Witnessing against drones
Wow – it's been some week and a half – where to start?
To start with the freshest and work backwards, which, given the political climate in the country right now, is still going forward.
This past Monday I went and supported the Hancock 38 in Syracuse at their trial for witnessing against drones on Good Friday of this year by holding a die-in at the main entrance of Hancock Air Base. The base is becoming a major player in U.S. drone warfare; drones flying over Afghanistan are piloted from there, and drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians are trained at Hancock. Drones are responsible for thousands of civilian deaths, which our government euphemistically calls “collateral damage” to cover for the fact that we're killing children, old folks, people with disabilities and men just trying to get to work to feed their families and keep a mud roof over their heads.
The trial got started a bit late as the district attorney added the charge of disorderly conduct at the very last minute. I don't know how he missed that one. “Dis Con” is a standard charge for nonviolent protests and I don't know how he forgot to include it in the first place. This was in addition to “obstruction of vehicular and pedestrian traffic” and “obstruction of governmental administration.” The last one was dropped.
Before the court proceedings, we witnessed against drones at the base and I garnered a great deal more “brownie points” under Matthew 5:11, Blessed are you when people threaten you and treat you like crap because of me (the me being Jesus). Enough so that I think I may qualify for an upgrade for a better seat in heaven. I stood by the side of the road outside of the entrance of the base holding my sign that reads, “War Is Not Christ's Way” (I got the saying from a bumper sticker put out by the Episcopalians – who are also known as “Catholic Lite” in religious circles).
I got lots of negative head shakes, thumbs down and a fair number of middle fingers (or half a peace sign as we say) -- those last ones from not so young people. Nice to see feisty in the middle-aged no matter where it shows up. And a few yelled insults. Two drove so close to the white line on the shoulder that I almost cleaned the side of their truck and Humvee with my coat. One gentleman hung out of his truck window to tell us to leave the country and as he did his baseball cap blew off. One of our group went into the road and retrieved it. I saw the tuck turn around up ahead and warned my fellow witnesses that he was returning. When he came back by one of the group ran out to his truck with the hat, put it on his head and wished him well.
I yelled, “God bless you.”
The man gave his thanks, turned his truck around and drove quietly away.
Click here for more info on drones and the trial.
We now have our militarized police, who are supposed to “protect and serve” us firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets on unarmed civilian citizens in Oakland, Calif.,who were exercising their First Amendment rights and tossing flash grenades at citizens giving first aid to those who were wounded by the police attacks. Actually, the bullets are not made of rubber; they are steel bullets covered in plastic. And they do damage as the photo shows. If you're hit in the eye or at close range they can kill you. (See photo at top)
Then the Oakland police try to get the videos of their brutality taken off of YouTube. Anyone for censorship? This alone should be a big enough story for every paper in the country to carry it.
Former USMC Scott Olsen was hit in the head with a tear gas canister at Occupy Oakland (as Tristan Andrews was by the Israeli military in Gaza last year) when the police raided the camp at 3 a.m. The Oakland Police Department (OPD) claim that the people in the food tent started throwing kitchen utensils at them. I can just see it now, OPD personnel yelling, “Spatula! Incoming!” (Just to be clear – it was wrong of anyone at Occupy Oakland to throw anything at the OPD.)
Several of us were wondering if the OPD would now train to use IEDs.
According to former military personnel who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the OPD did not respect U.S. citizens enough to use the rules of engagement concerning civilians that are used in war zones in other countries. And, most disturbingly, Olsen could not have been hit in the head without a police officer aiming the canister directly at him.
Olsen has been upgraded from critical to stable and although he still cannot talk (that's the part of his brain that was damaged) he can understand everything that is said to him and can respond by writing. You can send him a card at: Scott Olsen, Highland Hospital, 1411 East 31st St., Oakland, CA 94602 and you can make a donation through Veterans for Peace at: www.vfp.org.
Did you notice how President Obama got right on television to denounce the violence against the American protesters and say that they had the right to petition their government without being attacked like he did when citizens were protesting in Egypt and Libya? Neither did I.
In “Truth Is Stranger Department” U.S. protesters have received messages of support from the citizens in Tahrir Square. Who'd have thought?