Saturday, December 7, 2013

Occupy Beale AFB!

This page is a news archive for the Peace vigil and Occupy action at Beale AFB in California.
Their official website, with updated information about ongoing campaigns for humanity and justice, is here:  []. Contact information: Toby [510-215-5974] []

Call for Solidarity for anti-drone warfare vigil against physical attacks by military employees! (2013-12-07)

"Former National President of Veterans For Peace Arrested at Beale", 2014-04-04 [link]

Clergy, Veterans occupy Beale AFB, with 5 arrests, 2014-03-05 [link]

2013-11-27 Flashpoints FM Radio Interview with Occupy Beale AFB! concerning current U.S. Drone warfare [link]

2013-11 Occupy Beale AB! Report [link]

2013-09 Victory for the Beale 5, prisoners of conscience [link]

2013-07 Non-violent direct action to Stop the Drones [link]

2013-04-30 California State Police arrest 5 Peace Vigilers after successful occupation action! [link]

2013-04-30 Non-violent direct action to Stop the Drones [link]

2013-01-17 from "The Adventures of Hapio Musette" []:
 Tuesday morning was the first time in months that I'd been up at 4am to prepare for a protest.  Usually my reasons for being up at 4am are more self-centered; I struggle for time alone, and being up at this time of day gives the impression that I'm achieving some of that.  Quickly packing for my day trip, I am excited to finally be part of the contingent headed to Sacramento for Anti-Drone Action Day, organized by Code Pink activist Toby Blomé.
At 8am, a BART ride and carpool ride later, we arrive at the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento where 9 anti-drone activists were scheduled for arraignment that morning for charges of blocking the gate at Beale Air Force Base back in October 2012 []. Nine very brave individuals who blocked base traffic that day to present their demands to the Base Commander of Beale, which is of course where the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9 RW) of the Twelth Air Force Command is located and performs its national and international surveillance training and operations in the skies, along with combat support and forces.  Beale Air Force Base is the home of Global Hawk, among other drone aircraft.  We hit the sidewalks in front of the courthouse with our banners, signs and bullhorn, as more activists arrived for the morning rally.  It consisted of locals from the Sacramento, folks who lived near the base, folks from the Bay Area... from Elk Grove to Nevada City to Sacramento to San Francisco, peace activists who want to end illegal wars and stop the killing of innocents and "militants" in our name.
Since I'm the Newbie on the scene, I'll just point you a couple of articles that best summarize the happenings of the morning.  First, there's Ken Butigan's blog, which is in my opinion, a "must read" []. There's also Reverend Sharon Delgado's blog []. She's one of the 9 still facing federal charges, and a repeat demonstrator at Beale.  She's stunning in her clear anti-drone position, and posts regularly about her activities at Beale.  The Sacramento Bee covered the story of the 5 protesters (of the original Beale 9) who were arraigned on Tuesday the 8th and will return to court on April 15th [].  (BTW, that's me, in the front on the right, holding one of Toby's lovingly hand-made banners with the lovely Martha Hubert, another Code Pink activist.)

After the Beale 9 were dismissed from court, our group spent the next hour signing letters to Congresswomen Doris Matsui and Barbara Boxer, and began our attempts to meet with their Congressional staff persons in attempt to explain our position, and to give them our letters of demand.  This is where the real ironic fun began for me -- in the Honorable Barbara Boxer's Sacramento office.  Although one of the activists had phoned in the day before to let them know we were coming and to request a meeting, the receptionist/administrative assistant insisted that there was no staff member available to meet with us.  A few of us decided to stay in the office and wait, while the rest of the contingent went to Matsui's office, and actually received an audience with a member of her staff, and were able to present their letter to be read at a later date.  Although I was not exactly hopeful that Boxer's staff would lend us an ear, it was particularly enlightening to be in her office and stare at the art on the walls.  It explains a lot about what we're up against in the anti-drone campaign.
Here's a shot of my new friend Nina Folk sitting under "Matriot" in Boxer's office (On one wall of Boxer's office hangs the photograph entitled "Matriot" []).

