Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taking the NO DRONES! Message to the Masses at Chicago's Air & Water Show

We were at the Chicago Air & Water Show yesterday.

We were there to supply the missing part of the military spectacle: the drones that have become the workhorse of U.S. killing and aggression around the world.

We were there to remind people that warplanes are not entertainment: they stand for death.

We were there to prove that there ARE people who have woken up and are asking questions about the invasions and attacks and surveillance that are being carried out in our name, and that more people need to start asking these questions.

We were there to show that it's time for us to get out of our comfortable houses and out into the streets to challenge the status quo.


Below is a photo gallery and links to video and press coverage to give you a flavor of the day, and the full text of the brochure we handed out:
It is just the first of what will be many more days like it in Chicago -- and, we hope, the rest of Illinois and the country -- when the large number of people who oppose U.S. war and aggression step out and engage their neighbors in a conversation about CHANGE!

Our SINCEREST THANKS to the many individuals and groups who supported this action, including:

VIDEO LINKS

Chicago Air & Water Show: The Anti-War Contingent (Dogstar7 video on Youtube) - Organizer Joe Scarry speaks about the massive scope of U.S. drone killings in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Fake Real Drone at Chicago Air & Water Show (Andrew Coffey video on Youtube) - Joe Scarry talks about the 1/5-actual size drone replica from Know Drones displayed by No Drones Illinois at the Air & Water Show.

#AirWaterShow becomes a #PeaceShow (Revolutionary Z video on Vimeo) - Occupy Chicago and friends use the 2012 Chicago Air & Water Show as a perfect place to perform some great political theatre...
Mic Check!
Mic Check!
Mic Check!
Mic Check!

We're out here today
We're out here today
to highlight a contradiction
to highlight a contradiction
that we sit here in comfort
that we sit here in comfort
and ooh and ahh over these war machines.
and ooh and ahh over these war machines.

We think it's important that we remember
We think it's important that we remember
that when the rest of the world hears these sounds
that when the rest of the world hears these sounds
it means that their lives may soon be ending.
it means that their lives may soon be ending.

The United States
The United States
has killed over 3000
has killed over 3000
unarmed women and children
unarmed women and children
with drones in Pakistan.
with drones in Pakistan.

Last year
Last year
we spent over 800 million dollars
we spent over 800 million dollars
funding the NATO war machine.
funding the NATO war machine.
We believe this money could be better spent.
We believe this money could be better spent.

End war everywhere!
End war everywhere!
End war everywhere!
End war everywhere!

Thank you for your time.
(APPLAUSE)
Read additional statements from representatives of Occupy Chicago: "Occupy Chicago and Allies to Engage Air and Water Show Attendees".


PRESS COVERAGE

FOX Chicago: "Anti-war protesters call Air and Water Show a promotional tool"

Chicago Sun-Times: "Huge crowds, anti-war protesters flock to Air and Water Show"

Huffington-Post: "Chicago Air And Water Show 2012: Highlights From The Weekend's Big Event"


PHOTO GALLERY

A large group from Occupy Chicago enacted the consequences of U.S. military attacks in die-ins among the spectators on the beach. They wore t-shirts marked "Unarmed Civilian" on the front, with a crosshairs target on the back. Miniature drone replicas wove among them prior to the "attack." As they lay on the ground, a representative explained about drone attacks to the crowd. (Note protest chaplain Newland Smith in the yellow vest, to help with de-escalation during tense crowd interactions.) In general, the crowd was very receptive to this important antiwar message!



Unarmed Civilians.





Small hand-held drone replicas and "drone-on-a-stick" models were essential props for the political theater on the beach.





A significant aspect of our presence was the group from Protest Chaplains of Chicago - here Pastor Luis and Pastor Raoul are joined by longtime Chicago peace activist Brad Lyttle and Joe Scarry of No Drones Illinois (sporting his St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square t-shirt). More at the Protest Chaplains of Chicago website.






Stalwarts from Chicago World Can't Wait were there with large-format posters -- to make the drone victims 100% VISIBLE! -- and counter-recruiting flyers.





Members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship invited onlookers to join them in silent meditation.





Pastor Loren McGrail of Protest Chaplains of Chicago plays many roles. Here she finds an eager audience for her message about the dangers of slick-looking military hardware. Counter-recruitment begins ... !




As always, our Twitter community was relaying the message around the country and around the world . . .





