Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bay Area CodePink Protests Drone Warfare at Creech AFB

Also see:
* Statement on use of drones and denial of the right to life, 2014-02-12 from World Council of Churches Executive Committee, at Bossey, Switzerland [link]
* A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings, to be delivered to Airforce Commander at Beale AFB [link]

Creech Brief Report Back, from Toby Blome of Bay Area CodePink:
7 CodePink activists, from Washington State, California and Arizona, including Martha Hubert, Edwina Vogan, Lisa Marcus, Catherine Houricade, Maggie Huntington, Renay Davis and Toby Blome were arrested on April 11th, while trying to deliver a letter to the commander of the base.
9 more Western state activists, as part of the NDE Sacred Peace Walk, were arrested yesterday while attempting to deliver a letter of indictment to President Obama, the commander of the base, Col. Jim Cluff, and other Pentagon officials.
* Vera Anderson, Las Vegas, NV
* Barry Bink Sacramento, CA
* Darcy Ike, San Diego, CA
* Seamus Knight, Los Angeles, CA
* Robert Majors, las Vegas, NV
* Margaret McChesney, Phoenix, AZ
* Marcus Page, Sheep Ranch, CA
* Dan Shay, Santa Rosa, CA
* Brian Terrell, Maloy, Iowa
We are successfully putting sustained pressure on the U.S. government to stop this brutal and illegal activity and to uphold to the highest laws of this country and international laws.  We need to continue this sustained pressure for global peace.
Vera Anderson, a 26 year old woman did her first civil resistance in her life yesterday at Creech AFB.  We need all of those who can, to now step forward to the plate and join us.  We have the power to stop the violence, we just need to use it…..we hope you will join us!
John Amidon's beautiful video of our direct action/arrests on Friday:
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Report Back from Shirley’s Trial, April 16, 2014:
Pamela, Devan, Flora and I arrived at the courthouse in Sac. at about 7:45 AM.  As we drove toward the parking lot, there were already several people gathered holding banners.  I rolled down my window and cheered, and then realized that none of the banner holders were regulars.  The banners had negative comments about the federal judges, calling them liars.  The messages were mainly in support of the US Constitution.
After parking we decided to proceed to a different corner of the intersection with our banners, which we unfurled.  Shortly thereafter, several demonstrators, now holding American flags, crossed the intersection to join us.  Someone in our group asked if they were counter-protesters, and they said, “no”, that they were there to support Shirley Osgood.  At least one identified himself as a Tea Party person.
While we were standing there a group of about 20 German students came out of the AMTRAK station with their teachers.  Pamela explained the purpose of our protest (and the fact that the flag flyers were with a different group), and I invited them to my trial.
I had an opportunity to speak with the man holding the banner which referred to the federal judges as liars.  I asked him what he thought of drone warfare, and he said he didn’t really have an opinion, so I had an opportunity give a summary of some of the issues.  I was wearing a skirt covered with child victim names, and referred to that as a big issue.
There was a lot of court support, including, Pamela, Devan, Flora, John R., Eleanor and Bob, Sharon and Guari, Cres, Michael K., Jerry.  Also present were about 3 legal students not directly involved in my trial, 6 or 7  of the protesters from the street earlier (they filtered out gradually during the morning), a couple of extra security people, Ben from Beale security (sitting in the far back corner on the prosecution side).
