|Outside the Wheatland gate at Beale AFB this morning|
Seven of the 11 activists who gathered at the Wheatland gate
of Beale AFB, California around 6:00 am this morning were arrested for
protesting the Global Hawk drone mission of the base.
At 7:15 the group was handcuffed and taken inside the base for processing
where we were each cited for trespassing on a federal installation and released
about 90 minutes later. Just prior to
being arrested the seven of us blocked a long line of morning incoming traffic
for about 20 minutes before crossing over the white line onto base property.
|The Global Hawk surveillance drone is flown out of Beale |
Just before stepping over the white line our group spread out and held hands directly facing the large squad of military police
who stiffly stood at the ready holding plastic handcuffs.
One of the women in our group spoke to the MP’s telling them that
we were working for peace so that they too would have a safe and peaceful
After she finished I told the
solemn looking MP’s to keep open hearts during their time in the military.
I then went on to share with them my own
story of having lived on Beale AFB from 1969-71 where my dad was
I told them how I joined the
Air Force myself in 1971 after having graduated from nearby Wheatland High
School in 1970.
I shared my experience
being stationed at Travis AFB (about 80 miles south of Beale) that was an
airlift base for the war in Vietnam.
was there, I said, that the anti-war protests outside and inside the base
transformed me from a hard-line right-winger into the peace activist that I am
The protest actually began yesterday at Beale when at 3:00
pm about a dozen activists from several northern California communities held
vigil at two base gates for two-hours as military personnel were released from
work. Three of us were at the Doolittle
gate where we stood with banners as several U-2 spy planes practiced ‘touch and
go’ landings just over our heads. From
where we stood we could clearly see the PAVE PAWS early-warning radar facility
(recently upgraded for participation in the Pentagon’s ‘missile defense’
program). Regular monthly protests have
been happening at Beale for the past five years. Over 130 people have been arrested for non-violent civil
resistance at the base during that time.
|The U-2 spy plane was overhead while we vigiled yesterday at the base|
|The PAVE PAWS early warning radar at Beale was in plain site as we protested. The radar has been upgraded for participation in the 'missile defense' program which plays a key role in the Pentagon's first-strike attack planning. Just below note Beale's prominent role in this military graphic illustrating a 'missile defense' test. |
Following Monday’s afternoon protest the dozen of us gathered
in a clearing near the Beale main gate where we held a potluck supper by
I was asked to speak about
the work of the Global Network and Beale’s role in connection to space warfare
I was also asked to share
what I know about the US’s Ramstein AFB in Germany that is the global operation
center for the Pentagon’s drone warfare program that has killed thousands of
All drone surveillance
and targeting is run through Ramstein using military satellites and fiber optic
cables to relay data from drones flying over the Middle East and Africa to the
drone pilots sitting at consoles back in the US.
Fearing that growing resistance to German complicity with the US
drone killing program will force the closure of the Ramstein operation, the US
has recently created a back-up drone operations center in Sigonella, Sicily.
As my hosts Toby and Fred from the San Francisco Bay Area were driving us
back to their home in El Cerrito they kindly stopped in Wheatland so that I
could take a brief walk through the grounds of my old high school. Surprisingly
the school had not changed much at all during these many years since I had
graduated. It was quite an emotional
moment for me to walk by my old classrooms, the gym where I left much sweat on
the floor playing basketball, the baseball field, the cafeteria, and the football field where I
remember running 100-yard wind sprints with full gear on.
I have been following the determined protests at Beale during
the past five years and had hoped to be able to participate with them at some point. It was a great thrill and honor to join
hands this morning with these dedicated peace workers. I will always cherish these last two days at
Beale. Keep going dear friends.