My name is Brian Terrell. I’m co-coordinator of a group called Voices for Creative Nonviolence. We support the petition to ban drones organized by RootsAction. On November 30th I report for six months in a federal prison in Yankton, S.D., as a result of protesting drones.
The appearance of war being made easy by drones is resulting in more war. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and in places we don’t know about, in places where we are not at war, we’re sending these unmanned pilotless airplanes into foreign air space to hunt down people who’ve been accused of crimes only in the private court of the administration. They’re hunted down and killed along with anybody who might be in the immediate vicinity.
Drones are creating new wars rather than scaling down old ones. Drone pilots in Afghanistan have been targeted and killed. Drone pilots in the United States suffer PTSD at higher rates than real pilots.
Drone victims are 98% innocent civilians according to the recent Stanford/NYU study. The other 2% are targeted victims of murder without charge, trial, due process, or in many cases even knowing the target’s name.
Drones buzzing over houses traumatize children before they kill them. That those children are (in most cases) not American hardly diminishes the immorality.
Drones are rapidly being developed and deployed by other nations. Would you support the equal right of other nations to kill with drones in this country? And if not, why not? And how can that thinking not apply to U.S. policy as well?
Back on April 15th, about 40 people, mostly from the Kansas City area, went to Whiteman Air Force Base and held a short rally outside the gates on a public right of way. We had a petition — an indictment we called it — that listed the laws that drones are violating and the damage they are doing. We took that to the gate and were stopped. Three of us asked directions to deliver the petition and were immediately put in handcuffs. About 40 military police in full riot gear appeared (video) and did a choreographed dance including high kicks and grunts and beating their shields, two steps forward and one step back, to get rid of the rest of the U.S. citizens, who were acting legally under the First Amendment.
At my sentencing I told the judge:
“Each of the government’s witnesses, all of them Air Force police personnel, testified that participants in this protest were nonviolent, respectful and peaceable in assembling at Whiteman Air Force Base, a government installation, to petition that government for redress of a grievance, demanding that the remote control killing carried out daily from Whiteman cease. They testified that at no time, before or during our protest, did they perceive us as a threat.
“Our expert witnesses testified that our behavior was consistent with the activities that the drafters of the First Amendment intended to be protected, not persecuted, by the government. The order and security of the base would not have been compromised had the security police allowed us to proceed to the headquarters to deliver our petition. No testimony to the contrary was offered this court.
“Instead of planning to accommodate a constitutionally protected peaceable assembly, however, the Air Force chose intimidation and conspired to deprive us of the rights they are sworn to protect. We learned from government witnesses that the phalanx of goose-stepping riot police is a ‘Confrontation Management Team,’ deployed only in the case of preannounced events. Whiteman security did not call out the Team to defend the base but to intimidate citizens engaged in lawful activities.”
–Brian Terrell for RootsAction.org