. . . and last but not least . . .



. . . we're grateful to Carl Arriaza, from the Northwest Coalition, for providing this breathtaking photo of our drone replica from KnowDrones. (For dramatic effect, the lifter is airbrushed out of the picture!) Drone opposition groups in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Delaware, South Carolina, Oregon, Hawaii, California, as well as Illinois have obtained drone models for use in education and outreach from KnowDrones. Contact nickmottern@earthlink.net to learn about obtaining a drone replica for use by your group.


BROCHURE

Read the full text of the 4-page brochure (11" x 17" folded) distributed at the protest:

CONTENTS

Making the Drone Victims 100% VISIBLE: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia
Why Are We Displaying a Drone Replica Today?
Are We Becoming a Country at Peace with Being at War?
Want to Stop the Wars? Sick of Recruiters? Start at Your School!
Obama 2012: Running on the Kill List
FOR MORE INFORMATION
THIS is What a Surveillance State Looks Like
Killing People with Drones: Is it Legal?
Wake Up! The Morality or Immorality of Drone Killing
Protest U.S. Warmaking During the DNC


Making the Drone Victims 100% VISIBLE: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia

On Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, together with 150 other people from around the country and around the world, I attended CodePink's Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control in Washington, D.C. Two days were packed with comprehensive information presentations and planning sessions for activists.

At the end of the first day, I came to a realization: despite the bewildering complexity of the problem of drones -- encompassing constitutional law, robotics, international relations, ethics, political theory, the role of independent journalism, and more -- the fundamental problem that we had all gathered to address is that drones render killing 100% invisible. People in remote areas of distant countries are killed, by remote operators, without any official reporting or acknowledgement, and in circumstances under which independent reporting is discouraged or thwarted. And as long as the killing is invisible, we lose the most powerful tool we have for fighting the killing: the disgust and outrage of the general public.

But recognizing the problem is the first step in being clear about the solution. If drones render killing 100% invisible, WE must find a way to make drone killing 100% VISIBLE.

We need to start by confronting pictures of the victims -- many of them children -- and understanding the facts.

Consider these statistics dug out through painstaking research by The Bureau for Investigative Journalism in London, with respect to CIA drone strikes in Pakistan 2004 – 2012:

Total US strikes: 336
Obama strikes: 284
Total reported killed: 2,532-3,251
Civilians reported killed: 475-879
Children reported killed: 175
Total reported injured: 1,204-1,332

Does anyone believe that the American public would approve of these thousands and thousands of killings, carried out on one man's say-so, if they weren't invisible?

Source: The Bureau for Investigative Journalism


Why Are We Displaying a Drone Replica Today?

Attendees at the Air and Water Show will see all manner of aircraft -- big and small, old and new, innocent and lethal ... but the one thing they won't see is the workhorse of the U.S. program of killing and surveillance -- the "unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)" or drone. Drones, operated by the CIA and the Department of Defense, and piloted by remote operators in Virginia, New York State, Missouri, Nevada, and other locations, have been used to kill thousands of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia over the last decade, but they remain invisible to most Americans.

That's why today we are displaying a MQ-9 Reaper drone replica from KnowDrones in New York State. The model brings the problem back into view. The replica is 8' long, has an 11' wingspan, and is displayed on a heavy-duty lifter that makes it widely visible. It is 1/5 actual size. KnowDrones provides drone replicas and educational materials to support citizen action to achieve an international ban on weaponized drones and surveillance drones - war drones. We're grateful to KnowDrones, to contributors like Chicago World Can't Wait and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), who have helped fund the purchase of the drone replica, and to everyone else who has been contributing to make the resistance to drones a success.


Are We Becoming a Country at Peace with Being at War?

If you believed that wars, indefinite detention, torture, the gutting of civil liberties, and wars on immigrants and women were wrong under Bush, then they are wrong under Obama too. Add to that list increasing drone bombings, a presidential “kill list,” and more immigrants deported in four years of the Obama administration than in all eight years of the Bush presidency.

Crimes are crimes no matter who the President is. If we do not stand up and oppose these crimes, then we are giving every U.S. administration, no matter what their party, the green light to act above the law and commit with impunity crimes against the people.

Re-electing Obama or electing Romney will not stop the crimes of our government. A visible mass resistance, however, can. History, from the 1960's to the Arab Spring, shows that decisive change comes only when millions of us engage in such visible mass resistance that government leaders are forced to change direction.

