Drone protesters rally at Beale
April 30, 2013
Protesters targeted Beale Air Force Base on Monday, demanding an immediate halt to drone operations.
About a dozen people gathered around the base’s Wheatland gate on South Beale Road for the demonstration, despite five protesters already facing federal trials on suspicion of trespassing at previous events, organizers said.
Beale flies the unarmed and unmanned surveillance Global Hawks and the U-2 and MC-12 Liberty, which are flown by onboard pilots. The aircraft have been involved in U.S. war zones, including Afghanistan.
“I’m here because something is wrong,” said Susan Osgood of Nevada County. “You can either sit at home and say something is wrong, or you can come out and do something.”
Many of the activists at Beale have protested at the base before.
Osgood was protesting the use of drones, but they aren’t the only issue, she said. Surveillance planes aid in drone use and are therefore a part of the problem, she said.
“We’re not just killing terrorists,” Osgood said. “We’re killing children.”
Protesters sang and held banners to promote their cause.
Five protestors were briefly detained for trespassing, cited on suspicion of unlawful entry to military property, and released shortly afterward.
“We respect the rights of individuals to exercise free speech, and the United States Air Force has always been and continues to be committed to defending lawful freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” said Col. Phil Stewart, 9th Reconnaissance Wing commander, in a press release. “It is our hope that these individuals, who have invoked their right to peaceable assembly, will do so safely and within the confines of the law in the future.”
Griffin Rogers is a staff writer at the Marysville Appeal-Democrat