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Report Back From Shut Down Travis Action: No US Weapons for Genocide

Above photo: David Solnit.

A growing coalition of peace & justice organizations from Northern California are collaborating to nonviolently impede the U.S. role in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.  The newly formed campaign, called “Shut Down Travis,” is organizing regular actions to peacefully impede “business as usual” at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, CA, where U.S. weapons are transported to Israel. It began on December 28, when activists, working together, successfully closed down all 4 gates for 1-4 hours ea. at Travis AFB.  NO US WEAPONS for GENOCIDE!  14 activists were ultimately arrested at two gates, and later cited and released in the afternoon, with citations to appear in Fairfield court for a February 23 arraignment.  Recently about 10 of the Travis 14 have received “Certificates of Detention” indicating that we “may” not be prosecuted.  A lawyer is assisting us to get clarification.  

Our new coalition/campaign includes a diverse group of individuals and organizations from Northern Californiaincluding Youth4Palestine, SF CODEPINK, Occupy Beale AFB and Fairfield-based SUN (Solano Unity Network). So many individuals and organizations have contributed in innumerable ways to our overall success thus far.  “A People United Can Never Be Defeated.”  As a brand new coalition, we still need to clarify our shared long-term mission, goals, strategies, tactics etc.  S.F. CODEPINK is inviting all interested groups and organizations to an in-person gathering in Fairfield on either Feb. 23 (after arraignment?) or Feb. 24 (after our next Travis action).  Please contact, if you want to be part of this important gathering. Exact day/time TBD. Together we will succeed in our common goal of peacefully opposing and stopping U.S. weapons transport that aids Israel’s extermination and starvation of Palestinians.

In January, two of the larger organizations involved, CODEPINK and Youth4Palestine, called for a 2nd action at Travis. Enthusiasm quickly grew, and we successfully returned to Travis on February 7, for another Nonviolent Shut Down!

There was promise of rain that day, and it was yet another day of getting up at 4am in the morning to prepare for a 5:30 am arrival at the Main Gate, our meeting place.  But, hey, for the people of Gaza, that seems like a small sacrifice.  Unfortunately, though a lot of promotional work had been done by many people ahead of time, the numbers were about 1/4 of what some of us expected. In addition, different from our first action, the Main Gate, the largest Travis gate with 3 lanes, was NOT barricaded by military/civilian police ahead of time.  We were confronted with a very challenging situation, smaller numbers, and more gates and lanes to peacefully impede business as usual. 

As a smaller group, we chose to stay at the Main gate all morning for increased effectiveness and safety.  With a strong presence of supporters on the sidelines, many with Youth4Palestine, who led continuous and passionate chanting throughout the morning, we coordinated a successful nonviolent interruption of activity at the base.  Soon the first wave of peaceful blockaders moved into the roadway with large banners to oppose US assistance in Israel’s war crimes.  This time, the police did not allow protesters to express their free speech and civil disobedience for any meaningful time.  (In December our blockades lasted over an hour at both the North and South gates, even with repeated police warnings before arrests.) 

Instead, a line of Fairfield police came promptly behind us in riot gear and with almost no warning. In fact, at least one blockader was not even aware of their presence behind us or of any verbal warning given to disperse. The warning may not have been amplified at all (?). While in December the police gave 5 or 6 amplified warnings at the North gate over the course of over an hour before arresting. This time it was one warning and they moved toward us fast and fiercely.  All blockaders managed, barely and miraculously, to remove themselves from the roadway, and avoided arrest in the “first wave.”  

Time passed. The chanting continued. Banners and signs were well displayed on both sides of the road. Riot police presence at the main gate seemed to disappear, and things quieted.  A new wave of blockaders were willing to enter the roadway leading into the main gate yet a second time, to extend our effort to peacefully “interrupt genocide!”  

As seen from the videos above, the Fairfield police in riot gear, appeared again in the distance, and charged rapidly toward us, fast and furious.  Surprisingly, as they arrived to our peaceful blockade of banners declaring “NO GENOCIDE” and “NO TAX $$ for GENOCIDE,” they began lining up just behind us, within close reach, but not appearing to make arrests. This gave some of us the impression that at least one warning was again going to be given. No such deal. The police suddenly pounced on as many protesters as they could, very aggressively making arrests.  Most who did not intend to risk arrest managed to leave the roadway in time. Ultimately, 5 individuals were arrests, only 2 of which were planning to fully risk arrest,  including David Hartsough, a long-time civil rights and peace activist. 

Interestingly, during the first wave of blockading, Fairfield police briefly blocked traffic on Air Base Parkway from reaching our blockade and redirected cars to the North Gate via Peabody Rd. This unfortunately prevented 2 of our legal observers, Shirley and Annie, from initially rejoining our action at the Main Gate.  Huge thanks to EVERYONE who contributed, with special thanks to our videographers/photographers, Art Koch and David Solnit, and to Solano Unity Network, based in Fairfield, for great jail support and providing refreshments for participants!  

With each action at Travis to peacefully OPPOSE and STOP Genocide, we are learning.  We will do it better each time until CEASEFIRE in Palestine is obtained!  

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