Protests Against Drones are Increasing Nationwide

Opposition to drone warfare is growing.  There is now  network of “no drone” organizations around the country, engaging in a varety of protests.  You can see some that have been highligted by the No Drone Nework by clicking here. Below is a protest that occurred yesterday in California. We begin with David Hartsough’s statement.  He was one of the nine arrested at Beale after they shut he gate for three hours. He is a local time peace and justice activist.  David was active in the Occupation of Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza.

David Hartsough’s Statement at the Drone Protest 
Beale Air Force Base, October 30, 2012

We are one human family. All people in the world are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacks our blood brother or sister, e would do everything in our power to stop them. 
 
This is the way we feel about innocent civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
Drones are totally immoral and illegal under international law and are against everything we have been taught in our religious Faiths: Love one another, Love your enemy and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
 
How would we feel if Russians or Chinese or Afghanis or Pakstanis were flying drones over the US and killing innocent people?
 
It is illegal under international law to go into another country and drop bombs on people our government doesn’t like.
 
The United States is making decisions to kill people without them ever coming before a court or found guilty. The US government is playing Judge, Jury and Executioner.
 
Using drones and killing many innocent people is creating more and more enemies of the US. Every person we kill has at least 50 family members and friends who will mourn the loss of their loved ones and seek revenge on the people and nation that has killed their loved one or friend.
 
Instead of drones and dropping bombs on people we need to send peace corps people to build schools and medical clinics and help people in these countries recover from the wounds of war. We could be the most loved country on earth rather than the most hated.
 
By our silence we condone this senseless killing. We must speak out and act to stop this madness. We call on our fellow Americans, people in churches and synagogues and mosques, students, all people of conscience to join us in stopping Drones before they kill more innocent people and recruit more people into Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, this is a receipt for perpetual wars and endless suffering and death for people around the world.
 
David Hartsough reads code of non-violence
David reading Code of Non-Violence in San Francisco on December 16, 2010
 
David was arrested along with eight others blocking two entrances at Beale Air Force Base where they closed the main entrance for over three hours
 

9 anti-drone protesters cited at Beale

By Ryan McCarthy/ADrmccarthy
Appeal-Democrat, October 31, 2012
 
Four women and one man, who remained standing in front of a Beale Air Force Base gate after authorities asked them to move their protest off federal property were cited Tuesday and sang “We Shall Overcome.”
 
 
About 50 people gathered in the morning at the base entrance off North Beale Road as well as at a gate off Doolittle Drive to protest against drones as part of a national action, said Sacr mento resident Cres Vellucci.
 
 
“This is more or less the Northern California protest,” Vellucci said.
 
Sacramento resident Kevin Carter, 52, who calls himself a social justice activist, yelled, “Forgive these men that they know not what they do,” as Beale security officials led the protesters away from the gate.
Four other protesters were also cited for trespassing at the Beale entrance off Doolittle. In all, nine people were cited.
 
David Hartsough, executive director of San Francisco-based Peaceworkers, displayed the peace symbol when cited at the North Beale Road entrance.
 
Sharon Delgado, founding director of Earth Justice Ministries in Nevada City, said “I just want to shut down the business as usual at the base. The longer the better.”
 
 
Col. Phil Stewart, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander at Beale, said in a statement after the protest, “It is our hope that these individuals, who have invoked their right to peaceable assembly, will do so safely and within the confines of the law in the future.
 
“We respect the rights of individuals to exercise free speech and the United States Air Force has always been and continues to be committed to defending lawful freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” Stewart said.
 
Most protesters came from the Bay Area, San Francisco, Nevada County or Chico.
 
 
Protester Janie Kesselman, 58, who lives in Campontville in Yuba County and works at Sierra Solar, said where protesters live isn’t important because the war and use of drones are global issues.
 
“The issue isn’t that there are or aren’t people in Marysville or Yuba County,” she added.
 
“They’re just not here today,” Kesselman said.
 
Chico resident Michael Pike, 65, described the protest as a grass-roots movement that doesn’t always attract those who live closest to a military base.
 
“A lot of times they don’t want to know,” Pike said of what takes place at Beale.
 
The primary mission at Beale, for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, does not include drones that fire weapons, but a protester contended the base is an accomplice in the drone program.
 
Vellucci said most Beale protesters living outside Yuba and Sutter counties are not new to social activism.
 
“People in the South were upset that people in the North were coming to protest the treatment of blacks,” he added of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
 
Carter said, “People in the Sutter area may not be informed as much as people in the Bay Area and other areas.”
 
Oakland resident and Catholic priest Louis Vitale, 80, said outside Beale that, “We’ve been hyped into all this patriotism.” Vitale said earlier wars haven’t solved problems.
 
“They all thought they were saving the world by going to Vietnam,” Vitale said of the military.
 
Toby Blome, a resident of El Cerrito in the Bay Area, was cited Tuesday for trespassing at the base entrance off Doolittle. She spent two weeks in Pakistan as part of the anti-war Code Pink group and returned Oct. 12. She said drones in the Middle East country are terrorizing people.
 
If Pakistanis asked her and others where they were from, Blome said she answered “America.”
 
“I apologize for my government’s policies against the people of Pakistan,” she would tell them.
 
Sacramento resident Barry Binks, 72, also cited for trespassing, said he is disappointed that the drone program has expanded under President Barack Obama.
 
“I expected something to happen when Obama was elected,” Binks said. “Like a lot of people, I thought he was going to do something.”