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2021 Shut Down Creech protesters gathered in front of Creech AFB, Nevada; Photo by Sharat Lin

From September 26 to October 2, 2021, about 30 protesters from 12 states gathered in the desert outside Creech AFB killer drone control center north of Las Vegas, NV to engage in calls to conscience and a blockade intended to end the U.S. killer drone program at Creech and worldwide.  These Shut Down Creech (SDC) actions have been held over the last 12 years at what is viewed as the foremost center for U.S. drone killing and the training of drone operators.

From September 16 to Oct. 2, members of the Ban Killer Drones network in eight cities and towns held actions in solidarity with those at Creech.  This is the first time that such coordinated solidarity actions have been held.

Here are reports on all these events.

SHUT DOWN CREECH

2021 SDC was a very unusual, important event not only because of the effectiveness of the vigils and blockades at the drone base, but because the SDC group, for the first time, carried their action into nearby, downtown Las Vegas and because, faced with a COVID-related disagreement, they were willing to undertake an extended process of respectful conversation to come to a place of agreement that enabled them to carry forward with unified, powerful action.  It is also the first time that SDC, inspired by Veterans For Peace, handed out donuts to drivers headed toward the base.

Attached is a highly detailed, extremely educational report on 2021 SDC  by Eleanor Levine, one of the chief organizers.

In addition, here is a link to another outstanding report on the event by Veterans For Peace,  which includes a large, inspiring file of photos on the event. Of particular interest in this report is the special effort that was made to reach out to drone operators.

Tucson, AZ

An SDC solidarity vigil was held on Sept. 21st  at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, AZ.  In the background is the Arizona Air National Gard headquarters and killer drone command modules.  MQ-9 Reaper killer drones are controlled by the 214th Attack Group (“Black Sheep”), 162nd Wing, of the Arizona Air National Guard., located at Davis-Monthan.

The protesters are: Betts Putnam Hidalgo, Kay O’Donnell, Kim Mathews and Debi Livingston.

On July 20, 2021, Kim Mathews participated in a demonstration at Davis-Monthan in support of drone whistle-blower Daniel Hale.  (Below)

Hastings on Hudson, NY

Members of the peace and justice group Concerned Families of Westchester, in Westchester County, NY, handed out these two-sided flyers on September 25th, at its weekly vigil in the downtown of Hastings on Hudson.


Ten Reasons To Ban Killer Drones

On August 29th, a US drone fired a missile in Kabul that killed a suspected ISIS “terrorist” and nine members of his family.  Weeks later, the Pentagon stated that the killing was “a tragic mistake.”

“Mistake” or not, we know from documents released to the media by drone whistle-blower Daniel Hale that some 90 percent of those killed in US drone attacks in Afghanistan were civilians. (See other side of leaflet.)

Over the last decade, drones have become the preferred US weapon of war.  US soldiers are at little risk, and the US population and Congress give the Pentagon a blank check to fight four, five, six wars as long as US casualties low.

Today, in Nevada, Syracuse, NY, and at other drone operating bases across the USA, protests are demanding an end to the use of assassination drones by the Pentagon.  Here in Hastings, we join them.

Concerned Families of Westchester, September 25, 2021
“Serving our community since 2001”
For more information email


Pardon Daniel Hale Drone Whistle Blower

We ask President Biden to pardon Daniel Hale. Daniel Hale pled guilty to one count of “retention and transmission of national defense information” in violation of the Espionage Act on March 31, 2021. On July 27th 2021, he was sentenced to almost four years in prison. 

Daniel Hale is not a spy, a threat to society, or a bad faith actor. His revelations were not a threat to national security.

While the courts have ruled that a defendant’s motive in a case related to the Espionage Act is irrelevant, we recognize that Hale’s motive was only to provide the American people with information about government misconduct. We believe that rather than harm our country, Hale’s revelations actually enhanced our democracy by providing critical information about what our government has been doing in our name. We also believe that Hale’s revelations help push our government to reassess its drone program in light of its violations of US and international law. 

In a letter Daniel wrote to his judge explaining why he did what he did, Daniel said “The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person. So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.”