The trial started as usual, with the government witness, Anissa Williams, the Beale Community Planner, talking about base boundaries.  The surprise factor, which I had discovered on Monday, April 14th, when I met with my attorneys at the Wheatland Gate was as follows:  my attorneys had discovered two survey posts which, when connected with rope, showed a diagonal line across S. Beale Rd. at the white demarcation line, crossing at an angle on the left side of the road (facing the base), basically indicating that the part of the shoulder on which we were standing when we crossed the “imaginary line” was not part of the base property.  Annisa Williams admitted that it was possible that someone could be standing where we said we were, and not be on base property.
The only other witness for the prosecution was Staff Sgt. Ashley Hall.  She had taken a video of us, but it ended just prior to us crossing the imaginary line to the left of the demarcation line.  It showed that we were on the shoulder of the road, but Sgt. Hall testified that we crossed the demarcation line on the paved road (where the base boundary was not in question).  I knew that I was never in the road after we left the Ostrom/Beale corner, and Michael and Flora testified to the same.  But Sgt. Hall stuck with her story.  Our attorneys entered a photograph showing us being handcuffed on the side of the road, and Sgt. Hall testified that we crossed the demarcation line in the road and Beale staff moved us off the road, and handcuffed us on the shoulder.  It was strange to hear this untruth insisted on, as I remembered very clearly that I was never in the road anywhere near the demarcation line.  I think perhaps Sgt. Hall confused our arrest with the previous action involving Toby, Martha, Robin, Barry and Bill, as I believe that event did occur in the road.  This is my only explanation for the untruth that Sgt. Hall testified to.
During my testimony, I was able to get a few words in about the war crimes being committed at Beale, but most of the trial focused, unfortunately, on the base property lines, and exactly where we crossed the line.
Judge Drozd was stumped at the discrepancies in the testimonies, and processed his thoughts out loud in the courtroom for what seemed like forever, maybe 30 minutes.  (It was getting to 1PM and there had been only a short break).  I wanted to hold up a sign with “Guilty” written on it, but restrained myself.  Finally, he came out with a not guilty verdict, though he didn’t call it that exactly.
After the verdict he spoke to me directly.  I don’t remember the exact words, but he talked about the trouble and expense I was putting the federal court system through with this choice of protest.  There was a question for me in there somewhere, but I was not allowed to answer it.  I felt a little like I had been scolded by a parent for bad choices.  When I raised my hand, he shook his head and indicated that I would not be allowed to speak, and he got up and left the courtroom.
At that time, in the courtroom, I gave a brief statement, quoting the words of Heather Linebaugh, drone analyst from Beale:  “I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end.  I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die.  Horrifying barely covers it.  And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience.  UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were…….The UAVs in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious threat to the sanctity of human life-at home and abroad-will continue.”
My attorneys were thrilled to have won the case.  It was Kate’s first trial, and she and Michael did a fine job.  I had mixed feelings, as I was not allowed to give my prepared statement in front of the judge, though I did get a little bit in on the stand, and with those who remained in the courtroom after the judge exited. I am a little freer to proceed with life, so that is nice.
Cres hurried off to get a report in to the news.  A small group of us gathered on the first floor and sang “Circle Round for Freedom” in the wonderful acoustic lobby, with no interruption by the security presence at the entrance.

