Category Archives: Drones

Our Hearts are Weary ~ September 11 Madison Action

MOBILIZATION AGAINST MILITARISM

Sept. 11, 2021

Downtown Madison Farmer’s Market

On Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, our hearts are weary after at least 20 years of the “forever wars” and skyrocketing Pentagon budgets.  So many innocent children, women, and men have been killed, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Yemen, and so many other places in the Middle East and Africa.  And we are no closer to bringing peace.  War WAS NOT the answer!


End the ever-increasing military profiteering

End the violations of human rights, natural rights and legal rights


8:00 am – noon:  FLY KITES, NOT DRONES Join us at King St. corner of the square. The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice table will have kites, leaflets, buttons, and other information.

10:00 am:   ALL ARE WELCOME AS WE gather for a rally outside Senator Baldwin’s office at 30 West Mifflin St. (near the State St. corner of the square).

Speakers include: 

Bonnie Block activist and rebel with Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Vicki Berenson, human being for peace and justice, WNPJ, Friends, Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin Coalition 

Allen Ruff, historian, concerned citizen and activist 

 

Senator Baldwin, stop voting for the War Machine, fund human needs, and lead us to a peace economy!

The U.S. government spends more on the military than the next top eleven countries combined.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet program, one of the biggest boondoggles in military history, are looking to come to Madison.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

As we move closer and closer to ecocide, the military remains the biggest source of pollution on earth.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

Suicide, PTSD, and moral injury is a huge problem for our veterans who have been emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually damaged from our wars.  And we are no closer to bringing peace!

Senator Tammy Baldwin, along with so many other Democrats and Republicans, does not represent our desire to bring an end to the “forever wars”.  We have no party for peace.  We only have a War Party!  Sen. Baldwin actively worked to bring the F-35s to Madison, she does not provide strong support for policies to make the world green, she backs economic policies that support militarism, and she continues to vote for the obscene military budget.

 

We have had enough of these crimes and injustice.   Senator Baldwin needs to be a strong leader for the people.  She needs to stand up to the War Party!

There will be a nonviolent civil resistance action in front of Baldwin’s office.  If you are interested or want more information, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

 

Sponsored by:  Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

If you would like your group to co-sponsor, contact joyfirst5@gmail.com

Pro-Peace and Pro-Justice Letter to Senator Baldwin August 2021

August 22, 2021

Dear Senator Baldwin

You are our Senator, representing us in congress.  We have supported you in the past, but it is getting more difficult because for many years now we believe you are not representing us in your votes promoting militarism.  Militarism, as Martin Luther King Jr. stated, is one of the triple ‘evils’, along with racism and excessive materialism, that harm our American society.  As you know, the U.S. government spends more on militarism than the next 11 countries combined. We would like the money we spend on militarism moved to spending on human needs, such as health care, housing, food, education, and a green energy economy.

Therefore, for our continued support we ask that you commit to:

Lowering the 2022 spending from the 2021 present military budget of 740 billion dollars, over 60% of the total US discretionary budget.  It is against  our values when the Department of Defense gets more of our taxpayer dollars than all the other departments of our government, education, health, housing, State, etc. combined.

Withdrawing your advocacy and support for the F-35 being based in Madison.  This plane, a major polluter of the environment, air, water and noise, is considered by many military experts a “boondoggle”, too big to fail.  Madison and Wisconsin residents have made it clear they do not want it. 

Stop supporting increased funding to the largest industrial polluter in the world, the US military.  In a world on the brink of climate destruction, we must lessen our support for major polluters.  War is nonsustainable and only leads to more wars with destruction to continue.

Supporting more jobs in education, clean energy and health care over military jobs.  We know that “1 billion in military spending creates approximately 11,200 jobs, compared with 26,700 in education,16,800 in clean energy, and 17,200 in health care.” https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/economic/economy/employment  

We will gather in front of your office on the square on Sept. 11, 2021 at 10:00 am to hear your response to these demands.  We would like you or your representative to be present and show us that you hear us and will represent us.  We wait for your response on 9/11 at the Madison Farmers Market, a day we remember the terror of 9/11 and also celebrate sustainability.

Sincerely,

Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

joyfirst5@gmail.com 608 239-4327

Aug 24 – No Drone Action – Ground the Drones and End the Wars

~ VIGIL AGAINST THE DRONES ~

OUTSIDE THE GATES OF VOLK FIELD

TUESDAY AUGUST 24, 2021    3:30-4:30 pm

We need YOU there 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We must continue to stand against all forms of US Militarism.  Please join us on August 24 to stand against drones.

And then please join us on Sat. Sept. 11 at 30 W. Mifflin St., in front of Sen. Baldwin’s office at 10:00 am for our Mobilization Against Militarism.  See attachment for more details.

The vigil at Volk Field is a legal vigil where we will be on public property.  As always, it will be a solemn vigil, remembering the victims of US government drone attacks.