Daniel being sent to prison sets a terrible example for freedom of speech and sends a message that the American public does not have a right to know about government misconduct. For the right to free speech, and for the enhancement of our democracy, please consider pardoning Daniel Hale. For more info: www.standwithdanielhale.org


Syracuse, NY

Members of Upstate Drone Action spent the afternoon of Sunday, September 26th at the Westcott Street Cultural Fair in Syracuse, handing out literature and carrying posters addressing the U.S. drone program in dsolidarity with Shut Down Creech and Stand with Daniel Hale. 

Judy Bello, manager of the Upstate website, said: “It was a beautiful afternoon and we handed out hundreds of flyers to receptive festival participants.”

Here is a video of the event by Upstate member John Amidon.

Here are links to flyers used at the event:

UDA Trifold (This has info on Hancock Drone Base & UDA)

Shutdown Creech 2021  (Ban Killer Drones ref to recent murders in Kabul)

Upstate Drone Action conducts protests at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base outside Syracuse and the aforementioned Niagara Falls Air National Guard base.  Hancock Field is home to the 174th Attack Wing, which controls MQ-9 Reaper killer drones and is also involved in training killer drone operators, assisting the 49th Attack Wing of the U.S. Air Force, based at Holloman AFB, New Mexico.

Kaneohe, HI

On Monday, September 27th, World Can’t Wait (WCW) and Veterans For Peace joined with other justice and peace groups to protest drone attacks at the gate of the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station. Carolyn Hadfield, of WCW, reports:

“We had less than a dozen people (at the base gate), but there were lots of motorists leaving the base after their shifts.  Not surprisingly, there wasn’t much support but a few showed very enthusiastic support and one woman came back to thank us saying that it was impossible to say anything opposing drones with anyone she knows and asked how to get involved…Following is a brief summary of what’s happening here.  

Six Reaper drones will be based at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station (KBay) as part of the U.S. military restructuring for war with China. The Reaper was designed specifically to give the military and the CIA a “hunter-killer” drone capable of flying long distances. It was a Reaper Drone that killed 10 civilians in Kabul on August 29.   Two have now arrived, are at KBay, and will be part of a month-long Reaper exercise.  World Can’t Wait Hawai`i has joined with other local peace and justice groups to oppose the increasing militarization of Hawai`i and the use of militarized drones.”

Northampton, MA

Oct. 1, 2021 Creech solidarity protest in front of the L3Harris plant in Northampton, MA.  by Chelsea Fari

On Friday, Oct. 1st, about 30 protesters held a Shut Down Creech solidarity protest in Northampton, MA at the entrance of L3Harris’ plant that makes optical targeting devices for the Navy, including periscope equipment.

Below is the press release for the action, that was organized by The Resistance Center and Ban Killer Drones, and here is a video of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1JmXY9l7r8


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact:  Chelsea Faria – (508) 965-3087

NORTHAMPTON PROTEST AGAINST DRONE KILLING TO BE HELD FRIDAY, OCT. 1
AT 3:30 PM AT THE ENTRANCE TO L3/HARRIS PLANT AT 50 PRINCE STREET

On Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 , Valley anti-war organizers will gather at 3:30 pm at the entrance to Northampton’s L3/Harris military production facility, at 50 Prince Street, as part of  national protest calling for a permanent halt to all U.S. “Over the Horizon” drone attacks and focusing on the August 29th U.S. drone massacre that  killed 10 members of the Ahmadi family in Kabul, Afghanistan, seven of them children.

The Northampton protest will be among those in several other cities across the U.S. being held between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2 in support of the “Shut Down Creech” campaign that will bring protesters to the Creech AFB drone control center outside Las Vegas, NV during that period. It is the latest event in an on-going campaign  to close the foremost drone attack center in the U.S.  Solidarity protests will also be held, or have been held, in Syracuse and Niagara Falls, NY, Tucson, AZ, Horsham, PA, all among the 22 communities in the U.S. hosting killer drone control centers or training bases, as well as other communities. (See map below identifying all the bases.)

“We are protesting at L3/Harris in part because of it provides video cameras, weapons release systems and repairs for MQ-9 Reaper drones,” said Chelsea Faria, an organizer of the Oct. 1 protest, “the type of drone  used in the horrific August 29 attack in Kabul and the workhorse of U.S. drone killing”.  (See references below.)

Anti-nuclear weapons protests have also been held at the Northampton L3/Harris plant.