Obama and the Democrats will gather soon at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, to affirm and continue US aggression around the world and unjust policies at home. Help us make a visibly powerful protest there and in Chicago, where we will have model drones and coffins to represent people deemed by the President—without due process—as "enemy combatants" and targeted for assassination.

- Chicago World Can't Wait


Want to Stop the Wars? Sick of Recruiters? Start at Your School!

The US military wants fresh bodies. Recruiters occupy our high schools, colleges, and even come to our homes. And they are a big presence at Air & Water shows around the country, all summer.

They make war seem like a video game. But it’s real life for the 1.2 million Iraqis killed since 2004. It’s real life for Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO air strikes and drones or rounded up in the dead of night and held indefinitely in Bagram Prison. It’s real life for the +6,000 US soldiers killed, hundreds of thousands injured, and tens of thousands dead by suicide due to these unjust wars.

Once you join the military, your life becomes killing - and maybe dying - to spread US empire. You are trained to kill and brutalize people in other countries. This military is up to no good in our schools or our communities and we want them out! Invite We Are Not Your Soldiers and anti-war veterans to speak at your school or youth group! We will tell the truth about the wars and what the military is really recruiting for. Iraq and Afghanistan vets talk about their on-the-ground experiences in occupied countries, where civilians pay the price, and the trauma they carry home with them.

Iraq Veterans Against the War has developed a Truth in Recruiting Campaign that you are invited to join. Proponents of the war are quick to point out that everyone in the military volunteered, but what does that mean if most soldiers are tricked into joining by the lies recruiters tell?

The Truth in Recruiting campaign challenges those lies and the recruitment machine which depends on them. IVAW has developed actions and materials for our members and for the general public so you can all participate in our campaign. Together we will share the truth about recruiting and the truth about the war that we must end now. To learn more about the Truth in Recruiting and check out our resources, visit us at www.ivaw.org/truth-recruiting

Discussions with anti-war activists and vets not only have the potential to convince a lot of youth not to join up; we are attempting to develop a culture of resistance to military recruiting as a key part of stopping these wars.

Contact IVAW: chicago@ivaw.org
Contact We Are Not Your Soldiers: chicago@worldcantwait.org


Obama 2012: Running on the Kill List

Within a week of taking office, Barack Obama had ordered his first drone strike -- one which killed an Afghani peace activist; by the time he had been in office two years, President Obama had authorized four times as many drone strikes as George W. Bush had ordered in two terms. Obama has expanded the use of drones far beyond the battlefield and used them to kill American citizens without due process. Without question, Barack Obama's first term has defined him as the drone president.

Obama came into office promising change from the policies of his predecessor, and yet we have seen an expansion of the most wretched Bush era practices. If not questioned today these policies will become entrenched and further expanded upon with each subsequent administration. Join Occupy Chicago to protest U.S. warmaking during the DNC - see back page for details!


FOR MORE INFORMATION

Put the Drones On Trial!

When Ron Faust and Brian Terrell appear in court September 10 in Jefferson City, MO, for trespassing at Whiteman Air Force Base, expert testimony by former Attorney General Ramsay Clark, retired colonel Ann Wright, Kathy Kelly, and Bill Quigley will show that it's drone killing that is really on trial. Full information and frequent updates at No Drones Missouri.

Get the Facts

The Bureau for Investigative Journalism in London is the source for data on drone killings in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, including:

CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004 – 2012 (336 strikes)
US Covert Action in Yemen 2002 – 2012 (37-47 strikes confirmed, plus 58-67 additional possible)
US Covert Action in Somalia 2007 – 2012 (3-9 strikes)

Congressional Action

Illinois congressmen Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Luis V. Gutierrez were among the 26 signatories on a June 12 letter to President Obama demanding answers about the combat drone program. In the letter Members of Congress demand information on signature strikes, CIA oversight, and accounting for civilian casualties. (Full details on the Kucinich website.)

Read More

There is a steady stream of new articles appearing daily on the problem of drones. Check the Protest Chaplains of Chicago Facebook page for frequent updates. Recent articles posted have included: "Is the drone war moral?" from Salon; "Fear the Reaper: 'Humane' Drones are the most Brutal Weapons of All" from SPIEGEL ONLINE; and "Soldiers Who Refuse to Kill" from Let's Try Democracy.


