5 Anti-drone Activists Arrested April 19, including 3 Veterans,
while Blockading the Main Gate to Holloman Air Force Base
Co-sponsored by CODEPINK, Veterans For Peace and Ban Killer Drones
THE EVENT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS!
Nearly 4 dozen activists participated in some or all of the first ever week-long anti-drone peace convergence at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico, where over 700 drone pilots and operators graduate every year. Over half of the participants were from New Mexico, and others traveled from 8 states, including, Minetaka Shimada, a journalist based in Maryland, who covered our story for a Japan-based newspaper, and a dozen or so young students from NMSU, Las Cruces and Albuquerque, who participated in the April 22, Saturday Earth Day rally in Alamogordo, co-sponsored and led by ANSWER/PSL, New Mexico!
Daily varying themed vigils helped to educate and raise consciousness about weaponized drones and our out of control military industrial complex that wreaks havoc on the environment, the climate and terrorizes global communities.
The week culminated in a nonviolent direct action to Shut Down Drone Warfare at Holloman:
A peaceful blockade of the main gate to Holloman AFB, the largest drone training base in the country. 5 peaceful and determined activists and a handful of supporters, with signs and banners, forced law enforcement to redirect traffic to the alternative west gate Ultimately, Ken Mayers (NM), Elliott Adams (NY), Michael Kerr (CA), Richard Bishop (MT), and Toby Blomé (CA) were arrested; the first three being U.S. veterans and members of Veterans For Peace.
Of note: Because it was our first-ever anti-drone demo at Holloman, there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty and concern about what the consequences of risking arrest would be, which led to some activists being hesitant to participate fully in the blockade, in light of southern New Mexico’s reputation of conservatism and far right alignment. What surprised many of us was the professionalism and respect that all of the Otero County sheriff officers exhibited throughout the arrest and processing phases. Ultimately all arrestees got to bypass jail, and were taken to the Magistrate Court house within a few hours. All arrestees pleaded not guilty, and plan to take drone warfare to trial. As Michael Kerr said to the judge during his arraignment: “We weren’t blocking the roadway, we were blocking the [illegal] U.S. drone warfare program.”
Our trial date was set for May 15, but we will motion for a continuance (postponement), and a request for a joint trial before a jury (our legal right in New Mexico), and all defendants plan to represent themselves pro se.
There are so many success stories to tell. A longer report coming soon.
For now here are just a few highlights of the successes:
- Successful blockade of main gate at Holloman AFB to blockade the US drone terror program
- Superb Nonviolence Training Workshops led by VFP activist, Elliott Adams
- Professional and respectful Otero County Sheriff officers throughout the week!
- These 2 commercial ads ran locally and throughout NM during our week of action: https://youtu.be/VEnXCOY-hso https://youtu.be/4ca-j39wBjI
- Meaningful local coverage in the Alamogordo Daily News.
- Excellent panel, April 20, that included: Bernice Gutierrez, local activist and downwinder victim from the 1st U.S. Atomic Weapon test, at Trinity, NM (1945), Damascio Lopez, victim of Depleted Uranium Testing and decades long advocate for a global ban on depleted uranium weapons, and Nick Mottern, co-founder of BanKillerDrones.org
- Awesome music from Emma’s Revolution at Camp Justice AND at the panel evening. You rock Pat Humphries and Sandy O.
- Wonderful new connections made with local residents.
- Our creative vigils and messaging keeps getting more creative, effective and impactful.
- Many honks from trucks of all sizes during our vigils. Who says truck drivers are conservative?
- Camp Justice: our beautiful group campsite that provided a place for respite, recuperation, team bonding and rejuvenation that included daily morning yoga led by Sharat Lin!
- Delicious and Nutritious meals provided by our Cooking Team: Virginia Hauflaire and Jane Kroesen.
- Most importantly, we had an amazing group of activists that participated enthusiastically in our week of action…devoted, hard working and committed: Yes, and most want to come back!
So much more to report on, but for now, huge gratitude to all those who contributed in large and small ways. This was a team effort, and we couldn’t have done it so well without each one of you!
Scroll down for press release, and invitation to our SF Bay Area fundraiser, May 18! Wanting to pay a visit to the SF area? Come in May, and celebrate with us and help support this expanding anti-drone campaign. And special thanks to all those who supported us monetarily before our event, so we could afford to do this. It made a huge difference!
Shut Down Drone Warfare Team,
Virginia, Ken, Denise, Charles, Toby, Greg and Edwina
VERY URGENT NEWS ADVISOR
WEDNESDAY, April 19, 2023, 11:22 a.m.
Contacts throughout week:
Ken Mayers, Veterans For Peace (Major USMCR, Ret’d), (505) 577-1975,
Toby Blomé, CODEPINK, Women for Peace, 510-501-5412,
Contacts on Day of Nonviolent Resistance,Wed, April 19:
Edwina Vogan, CODEPINK, 480-620-5323,
Charles Powell, Veterans For Peace 505-271-9274,
For a daily schedule of events, please view on the website. www.ShutDownDroneWarfare.org
5 Anti-Drone Warfare Activists – Including 3 Veterans – Arrested
Wednesday Morning at Main Gates of Holloman AFB Drone
Training Center Near Alamogordo
HOLLOMAN AFB, NM (Wednesday, April 19) – Five anti-drone warfare activists – including three military veterans – were arrested here about shortly after dawn Wednesday morning for allegedly blocking the entrance to the main gates of Holloman AFB, the largest U.S. killer drone training program in the U.S. (700 killer drone pilots/operators graduate annually).
