Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Report Back from "On the Road to Ground the Drones" Walk

by Bob Palmer

As many of you know, I just returned from participating in the "On the Road to Ground the Drones" walk from Chicago to Battle Creek, MI organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. About 50 people participated in some part of the 160 mile walk over 12 days, with a dozen or so of us walking the whole way.

We started on June 3 at Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago, where the manufacture of drones and conventional war planes are managed and designed. We finished on June 14, with about 100 people holding an action at the Michigan Air National Guard Facility at the Battle Creek Airport, site of a new drone command center. Along the way, we talked to lots of people, made presentations to local groups and reached out to local media.

There are many reasons to be opposed and/or concerned about the use of armed drones--from their use in assassinations that violate international law to how they create more ill will towards the United States in the communities where they often kill innocent bystanders. Many educational resources are available at the Drone Warfare Awareness and Resistance Resources page on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website.

Perhaps most broadly, when the only risk of killing and injuring people is on "the other side," it provides yet another rationale for the United States to first look to pursuing military means to resolve our conflicts instead of pursuing nonviolent strategies that are only sustainable way to secure peace for the long-term. I'm reminded of this as President Obama seems to be evaluating whether to use armed drone strikes in Iraq to address a conflict that primarily seems to be caused by sectarianism that all our years of war making have made worse (see Democracy Now: "As Obama Considers Drone Strikes in Iraq, Could U.S. Military Action Worsen Sectarian Conflict?").

Aside from raising awareness about drone warfare, the walk was also a good experience for conversing with others about all sorts of stuff and experiencing the world in a slow and focused way that is often absent in modern life. We walked along Chicago's Lakefront path, industrial areas in East Chicago, downtown Gary, the Indiana Dunes, upscale vacation communities on Lake Michigan, small towns along the Red Arrow Highway in Michigan and many sorts of other places. A few of us even squeezed in a visit to Bells' Brewery in Kalamazoo:) Thankfully, it only rained heavily one day!

Here's an article from the Friends Committee on National Legislation from late last year that provides a good background on issues related to drones and several links to more resources: "U.S. Drone Policy: Morally Indefensible" by Matt Southworth

Read more about the work of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, including press coverage of the walk.

I've posted some photos of the walk on Flickr.

Thanks for reading!


PS: Like Voices for Creative Non-Violence on Facebook

PPS: Like Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK on Facebook, too. (Lots more walk photos here!)

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