Thursday, October 10, 2013

Drones Over Vacationland? #mepolitics

Bruce Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
(207) 443-9502

Peace Leaders in Maine for Drone Awareness Walk 
Limestone to BathOctober 10-19

Peace activists from Maine and beyond will walk through large portions of our state from October 10-19 in order to bring the issue of drone surveillance at home and drone killing overseas to the public’s attention.  The walk will begin in Limestone in Aroostook County and end in Bath. 

Renowned peace activists Kathy Kelly (Voices for Creative Nonviolence), Tarak Kauff (Veterans for Peace) and others will also join the peace walk.Monks, nuns, and lay people from the Japanese Buddhist order called Nipponzan Myohoji will lead the walk.  This order was founded by a Buddhist supporter of Mahatma Gandhi and spends most of its time walking for peace around the world.  

The Maine Drone Peace Walk is being sponsored by the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and Maine Veterans for Peace. The walk will be held during Keep Space for Peace Week and is just one of many such events that will be held around the world.

President Obama has announced that as many as 30,000 drones will be flying around the US doing surveillance of the American people in the coming years. Thirty-seven states have applied to host one of six military drone test centers across the nation.

There is much talk about bringing drones to Maine and making the Presque Isle airport a weaponized drone test center, thus the reason for starting the walk in Aroostook County.

Last spring the Maine legislature passed a bill that would require police to obtain a warrant before snooping on citizens across the state.  Gov. LePage vetoed the bill.

Maine Drone Peace Walk organizer Bruce Gagnon said, “Over these nine days we will hand out flyers and talk to people about the desire of some officials in Maine to bring weaponized drone testing to Aroostook County.  With these same weaponized drones the US is now killing legions of innocent civilians throughout Central Asia and Africa.  In addition some officials in Augusta last spring worked hard to kill a bill that would have required police in Maine to obtain warrants before they could use drones to spy on us. We’ve got to get the public engaged in this issue if we hope to preserve our constitutional right to privacy and walking across significant parts of the state will help us do just that.” 

According to Lisa Savage, co-coordinator of the Maine Campaign to Bring Our War $$ Home and Local Coordinator for CODEPINK State of Maine, “This walk is important to raise awareness of how the government spends our tax dollars on very expensive drones to keep us all under surveillance. Drones are being used to kill thousands of innocent civilians, including hundreds of children, around the world. People here in the U.S. say they want their tax dollars spent on health care, education, jobs and veterans benefits -- not drones.”

Doug Rawlings from Maine Veterans For Peace said, “As I walk down these Maine roads that I have driven for the past 35 years, I will be going past bridges and schools that have been built since World War II military expenditures were converted over into infrastructure funds. My father's generation put away the munitions and started building the country that has given us the life we now lead.  Over forty years ago I served in an artillery unit in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Our howitzers dropped rounds on countless Vietnamese peasants, and I didn't blink an eye. Now I realize the anguish we wrought then, and visit now on Afghan and Pakistani children with our Predator drones.  I cannot, in good conscience, accept or support such a use of my tax dollars.”

The drone walk begins in Limestone on October 10 and will pass through Caribou, Presque Isle, Old Town, Bangor, Skowhegan, Mercer, Farmington, Waterville,Belgrade, Augusta and Bath. (Some driving will be necessary between some of these communities.  The walk will average about 13 miles per day.  In the evenings walkers will be fed at local churches and will stay in local homes.)

On October 18 the walkers will hold a protest against drones inside the Hall of Flags at the state capital in Augusta at 3:00 pm.

The walk will conclude in Bath on Saturday, Oct 19 with a protest at BIW during the “christening” of the Navy’s first “stealth” destroyer that would play a key role in Obama’s destabilizing “pivot” of 60% of US military forces into the Asia-Pacific to surround China.  The protest will begin at 10 am.

Drone Walk Schedule
  • Oct 10 (Thursday) Begin in Limestone (former Loring AFB) and walk to Caribou.
  • Oct 11  (Friday) Walk to Presque Isle
  • Oct 12  (Saturday) Drive to Old Town and walk into Bangor
  • Oct 13  (Sunday) Walk to Skowhegan (need to drive some part of the day). Pot luck dinner 5-7:30pm at the Skowhegan Community Center. fmi 207-399-7623.
  • Oct 14  (Monday) Walk to Mercer
  • Oct 15  (Tuesday) Walk to Farmington
  • Oct 16  (Wednesday) Walk to Waterville (need to shuttle some part of the day). Pot luck dinner 5-7pm at the Pleasant St. Methodist Church. fmi 207-399-7624.
  • Oct 17 (Thursday) Walk to Belgrade
  • Oct 18  (Friday) Walk to Augusta. Closing ceremony at state capital Hall of Flags at 3:00 pm; Potluck at Mediation & Facilitation Resource Center, 11 King St at 6:00 pm.
  • Oct 19 (Saturday) Shuttle to Bath and join protest against BIW "christening" of first stealth destroyer from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm; All are invited for lunch at Addams-Melman House in Bath after the protest.
You are invited to join us for one mile, one day, or longer on this peace walk.  It is our goal to bring the drone issue (surveillance and weaponized drones for killing) to people throughout the state.  We also invite everyone to join us at either or both or the two concluding events in Augusta (Oct 18)  and Bath (Oct 19).

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