Faria said that L3/Harris’ Northampton plant produces optical and electro-optical targeting devices for surface ship and submarines.

L3/Harris is the world’s sixth largest military contractor, valued at more than $33 billion.

The network of organizers in solidarity with the Shut Down Creech effort operates under the title of Ban Killer Drones, inspired in part by their support for the campaign being undertaken by BanKillerDrones.org  to achieve a an international treaty banning weaponized drones and military and police drone surveillance.


L3/Harris Reaper drone work:

https://www.ga-asi.com/ga-asi-and-l3harris-technologies-successfully-integrate-wescam-mx-20-onto-mq-9

https://www.l3harris.com/newsroom/press-release/2015/01/exelis-produce-carriage-and-release-systems-mq9-reaper

https://www.army.mil/article/246568/…

Here are flyers used at the event and photos.   (Please forgive the possible overload on Northampton items; I have access to more records of this action than from others.)  The first flyer was passed out to drivers while they waited for the light to change in front of the L3Harris plant.  One driver said that her daughter worked at the plant, and that her daughter was sworn to secrecy about what she worked on.  The mother said she wished her daughter did not work there.  Most driver took a leaflet, prompted by their curiosity about the protesters they saw on all corners of the intersection. A number of the drivers gave approval.  The second flyer was not distributed to L3Harris employees as the plant was closed the day of our protest.


Would you want these kids to be killed by U.S. drones in the “War on Terror” if they were in YOUR family?

They, and four other children in the Ahmadi family, were killed by a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone in Afghanistan on August 29, 2021.


L3Harris, the world’s 6th largest weapons contractor, makes  surveillance cameras and missile releases mechanisms for MQ-9 Reaper drones. 

Tell Cong. Jim McGovern (413) 341-8700:

Drone killing is illegal, creates enemies and is based on failed technology.  See BanKillerDrones.org

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The Resistance Center/BanKillerDrones.org/Western Mass CODEPINK/ Latin America Solidarity Coalition/Anti-Imperialism Action Committee/Traprock Peace Center


We want you to keep having a job

at L3Harris,

but we want L3Harris to STOP

making weapons…

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such as the surveillance cameras and weapons release mechanisms for MQ-9 Reaper drones, like the one that killed these children in Afghanistan on August 29, 2021 and four other children and three adults in their family.

We need for L3Harris to apply itself to the Climate Emergency, not war


The Resistance Center.org/BanKillerDrones.org/Western Mass CODEPINK/ Latin America Solidarity Coalition/Anti-Imperialism Action Committee/Traprock Peace Center

Horsham, PA

On Saturday, Oct. 2, an SDC solidarity protest was held outside the gate of the Horsham (PA) Air Guard Station, home of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 111th Attack Wing Operations Group that control MQ-9 Reaper drones.

Photo by Brad Wolf, courtesy H.A.Penner. Oct. 2, 2021

The protest, shown also in the photos below, was organized by Brandywine Peace Community, many from Philadelphia, and members of the Mennonite community in Lancaster, PA.

Protestors line PA 611, next to the Horsham base.

Dallas,

BAN ASSASSIN DRONES

— a Week of Solidarity with “Shut Down Creech” —

Allied groups hosted a week of virtual actions in solidarity with “Shut Down Creech,” to raise awareness about weaponized drones, demand an end to their use, and support drone whistleblower Daniel Hale. Each day, several actions were posted to work towards that end. Participants shared relevant articles, photos and videos, made calls and wrote to Congress and the White House.  They were encouraged to create direct actions wherever they were.   

In Dallas, activists projected “THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE,” “SUPPORT THE TRUTH” and “BOMBING RECRUITS ENEMIES” onto City Hall, while displaying a banner reading:  “BAN KILLER DRONES; FREE DANIEL HALE”  

ATTACHMENT A

Shut Down Creech Fall 2021 – Report Back

(For more information visit the Shut Down Creech website)

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Group photo courtesy of Sharat Lin, SDC Fall 2021

Fall 2021 Shut Down Creech (SDC), co-sponsored by CodePink Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace (VFP), and Ban Killer Drones was a success! A big thanks to all who participated in-person or in other ways.

We vigiled outside the entrance to Creech AFB during morning and afternoon commute hours. Our messaging was clear: End the U.S. Drone Terror Program!

