Camp Douglas, WI — Last week, peace activists Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly were arrested as they attempted to deliver a load of bread and a letter to drone operators working at Volk Field, an air base where drones are launched. On behalf of a group called Creative Nonviolence, Terrell and Kelly were hoping to deliver their peace offering to a few drone operators and hopefully have a conversation.
However, they were quickly arrested for trespassing on the airbase.
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 explained his opposition to the base, saying that:
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.
The two were arrested and held overnight by local officials, and were denied their request to enter a no contest plea. The day after their arrests they were arraigned from their jail cells via a video conference link with Judge Curran from the Juneau County jail.
“Oh, I get what’s happening here. You have some people out there who will give you a gold star and a pat on the back for being so courageous,” Judge Curran said during the hearing.
Terrell contested the judge’s decision, saying that “It would save the county, the court and everyone involved time and trouble if the judge would accept the no contest plea, and go right to sentencing. I don’t understand why a pre-trial conference was scheduled when we haven’t asked for a trial.”
Judge Curran responded, “It’s not necessary for you to understand the process of this court, that’s why God made lawyers.”
The judge was obviously just giving them a hard time because they were activists, and prolonging their experience in the court system to waste their time.
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