Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sharing Information On #Drones

One reason to do a peace walk is the uplifting experience of being in community with diverse workers for peace and freedom from surveillance. Another major reason: to get the word out about the threat of drones to human safety and privacy. Several walkers said that people they encountered in Maine asked them, "What is a drone?". (I suggest "flying, spying killer robots" as a good working definition.)

Peace activists who traveled from Japan to Maine to participate in the walk reacted with disbelief when I told them news of the walk had been published by SF Gate, the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle.

After the Associated Press picked up the story on the walk in Skowhegan, versions of the AP story appeared all over the place:

SF Gate
Boston Globe
Franklin Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)
Kennebec Journal (Augusta, ME)

A Maine city whose mayor is peace activist Karen Heck announced the walk on its website, and Mayor Heck made a proclamation officially welcoming the walkers with a proclamation at their city council meeting on the night before the walk arrived.

Other local coverage by media outlets in Maine:

  1. 10-day walk brings awareness of surveillance drones in Maine

    Bangor Daily News-Oct 13, 2013
    Bruce Gagnon of Bath holds a sign during the start of a peaceful walk in downtown Bangor on Sunday morning. The Maine Drone Peace Walk ...
  2. Marchers in Maine protest use of drones

    Press Herald-Oct 13, 2013
    The Maine Drone Peace Walk began in Limestone, in Aroostook County, on Thursday. Marchers walk about 13 miles a day, and the march is ...

  3. Peace Walk through Maine calls for no spy drones

    WCSH-TV-Oct 12, 2013
    OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A peace walk calling on government to prevent weaponized drone testing in Maine made it's way from ...
  4. 280-mile walk planned to protest drones

    The Portland Phoenix-Oct 11, 2013Share
    The walk, which is being organized by Maine Veterans for Peace and ... President Barack Obama told the American people that drone use in ...

    Here's one that got posted to facebook by a tv station in Maine:
    And our friends at the great news site Popular Resistance re-posted Bruce Gagnon's blog post about some of our coverage.

     At the concluding rally in the Maine Statehouse rotunda on Friday, October 18 I made the following remarks. (Road construction in multiple locations for a "natural" i.e. fracked gas pipeline delayed us so much that we missed all of the prior speeches. I look forward to seing the video so that I can hear Kathy Kelly, Tarak Kauf, and Shenna Bellows who is running for Susan Collins' senate seat.)
  1. My birthday present from CODEPINK arrived in time to wear at the podium.
    Get your DRONE FREE ZONE  t-shirt here.
    Sixteen year old Malala Yousefzai took a meeting with President Obama last week. Malala is famous as a champion of education for girls in Pakistan, and was attacked by Taliban extremists for her work – which only made her more famous.

    In her meeting with the man who keeps a “kill list” that he goes over every Tuesday with his advisors, Malala said:

    “Drone strikes are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts.”

    Shortly after their meeting, President Obama delivered a big win for war profiteers by rolling back restrictions on weapons exports. He made it easier for the corporations that fund his campaigns to sell their deadly merchandise, including parts for drones, to trouble spots all over the globe.

    The proliferation of machines of death in the hands of men whose souls have gone to sleep is the signature of the U.S. in the 21st century. Our entire economy is built upon this, and about 2/3 of our federal taxes are spent on this, driving us toward more austerity for the people and threatening us with moral and fiscal bankruptcy.

    President Obama has promised 30,000 drones will soon fill the skies over North America.

    Maine legislators still listen to their constituents. In the session just concluded, the Maine legislature passed a bill regulating the use of drones by law enforcement officials. Both houses agreed that warrants should be obtained before surveilling with drones. The bill contained an unfortunate exemption for the testing of militarized drones. Attorney General Janet Mills lobbied for the exception, calling drones an “economic driver” for Maine. This compromise to get the bill passed turned out to be unnecessary – Governor LePage vetoed the bill, and there were not enough votes to override his veto.

    Vacationland is where I was born, and where I make my home. Famous as a tourist destination spot, Maine has spectacular coastal islands and harbors, acres of forests, and the most beautiful lakes, rivers and mountains imaginable. It has a burgeoning local food movement and a long tradition as a haven for artists and authors. Drones overhead will destroy Vacationland as we know it. Their noisy, hovering threat to privacy and safety will profit a few already wealthy arms merchants, and the rest of us will lose something of immense value: true security.

    The role of NSA surveillance in targeted drone bombings was revealed by Edward Snowden; the two functions of drones go hand in hand – spying and killing by robots that cost the millions of dollars that have gone missing from our budgets for public education and public transportation represent a failure of our culture, our intelligence, and a failure to have true government of, by and for the people.

    Activists in Maine will again work to find sponsors for a bill regulating drones and banning militarized drones in Maine airspace. We will not give up. Our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, depends upon it.

    Thank you to the Maine Drone Peace Walkers for helping to bring so much attention to this pressing problem.

    The walk ends today, but the work continues.

    CODEPINK has collaborated to organize a No Drone Summit in Washington DC for November 16-17. Experts from around the globe and plenty of concerned citizens will share what they know and on Monday, November 18 some will engage in civil disobedience to resist the proliferation of drones. See me for details if you to know know more about these events.

    Thank you for coming together today. I am honored to be among you.

No comments: