MAUSTON, WISCONSIN-Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones, and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice have joined together this year for a cross country walk calling attention to US involvement in drone warfare and current US militarism practiced in police departments. This year’s walk focused especially on both of these practices used primarily against people of color. The organizers say they want to highlight the connection between the violence of indiscriminate killing of people of color overseas with the militarization of police in the US where mostly people of color are killed by police violence.
The walk set off last Tuesday from the Dane County Jail in Madison, Wisconsin. The walkers are in their 5th day and are approaching the 60 mile marker of the 90 mile journey to Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin. Volk Field, the site of the Wisconsin Air National Guard is one location where pilots train to operate by remote control the Shadow Drone. Shadow Drones are not armed or lethal by construction, but are used to surveil targeted areas and communicate with Tracker or more lethal drones.
On the walk KGNU caught up to co-coordinator Voices for Creative Non-Violence, Brian Terrell. Terrell has served multiple prison sentences for entering military bases to deliver a message of peace. He described why the message for this walk would have additional meaning,
“One thing that is different about this year’s walk is reflected in the messaging that this walk has about police violence and racial profiling happening at home. Because of the terrible things happening at Ferguson. There’s nothing new. What happened at Ferguson is nothing new. We see things happening on a regular basis. This is not something that just now but just because of a whole, for many reasons, many things converging that many people are paying attention. Even the mainstream media is addressing the militarization of police. And why does a town of 3000 people have an armored car given by the pentagon. And why do our local police wear camel uniforms? And the discrepancies and the demographics racially, who’s in prison and the kind of punishments meted out to different people because of their ethnic backgrounds that that’s the kind of things. It’s getting out there. And people are talking about it. It’s certainly not enough but I think it’s an opportunity and it gives a very special obligation for us to be talking about these things.”
Coincidentally police in Mauston, Wisconsin confronted walkers ordering them off of the highway but the group, knowing their rights, continued north on Highway 12 to their destination. Later that evening police again approached the group by attempting to tow their cars from a public parking a lot. The group filed a complaint against the sheriff and continued to park in the lot for the duration of their trip.
Carrying messages of peace, many of the group had traveled to war torn areas of Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. Terrell is one who has witnessed for himself the destruction of US drone strikes. He has spoken to surviving family members and adds that President Obama is continuing the war crimes of President Bush. He said that the US is cutting its own throat and stresses the threat to US security that drone warfare contributes to the recruitment of new Al-Qaeda members.
Terrell also points to the misconceptions perpetuated in media that suggest the manufacturing of US weapons for security purposes while instead he says, weapon manufacturing yields high profits:
“In February of this year, for example, the US Navy’s $122.4 million contract modification to Raytheon Missile Systems Co. to buy more than 100 Tomahawk missiles to replace those fired into Syria was celebrated in the media and by members of Congress without regard to the moral, legal or strategic efficacy of those attacks. The only justification needed for these lethal attacks, it seems, is that they sell missiles.”
The group is expected to finish their 90-mile journey to Volk Field on Tuesday.