INDIAN SPRINGS — Metro police arrested Father Louis Vitale and 33 others for trespassing and blocking a road at Creech Air Force Base, where nearly 150 peace activists had gathered early Friday to protest U.S. drone operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Overseas operations involving unmanned Predator and Reaper aircraft are controlled remotely via satellite links at the base, 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas, by pilots and sensor operators who sit at computer consoles.
The protesters, who had camped out this week across from the base to prepare for civil disobedience actions, blame U.S. drones for killing innocent civilians in attempts by the Air Force and CIA to curb overseas terrorist attacks with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and bombs, in the case of Reapers, fired from drones.
“Shut down Creech!” the throng chanted after Las Vegas police gave a five-minute warning for the crowd to disperse at 7:20 a.m.
“This is an outrage to God and the universe,” Vitale, a Franciscan priest from Oakland, Calif., said as he knelt on a white line on an entrance road.
“Here we are reaching out thousands of miles away and killing people. It’s a horrible thing,” he said as police approached to apprehend him. “I have talked to people here that work on the drones … scared to death and say, ‘I love the Air Force but can’t stand what I do.’ ”
The protest was nonviolent, and no one was injured.
Creech officials provided a reaction to a Review-Journal query early in the week that quotes the 432nd Wing commander, Col. Jim Cluff.
“We respect the members’ rights to protest peacefully, and as we’ve done in the past,” he said. “We are working closely with civilian law enforcement to ensure safety of those entering and exiting the base, as well as the safety of those protesting off base.”
In all, 34 men, women and two juveniles were arrested in four waves of civil disobedience actions near base entrances. They were cited and released on state misdemeanor charges of trespassing or pedestrian in the roadway. One person was arrested on an outstanding warrant, according to Las Vegas police.
The protest was organized by contingents of peace and faith-based activists, including those from the Nevada Desert Experience, Veterans for Peace and Code Pink: Women for Peace.
A Vietnam War Navy veteran, Phil Frank, of Indian Springs, protested the protesters.
“I consider myself an American patriot,” he said, standing by a sign that reads “RPA’s (remotely piloted aircraft) Protect Freedom. God Bless Our Troops.”
“I believe our military has our country’s best interest at mind, and this program is helping to keep our families safe, our country safe. That’s what it amounts to,” Frank said as protesters walked from their makeshift Camp Justice across U.S. Highway 95 to a Creech base access road.
Nick Mottern, who produced and funded a 15-second TV spot that urges drone operators to refuse to fly them on military missions, responded to an email asking what is the solution to stopping terrorist acts that kill innocent people.
“Americans have been led to believe in the fantasy that drones are special weapons that can stop “terrorism,” he wrote. “But the solution to ‘terrorism’ is obviously not for the United States to do more killing. The answer must begin with the United States stopping its part in the cycle of killing in the Middle East and Afghanistan, ending its occupation there, and allowing people to resolve their own issues.”
Cluff reacted to the TV spot and a statement by Jackie Barshak, of Women for Peace, who urged him to stop deadly drone violence. In an email, he said his wing’s primary mission “is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) first. Precision strike, or kinetic engagement, only occurs when needed and when the appropriate approval clearances and rules of engagement have been met.
“That being said, our combatant commanders expect and demand unique ISR capabilities that only the Air Force can provide, and we will continue to strive to meet those demands 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days year,” Cluff said.
Original article on Las Vegas Review Journal
SeaTac workers have a reason to celebrate after the Washington Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday that the $15 minimum wage passed by a recent voter referendum should apply to thousands of airport employees. SeaTac surrounds Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and many of its 28,000 residents are employed by companies near and…
Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment, but Donald Trump and other candidates are keeping alive the idea that some Americans should not have equal rights at birth.
I first learned about the history of the “unworthy poor” when I pursued my Master of Social Work degree. I read about the social movements in the early 20th century and how they tended to divide people in need into people whose poverty was outside of their control – for example, widows…
Civil-rights pioneer Julian Bond died this week at the age of 75. In 1960, as a student at the historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond led nonviolent protests against racially segregated facilities like restaurants, movie theaters and parks. He co-founded SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and spent years…
Sexist laws and institutions threaten all women in Israel, but Arab women are beset from all sides. In 2009, a couple from the village of Taybeh in central Israel were in the midst of a bitter separation. Their marriage had already dissolved in acrimony, with various legal battles under way,…
Poverty touches all races in Chicago, but it's more visible among blacks and Latinos. Here's why that happens and why it matters.
Life in a low-wage job — at a restaurant or retail store, for example — has never been easy. You spend hours on your feet and deal with angry customers. And for parents, finding affordable child care can be a struggle. A recent management trend has made the lives of low-wage workers…
WASHINGTON—Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statement celebrating the 80th anniversary of Social Security. “For 80 years, the promise of Social Security has delivered a secure retirement and vital disability support to countless Americans. This is an investment that we all…
If the people who prepare your lunch deserve a living wage, the people preparing our toddlers for school do too. Is the most precious thing in your life worth more than a poverty wage? Activists are pushing for a $15 hourly base wage for preschool teachers and childcare workers. Many…
Why it’s a mistake for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year. When the Federal Reserve considers raising interest rates on July 28—and then again every six weeks after—MyAsia Reid, of Philadelphia, will be paying close attention. Despite holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science, completing a series…