5 Arrested at Creech Resistance Week
Five Anti-Drone Activists Were Handcuffed and Arrested While Carrying Handcuffs and Attempting A Citizen’s Arrest of The Creech AFB Commander. Dozens of Protesters Ordered Military Personnel to Disperse and Halt Their Complicity in the Crimes Against Humanity Being Committed at the Southern Nevada Drone Base; during Drone Resistance Week. Since 2009 dozens of protesters/activists have been arrested at Creech Air Force Base, because it is the brain of a worldwide killer drone network, demanding that their government stop the indiscriminate killing, injury, and trauma to civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Libya caused by drones and endless wars.
Peace activists along with CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and Nevada Desert Experience converged from across the country at Creech Air Force Base, Indian Springs, Nevada, November 7 thru November 11, 2016. Peaceful protests took place twice daily during rush hour commute (Mon.-Fri., 6-8am & 3-5pm). As thousands of commute cars flood into and out Creech drone base each day to/from Las Vegas, anti-drone activists used creative street theater and large banners and visuals, to express their opposition to the illegal U.S. drone program in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.
The convergence of peace activists included a very diverse collection of people locally from Las Vegas and from 5 states totally: California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Indiana. The group included an elder leader of the Western Shoshone nation, a retired 29 year Army Colonel and State Diplomat, a muslim from Pakistan, a german immigrant with Iranian ancestry, a British immigrant, an Indian Springs Mexican immigrant, recent and older U.S. Veterans, and many others with diverse backgrounds, all gathered for a common purpose: to halt the illegal drone assassination program. The Western Shoshone elder led the group in a daily prayer circle before daybreak to prepare the group spiritually and mentally for the peace work of each day.
AM & PM Daily Themes included: Election Day Protest; A Funeral procession “Day of the Dead”; Drone Victims Alter, and an unannounced “direct action,” as well as other activities. 15 cardboard Afghan civilian men recently killed by US drones were in attendance.
On Election Day Tuesday Nov. 8, a somber funeral procession took place along the highway with protesters wearing white masks, black dress, carrying white coffins dramatizing the death and destruction that drone victims have suffered for 15 years and that will continue to suffer with the incoming presidential replacement. Activists called for military personnel to reflect and take an active role in helping to end the perpetual wars. “Today’s Election Brings No Change: Clinton And Trump means more war, war, war.”
On Thursday morning, November 10, activists blocked the main gate to Creech Air Force Base, (Indian Springs, NV) impeding early morning Air Force commute traffic. Activists called upon base personnel and Las Vegas Police present to “stand down” or assist in the arrest of Commander Col. Case Cunningham for “Crimes Against Humanity.” Creech AFB plays a central role in the US drone targeted assassination program, where the U.S. uses remotely controlled unmanned planes from the desert of Nevada to kill suspects in many countries overseas. Thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children have been killed according to independent researchers.
During the protest, as the police were giving dispersal warnings, the symbolic “International Peace Patrol,” as they called themselves, announced their own 5 min. and 3 min. warnings through a megaphone, ordering military personnel to disperse immediately and to stop being complicit in the crimes against humanity being committed at the base. Ultimately 5 activists carried a huge banner that stretched fully across the entrance road into the base that read “SHUT DOWN CREECH,” while carrying handcuffs high up in the air. They repeatedly announced, as they marched slowly toward the base boundary line, that they were obliged to arrest the commander of Creech AFB for the illegal and violent crimes at the base. Dozens of Military and Las Vegas Police were present in anticipation of the civil disobedience that was expected. As the 5 activists approached the trespassing boundary line, they held handcuffs high above their heads, crossed the police line, and were immediately arrested and taken to the Las Vegas Jail. All were released by the end of the day, though one was held many hours longer due to an unresolved previous drone protest and arrest at Creech the previous year. Those arrested included Christian Stalberg (Santa Rosa, CA), Joseba Zulaika (Reno, NV), Linda Sartor (Santa Rosa, CA), and Toby Blomé (El Cerrito, CA).
Meanwhile, other protesters carried full size cardboard figures representing some of the 15 Afghan civilian men who were killed by U.S. drone missiles on Sept. 27, 2016, while sleeping in their beds. 13 other Afghan men were injured in this tragic incident. The United Nations is investigating the incident as a potential war crime. The Afghan men had gathered together in Eastern Afghanistan to welcome a relative/friend who had just completed his lifetime sacred pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj.
On Friday, Nov. 11, due to the Veteran’s Day holiday and minimal activity expected on the base, the same activists drove the hour drive to Las Vegas, to join local activists to create a contingent in the Las Vegas Veteran’s Day Parade.
No Room For Peace at Las Vegas Veterans’s Day Parade As Veterans and Activists say: “Drone Pilots: Refuse to Fly”
A Veterans For Peace contingent was forcibly ejected from the Veterans Day Parade in Las Vegas after carrying messages of peace on large banners and signs at the very end of the procession. Four U.S. veterans, with other peace activists from CODEPINK and Nevada Desert Experience, marched in the parade for more than half of it’s planned route without any confrontation, and received many gestures of support from parade viewers. Suddenly organizers from the parade appeared and said they were revoking the permit and requested the pro-peace veterans and supporters to leave. Soon afterwards, a team of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police appeared, cordoned off the Veterans For Peace contingent and forcibly removed it from the parade. The peace activists tried to negotiate with the police, informing them that they had applied for and received a permit to participate in the parade, but police were unwilling to discuss the matter and forced the peace activists off the street, allowing them only to precede on the sidewalk amongnst the crowded spectators.
“We are shocked and saddened at the unprofessional behavior of both the parade organizers and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police toward the nonviolent Veterans for Peace contingent. We had a permit that was unjustly revoked midway through the march, clearly communicating to all that there is no room for Peace at the Las Vegas Veterans Day Parade,” said veteran Don Kimball, who had obtained the permit to participate in the parade.
Young Cub Scouts, who had been walking adjacent to the Veterans for Peace Contingent, were visibly shaken, with tears streaming from their eyes, observing the veterans being forcibly removed from the parade. After moving aside to the sidewalk, one bystander approached two activists holding a banner that said “PLEASE STOP MILITARIZING OUR EARTH,” and forcibly tore the banner into several pieces.
The peace activists had joined the parade to answer the call of National Veterans for Peace to hold nationwide actions on Veterans Day to “Reclaim Armistice Day,” the forerunner of Veterans Day. Armistice Day was established after the Great War (WWI) to acknowledge the peace agreement made between nations that called for the cessation of hostilities, and to honor the the war dead. The U.S. later converted Armistice Day to honor all veterans, living and dead, and, according to Toby Blomé, “has turned it into a parade that glorifies militarism and is used as a tool to recruit young people into the U.S. military. The vast majority of the contingents in the parade were uniformed, often militaristic organizations, such as ROTC, that attract youth into joining U.S. military service.”
CODEPINK, VFP, and Nevada Desert Experience activists gather at Creech AFB to interrupt illegal targeted killing activites and to give voice to drone victims’ pain and suffering. and to urge drone pilots to stand down. Contrary to public perceptions, all independent research supports that most victims of drone strikes are innocent civilians. They are mothers, fathers, and children; Grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters and brothers. For example, on September 28, 15 civilian men were killed by a U.S. drone attack while they were sleeping in their beds in eastern Afghanistan; 13 others were injured. Officials initially claimed that they were militants, however, evidence supports that they were gathered to honor a man who had returned from hadj, the sacred religious pilgrimage to Mecca. The United Nations is currently investigating this incident as a potential war crime. In May, Mohammad Azam, a poor taxi driver in Pakistan was killed by a U.S. drone strike while transporting a high level Taliban leader, who was traveling under an alias. President Obama publicly praised the “successful” killing of the U.S. target, without mention of the taxi driver who was sacrificed, the sole supporter of 4 young children, his wife and disabled brother.
Activitists gather at Creech AFB to urge drone pilots to stand down and to urge drone operators to vote with their conscience and REFUSE TO FLY.
In this election year, those “Living Under U.S. Drones” will not be able to vote against them. Nor can they vote against politicians who support drone strikes or the bloated military budgets that fund them. They cannot be at Creech AFB to ask the base commander to cease drone operations or to plead with drone operators to cease flying killer drones. But what organizers of this event do know: It doesn’t matter which of the leading presidential candidates wins this year’s election, because the very brutal U.S. drone killing program will continue in full force. It is up to citizens to stop these very immoral and wrongful policies.
Drone operators are also victims. Sitting in isolation, at air bases such as Creech, drone operators are tasked with identifying targets and killing remotely. The toll on drone operators is huge, including high PTSD and suicide rates. The military has much difficulty retaining and recruiting operators. But drone operators are beginning to speak out.
In November 2015, four Air Force drone veterans, three of whom were drone operators based at Creech, wrote a public letter to President Obama, “We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”
The US drone program is rapidly proliferating as air bases are being converted to drone bases across the U.S. and abroad, but Creech remains the primary armed drone base in the U.S. “Creech is where the killer drone program started — it is where we shall end it.”
Participant-leaders of this week’s action are available by phone for pre-event interviews and will be available for on-location and remote interviews during the week of the mobilization. Interviews can be arranged by contacting us.
Interviews of Arrestees Available Upon Request:
Joseba Zulaika, (Reno, NV), Professor of Anthropology and Basque Cultural Studies at University of Nevada, Reno. Author of several books, including Terrorism: The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy, and currently working on a book about drone warfare and the resistance against it.
Toby Blomé, (SF Bay Area, CA) CODEPINK, Women for Peace, Activist and anti-drone organizer, retired physical therapist and former teacher; Traveled to Pakistan in 2012 on a CODEPINK Peace Delegation to Pakistan and met directly with family members of US drone victims. Organizes ongoing protests at drone bases in Nevada and California.
Christian Stalberg, (Santa Rosa, CA), Co-founder of Blackwater Watch, Co-founder of EcoNet and Advisory Board Member of Sonoma County Peace & Justice Center; Has participated in multiple international initiatives, including Partners of the Americas, International Informatics Access, and Bay Area Cuba Community Alliance.
Linda Sartor, (Santa Rosa, CA), author of Turning Fear Into Power: One Woman’s Journey Confronting the War on Terror, a book describing her experiences in six war-torn places serving in roles of Citizen Diplomat and Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeper during the ten years following 9/11.
Michael Kerr, (Bay Point, CA), Veterans for Peace, Longtime peace activist and US. veteran. Has participated in ongoing protests at Creech AFB, NV and Beale AFB (Marysville, CA) for many years, to oppose and end drone warfare.
Christian Stalberg, SONOMA COUNTY PEACE & JUSTICE CENTER, 415-942-3487, firstname.lastname@example.org
Toby Blomé, CODEPINK, 510-541-6874, email@example.com
Joseba Zulaika, Author and Anthropology Professor at University of Nevada, Reno, 775-420-6491
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