Tulsa Peace Fellowship

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A Peace Movement Victory in Court | 14 Arrested for Walking onto Creech Air Force Base, site of Air Drone command

A Peace Movement Victory in Court

by John Dear

"Fourteen anti-war activists may have made history today in a Las Vegas courtroom when they turned a misdemeanor trespassing trial into a possible referendum on America's newfound taste for remote-controlled
warfare." That's how one Las Vegas newspaper summed up our stunning day
in court on Tuesday, when fourteen of us stood trial for walking on to
Creech Air Force Base last year on April 9, 2009 to protest the U.S.

The prosecutors challenged each witness, but their questions only enabled the witnesses to speak further on our behalf.

Through carefully crafted questions, the defendants were able to extract several key points from their witnesses:

* Intentional killing is a war crime, as embodied in U.S. constitutional law.

* Drone strikes by U.S. and coalition forces kill a disproportionate number of civilians.

* People have the right, even the duty, to stop war crimes.

* According to the Nuremberg principles, individuals are required to disobey domestic orders that cause crimes against humanity.

Brian Terrell stood up and delivered a short, spontaneous closing statement. It was one of the most moving speeches I have ever heard. Here are excerpts:

Several of our witnesses have employed the classic metaphor when talking of a necessity defense. There's a house on fire, and a child crying from the window and there's a no trespassing
sign on the door. Can one ignore the sign, kick down the door and
rescue the child?

It was a great privilege for us to hear Ramsey Clark, a master of understatement, who put it best. "Letting a baby burn to death because of a no trespass sign would be poor public

I submit that the house is on fire and babies are burning in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan because of the activities at Creech AFB.

The baby is burning also in the persons of the young people who are operating the drones from Creech AFB, who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at rates that even exceed
that of their comrades in combat on the ground.

Colonel Ann Wright testified that soldiers do pay attention to what is going on in the public forum, and that they do respond to a "great debate" in the
public sphere. There is no great debate going on about drone warfare in
our country. Some have noted that the trend toward using drones in
warfare is a paradigm shift that can be compared to what happened when
an atomic bomb was first used to destroy the city of Hiroshima in Japan.

When Hiroshima was bombed, though, the whole world knew that everything had changed. Today everything is changing, but it goes almost without
notice. I hesitate to claim credit for it, but there is certainly more
discussion of this issue after we were arrested for trespassing at
Creech AFB on April 9, 2009, than there was before.

Judge Jansen, we appreciate the close attention you've given to the testimony you've heard here. The question that you asked Bill Quigley, --"Aren't
there better ways of making change than breaking the law?", is a
question we are often asked and that we often ask ourselves.

It was a question that was asked of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963 when he was in jail in Birmingham, Alabama. Several clergy people
of Birmingham wrote a letter to Dr. King asking him the very same
questions that you asked Professor Quigley. Isn't there a better way?
Why sit-ins? Why marches, why protests? Isn't negotiation the better

Dr. King's reply to these questions -- in his famous Letter from the Birmingham Jail, which is regarded by many as one of the finest things ever written in the English language -- heartily agreed
that negotiation is the better way. But, he said that a society that
refuses to face crucial issues needs "nonviolent gadflies" using direct
action to raise the level of awareness and raise the level of "creative
tension" for a society to rise from the depths of monologue to the
majestic heights of dialogue, where the great debate that Colonel Ann
Wright says we need, can happen.

The house is on fire. And we fourteen are ones who have seen the smoke from the fire and heard the cries of the children. We cannot be deterred by a No Trespassing sign
from going to the burning children.

As he finished, Brian burst into tears and sat down. Many in the courtroom wept. Then Judge Jansen stunned us by announcing that he needed three months to "think
about all of this" before he could render a verdict.

With that, we were assigned a court date of January 27, 2011 to hear the verdict. As he left, he thanked the fourteen of us and the audience,
and then seemed to give a benediction: "Go in peace!" Everyone

"By all accounts, the Creech 14 trial is the first time in history an American judge has allowed a trial to touch on possible motivations of anti-drone protesters," the local paper said.

read the full article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/18-0

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from the archives, story from 2010: 35 women and children killed by Obama's drone war

Thirty five women and children were killed by an American cruise missile armed with cluster bombs which struck an alleged al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen, according to a study.

update 18 April 2012, from Kathy Kelley:

At Whiteman Air Force Base, we presented an indictment for the international war crimes that are implicit in remote-controlled killing using the kind of aerial drones that are piloted from the base. As three of our friends walked forward with the indictment to be arrested by riot-shielded base police, we flew kites to remind ourselves that the blue sky above our heads should not be a source of fear, and we sang, “For you, a thousand times over, for you, a thousand times over….”