Read about Nina in Howard Fast's Peekskill, USA [].
Nina's an 83-year-old activist who lost a finger back when she was 18 years old, while attending a 1949 ACLU Freedom Concert in Peekskill, New York, and she was inside her vehicle when a rioting group broke the windows of the vehicle with stones, screaming racist profanities at her [].  The glass of the side window came in and severed part of her middle finger.  Nina was, of course, afraid to visit the local clinic and the police laughed at her, stalling her ability to receive other medical assistance until it was too late to reattach the finger.
Can I just say that Nina rocks!, and I hope I have the perseverance and dedication of Nina in my own lifetime.  Nina is still working, in geriatric care, with clients in the Bay Area, and she has many activist moves to share with her friends in the Movement.
But I digress.
On the other wall in the Honorable Barbara Boxer's office hangs this image of Beale Airforce men and woman standing in front of the surveillance drone Global Hawk:
"Senator Boxer, Thank you for all your support." 

As you can see, Senator Boxer's got her bases covered.
 The whole point of visiting Senator Boxer's office was to have a discussion with her or her staff members about our wish to end drone strikes, to deliver the studies referenced below, and to give her our letters of demand.  I invite you to read this information, and to write a letter to your own Congresspersons to advocate for change in the U.S. drone policy, both domestically and abroad. Should we continue in this vein, I imagine it won't be long until the international enmity we are creating will soon eat us alive, and leave many more dead and terrorized along the way.
Research Studies on the negative effects of the U.S. drone program and civilian casualties:
* "Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan" []
* Columbia Law School's "Counting Deaths From Drone Strikes" []
After leaving my Senator's office disappointed but determined to see her in future, we picnicked in front of the Courthouse, then I joined a group of folks headed to Beale Air Force Base to see what I could see.  Here's a glimpse.
Making our presence known.

Standing in the Line of Protest

Parking lot at the Main Gate w/ photo of Pakistani child killed by Hellfire missile

Corporate Flag of the United States of America

Militant?  Killed by U.S. drone

It's a lonely job, but someone's got to do it.

I hope one day you will join us.

If you would like to have a sample letter to send to your Congressperson or want to get in touch with folks who care about the U.S. drone crisis, you can email me at 
The protests at Beale are ongoing, and we could use your help.  Every action counts.
May you be well.  May all people be happy and secure.

