Protester Arrested while delivering "LET SYRIA LIVE" message at Beale Air Force Base
Our numbers were few - 7 activists in total - but our large banners made a loud cry for peace. One proclaimed: "WE WANT PEACE, NOT GLOBAL POLICE!”
With 1-3 California highway patrol cars and 1-3 Beale police/security cars at each gate, they were evidently anticipating some stronger "peaceful expression". We experienced a higher degree of harassment and abuse of our free speech rights, in spite of only 1-3 nonviolent peace activists per gate. At two of the gates, we have a 5-year history of standing in the "gores" (painted triangular dividers between opposing lanes of traffic) without being arrested, because they are the best places to pass out flyers and access the air personnel exiting/entering the gates. This time highway patrol officers threatened us repeatedly with arrests if we didn't stay out of the gores.
Also, there were areas near the base fence line, at the Doolittle gate, where activists had stood on several occasions recently with signs and banners and without being arrested or harassed. But this time was quite different. In fact, Susan Pelican and I almost got arrested on Monday afternoon, when military police attempted to arrest us without warning, grabbing our signs and preparing to detain us.
I was wearing a large Mourning Mother puppet head, and one of the security police tried to take it off forcefully -- much more aggressive tactics than ever witnessed before. I objected and Susan and I both asserted our right to be given a warning. Ultimately the Beale security backed off, giving a warning and a chance for us to leave the area. We have been very unclear just where the invisible trespassing boundary is, because at this gate in particular for 5 years we have been getting constantly varying messages from both highway patrol and military police about it.
At 7:30 am, on Tuesday morning, I decided to walk down the side of the roadway, that approaches the Doolittle entrance barricades. The roadway appears like a public county road, with barbed wire fencing on either side. All the security & police cars had left at this point, except for one Beale security/police car. I decided to bring my small sign: "LET SYRIA LIVE" that was attached to a stiff board. In light of all of the horrendous US bombing on a country that is already severely devastated by extended "civil/foreign" war, I thought it might be a good, clear and simple "message" to deliver to Colonel Lee, the commander. Not blocking any traffic, and after walking about a hundred yards down the roadway, halfway to the barricades, I was approached by the lone Beale security airman. I calmly explained that I had a constitutional right to bring grievances to my government and that that was what I was doing, and continued to proceed toward the barricades. The security airman was overheard radioing in to the base that "things are getting more complicated...." and within a few minutes another Beale security vehicle arrived with 4 or 5 uniformed security.
I was apprehended, handcuffed and taken onto the base. Within 2 hours I was cited and released, and charged with trespassing. The base personnel assured me that my "letter" (sign) would be delivered to the commander of the base, Colonel Lee.
14 defendants, including myself, faced an arraignment on March 8 in Sacramento for previous civil resistance at Beale last December and January. (But this time, as well as the last two recent arraignments for civil resistance at Beale AFB, our charges have been dismissed). We are a small committed group of thoughtful citizens, and we will continue this important effort to stop the war crimes of illegal drone killing and perpetual wars as long as we can, until the last drone is grounded, and Muslims in the world can live free from US global aggression and dominance.
We welcome others to join us. Please note that risking arrest is not a requirement, and that the more voices that oppose these barbaric and counterproductive policies, the more success we will have. Help us build a world peace community through activism.
Check out: 2nd Annual SHUT DOWN CREECH, A Mass Mobilization to End Drone Warfare