Arizona Community Press | www.azcommunitypress.org
A nationwide, month-long campaign of counter-drone teach-ins, rallies and protest, called ”April Days of Action” by its organizers, will challenge the escalated use of drones for targeted assassination by the Obama Administration as well as domestic surveillance by police agencies around the United States. The actions will call for a total halt to drone killing and surveillance.
The campaign, that has been months in the making, is being boosted by a groundswell of domestic opposition to use of drones against American citizens in the United States, sparked by the leaking in February of a government ”white paper” on drone targeting of United States citizens and the drone filibuster by United States Senator Rand Paul in early March.
“The April Days of Action will continue to build the surging interest in banning – or given the blank slate of existing law, at least regulating and limiting — the domestic use of drones,” said Shahid Buttar, Executive Director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC). “Some jurisdictions have already passed legislation to ban drones, and BORDC will soon release model legislation that anyone can use to recruit allies and local elected officials to assert control over drones.”
Those groups which have been planning for the April campaign includes a broad alliance of organizations such as American Friends Service Committee, Pakistan Solidarity Network, No Drones Network, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) along with many others. The goal is bringing the widest possible public attention to the ways in which drones are violating rights of sovereignty, due process, privacy, freedom of assembly and safety of persons and communities and to point out the exploding proliferation of U.S. drone manufacturing, U.S. drone research, and U.S. drone bases.
The April events, which span the United States, from Hawaii to Maine, have been coordinated by Joe Scarry, of the No Drones Network. “As I have talked to people across the country,” Scarry said,”I have found a remarkable level of determination to be part of this campaign to stop drone killing and spying. People read about this in the paper every day, and they can feel in their guts that it’s wrong, and they want to stop it now.”
The protests began on April 3 with a rally in New York, followed by three days of protest outside the facilities of companies that make drones, including at San Diego-based General Atomics which makes Predator and Reaper drones. The San Diego demonstrations included USS Midway Museum and the home James Neal Blue, CEO of General Atomics. Throughout the month of April events are planned for Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Dayton, Ft. Wayne, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Seattle, Tucson, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Honolulu, as well as in dozens of other locations, including many of the communities that host the estimated 100 drone basing sites in the U.S.
In Tucson on Monday, April 15th in the early morning hours a group of concerned citizens have called for a demonstration at Raytheon Missile Systems entrance to say “No Taxes for War!”. Raytheon Missile Systems is manufacturing UAVs that can be armed as well as weapons to arm them.
Cindy Sheehan and the Tour de Peace will be making a stop on their across country tour in Phoenix on Saturday, April 20th. On Thursday, April 4th Cindy Sheehan and the Tour set out on a cross-country bike tour which began in California and will end on July 3rd in Washington D.C.. The purpose of the coast-to-coast bike ride is “to end wars, to end immunity for U.S. war crimes, to end suppressions of our civil rights, to end the use of fossil fuels, to end persecution of whistle-blowers, to end partisan apathy and inaction”. Tour de Peace and End the War Coalition will be hosting a event title “”From Casey Sheehan to Pat Tillman to 146 Arizonans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan to Endless Drone Warfare to Kill Lists” outside of Sentors Jeff Flake and John McCain office in Phoenix. Their message to the two Arizona Senators is ”McCain and Flake, You have blood on your hands. Make peace, not war.”
According to the ACLU there is currently domestic drone “legislation proposed in 35 states and still active in 30 states”. Much of this legislation is aimed at regulating domestic surveillance drones. Here in Arizona, legislation has passed in the House and as of March 20th is now been referred to the Senate Rules Committee. Arizona HB 2269 is a bill which originally related to liquor suppliers but after “strike everything” amendments is now about law enforcement agencies and drones. Some feel, including Rep. Tom Forese who is a sponsor of this bill, that drones pose a significant threat to privacy. The legislation would make it ”UNLAWFUL FOR A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TO USE A DRONE TO GATHER EVIDENCE OR OTHER INFORMATION”. However there is language in the bill that does provide law enforcement with an exemption. According to Adam Henriksen, a writer for ‘The Tenth Amendment Center‘ who was present at the hearing on March 20th, states “HB2269 gives the Feds an exception – they will have a kind of special permission to fly drones, etc. The Feds will have a stronger foothold than ever in Arizona.” See the section of HB2269 below:
“C. This section does not prohibit the use of a drone:
1. to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.
2. if the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant signed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone.
3. If the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence.”
Nick Mottern – founder of Know Drones (one of the organizing groups) – says this about the April month of action, “Most people here in the United States know a little bit about drones; we want everyone to begin to see the depth of the threat that drones present to all of us, regardless of what nation we live in”.
Tucson Rally: ”Tax Day at Ratheon Missile Systems” will take place on April 15th fro 6:30 to 7:30am at Raytheon’s entrance on S. Nogales Highway at Hermans Road, two miles s. of Valencia.