Although we did not permanently shut Creech Killer Drone AFB, we did close the main entrance several times interrupting business as usual. As VFPer Ann Wright noted, base personnel knew we were there and why. Imagine drivers having to explain to their bosses why they were late to work.

Why Creech Air Force Base?

Known as Home of the Hunters, Creech AFB (Indian Springs, NV) trains drone pilots as well as controlling the killer drones targeting Afghanistan, Syria, Mali, Libya, Yemen, Somalia among other countries. Based on military documents, leaked by drone whistleblower Daniel Hale, as many as 9 of 10 drone strike victims are defenseless civilians, not “terrorists” as claimed by the U.S. military and reported by the press. Rather than keeping us safe, drones make enemies.

Our Fall Action was dedicated to The Ahmadi Family, who lost 10 family members, including 7 young children, by a reckless U.S. drone attack on August 29, 2021. The Ahmadi family did nothing more than you and I do in our daily lives. The children laughed and played, and they attended school as do our children. The Ahmadis ate together, gathered for celebrations, and worked hard to support itself. Yet, they were targeted for extermination, labeled by the U.S. as “terrorists” in what the U.S. referred to as a “righteous” act. To-date the U.S. has yet to issue an apology to the family or to offer any reparations. This is consistent with past practices. For example, in 2020 the Pentagon, which is charged with making reparations payments to civilian casualties of U.S. attacks, made zero such payments

Photo courtesy of Larry Gilbert Sr., SDC Fall 2021

We stand with all Defenseless Drone Victims living under and terrorized daily by U.S. Drones. We thank all the courageous drone whistleblowers, whose actions helped give a voice for the voiceless drone victims around the globe. Drone whistleblower Daniel Hale is currently serving 45 months in jail for unveiling the truth about the covert and brutal U.S. Drone Assassination Program. Learn more and support Daniel Hale.

Fall 2021 SDC … Details

Approximately thirty CREECHERS, ranging in age from 26 to 85 years, hailing from 12 different states, participated. Given Covid-safety concerns, we camped and conducted all activities outdoors.  (Note: No post-event Covid-19 cases were reported by CREECHERS.)

Daily Vigils

Our twice-daily vigils at the entrance to CREECH AFB, focused on ending the U.S. terror drone program.  Our banners and signs honored defenseless drone victims, such as the Ahmadi family, supported truth-telling whistleblower Daniel Hale, called out the environmental and climate consequences of endless war, focused on lies told by our government about endless U.S. wars, and made direct appeals to active military members stationed at Creech asking, “Is this what you signed up for?” and “Are your Sacrifices Worth It?

Direct Actions

Our Tuesday and Thursday morning vigils featured two waves of direct actions blocking the entrance to Creech AFB. Traffic entering the base backed up along highway I-95 as drivers were forced to sit in their cars. To avoid jail exposure to Covid, Creechers stepped off the road before arrests could be made. If only for a short period, business as usual at the killer drone base ceased.

Photo of blockade courtesy of Sharat Lin, SDC. Fall 2021

Innovations

VFP introduced several innovative approaches directed towards active duty military base members. These include:

Thursday morning vigil chants and signs asking, ‘IS THIS WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR?’ and “ARE YOUR SACRIFICES WORTH IT?”  These were accompanied by highway banners and signs such as “JOIN US!”, contact information for Courage to Resist and the GI Rights Hotline, Support Daniel Hale and the Ahmadi family, as well as other past drone strikes.

Flash mob and leafleting on the Las Vegas Fremont mall attracting active duty military members, as well as other passersby. (Read VFP staff member Jules’ Fremont Mall summary in footnote #1)

Fremont Mall SDC Players photo courtesy of Sharat Lin, SDC Fall 2021

A donut giveaway along northbound Highway I-95 (south of the AFB) targeting drivers headed towards Creech. Donuts were served on a QR coded napkin attached to VFP’s site reminding active duty personnel they are not alone; there are options.

Unexpected Event

Unexpected was the arrest of SDC organizer Toby Blome (see Toby’s summary of her arrest in footnote #2)  on Tuesday morning, September 28, by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police. Toby is currently charged under NOC Code: 52312

“FALSE STATEMENT TO OR OBSTRUCT PUBLIC OF”.

Toby’s arrest presented an unexpected challenge to an SDC Covid-safety agreement requiring arrestees leave SDC upon release from jail.  Discord among SDC participants arose. Some suggested modifying the agreement; others wanted to adhere to the original Covid-safety language. Modifications to the original Covid-safety SDC language were discussed. Among the main issues of concern was violation of and re-establishment of TRUST. After many hours of a collective consensus building process, the group came to an agreement. Given scientific data about the virus’s transmission timeline, the Covid-safety agreement was modified, permitting Toby to return, spend the night, collect her belongings, and leave for the remainder of the SDC week.

Although arduous and lengthy, the consensus building process resulted in stronger bonds and a healthy sense of trust among CREECHERS. We emerged as a united community of activists. Among other outcomes, was a renewed willingness to engage in direct action; a several hour direct action training; information on what to do if arrested unexpectedly; guarantees that arrestees would be rescued and supported after jail release; and formation of affinity groups to plan and execute direct actions. In fact, two well planned successful waves of direct action, closing the base to traffic, followed the next morning.

Conclusion

The week was an acknowledged success with no additional surprises. At the end of the SDC week, all but one (with family issues) indicated they’d return for the next SDC. We did good!

………………………..……………………

The remaining sections of this SDC fall 2021 report back include detailed information about:

1. Media

2. Donations and a special fundraising request

3. Activities (not covered above) and special Thank-Yous

4. Week’s Highlights and suggested changes

5. Suggested readings and films

6. Footnotes

1. Media:

– Advance press releases prepared by Toby. See World Beyond War pre-event article

Las Vegas Sun article by Casey Harrison

Las Vegas Sun letter to editor  re: Harrison’s article

Las Vegas Sun photo display, Group Protests Against “Killer Drones

– Onsite daily live social media broadcasts by participants

– Press Release (in footnote #3 re: Thursday’s blockades)

– VFP SDC fall 2021 coverage (including photo album)

2. Donations and Expenses

Many generously donated to cover SDC food expenses (not tax deductible), expenses incurred by the Goddess Temple (tax deductible), and to CodePink or VFP (tax deductible) for SDC.

If you have not yet donated, and you are able to do so. or if you want to make additional donations, here’s what to do.

FOOD EXPENSES: Write a check to Toby Blome, write  SDC f2021food on the subject line. Mail to Toby Blome, 1925 Hudson St., El Cerrito, CA, 93530-1835.  Or, if you only make e-donations contact Cynthia <> for assistance.

CODE PINK: (not for SDC food): Specify it’s for SDC f2021 Donate here.

VETERANS FOR PEACE: (not for SDC food): Specify it’s for SDC f2021. Donate here

GODDESS TEMPLE (G-T): Donate here.

Special Fundraising Request: The G-T electrical system is needy!

The G-T needs additional funds to update the failing electrical system. Dave Paterson, VFP and G-T handyman supreme, sent a recent email asking if you or others might contribute more to the G-T. Dave writes:

Yesterday we got a quote to fix the power issue at the temple, $2600.  The main power box needs to be replaced.  I am hoping that some of us can help by making a donation. Please pass this along to others that know of this wonderful place and the wonderful people that work so hard to keep it open for all of us. Tax-deductible donations to the Goddess Temple can be made here:

3. Other SDC Activities and Special thank yous (alphabetically organized)

SDC fall 2021 included other wonderful activities not covered earlier: Presentations by Sharat “Economic Sanctions”; Fred “Climate Change”; and, Cynthia “Let’s Change the War Industry”; A Racism Workshop; Live Music; and Cynthia’s skit, Billionaires for War (a satire) featuring the SDC players.

Others contributed to the success of SDC F2021 in many different ways.

Please: If you notice that someone/something was overlooked, let us know who/what we have missed. We want all efforts to be acknowledged.

We acknowledge….

Banners and signs: Toby for the wonderful themed banners/signs bringing our messages to those entering/leaving Creech AFB and highway I-95 passersby. To those who made additional banners/signs as well as to those transporting the banners, signs, poles to/from SDC. … And all who bannered/signed for hours outside the base in the wee morning hours and hot afternoon sun.

Blockaders: Those who voluntarily blocked the AFB entrance on Tuesday and Thursday and their supporters.

Coordination with VFP: Garett for making SDC a VFP priority action, SDC VFP outreach efforts, inviting VFP staffers Jules, Chris and Casey, and hosting along with Ann, an onsite meeting for all VFP members. A shoutout to Casey, the VFP SDC coordinator, in organizing Fall 2021.

Consensus Building: Land stewards MaryClare and Areeya for guiding us through the lengthy consensus building process re: SDC Covid policy. And to all who actively participated.

Dishes/Cleaning: Susan and Maggie who stepped up to the outdoor sink and kitchen with suds and sponges as needed. To everyone for remembering to wash their dishes/utensils.

Entertainment: Cynthia and the SDC players in “Billionaires for War,” a satire.

Food/Meals: The cooks, especially MaryClare, for the wonderful food; NDE’s Laura-Marie and Mark for the Monday and Tuesday dinners. Toby for arranging the two NDE meals. Virginia (enchiladas) and Fred (pasta). Cynthia for baking yummy apple pies. Maggie and Eleanor for purchasing the week’s food.

Infra Structure Improvements: Del for readying the showers, toilets, etc. . Mary-Clare and Areeya for all their work making our stay more comfortable. Dave and Fred for their assistance.

Innovations: VFP for introducing new outreach efforts at the Las Vegas Fremont Mall, the highway donut give-away, and the spirited Thursday morning vigil messaging to base personnel.

Media: Those daily live broadcasting our SDC work via social media. Toby for advance PR; Eleanor for Thursday blockade PR; Garett  & Eleanor, Las Vegas Sun interviews.

Musicians: Jules, Laura-Marie, and Bruce leading us in song/chants after morning vigils.  Jules and John for evening entertainment.

Photos: Participant photographers documenting our SDC vigils. VFP report back.

Porta Potty: Ray for transporting the Porta Potty (photo in footnote #4) to/from the parking lot. NDE’s Ming for helping arrange the Porta Potty rental. Toby for Porta-Potty procurement.

Presenters: Fred, Climate Change; Sharat, Economic Sanctions; and Cynthia Let’s Change the War Industry.

Registration & Transportation: Eleanor for coordinating both.

Sunrise Fire Circle: Areeya for calling us in with drumming and song, and centering us by calling in the directions

Sustenance: Chris for bringing water to parched PM vigilers and donuts to hungry AM vigilers.

Tents: Maggie for helping folks find tent sites.

T-shirts: Shirley for bringing the wonderful array of political tee-shirts.

Transportation: Those helping to transport participants to/from SDC from the airport/Las Vegas.

Travel: Those who traveled from afar via car/airplane. Yup …. participants hailed from 12 different U.S. states.

Webinar: Resisting Drone Terror: Behind the Scenes of Creech (70 mins). Toby & Eleanor for organizing & editing the webinar featuring CREEHERS past and present. Presenters: Ann W, Garett, Toby, Eleanor and Maggie. The Faces of SDC (6 mins): Vera, Shirley, Susan., Michael, Ray, and Dave. Denise Hingle (CodePink) for her video, Scenes from Creech: Resisting Drones One Blockade at a Time. (5 mins). Ally Hermes, CodePink staff, for amazing technical support.

Workshop leaders/facilitators: Day #1 direct action workshop, Toby and Brian; Day #3 direct action workshop, Brian and Garett, Eleanor, Racism Workshop. Casey for facilitating the direct action discussion.

Workshop on Racism: Areeya, Shirley, Virginia and Sharat for sharing personal stories and knowledge about origins and current status of racism in the USA.

4. Highlights of and Recommended Changes to SDC

At the last meeting of the week, we went around the circle of participants soliciting one-sentence highlights of the week and suggested changes. The below list summarizes, as best as I could, what folks said. I tried not to interpret the offerings. I hope I did not misinterpret what each of you said. (From notetaker Eleanor)

Highlights (in order of mention)

  • The Fremont Mall action
  • The family we’d become
  • Improvements to the G-T
  • Sharat, Fred and Cynthia’s shared knowledge
  • Sense of community (2 mentions)
  • The blockades (2 mentions)
  • Sunrise fire circle and ceremony
  • After morning vigil sage smudging
  • Areeya’s morning fie circle singing
  • Eleanor’s leadership
  • Food
  • Being beside Toby when she was arrested
  • Sense of belonging
  • Use of ritual & ceremony to bind us together
  • Welcoming atmosphere
  • Blue skies and starry nights
  • New innovative actions; use of song following morning vigils
  • Welcoming spirit extended to first timers
  • Working together of VFP and CodePink to establish trust
  • Balance between the contemplative and action; being the change we want to see