Photos and video available here:
Toby Blomé, Ken Mayers, Elliot Adams, Michael Kerr and Richard Bishop were arrested by Otero County, NM deputies, and charged with misdemeanor obstruction of a roadway. A trial was set for May 15 in Otero County, NM.
The national coalition of groups Shut Down Drone Warfare (SDDW) has been holding peaceful pickets at the drone training center at Holloman AFB since last Saturday, and through Sunday April 22.
The WEDNESDAY action was a non-violent Day of Resistance and peaceful civil disobedience: “YOU DO NOT HAVE OUR CONSENT,” modeled on the words of Martin Luther King Jr., these acts of nonviolent direct action serve to “create and foster such a tension” as to demand a response. He wrote “nonviolent resistance was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their quest for social justice.”
At another Wednesday protest at 3:30 p.m., the theme will be GI Support/ Resistance and DOVES NOT DRONES
In addition to a focus on Air Force personnel at Holloman, members will reach out to the local community of Alamogordo with several educational public events, including,
Thursday Evening Panel April 20, 7:30 pm, Patron’s Hall, Flickinger Center for the Performing Arts, 1110 New York Ave with music & singing by Emma’s Revolution Uranium, A-Bombs & Holloman’s Drones: New Mexico’s Legacy of Militarization & Exploitation.
REMAINING ACTIONS THIS WEEK,
THURSDAY – 6:30 AM: WAR IS NOT GREEN and CREATURES FOR THE PLANET. Dress in Animal Costumes! (Militarism and Its Impact on the Environment & Climate);
THURS- 3:30 PM: WAR IS A LIE, “Burma Shave” signs: Presidents Lie, Congress Lies, CIA Lies, Recruiters Lie, Question Authority….RESIST!
FRIDAY- 6:30 AM: FLY A KITE, NOT A DRONE – Colorful and creative theme with kites, etc. to model and cultivate peace. (No pm vigil on Friday planned)
SATURDAY – NOON, Earth Day Action in Alamogordo: Shut Down Drone Warfare will be collaborating with Answer Coalition, New Mexico in a rally at Alameda Park, White Sands Blvd., Alamogordo. Theme: END DRONE WARFARE
Participants hope to educate Air Force personnel about the full effects of the worldwide drone program and to urge those training to reconsider their participation, which can lead to severe psychic trauma and moral injury.
“In spite of 14 years of persistent opposition to the U.S. drone program and the terror it brings to vulnerable communities, the Pentagon and the drone industry profiteers are plowing forward, creating an ever more destabilized world of weaponized drones,” said coalition organizer, Toby Blomé.
Blomé added, “We will not be silent while young recruits continue to be trained in these heinous acts of remotely controlled violence, ultimately becoming victims themselves due to the consequences of moral injury. This is not the world we want for our grandchildren, nor for the generations that follow them.”
“With the rise of drone use in the war in Ukraine and the recent announcement by North Korea of a test with an underwater drone that can carry a nuclear warhead we are concerned that this ever expanding use of drones threatens us all,” says SDDW organizer Edwina Vogan.
Vogan added, “The downing of the US MQ-9 drone flying near Crimea by Russian fighter jets exemplifies this potential risk for serious escalation. In today’s volatile political climate, the heightened potential for misinterpretation and error when these weapons violate sovereign air space puts us at much greater risk for nuclear confrontation and annihilation.”
The organizers believe peace is not achieved through preparing for war, but rather by preparing for peace.
Special Fundraiser Concert for CODEPINK:
Emma’s Revolution & Betsy Rose
Thursday, May 18, 7:00 PM
$25 sliding scale donation
No one turned away for lack of funds.
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists
1924 Cedar St. Berkeley
Time to Party for Peace!
Last week, CODEPINK and Veterans For Peace collaborated in a beautiful week-long convergence for peace at Holloman AFB in southern New Mexico, standing mighty strong against the horrendous expansion of the US assassin drone program that terrorizes communities around the globe. Shockingly, Holloman graduates 700+ young men and women annually to become proficient in remotely controlled killing by Reaper drones. The week of resistance was a huge success!
These wonderful local musicians, Betsy Rose and Emma’s Revolution, are generously collaborating to bring joy in our lives while also helping us to recoup our expenses from the extraordinary week of peacemaking in the southern New Mexico desert. So many exciting stories to tell: A very brief report back with slides/video will be shown mid-way through the evening.
Most importantly, we’re going to have a grand ol’ time swinging and singing to the uplifting music of these exceptional local artists. Please help spread the word, and bring friends. This is a night not to be missed!
We will also make a toast to 14 years of drone resistance work at drone bases around the country and Celebrate CODEPINK’s 20 Years of awesome activism! More details to come.