DIRECTIONS – To get to the vigil, take the Camp Douglas exit off Interstate 90/94 between Mauston and Tomah.  When you exit take County Rd. C to the northeast.  You will see the base straight ahead, but follow County Rd. C to the right and within a few blocks is a picnic wayside where you can park.  The wayside is open for the summer and bathrooms are available.

 

Volk Field Google Map

 

THE VIGIL – We will gather at the wayside around 3:15 for introductions and to review the plan for the vigil, and then process together to the gates of the base where we will hold a solemn vigil for one hour to remember those killed by drones.  Participants can stand in silence or read poems and stories about the effects of drone warfare.  It is important that the voices of the victims be brought to the gates of Volk Field.

Bring posters if you can.

A WORD ABOUT THE WEATHER – If you have questions about the vigil because of the weather, please make sure to call Joy at 608 239-4327 or Bonnie at 608-256-5088 for an update.

CARPOOLING –  If you are interested in carpooling to Volk Field from Madison, please contact Bonnie at 608-256-5088.

We hope to see you at the vigil on August 24.  If you can’t come this time, mark your calendar.  We usually vigil on the 4th Tuesday of every month.  If you have any questions please call or email Joy at 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5@gmail.com or Bonnie at 608-256-5088 or blbb24@att.net .

Peace,

Joy and Bonnie

Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

 

Highlighting US government Drone Murder means trial for seven.

Update from Bob Graff (Nov 18, 2020)

Today Phi Runkel, Catholic Worker Archivist and I were convicted of trespassing on the Volk field military base in Juneau County, Wisconsin on November 12, 2019.  The court procedure reminded me of the military training of soldiers, to kill reflexively without the use of conscience.

Volk Field is a training base for the RQ-7 shadow drones base.  These are small drones that set up the operation of Killer Drones and the killing by Apache Helicopters in the eight wars that the US is engaged in presently.    A statement we gave at the time when we entered the base is attached.

Five of the seven of us who entered the base, due to serious Covid 19 concerns were not present for the trial at Juneau County Courthouse.   Those not present had sent the judge statements of why they were not there and why they entered the base that day.  The Judge quickly dismissed their concerns and order them convicted of trespassing and they were fined.

The district attorney then presented the case against Phil and me.  He had two defense witnesses, a security chief for the base and a Sheriff’s deputy who had issued the trespassing citations.  He also showed on a large screen a body cam the deputy had taken of our arrest.

When it came to our testimony we were warned by the Judge that he would show some leeway but that he should stick to the issue of trespass as he narrowly defined it.  Both our testimonies were based on religious convictions of conscience.  Phil tried to bring in international law and testimony of others, including Ramsey Clark, the former attorney general of the USA.  Our testimonies were constantly interrupted by the Judge and considered not relevant.  We both got about ½ to ¾ of our testimony (attached below)

During our testimonies and after the Judge kept saying how he agreed with some of our values and convictions but they were not relevant to the trial.  This reminded me of my research on “reflexive killing” the practice of training a soldier to kill on instinct or, command orders without consideration for conscience.  Now I know why a panel of military command officers refused to consider a Catholic West Point’s ethic teacher’s plea to have them state that “reflexive killing was justified.  Despite the terrible toll this type of killing played on the minds of returning veterans they could not admit of the harm this practice played.  They just ignored it as we largely ignore the killing by drones in the eight US wars of today.  When Phil tried to state that the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State” he was cut off.  The Judge said over and over again that he understood and sympathized with our views but that they had nothing to do, like reflexive killing with our trial.  Society, politicians and media ask us, like the Judge to separate our conscience from our action of killing on reflex or by drone.  We had just witnessed the court version of reflexive killing, Justice without conscience.  I pray for all drone operators, their victims and all of us who are silent to drone killing.

originally posted at WI Network for Peace and Justice

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Donate if you can to the “Support Food not Killer Drones” campaign – in care of the Juneau County Peace Committee.   

Support Food not Killer Drones – Juneau County

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 WISCONSIN JUDGE REFUSES TO DELAY NOVEMBER 16 TRIAL DUE TO COVID-19

November 10, 2020

In a letter dated November 2, 2020, Judge Stacey Smith of the Juneau County District Court in Mauston, Wisconsin, denied the motions made by seven antiwar activists to adjourn their trial scheduled for November 16.

The seven, Bonnie Block, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Bob Graf, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, all of Wisconsin and Brian Terrell, of Iowa, had been arrested for trespass on November 12, 2019, in a protest at Volk Field, a Wisconsin Air National Guard base that trains personnel to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone. 

Brian Terrell Interviewed by Rodger Routh – Nov 13, 2020

Bonnie Block Interviewed by Jonathan Zarov

Footage of the incident.

