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REPORT BACK: October 26, Tuesday:  Occupy Beale Drone Base, Marysville, CA

DEMANDING JUSTICE FOR THE AHMADI FAMILY & DANIEL HALE!
CODEPINK, BAN KILLER DRONES & VETERANS FOR PEACE
by Toby Blomé,      October 27, 2021 PM Vigil, Doolittle Gate, Beale Drone AFB;  Home of the Global Hawk Drone…that surveils, targets and assists with U.S. Killer Drone Machine
Photo:  Sharat Lin
We had a hugely successful day.  The evening before, Susan, Sharat and I prepared, painted and cut the life-sized cardboard figures representing the victims of the Ahmadi Family U.S. drone massacre that took place in Kabul on August 29, 2021. To all of us, it felt like a ritualistic activity, honoring their sacred lives. A quiet and mournful tone carried into the next day’s action at Beale Drone Base.  Just holding one of those little cardboard “children”, with their name and age labeled, brought an inner sadness. Young lives lost at such young ages due to the unnecessary and completely reckless practices of the covert U.S. drone program. INEXCUSABLE!
 AM Action – WHEATLAND GATE (Morning commute)
Arriving in the dark of the morning to “greet” the early base commuters, we brought out the most visible banners first.  When daylight broke, we began to display the cardboard Ahmadi figures.  Though we only had 5 people to display 10 figures and a couple of banners, VFP friend, Michael Kerr, solved the problem by bringing “A-frame” stands to help.  THANKS MICHAEL!!  
Soon after daybreak we walked down the road that leads to the gate to have a peaceful BLOCKADE! (2 min video) Fred Bialy walked along the line of cars, handing out the OPEN LETTER TO COL. HEATHER FOX, the base commander.  A few accepted; Fred then carried one of the small Ahmadi figures representing a young child victim in his arms along the line of blocked cars, hoping to awaken some hearts.
 
Traffic was stalled for about 30 min., and then we agreed to let some of the traffic thru, so they could read our banners, and “witness” the memorial for the Ahmadi victims lined up in silhouette along the roadway. We then returned to blocking the road (20 sec. video) for about another 15 min. or so.  By that time the military police assisted our blockade by closing the barbed wire topped gates for us!  Significant Shut Down:  Victory! We then crossed the white boundary line onto the base, and walked with a banner and some of the Ahmadi child figures to the now closed gate.  By that time the editor/reporter from Marysville Appeal Democrat arrived to cover the event. We read our press statement to the military security and the media simultaneously, which included a list of our BAN KILLER DRONES demands seeking reparations (minimal $3 million per victim) for the Ahmadi family.  Thanks to Eleanor Levine for composing the statement:

Ultimately, through the closed gate, the military read the “riot act,” threatening arrest if we didn’t leave base property.  Toby completed reading the statement through the megaphone, while slowly walking backwards, to join the others already across the base property line.

Before leaving our am vigil/blockade, Toby remembered that the OPEN LETTER TO BEALE COMMANDER hadn’t been delivered to Beale personnel to give to the Col. Heather Fox.  Toby went back on base property, walked up to the closed gate and handed the letter to a uniformed man who claimed to be “in charge.”  Luckily Toby wasn’t arrested and more importantly, we were told the letter would be delivered to the commander.  Before leaving, Toby asked the other 6-7 military personnel present on the other side of the fenced gate if they would like to have a copy of the letter to read.  Surprisingly, a young black woman in uniform had the courage, in front of her peers to accept the letter.  And that does take courage, especially being young, black and female, in such an oppressive, undemocratic and authoritative environment!
PM Action – DOOLITTLE GATE  (Afternoon commute)
The location/gate of our pm action wasn’t made public. (Last month, when our vigil WAS advertised at the Doolittle gate, exiting traffic was already being diverted to another gate BEFORE we arrived, and we had to drive to the Schneider gate, which itself had very low traffic.  I don’t think they like us there. Curiously, at about 1:00pm we got a long string of crazy and very suspicious phone calls that we figured was most likely Beale security personnel trying to “prepare” for us.  When we asked questions to assess the “validity” of each call, the answers were so bizarre, we decided not to reveal our plans.  
 
