The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento will begin the prosecution Tuesday of nine peace advocates – including three local activists – who were arrested at Beale Air Force Base, for protesting the killing and maiming of civilians, including children, by U.S. drone attacks in foreign countries.
Shirley Osgood, Sharon Delgado and Janie Kesselman are among the “Beale 9” who were arrested for trespassing at Beale on Oct. 30, 2012, after nearly 100 peace advocates gathered at several gates leading into the base.
“We tried really hard to get arrested,” said Kesselman, who lives in Camptonville. “We sat down on federal property, so they had to arrest us.”
Kesselman said the defendants plan to plead not guilty, as they hope to take the case to trial.
“We want to bring attention to the use of the drones,” she said. “We want to put the drones on trial, we want to bring attention to the problem with drone attacks.”
On the day of the arrest, about 100 activists from as far away as Fresno, the Bay Area, Sacramento, Chico and other California cities unfurled large banners and carried model drones and large photos of child victims of drone strikes to show the dark side of drone warfare, according to a press release.
Beale has been a target of anti-drone protests for years; it is home to the U2 and the Global Hawk, the unmanned surveillance drone.
Peace advocates have urged an immediate ban on the use of all drones for extra-judicial killing; a halt to all drone surveillance in Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Iraq, Yemen and Somalia; a prohibition on the sale and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries; and an immediate stop to drone warfare.
A rally and press conference is set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in front of the U.S. Courthouse, 501 I St., Sacramento. The court hearing will begin at 9 a.m.
Pro bono/volunteer lawyers from the National Lawyers Guild and the Occupy Sacramento defense team have agreed to represent the defendants, which include members of the clergy and military veterans.
Similar charges in other states where people have been arrested for protesting the use of drones by the CIA and U.S. have sometimes resulted in lengthy jail terms, according to a press release.
There have been a series of direct actions leading to arrests this past year protesting President Obama’s use of drones across the country.
“If we did get convicted, it could be a fine, it could be community service, we could get six months at maximum,” Osgood said, explaining the trespassing charge is a misdemeanor.
For more information, go online at www.facebook.com/events/222960761171684/.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4229.