On February 23, 2106 two peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell were arrested when they attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin. The base is the location for training pilots to operate Shadow Drones over countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Gaza where the two have lived alongside people who have survived US drone attacks. Although people from affected countries who can’t flee from drone surveillance have reported fear of people from the US, many have broken bread with Kelly and Terrell and have welcomed opportunities for deepened mutual understanding instead of escalating violent response.
Buddy Bell, Co-coordinator with Voices for Creative Nonviolence updates about the cases:
Kelly and Terrell said they carried the loaf of bread to signify the worth of relying on words rather than weapons. This action follows similar actions by both activists at other bases around the country.
Before entering the base property, Kathy Kelly said: “Living alongside ordinary people who can’t escape drone surveillance in places like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan and knowing that a drone operator could be ordered to assassinate civilians who have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide affected my conscience. I wanted to ask drone operators in Volk Field whether they had been asked to target any people for possible assassination that day. I want to ask how the base training manual teaches people to distinguish between civilians and armed combatants. If an operator wants to quit, what does the commander of Volk Field do?”
Brian Terrell also noted: “Wisconsin is where I was born and raised and so I feel that coming to Volk Field is a responsibility that I owe in gratitude to my home state. The premise that drones will limit the parameters of war and make for fewer civilian casualties has proven false. General Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010, warned that the drone ‘lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there’s a danger in that.’ And yet the evolution of drones in the militaries of many countries around the globe has been anything but cautious. Instead there is a reckless proliferation of this deadly technology.”
Terrell and Kelly will be arraigned on February 24th at the Juneau County Justice Center in Mauston, WI. Also on February 25th Mary Beth Schlagheck will be tried for having crossed onto Volk Field in August of 2015. Hers is the last of seven trials stemming from nonviolent civil resistance actions at Volk Field that were undertaken as the culmination of the “Let It Shine” 90-mile walk from Madison, Wisconsin to Volk Field. The actions and testimonies of the activists who have protested at Volk Field were said to have inspired the actions of Kelly and Terrell.
Kelly and Terrell said that they were inspired by the civil actions but also by testimonies of those who have been to court in recent trials happening this month following the August action there.