THIS is What a Surveillance State Looks Like

The future is here, what once seemed only possible in the minds of science fiction authors is now a reality. Remotely controlled devices, some even automated can now float hundreds of feet above us, for days at a time and watch without notice. Privacy is now a thing of the past.

With current drone technology a drone can survey a huge swath of land from a stationary position. Our privacy is disappearing around us without our own awareness. Referring to the changes in war technology by drones Brian Terrell of the Creech 14 said "When Hiroshima was bombed , the whole world knew that everything had changed. Today everything is changing, but it goes almost without notice".

The status quo in terms of privacy is changing before our eyes without any public debate. Lacking that debate we are sacrificing our rights without consideration of what we are actually giving away. As a society we must push for greater transparency in regard to what drones are being used for domestically and how much we are spending on them. While we sit in the midst of a financial crisis it makes little sense to be wasting billions on creating a hyper security state that we have not consented to, let alone discussed.


Killing People with Drones: Is it Legal?

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder came to Chicago in March to lay out the "legal" foundation for the Obama administration's program of drone killings. After the Holder speech, one audience member summed it up this way: "He pretty much said he can kill anyone he wants."

Perhaps the most memorable assertion in that presentation was that victims of Obama administration drone killings would be allowed "due" process, but that the Obama people do not consider "due" process synonymous with "judicial" process. According to Holder, "Some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. 'Due process' and 'judicial process' are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process."

As Chicago attorney Leonard C. Goodman wrote recently, "While the administration won’t say what evidence it requires to place a name on the kill list, we can glean something from three of the administration’s most celebrated drone kills: Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and Abu Yahya al-Libi. These men were reported to be clerics and scholars rather than warriors, and appear to have been targeted mostly for their anti-U.S. rhetoric and their ability to influence others. That raises a question .... What future outspoken critics of U.S. foreign policy might qualify for the kill list, should they dare travel somewhere within the ever-expanding drone-war battlefield?" (Leonard C. Goodman, "Making Obama’s Kill List: The public should have more information on the drone program and its targets," In These Times)

Read the full Holder speech.


Wake Up! The Morality or Immorality of Drone Killing

People across the globe who the US has deemed terrorists wake up to drones hovering overhead every day. The noise is incessant and so is the killing---targeted or suspected. Some reports indicate we are killing up to one person per day by drone attacks. So while the rest of the world remains awake or is on constant alert, Code Red, we in the United States, the country that now has thousands of drones (increased 40 fold since 2000) are asleep. Some might say we have been drugged by the illusion that anything and everything is permissible for the sake of our security (or another country’s resources). Others would say the use of drones keep our soldiers safe, out of harms way--- minimalizing causalities. Soldiers can go to work and kill from the safety of an air force base 8,000 miles away from the “enemy combatants” then return home and have dinner with the family. Still others might say, “We didn’t know.” But a growing number are beginning to wake up and say, “No, this is wrong. It’s against international law. It’s against our Constitution. It’s extrajudicial killing. It’s morally wrong.”

Wherever you are on this continuum we invite you to wake up and join Protest Chaplains in a theological conversation or dialogue about the use of drones for warfare and surveillance. Join us in the streets and online as we begin to question our country’s use of drones instead of due process, our President’s Kill List, the naming of all men above 18 years of age as “enemy combatants” and the targeting of civilians including U.S. citizens. Join us as we speak out against the violation of our rights to privacy. Grounding the drones will take all of us using all the tools and strategies we have including our faith traditions and moral beliefs. Join us.

“The people of the United States would be horrified if they actually understood how many innocent people are being swept up in the maw of these wars. So people are just permitted to sleep. And it’s going to be very disturbing for the American people when they awake from the slumber to look out upon a world where there’s carnage everywhere that’s created by our nation without any legal process, without any constitutional basis and without any articulated justification.”
- Dennis Kucinich


Protest U.S. Warmaking During the DNC

Join Occupy Chicago on Tuesday, September 4, 5 p.m., at Jackson & LaSalle to Reject President 1%: End Obama's War On the World's 99%.

This will be part of a series of protests in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention (DNC) September 3-6, covering immigration, war, mortgage debt/foreclosures, and democracy. Each day will feature actions, teach-ins, and opportunities to share in community and grow our movement. Join us! Full details on Facebook.

Barack Obama came into office under the guise of hope and change. The United States is in need of real change, now more than ever, and that change must come from the people. We can no longer rely on politicians to save us.




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