Drone Letters to Congress
The long version:
Dear Senator/Representative,                                                                         
As members of local peace and justice organizations opposed to the continuation of the Bush administration’s failed wars, we are writing to condemn the Obama Administration's use of unmanned aerial vehicles or “drones”, to kill citizens in at least seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen.  The use of drones is wrong on many levels:  the illegality and immorality of assassinations, the violation of international law and the Constitutional protection of due process, the targeting killing of civilian populations, and the violation of national sovereignty.  Equally wrong and quite disturbing are killings by U.S. drones of at least 3 U.S. citizens, including a 16 year old boy born in Denver, Colorado, all in violation of their right to due process.  We are especially troubled by the Obama Administration's refusal to release, even to Congress, the documents which purportedly give the U.S. legal cover to determine who is placed on the "kill list."  A recent House Resolution, HR 819, sought to make these documents public.
The use of killer drones does and will continue to create more enmity toward the United States.  Because of the lack of transparency, it remains unclear how many civilians have suffered losses of life, limb or property as a result of strikes.  A recent Columbia University study gives strong evidence to support high rates of civilian casualties.  Another recent and important study by Stanford and New York Universities revealed in detail how communities living under drone warfare in Pakistan are being "terrorized" by the daily presence of these drones in their skies.  High rates of psychological trauma, suicide, and PTSD are just a few of the symptoms, as well as the serious disruption of their entire social structure.  We are providing copies of these studies to your staff, and hope that you will take the time to read them.   Sadly, Obama has drastically increased the use of drone strikes compared to former President Bush, leading to rampant anti-U.S. sentiment throughout these areas of conflict.
Furthermore, we are also concerned that U.S. drones are used to eliminate political opponents of corrupt leaders.  This happened in 2010 in Yemen, when a state governor who opposed President Ali Abdullah Saleh was labeled as a leader of Al Qaeda and killed.
We believe that Congress should uphold its responsibilities in providing the checks and balances needed to protect us from an executive branch that has run amok, acting in total disregard to International and Constitutional law.  This would have a profound effect around the world, and could initiate a process of healing. As citizens, we do not see the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Yemen as enemies. They are our brothers and sisters.  Instead of wasting billions of dollars on immoral drone strikes, take the money from the program and give it to non-governmental organizations working on providing jobs and income to people so that they do not join militant groups.  There would be tremendous support for such a program in these war-torn countries. 
The illegal U.S. occupations and proliferating drone wars have been demonstrable failures.  Now is the time to take a bold step for peace.  Imagine becoming a country which has denounced the madness of war, and instead wants to assist and make friendship with the people of the Middle East, Central Asia, and the entire world.
We are asking you to do the following: 
- Sponsor a bi-partisan bill calling for an immediate moratorium on all targeted killing by drones, with the ultimate goal of an in-depth Congressional investigation into the ineffectiveness and illegality of U.S. drone warfare.
-Work diligently to get your Congressional peers to support the above bill, and establish Congressional oversight over the illegal practices committed by the Obama Administration, the CIA and the Pentagon, as is your obligation by the U.S. Constitution.
-Sponsor a bi-partisan bill to address some of the most egregious practices of U.S. drone warfare, calling for an immediate ban on:
a.)  All extra-judicial killings of U.S. citizens by U.S. drones or by any other means, without due process.  Stop the assassination of our own citizens.
b.)  The practice of “Double-tapping”, or “secondary strikes”, by U.S. drones, which is clearly a war crime under international law, and has led to the killing of rescuers and medical relief workers, and has discouraged witnesses from providing aid to those injured in drone strikes.
c.)  The practice of “signature strikes”, or killing of unknown individuals purely based on “suspicious behavior”, without any knowledge of their identity, which leads to very high rates of civilian deaths.
d.)  The Obama Administration’s policy of calling all military-age males “militants” and therefore subject to being drone targets, which also leads to very high civilian death rates.       
We would like a response to these requests in the next 30 days, for we feel the lives and well-being of every person that is potentially threatened by these drone attacks requires our and your urgent action.  Should you agree to endorse a foreign policy with the goal of peace and justice, we will stand with you. Rejecting our requests will make you complicit in the immoral and lawless actions of the Obama Administration.  We will then continue to protest, risk arrest and denounce a foreign policy of endless wars and illegal assassinations and hold Congress complicit with these policies. 
We also request a meeting with you in the next month to discuss our proposal to immediately end killer drone strikes and to start a process of healing with the victims of U.S. wars.  Please give serious consideration to our proposal of reconciliation and diplomacy rather than be complicit in the continued use of pernicious killer drones.  We urge you to provide the necessary checks and balances against the executive branch, a responsibility required under the Constitution, which you have sworn an oath to uphold.
For a more peaceful world,

The short version:  
Dear Senator/Representative:        
Last month, 20 of our precious and innocent children were killed in a barrage of bullets from weapons carried by someone unknown to them. Our country still reels from the numbing news. We mourn for them, for their families, and for our country.
In Yemen and in Pakistan, countries with which we are not at war, at least 178 precious and innocent children have been killed by U.S. drone strikes launched by someone unknown to them. As a people, why do we not respond with equal revulsion and sympathy?
Are the children of foreign lands any less precious? And is the government that is responsible for their deaths any less guilty of murder than the Newtown gunman?
You hold in your hands, by the power of your office, the capacity to stop the carnage. In the name of decency, and in memory of the innocent children the world over killed by our drones, I ask you to co-sponsor HR 819, directing the U.S. Attorney General to transmit to the House any and all legal documents and memoranda relating to the use of drones by the U.S. government.
I will look to you, as my elected representative, to sign on to HR 819 before the end of this month. Your failure to do so will announce to the world your complicity in the murder by assault weapons of children no less precious than our own.
Most sincerely, [your name]

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