Suggested Changes (in order of mention)

  • No dogs in our actions. Too distracting. Not safe.
  • More preparation for being agents of change & transformation.
  • Time for napping & resting
  • Make actions more accessible to young people (who work during the day)
  • Learn to use sacred meditation
  • How to protect gender non conforming participants in jail
  • No events after 9 PM
  • Find like-minded people in Las Vegas who might advocate for ending drone warfare at Creech in between our visits
  • Sun protection: Umbrellas. It was hot and tiring esp. during PM vigils
  • More people on the SDC organizing committee; attention to the larger campaign to end the drone program when not at SDC
  • Revisit Covid-safety rule regarding jailed arrestees not returning to Camp Justice
  • Plan and advertise Las Vegas community events two months in advance
  • If we want to grow our SDC community, we need to be more security minded
  • Include more experienced voices in our planning and actions
  • More down-time and at least one hour for recreation; too programmed
  • Bring in more locals
  • More freedom to choose actions and activities
  • Distribute responsibilities for smooth running of SDC more equitably
  • Introduce a buddy system for newcomers to SDC
  • Give more time/effort for compassionate understanding

(Although not mentioned in the circle, earlier in the week, many advocated for including everyone in direct action planning b/c everyone is affected by the actions outcomes.)

5. Suggested Readings and Films

Racism workshop participants expressed interest in several mentioned books.

– My Grandmothers Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for white People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo.

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

Economic Sanctions: Sharat recommends John Nichols, Sanctions are economic warfare, The Nation, 9 January 2020; Videos of his talks on sanctions: U.S. Sanctions: The Weaponization of the Global Financial System; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXxBg__iuBM; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3vFRUtdRJQ&t=53s

Climate change: Fred recommends…Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader’s Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis by John J. BergerProject Drawdown: The World’s Leading Resource for Climate Solutions; Climate Change (an article).

Changing the War Industry: Cynthia … become involved in changing the war industry with CodePink’s Cut the Pentagon Campaign.

Films: We ran out of time; thus, we did not show these films as planned.

– Sir! No Sir! : Documentary made by Vietnam Veterans about GI Resistance during the Vietnam War.  Free Streaming Here.  (Watch anytime.)

– National Bird: Best documentary on U.S. Drone Program; features 3 Drone Whistleblowers, incl. Daniel Hale.   (Kanopy, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Doc Club, etc.)

– Freedom Riders:Documentary about the Freedom Riders who rode the buses into the Deep South to challenge the racist Jim Crow laws. Free Streaming Here.  (Watch anytime…important lessons we can learn!

6. FOOTNOTES:

#1: VFP staffer Jules’ account of the Fremont Mall action:

“I don’t know if y’all have ever been to Fremont street in Vegas before, but oh man, it’s sensory overload on steroids.  The music was so loud in so many places.  Our plans on what our action would be, had to change rather quickly.  We had applied to get a street performance permit, which we got.  And then we had to enter a lottery to get a spot…which we didn’t get.  There were so many performers and we were not chosen.  So it had to become a mobile, guerilla style performance.  On top of that, Fremont was LOUD.  There was music pumping out of speakers at regular intervals all up and down the street.  And so much of our performance had depended on sound.


We met up with our people, about 10 or 12 all together, chose our spot, and tried to run a rehearsal.  It was a bit of a clutter fuck to start.  Even though I had explained everything as best I could, it was still not clear to everyone what our cues were.  It became quite clear to use that we should have rehearsed this BEFORE stepping out into the sensory overload of Fremont where communication became next to impossible.  But there we were.  We were attempting a flashmob where we would repeatedly freeze, shift, and freeze, but no one was getting the cues.  I felt like I was failing hard, y’all.