CREECH AFB Report Back, (Part One) by Martha Hubert:
On Sunday, April 6th, Toby, Fred and I drove to Creech AFB via Fresno, where we visited the artist installation of a life size drone model.
We were greeted by Joseph DeLappe (the artist from Reno), Beverly and later, Teresa (both Fresno Activist friends).
We watched as the artist and his student assistants added the final wing to the Drone.

The point of this installation is to draw attention to drone warfare, and that it isn’t just another computer game.
Drone warfare is TERROR.  We said our goodbyes and were on our way.
There were a lot of miles to cover before we reached Creech.  We arrived at the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, a short drive from Creech AFB, at 10:00 p.m. Sunday night, glad to get out of the car.
Monday morning our friend John (VFP Albany) joined the three of us from the Bay Area to protest at the base entry.
Our numbers were small, but our messages were many (and STRONG), thanks to Toby’s obsession with banner making.
Between protests on Monday, we visited the wild horses at Cold Creek, not far from Creech at a higher elevation (cooler too).

On Monday night we were joined by our friend Barry (VFP Sacramento).
He was especially popular with some of us since he brought Coffee for Tuesday morning.
It’s wonderful being back here on the Goddess Temple property.
The huge Cottonwood trees provide shade and a great place to work on making new banners.
Barry picked up Catherine at the Las Vegas Tuesday afternoon, while some of us stayed behind.
We had banners to make!
It was nice to have both Catherine and Barry back with us for Tuesday afternoon's commute.
Was it ever HOT out there!  Those cold beers that we got at the Oasis Bar in the tiny town of Indian Springs were exceptionally good!
The desolate landscape in this part of the country is a rock hound’s dream come true.
The Goddess Temple and grounds are evolving in a beautiful way, thanks to Candace Ross, the Temple Priestess.
We’re fortunate to have the Temple Guest House for a place to stay, a place filled with love and creative energy.
Each day we greet the commuters in and out of the base with our signs and banners.
We’re out at the most busy entrance to the base 6-8 am and 3-5 pm, sometimes longer.
Wednesday morning we dressed in black with white masks, carried tiny coffins, a baby (doll), and the huge banner saying DRONE WARFARE IS TERROR, as well as another saying MOTHERS SAY NO TO WAR.

The five of us had a funeral procession down the highway next to the base.
We were back at the base entrance Wednesday afternoon, focusing on Justice for Chelsea Manning and all whistleblowers.
Wednesday evening we brought our messages to Las Vegas, and had dinner at Bacco, Lt. Ehren Watada’s restaurant there.
Edwina, Lisa, John, Mark, Ming and others joined us for dinner.
While waiting for our meal, we kept busy cutting out paper drones for an upcoming action.
It was very fitting to show our support of the restaurant owned and managed by the brave veteran
who stood up to the lies of our government leading us to the war in Iraq.  It was an excellent meal, enjoyed by all.
After dinner we split into two cars: one for grocery and hardware shopping and the other to pick up Renay and Peggy at the airport.
None of us got much sleep that night.  Barry’s coffee was essential Thursday morning.
We were all up bright (well, it was actually dark) and early Thursday morning (with five new participants!)
We gathered at the entrance to Creech wearing white clothing and white masks.
We wore blue scarves in solidarity with the Blue Scarf Movement (
"The Blue Scarf represents the expansive blue sky we all share and has become a global symbol for togetherness.

It was set in motion by a very brave group of women in Afghanistan ready to be heard and is now being worn around the world as a way for people to express their solidarity as global citizens for a better world."
Every day we’re joined by more protesters!
There’s one nut of a counter protestor, on his huge motorcycle with a big American flag.  More on him later.
We’re having a blast.  Let’s hope we’re having an impact!

Good Friday Letter to be delivered to Beale AFB Commander:April 18, 2014
Colonel Phillip A. Stewart
Commander, 9th Reconnaissance Wing
General Delivery at PSC Box 5000
Beale Air Force Base, CA 95903
Dear Colonel Stewart:
We are writing because of our concerns about US drone attacks in countries around the world.  As you know, some of us have been demonstrating regularly at Beale for the past few years because Global Hawk Drones are an integral part of the U.S. drone warfare program.
We call on you and your superiors up the chain of command to immediately halt drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and all other countries. We ask that you order an immediate halt to any and all operations by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing that in any way support drone attacks or involve surveillance of individuals and or groups.
We further demand that you and your superiors undertake full and independent investigations into all drone attacks and make public information on these attacks including, but not limited to, where these attacks have been and are being conducted, all casualty reports, video tapes of attacks, evaluations of the attacks and orders and authorizations for these attacks.
Several of us are hoping to deliver this letter to you in person, along with a copy of the World Council of Churches' "Statement on use of drones and denial of the right to life" and "A Call from the Faith Community to Stop Drone Warfare," which has been signed by religious leaders from around the country.  Since you represent the leadership of the U.S. Air Force at Beale, we want to meet with you personally to explain our concerns.
We look forward to speaking with you.
In Peace,

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