(part of a longer article)


Glenn Greenwald writes: "There are many evils in the world, but extinguishing people’s lives with targeted, extra-judicial killings, when you don’t even know their names, based on “patterns” of behavior judged from thousands of miles away, definitely ranks high on the list."

Greenwald provides a much needed contribution to the debate over "killing people by remote-controlled video game while the killers are ensconced in secure bunkers in the U.S." using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) or "drones".

"[O]ne can never emphasize enough how the U.S., through the policies undertaken in the name of the Terorrist Threat, is principally responsible for sustaining and continuously increasing that threat. ... So here we have — yet again — the U.S. doing more than anyone else could to increase the threat of Terrorism with the very policies it claims are necessary to combat Terrorism."


33 Arrested Outside Drone Base in New York State

Group arrested preemptively, as they walked single-file and silently along a road

Thirty-three activists were arrested Sunday afternoon outside Hancock Air Field base in New York. Between 50 and 150 anti-war activists turned out to protest the use of US drones to attack countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq. The activists were preemptively arrested two blocks from the base.

Veteran for Peace's Elliott Adams of Sharon Springs NY, is handcuffed and led into a Sheriffs van after his arrest for protesting the use of drones by the United States. (Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard) They said they were hoping to put up crime scene tape around the front of the base to demonstrate that the entire operation is a crime.

Protester Rae Kramer said, “This notion that drone warfare is an exciting replacement to manned planes is a deception. In fact, what's happened is we are making more enemies, making the world less safe, including here at home."

Sunday’s protest was part of a weekend event by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. The group opposes the military’s use of unmanned drones to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard has been remotely flying MQ-9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan, from Syracuse, since late 2009. The unmanned surveillance aircraft is armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.

The protesters had wanted to deliver a written message, which they called an indictment, accusing the military of engaging in “illegal use of force against another nation.”


amateur vdeo: http://youtu.be/VzvNYIlASTc

Luther (Trey) Turner III, a retired colonel who flew combat missions during the Persian Gulf war before he switched to flying Predators in 2003, said that he doesn’t view his combat experience flying drones as “valorous.”

“My understanding of the term is that you are faced with danger. And, when I am sitting in a ground-control station thousands of miles away from the battlefield, that’s just not the case.”

Glenn Greenwald comments:

Whatever one thinks of the justifiability of drone attacks, it’s one of the least “brave” or courageous modes of warfare ever invented. It’s one thing to call it just, but to pretend it’s “brave” is Orwellian in the extreme. Indeed, the whole point of it is to allow large numbers of human beings to be killed without the slightest physical risk to those doing the killing. Killing while sheltering yourself from all risk is the definitional opposite of bravery.

This is why the rapid proliferation of drones, beyond their own ethical and legal quandaries, makes violence and aggression so much easier (and cheaper) to perpetrate and therefore so much more likely.

Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson recently recounted numerous cases of horrifying civilian deaths involving Pakistani teenagers whose lives were ended by drones.”


Anti-Drone Protesters Found Guilty of Trespassing

Posted on: September 10, 2012, by ,

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. —  A Federal Judge found  two anti-war protestors charged with trespassing at Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Knoster, Missouri guilty.

Defendants Ron Faust of Gladstone, Missouri and Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa were among a group of anti-drone peace activist demonstrating at Whiteman Air Force Base last April. The men were arrested when they approached the front gates of the base and tried to deliver a document outlining their concerns with the use of unmanned drones in the nation’s war on terror.

The aircraft, known as Predators, don’t fly from Whiteman Air Force Base but they are remotely operated by pilots based at Whiteman, some 90 miles southeast of Kansas City.

Shortly before his trial began at Federal Court in Jefferson City, defendant Ron Faust told FOX 4 drones have “about 98 percent failure rate in terms of innocent lives that are lost.  Not everybody that’s killed is a terrorist.”

His figure comes from the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalists.

Defense witness Bill Quigley, a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, says the two defendants weren’t trespassing, they were exercising their first Amendment Right of Free Speech.

“They were peaceful, they didn’t intimidate anybody. They were outnumbered 20 to 1 by military police there,” Quigley said.

Prosecutors say the two anti-drone activists refused to leave the base when they were told to go. Judge Magistrate Matt J. Whitworth heard testimony on Monday.

Tony Nuspl said:

update 18 April 2012, from Kathy Kelley:

At Whiteman Air Force Base, we presented an indictment for the international war crimes that are implicit in remote-controlled killing using the kind of aerial drones that are piloted from the base. As three of our friends walked forward with the indictment to be arrested by riot-shielded base police, we flew kites to remind ourselves that the blue sky above our heads should not be a source of fear, and we sang, “For you, a thousand times over, for you, a thousand times over….”