Eventually I started yelling, “Freeze!” as loud as I could, and it started to come together.  Repp was counting, and I would yell to freeze after a short period of movement to find a new position, and it worked.  Many of the people in the crowd stopped in their tracks.  We even had one man freeze with us.  I was so happy that it came together the way it did.  At some point in yelling for everyone to freeze, I felt this very authoritarian drill sergeant-esq character emerging.  It felt good for the character to solidify as we went on, but it also felt kind of gross to be so authoritarian.  The result was exactly what we wanted though.  After we finished freezing 10 times, to honor the 10 members of the Ahmadi family, after our last freeze we all walked away as if nothing had happened.  And then after having wandered awhile, we reconvened.  We did this 2 more times and got better each time, and closed out at a quieter spot near the street where we read poetry and our letter to the drone operators on Creech.  Throughout and between the actions we handed out LOTs of flyers and cards for G4P.

We learned SO MUCH with this action.  In the end the art was not nearly as clear as we’d wanted it to be, but I think we were effective in our mission to educate the public.  I’ve already bought a snare drum so I can learn to play it and use that as the way we move and freeze next time.  Looking forward to more actions like this one in the future.”
  (Written by Jules Vaquera, Member Coordinator, Veterans for Peace)

#2 Summary of Toby’s Unexpected Arrest & Jail Experience (prepared byToby):

After Toby had a brief and very benign interaction with Phil, the only counter-protester present at Tuesday morning’s vigil, observers witnessed Phil flagging down and simultaneously calling Las Vegas police Sgt. Matt Marlow to the scene via cell phone.  It was not known what Phil had reported to the the police officer in charge. However Sgt. Marlow soon arrived at the scene with his vehicle looking agitated and made no attempt to gather information from Toby or Bruce Comer, who were both standing with a banner nearby. Within about 1.5 min., following little communication exchange, Sgt. Marlow was giving orders to have Toby handcuffed and detained. Ultimately she was taken to the Las Vegas jail and held for an arduous 1.5 days. Interestingly, Toby was charged with “false statement to/obstructing public officer”, by the very police officer, Matt Marlow, who lied to Toby’s daughter at SDC 2017 in order to deceptively entrap her into an arrest.

Toby was kept in a small solitary cell (6×8 ft) for more than 24 hrs. with only a 4 1/2 ft length wooden bench to lie on, asked to remove her orange “rubber jail shoes” before entering the cell, thus forced to walk barefoot on the cold concrete throughout her remaining confinement. She was refused all of 3 separate requests to make a phone call and endured regular verbal harassment by most of the guards. One guard called her both “stupid” and “a c#nt” and she witnessed continuous abusive verbal treatment of other detainees by the guards throughout her stay, the worst treatment being against those with mental health problems. The only thing that helped Toby get through the oppressive jail experience is knowing that the ordeal would soon be over, unlike the 45 months that drone whistleblower Daniel Hale is currently serving for acting out of good conscience to expose U.S. drone war crimes.

Toby’s first pre-trial court appearance is November 23, 2021.

#3 Press Release SDC Fall 2021

Anti-Drone Activists Blockade Entrance of Creech AFB Base Thursday

Twenty-five activists hailing from 12 different states across the U.S. blocked the main entrance to Creech Killer Drone Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada on Thursday morning September 30. 

The blockade, consisting of two waves, stopped business as usual in the chain of extrajudicial killings of people in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and elsewhere. In forcing both military and civilian employees to wait in their vehicles for up to 30 minutes, as organizer Maggie Huntington said, “We gave them time to reflect on the consequences of the illegal US. killer drone program. 

Blockaders, included members of CodePink Women for Peace, Veterans for Peace, and Ban Killer Drones, aged 28 to 85 yearr..

In the days leading up to the blockade, the anti drone activists vigiled twice daily along the highway to and from Creech AFB. 

Vigilers displayed messages featuring the 8/29/21 U.S. drone attack in Kabul killing 10 members of the Ahmadi (including 7 young children); drone whistleblower Daniel Hale; lies told by the US government, politicians, the military, and the media about drone strikes; an appeal to active base military personnel … “Is what you signed up for”; resources for those wishing to leave the military or preparing for release; and, the effects of militarization on the environment including climate change.

Protests at Creech continue Friday as they have all week.

This fall’s convergence marks 12 years of anti-drone activism known as SHUT DOWN CREECH AFB bringing attention to and calling for an end to the illegal U.S. killer drone program.

#4  Ray hauling the Porta Potty 

Photo courtesy of Maggie Hunti
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