her, my tears wetting her soft cheeks. I asked if
she was in any pain. ‘No, I’m not in pain. I’m o.k.’ She kept smiling
and fell asleep. What a precious, blessed moment.”
Mary Anne is especially looking forward to spending more time with her mother, as well as with her children, three grandchildren, siblings, and extended family. She is very grateful to the many people who wrote to her and visited her during her time in prison.
Mary Anne is part of The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, resisting the drone assassination program since 2011. According to leaked military documents called the Drone Papers sent to the Intercept, 90% of drone assassinations target and kill civilians, including children.
To write to Mary Anne at home:
Mary Anne Grady Flores, c/o Ithaca Catholic Worker, 514 North Plain Street, Ithaca, NY 14850
Activists Arrested for Entering Drone Base With Loaf of Bread
ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR ENTERING DRONE BASE WITH LOAF OF BREAD
Camp Douglas, WI — On February 23rd, two peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, were arrested when they attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, which trains pilots to operate Shadow Drones over other countries. Voices activists have lived alongside ordinary people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Gaza. People who can’t flee from drone surveillance and attacks have good reason to fear people from the U.S., but instead they have broken bread with Kelly and Terrell and have welcomed opportunities for deepened mutual understanding. Kelly and Terrell carried the loaf of bread to signify the worth of relying on words rather than weapons.
Before entering the base property, Kathy Kelly said: “Living alongside ordinary people who can’t escape drone surveillance in places like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan and knowing that a drone operator could be ordered to assassinate civilians who have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide affected my conscience. I wanted to ask drone operators in Volk Field whether they had been asked to target any people for possible assassination that day. I want to ask how the base training manual teaches people to distinguish between civilians and armed combatants. If an operator wants to quit, what does the commander of Volk Field do?”
Brian Terrell also noted: “Wisconsin is where I was born and raised and so I feel that coming to Volk Field is a responsibility that I owe in gratitude to my home state. The premise that drones will limit the parameters of war and make for fewer civilian casualties has proven false. General Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010, warned that the drone ‘lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there’s a danger in that.’ And yet the evolution of drones in the militaries of many countries around the globe has been anything but cautious. Instead there is a reckless proliferation of this deadly technology.”
Terrell and Kelly will be arraigned on February 24th, after 2:30 p.m., at the Juneau County Justice Center, 200 Oak St., in Mauston, WI. Also on February 25th, at 9:00 a.m., Mary Beth Schlagheck, will be tried for having crossed the line at Volk Field in August of 2015. Hers is the last of seven trials stemming from nonviolent civil resistance actions at Volk Field that were undertaken as the culmination of the “Let It Shine” walk from Madison to Volk Field. The witness of the activists who have protested at Volk Field, and who have testified so eloquently in court, inspired Brian’s and Kathy’s action.