Since, the opposition to the atrocities of the Vietnam war crimes, the US government does its best to stop Americans from seeing the bodies of our dead victims.

Representing themselves in separate motions, the activists called Judge Smith’s attention to the recommendation of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services that “COVID-19 is still spreading across our Wisconsin communities. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick. We recommend Wisconsinites cancel or postpone all travel, including travel within the state,” and asked that the trial be postponed “until such a time as travel is considered safe.”

Denying the motions, Judge Smith dismissed the COVID -19 concerns of the defendants, all of whom are in their 60s, 70s and 80s, assuring them that the court’s response is “proactive,” and encourages washing of hands, mask wearing and social distancing.

Judge Smith took special exception to Brian Terrell’s request that he consider the fact that for him to come to court from his home in Iowa “would require two days of interstate travel” and so his “presence in the court on November 16 would put court personnel and my co-defendants, several of whom are at high risk on multiple factors, at increased danger of exposure to COVID-19.” “I don’t understand how it is relevant that Mr. Terrell lives in Iowa or any other state in the union,” wrote Judge Smith, “I treat everyone in a reasonable and fair manner, no matter where they live.” In a letter to Judge Smith, Terrell clarified that his concern is not about being treated unfairly. “For me to travel to Mauston, Wisconsin, from my home in Maloy, Iowa, I would be on trains and busses for over ten hours in close proximity to other passengers, strangers traveling from all points. I would be waiting in stations from up to a few hours to overnight, depending on unreliable connections before getting a bus to Madison,” he wrote.

A further request to have the trial via Zoom was also denied, and the different circumstances of each defendant has made their original intention of a unified trial impossible.

Defendant Bonnie Block, a retired attorney of Madison filed a motion on November 9 to dismiss her case, citing that on that day the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced over 7,000 new COVID-19 cases, the most of any day. “It appears clear the current methods of dealing with the virus in the Juneau County Courts (and elsewhere) are not sufficient. Rather appearing in person on 11/16 carries a great deal of risk for everyone.  And since I’m 79 years old, I am at even greater risk both of contracting COVID-19 and of it being fatal. Thus the refusal to postpone the trial until this pandemic is over, gives me an untenable and unconscionable choice to appear at the risk of possible death or to give up my constitutional right to a day in court… Because I have a responsibility to my husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as extended family, friends, and fellow citizens to do my bit to prevent further spread of this deadly virus; I cannot appear in Court on November 16, 2020.  And since the Court denied a postponement, I believe the only just solution is for the Court dismiss this matter.”

Joyce Ellwanger, of Milwaukee, does not intend to appear in court but is concerned that she would be barred from volunteering in Wisconsin prisons if she has outstanding court fees or a warrant. She is asking the judge to accept a written statement in hopes that it will be accepted in lieu of appearing and will pay a fine if found guilty. Brian Terrell has informed the judge “as a courtesy,” that he will not appear (“for me to appear in your court as ordered on November 16 would be an irresponsible act of reckless disregard for the public safety”) or make any motions. Joy First of Madison, Jim Murphy of Highland along with Bob Graf and Phil Runkel of Milwaukee intend to go to trial on November 16, as scheduled.

Citing the crowded court calendar and the fact that the case had already been postponed once, Judge Smith’s letter said, “I understand the times in which we live and you might be thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’” He justified his refusal to delay the case any longer because “Justice that is untimely is no justice at all.” The defendants do not disagree that untimely justice is no justice at all, but they wonder when there will be justice for the many victims of drone wars, and that question draws them back to Volk Field.

Far from thinking “what’s the big deal?” the seven take their actions and the consequences with deadly seriousness. Catholic pastor Jim Murphy recognizes protests at other drone sites, “we need to carry our weight in Wisconsin and speak up-we have tried other options letters to three commanders, letters to US Senators with no response.” Bob Graf cites Martin Luther King, Jr, “Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation…” A statement from the group delivered to Volk Field on November 12, 2019, reads “We come because we mourn the children who have died from attacks by U.S. military drones. We remember these children, whose lives have been cut short while also remembering their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and grandparents who continue to mourn the deaths of these beautiful children” and “We come because the personnel working with and training with the RQ-7 Shadow Drones at Volk Field are an integral part of and are complicit in the whole US drone warfare program.”

Judge Smith’s unreasonable dismissal of the COVID-19 health and safety concerns of the seven defendants along with the court’s blind eye to the crimes perpetrated at sites like Volk Field, are clearly occasions where acting with responsibility and with regard for the wellbeing of others comes into conflict with the law, when it is too narrowly understood.

 

The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars 

For more information contact:

Joy First  (608) 239-4327

Brian Terrell  (773) 853-1886  

 

“What difference does it make to the dead,

the orphans and the homeless,

whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism

or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

― Mahatma Gandhi 

More on Drone Warfare – National Bird

Drone documentary