(part of a longer article)


Nine Brave People Arrested Blocking Gate to Hancock Drone Murder Base in Upstate NY

 article by David Swanson

14 Feb 2013

This article was first published on War is a Crime.

Nine opponents of killing human beings with missiles shot from drones were arrested on Wednesday nonviolently interfering with the drone kill program (taken to include the routine use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the targeted kill list) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY.

The nine arrested for disturbing the war were: Matt Ryan, Carmen Trotta, Nancy Gowan, Bill Pickard, Bill Streit, Jim Clune, Ellen Grady, Linda Letender, and Mary Anne Grady Flores.

Below are signs they displayed while blocking the gate.

Report and photos courtesy of Ellen Grady.

Via Malachy Kilbride, here's a list of 35 names of people from across the country who will be going to court at some point for actions against the drones.  Others, of course, already have been to court and in some cases are behind bars: Dan Burgevin, Jim Clune, Jack Gilroy, Martha Hennessy, Bryan Hynes, Ed Kinane, Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Mary Snyder, Elliott Adams, Judy Bello, Mark Colville, Paul Frazier, Clare Grady, Mary Ann Grady-Flores, Andrea Levine, Bonny Mahoney, Mike Perry, James Ricks, Mark Scibilia-Carver, Paki Weiland, John Heid, David and Jan Hartsough, Sharon Delgado, Jane Kesselman, Shirley Osgood, Ann Wright, David Barrows, JoAnn Lingle, Toby Blome, Alli McCracken, Joan Nicholson, Eve Tetaz, and Jonathon Tucker.


8 Anti-drone protesters arrested outside Nevada base


03/27/13 16:52

INDIAN SPRINGS, Nev. - Officials say eight people were arrested on disturbing the peace charges during a demonstration outside a U.S. Air Force base home to Predator and Reaper remote-controlled drone aircraft.

Nevada Desert Experience coordinator Jim Haber says the Wednesday protest at Creech Air Force Base was part of an annual peace walk.

It started in Las Vegas and ends this week in Mercury, at the gate of a former federal nuclear proving ground now called the Nevada National Security Site.

Haber says the five men and three women arrested were from California, New York, Wisconsin and Nevada. None was injured.

Las Vegas police Officer Laura Meltzer says they're accused of failing to disperse when ordered.

Each was driven 45 miles to Las Vegas, given summonses with a June court date and released.


Catholic Worker Activists Acquitted of Protest at Drone Base

Five Catholic Worker activists have been acquitted for blocking the gate of a New York base where U.S. drones are operated remotely earlier this year. The protesters held signs condemning the killings of children and other civilians as they stood in front of the entrance to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse. Calling the drone strikes illegal, the activists had argued in court their intent was to uphold the law, not break it.


video: http://youtu.be/m6sa30EXHZg?t=10m26s

update from DemocracyNow! 10 Dec 2013:

3 Arrested at NY Air Base in Anti-Drone Protest

Three people have been arrested at Hancock Air Field in upstate New York protesting the U.S. drone war. The activists were detained outside the base’s gates as they tried to deliver a "people’s order of protection" for Afghan civilians.

Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker: "We are here today to bring the voices of the children of Afghanistan, the children who are being terrorized by these drones, the children who being killed by these drones, the children who are being maimed by these drones. We’re here to say no and bring an order of protection for the children of Afghanistan."


update 16 April 2014 :

Nine anti-war activists protesting remotely-piloted aircraft operations were arrested Wednesday at Creech Air Force Base, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

The protesters were attempting to deliver a war crimes indictment about the base’s armed Predator and Reaper drone operations to Creech commander Col. Jim Cluff.

“The illegality of the CIA ‘secretive cluster of units within … the 732nd Operations Group’ can no longer be denied or covered up,” read a news release from Nevada Desert Experience, a faith-based peace advocacy group. “Hundreds of children have been murdered along with thousands of innocent men and women. The CIA is using Creech Air Force pilots to carry out drone strikes in Pakistan. The War Indictment could not be delivered at a more timely moment.”

Activists protesting armed drones arrested at Creech Air Force Base


Anti-drone protesters come together to protest remote-controlled military weaponry at Creech Air Force Base. (Courtesy Nevada Desert Experience)


11 Arrested at Beale Air Force Base to Oppose Drones --
Written by Ryan Hall, 09.30.14

@ Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California --

Rev. Auer was attempting to deliver a letter to Colonel Phillip A. Stewart, the Base Commander, informing him of a recent anti-drone resolution passed by United Methodists in the California-Nevada region. The letter also included The World Council of Churches’ Statement on the Use of Drones and the Right to Life. Beale is the home of the Global Hawk Drone, a surveillance drone that helps in the targeting of armed drones.

This action was one of over 250 nonviolent actions carried out in coordination with Campaign Nonviolence


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