IT WAS A HUGE SUCCESS: Nearly 4 dozen activists participated in some or all of the first ever weeklong anti-drone peace convergence at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico, where over 700 drone pilots and operators graduate every year. Over half of the participants were from New Mexico, and others traveled from 8 states, including, Minetaka Shimada, a journalist based in Maryland, who covered our story for a Japan-based newspaper, and a dozen or so young students from NMSU, Las Cruces and Albuquerque, who participated in the April 22, Saturday Earth Day rally in Alamogordo, co-sponsored and led by ANSWER/PSL, New Mexico!
Daily varying themed vigils helped to educate and raise consciousness about weaponized drones and our out of control military industrial complex that wreaks havoc on the environment, the climate and terrorizes global communities.
The week culminated in a nonviolent direct action to Shut Down Drone Warfare at Holloman:
"Holloman 5" being handcuffed. Surprisingly, 4 of 5 arrestees were handcuffed in the front!
Because it was our first-ever anti-drone demo at Holloman, there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty and concern about what the consequences of risking arrest would be, which led to some activists being hesitant to participate fully in the blockade, in light of southern New Mexico’s reputation of conservatism and far right alignment. What surprised many of us was the professionalism and respect that all of the Otero County sheriff officers exhibited throughout the arrest and processing phases. Ultimately all arrestees got to bypass jail, and were taken to the Magistrate Court house within a few hours. All arrestees pleaded not guilty, and plan to take drone warfare to trial. As Michael Kerr said to the judge during his arraignment: “We weren’t blocking the roadway, we were blocking the [illegal] U.S. drone warfare program."
Our trial date was set for May 15, but we will motion for a continuance (postponement), and a request for a joint trial before a jury (our legal right in New Mexico), and all defendants plan to represent themselves pro se.
There are so many success stories to tell. A longer report coming soon. For now here are just a few highlights of the successes:
- Successful blockade of main gate at Holloman AFB to blockade the US drone terror program
- Meaningful local coverage in the Alamogordo Daily News.
- Excellent panel, April 20, that included: Bernice Gutierrez, local activist and downwinder victim from the 1st U.S. Atomic Weapon test, at Trinity, NM (1945), Damascio Lopez, victim of Depleted Uranium Testing and decades long advocate for a global ban on depleted uranium weapons, and Nick Mottern, co-founder of BanKillerDrones.org
- Awesome music from Emma’s Revolution at Camp Justice AND at the panel evening. You rock Pat Humphries and Sandy O.
- Wonderful new connections made with local residents.
- Our creative vigils and messaging keeps getting more creative, effective and impactful.
- Many honks from trucks of all sizes during our vigils. Who says truck drivers are conservative?
- Camp Justice: our beautiful group campsite that provided a place for respite, recuperation, team bonding and rejuvenation that included daily morning yoga led by Sharat Lin!
- Delicious and Nutritious meals provided by our Cooking Team: Virginia Hauflaire and Jane Kroesen.
Most importantly, we had an amazing group of activists that participated enthusiastically in our week of action…devoted, hard working and committed: Yes, and most want to come back!
Special thanks to all those who supported us monetarily before our event, so we could afford to do this. It made a huge difference!
Shut Down Drone Warfare Team,
Virginia, Ken, Denise, Charles, Toby, Greg and Edwina