This time, when we arrived at the Doolittle gate we were pleased to find a steady flow of traffic that continued throughout our vigil. Michael and Fred did a great job setting up the impactful visuals (see photo above), and Sharat & Susan stood closer to the traffic coming out of the base with banner and 2 Ahmadi child figures.
Toby stood in the un-raised “divider” or “gore,” near the stop sign, close to where military folks pull out onto the highway to return home.  While holding “Malika, Age 3”  Toby spent most of the vigil offering the leaflets (“Open Letter to Beale Commander”) to drivers waiting to merge onto the highway. Two military security personnel hovered near Toby much of the time, making attempts to dissuade her from standing at the prime advantageous spot for leafletting. Surprisingly, many of the uniformed personnel seemed, nonetheless, eager to get a flyer. There appeared to be a “sea change” from past vigils, possibly showing signs of a small but hopeful change in group mentality.  With persistence, Toby was able to get about 15 leaflets passed out. Eventually a CHP officer arrived, made repeated attempts to order Toby away from her prime spot, and eventually threatening to write a citation.  There continues to be great inconsistency by CHP officers in terms of responses to “free speech” rights in the gore. 
Military drones should NEVER have been developed, they make the world less safe for everyone, and since our government won’t listen to it’s citizens with a conscience, the only tool of resistance we have left to seek justice is BLOCKADING!…
It Isn’t Nice. (Judy Collins)…..but it’s FREEDOM’S PRICE! Or, more accurately, JUSTICE’S PRICE.
Lots of effort is being made to engage with military and law enforcement in many different ways, including through informal conversation when able, and we do feel like it is paying off….beinging the change we want to see in the world.
Big Thanks to Sharat & Fred for the great photos and to Fred and Michael for the great videos
Press Conference Statement attached below  (Adapted from Eleanor Levine’s)
MEDIA COVERAGE:
-The Appeal-Democrat published An excellent story online and in print on Wednesday;   Here it is in full.
      –KPFA Evening News  (Tuesday Interview/story with kpfa at 42:18)
      –Yahoo News
WE WILL BE BACK!
Susan, Sharat, Fred, Michael, Jeffrey and Toby
 
Please post and share this video!
Recent U.S. Drone Victims:  Ahmadi Children
“Terrorists”????
 
***********************************
URGENT NEWS ADVISORY
for October 26, 2021
Contact:  Toby Blomé, 510.501.5412;  toby4peace@sonic.net  Susan Witka, 415.751.4448
BanKillerDrones.org  https://bankillerdrones.org/ 


CITIZENS to BLOCKADE BEALE DRONE BASE, DEMAND 
$30 MILLION in REPARATIONS for RECENT U.S. DRONE 
ATTACK THAT KILLED 7 YOUNG CHILDREN, 3 ADULTS
 

Life Sized Cardboard Figures of Ahmadi Family will Memorialize Drone Victims; Letter to Commander Heather Fox Demands Accountability and Immediate Halt to All U.S. Drone Attacks

WHEN:  Tuesday, October 26, BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, during commute hours.
    6:00 – 8:00 am,  Corner of Wheatland Gate, South Beale Rd. and Ostrom Rd., near Wheatland. 
    8:00 am:  PRESS CONFERENCE at Wheatland Gate.
    3:00 – 5:00 pm,  At a second Beale Entrance Gate to be announced midday on Tuesday.  (call for details).  To include PRESS CONFERENCE at 3:00 pm at designated gate TBD.

MARYSVILLE/BEALE AFB, CA – Northern California activists with Ban Killer Drones, CODEPINK, and Veterans For Peace will converge TUESDAY at Beale Air Force Base, a U.S. Drone Base in Marysville, California to oppose the U.S. Drone Assassination Program, with specific demands, including reparations to victims and an immediate ban on all militarized drones. 

The action is part of a nationwide CALL TO ACTION this month by the national network, Ban Killer Drones, collaborating to seek justice for the Ahmadi family who lost 10 members in a reckless U.S. Drone Attack on August 29, 2021.  

Though the military initially claimed an ISIS affiliate/potential suicide bomber was killed, independent journalism later revealed that ALL 10 victims were civilians, including 7 young children, 3 of them just toddlers.

