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It could have been any kind of gathering between friends as I sat with six others in Malachy Kilbride’s living room in Arlington, VA on the morning of May 21, 2013, drinking coffee and munching on pastries. Besides Malachy and me, we were joined by David Barrows, Max Obuszewski, Manijeh Saba, Ray McGovern, and Ted Majdosz. But there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air that morning. We have risked arrest together many times before acting in resistance to the illegal and immoral actions of our government, but today we were going to try something different.
There is a growing national movement to end the drone warfare that has been expanded during the Obama years. Even as Obama gives an inaugural speech that many thought to be inspiring and suggestive of change, reports indicate that the drone program continues to escalate. So, we must continue to do everything we can to stop the killer drones.
Seven citizen activists were arrested for calling for an end to drone warfare at Camp Williams/Volk Field in Wisconsin on Tuesday April 24. They are joining together with activists in New York, Nevada, California, Missouri, Illinois, and Maryland who are risking arrest in actions as they raise their voices to draw attention to the travesty and illegality of drone warfare.
Camp Williams/Volk Field, a training site for drone pilots, is located in rural central Wisconsin. As families in Wisconsin are struggling to make ends meet, there are plans underway to build an $8 million drone training facility at the base, using both state and federal money.
Camp Douglas, WI – Twenty-four Wisconsin citizen activists vigiled outside the gates of Camp Williams/Volk Field on Monday January 31, 2012, calling for an end to drone warfare. People were there from Milwaukee, Afton, Madison, Monona, Ontario, Mauston, and Portage. Camp Williams/Volk Field is a National Guard facility where testing and training for the RQ-7 Shadow 200 drones is conducted.
A week prior to the action, the group mailed a letter to Colonel Gary Ebben, Commander, asking for a meeting to discuss their grave and urgent concerns regarding drone warfare. The letter states in part, “The United States carried out drone attacks inside Pakistani territory during 2011 killing 609 people, and only eight could even possibly be considered to be a threat to the safety of the United States.” They did not receive a response from Colonel Ebben.
In spite of Obama’s campaign promises to close Guantanamo, and in spite of the fact that he signed an executive order to close the prison on his second day in office, Guantanamo remains open. There are still 170 men illegally detained there. Most of them are innocent of any wrong-doing and have been cleared for release by our government. Yet they have no hope of ever being charged with any crime, having a trial, and worst of all, no hope of ever being released and reunited with their loved ones. They were tortured under the Bush Administration. Though torture may not continue in the same way under the Obama Administration, being held indefinitely with no hope of ever again holding your loved ones in your arms, looking into their eyes, building a life together – that would be torture.
I left the Wisconsin Capitol today (May 25, 2011) with a heavy heart after Walker signed into law one of the most oppressive voting rights laws in the country.
However, it lifts my spirits to see that the people of Wisconsin are continuing to act in resistance and we are not going to roll over and take whatever Walker wants to give us.