Filed under: Afghanistan and Pakistan, Digital/Star War, Getting on the Way to Peacemaking, Nonviolent defence
On Thursday, April 9, the day before Good Friday, Ground the Drones vigil participants entered Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs NV with the goal of meeting with commanders and pilots. The 14 people from all over the US, crossed into the base just before rush hour singing, “When the Saints Go Marching In”.
By extending the 10 day vigil of prayer and Holy communication from the base entrance more directly to the people inside we underlined the urgent need to think again about the implications of what will be done with the unmanned Predators, dropping their deadly bombs on civilians in Afghanistan or Pakistan. All the vigil participants who entered the base were arrested. The vigil and the entering Creech AFB is a public cry to think about the implications of drone warfare today and in the future.
After the vigilers entered there was some confusion as Military Police and contracted guards shuffled about furiously to prevent the group from moving deeper into the base. Some members of the military Police who had recently returned from Iraq stood with their M-16 rifles pointed at the those who had entered. By this time the vigilers were kneeling in prayer just inside the steel gate which was slammed shut behind them. Traffic was rerouted to the commercial entrance a mile away.
The sign at the entrance of Creech AFB tells it all, Home of the United States Air Force Desert Warfare Training Center. Pilots, officers, enlisted people and civilians had passed us all week, many in shiny foreign built vehicles – some in buses. We waved and prayed for their safety especially the Marines who had come for specialized training in desert warfare before deployment. As I stood there I wanted to write a new poster to hold, Drop the Drones: Develop the People or Drones Belong In Bee Hives but I couldn’t find a thick black pen.
Overhead the more advanced version of the wily digitally controlled Predator, the MQ-9 Reaper Hunter/Killer UAV, circled every six minutes as a column of them touched down and took off in practised precision bombing. They also rehearsed techniques for camera use and intelligence gathering. In a few weeks the pilots and their staff will be directing the same type of planes still from Creech AFB in Indian Springs as those planes take off from Bagram Air Force Base forty miles north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Those Predators will deliver their Hellfire Missiles and collect information in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I will continue to wonder if their powerful cameras took pictures of me as I stood with my sign and if they did, would they have printed it out for the bulletin board to entertain themselves over coffee.
Vigil participants remained on their knees on the hard paved road for more than an hour with guns pointed towards them until Nevada State Police arrived to write citations. Before the final act of arrest of the peace warriors, a Military Policeman from the air force was ordered to read a statement formally warning the warriors now deep in prayer that they would be arrested if they did not leave immediately. I watched with others outside the main entrance to Creech as my colleagues were hauled away in Nevada State Police vehicles after a citation was written.
Eventually all 14 participants were transported to the Las Vegas City jail 45 miles away for a cold overnight stay in a cell where rich and poor, disorderly drunks, addicts, street people, prostitutes and other vagrants are stowed away. According to those arrested there were no criminal Wall Streeters or Bank executives in the Las Vegas jail. My friends were released the next morning. The final gathering of those who vigiled was blessed with a rousing Easter poem urging Jesus to come on out of the tomb!
Video of the Vigil
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