On Tuesday morning at Beale, activists will also deliver a letter to the Beale Commander, Col. Heather Fox, urging her to assist them in seeking reparations for the Ahmadi family, and other goals expressed in the demands outlined by the Ban Killer Drones network (attached). 

Copies of the letter to the commander will be available for all media at 2 separate press conferences and will additionally be distributed to personnel entering and exiting the base during the day. 

Daniel Hale, a former intelligence analyst turned drone whistleblower, leaked military documents to The Intercept, published as The Drone Papers in 2015, that exposed shockingly high rates of civilian casualties in U.S. drone strikes:  At times, 9 of 10 drone victims are NOT the intended target. Daniel is currently serving a 45 month sentence at a maximum security prison in Marion, IL, for acting out of conscience to expose these drone war crimes to the public. https://standwithdanielhale.org/

Hale declared in the 2015 drone documentary, National Bird:  “[What drones] …really do is they just embolden commanders, they embolden decision-makers, because there is no threat, there is no immediate consequence…”

Toby Blomé, organizer for Tuesday’s Beale AFB action said, “U.S. officials and military leaders exhibit total disregard for the value of human lives in the countries targeted under the so-called War on Terror. Over and over again, innocent lives are being carelessly sacrificed in drone strikes, in order for the U.S. to continue its ‘counter-terrorism campaign.’” 

“The Ahmadi family drone massacre that occurred in Kabul last month is not an example of accidental mis-judgement. It is an example of an ongoing criminal pattern of abuse whereby the U.S. assumes the right to kill a person on suspicion alone, just in case that person may be a threat, while also sacrificing everyone else who happens to be in the area.” Blomé added, “Clearly the U.S. drone program is an illegal and failing program that only creates more enemies.”  

U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said it succinctly and eloquently: “We can’t drone ourselves out of terrorism.”   

[BACKGROUND] Beale AFB is part of the U.S. covert targeted drone assassination program. The Global Hawk Drone at Beale is used to identify and surveil potential targets in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and other countries to assist in remote control assassination efforts, working collaboratively with the CIA and personnel at bases, like Creech AFB in Nevada that control the armed drones. 


Formal Ban Killer Drones Demands:

1.    An official apology by President Biden, as commander in chief of the U.S. military, to the Ahmadi family for the deaths of their family members. 
 
2.    $3 million (minimum) compensation payment for each of the 10 Ahmadi family members. Photos of Victims. (This is comparable to the nearly $3 million paid to the family of an Italian prisoner, Giovanni Lo Porto, that was mistakenly killed by the CIA in 2015 during a U.S. drone attack on an al Qaeda compound in Pakistan.) 

3.    An immediate report from the Department of Defense on who in the chain of command was responsible for the drone attack on the Ahmadis. This includes the release of all communications and logs related to the attack from the White House down to the operator who pressed the button to launch the attack, and a report on whether and what charges are to be brought against those responsible for the killings.
 
4.    That the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress:
1) investigate all U.S. drone attacks since 2001 pursuant to identifying all civilian and non-combatant victims; 2) oversee the disbursement of reparations to their families; 3) receive petitions and claims of victims of U.S. drone attacks and take actions as required to satisfy these petitions and claims; 4) seek the appropriation of sufficient funds to compensate families of non-combatant drone attack victims at the level of $3 million for each victim; and 5) provide compensation to communities that have suffered U.S. drone attacks.
5.    An immediate halt to all U.S. drone attacks and an end to U.S. plans and taxpayer support for weaponizing drones of all types.

An additional demand included in the letter to the commander: An immediate Pardon of Daniel Hale. FREE DANIEL HALE! “Prosecute the drone criminals not the drone whistleblowers” will be the chant for the day at Beale.

-END-

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CodePink is a women's grassroots-initiated, worldwide organization of women and men working for peace, social justice and a green economy. CodePink SF serves the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.


 

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The national CodePink organization organizes for justice for Iraqis and to hold war criminals accountable. CodePink actively opposes the U.S. war in Afghanistan, torture, the detention center at Guantanamo, weaponized and spy drones, the prosecution of whistleblowers, U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and repressive regimes.

Rooted in a network of local organizers, CodePink's tactics include satire, street theatre, creative visuals, civil resistance, and directly challenging powerful decision-makers in government and corporations. And, of course, wearing pink!