SACRAMENTO – Five peace advocates convicted of trespassing at a demonstration opposing the Obama Administrations killer drone program at Beale AFB near Marysville were sentenced hereMonday to only 10 hours community service – after they said they rather go to prison than accept a fine and probation.
Judge Carolyn Delaney listened to passionate statements (below this release) by the defendants, who told the judge they were willing to go to federal prison rather than pay any fines or accept 3 years probation. They faced up to six months in federal prison and a $5,000 fine each for trespassing at Beale.
Delaney relented, and after acknowledging prison would serve “no purpose,” sentenced the most minimum of community service to Janie Kesselman, Camptonville; Sharon Delgado, Nevada City; Shirley Osgood, Grass Valley; and David and Jan Hartsough, both of San Francisco.
The “Beale 5” considered the very light sentence a “victory.” They were arrested October 30, 2012 protesting the U.S. drone program at Beale AFB, which provides surveillance drones that scout locations for killer drones, responsible for killing hundreds of innocent people, including children, around the world.
The defendants were convicted by Delaney August 12 after she refused to allow a jury trial. She also refused the admit the “Necessity” and “Nuremberg Principles” defenses, which argues citizens have a duty to prevent the killing of civilians by their own government. She also disregarded key testimony by witnesses.
The all-volunteer defense team – Sacramento lawyers Mike Hansen, Mark Reichel, Joe Marman and Tatiana Filippova – was coordinated by the National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento. They objected to the court’s decision to exclude a jury trial. They have 14 days to appeal.
The NLG/Sacramento also said the judge in the case refused to allow key witnesses – including people who have seen the devastation to civilians in Pakistan and other parts of the world.
A second anti-drone trial is scheduled later this year for another group of five people arrested at Beale AFB this past April 30.
Here are the statements of the Beale 5:
David Hartsough’s statement at sentencing Sept 9, 2013 for his nonviolent protest against Drones at Beale Air Force Base:
Drones have killed thousands of innocent civilians and are immoral and illegal under US and international law. They also recruit many more people into Al Qaeda.
We are one human family. All people in the world are children of God and are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacks our blood brother or sister, we would do everything in our power to stop them. This is the way we feel about innocent civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
One hundred and seventy-eight children and thousands of other civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Does this strengthen our national security? Is this making the world a safer place?
Drones are totally immoral and are against everything we have been taught in our religious Faiths: Love one another, Love your enemy and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is a question of religious freedom. I am a Quaker and my religious Faith requires me to try to stop the killing of innocent people.
How would we feel if Russians or Chinese or Afghanis or Pakistanis were flying drones over the US and killing American people?
It is illegal under international law to go into another country and drop bombs on people our government doesn’t like. The Nuremberg Principles require citizens to attempt to stop crimes against humanity and killing innocent civilians is a crime against humanity. Doing nothing or remaining silent is complicity in these crimes. In protesting at Beale AFB, I was trying to uphold international law.
The United States is making decisions to kill people without them ever coming before a court or found guilty. The US government is playing Judge, Jury and Executioner. Is this what we call the rule of law?
Using drones and killing many innocent people is creating more and more enemies of the US. Every person we kill has at least 50 family members and friends who will mourn the loss of their loved ones. Many will seek revenge on the people and nation that has killed their loved one or friend.
Instead of drones and dropping bombs on people we need to send Peace Corps people to build schools and medical clinics and help people in these countries recover from the wounds of war. We could be the most loved country on earth rather than the most hated.
By our silence we condone this senseless killing. We must speak out and act to stop this madness. By our nonviolent protest at Beale AFB, we were acting to uphold God’s law, US law, the Nuremberg Principles and international law.
We call on our fellow Americans, people in churches and synagogues and mosques, students, all people of conscience to join us in stopping Drones before they kill more innocent people and recruit more people into Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, our “war on terror” is a recipe for perpetual wars and endless suffering and death for people around the world.
Judge Carolyn Delaney, at a time when our country is preparing to reign down missiles and bombs on Syria which could start a much larger war in the Middle East killing thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps the best place for people of conscience is behind bars.
I am at peace with whatever you sentence me to. I cannot pay a fine or accept probation for a nonviolent action in which I was trying to uphold God’s law, US law and international law. Judge, if you so decide, I am ready to do community service or spend time in prison.
David Hartsough, San Francisco, CA
(David was arrested along with eight others blocking two entrances at Beale Air Force Base where they closed the main entrance for over three hours.)
Statement for Court September 9, 2013: Jan Hartsough
By standing at the gates of Beale Air Force Base I was joining with others to say that drone warfare is wrong. I do not believe that killing is the solution to anything. I believe that if Americans really knew the lethal danger of drones, more people would speak out against them. Beale is the closest base where I could stand in opposition.
Back in the mid-sixties I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Pakistan, helping to develop educational and economic resources there. After living and working there for two years,Pakistan is a part of me. I have followed with great pain and sadness the drone attacks on Pakistanis. I have learned from Pakistani victims of drone strikes that they are experiencing psychological trauma – never knowing when a drone might strike again. Kids are afraid to go to school; adults are afraid to gather for a funeral or a wedding celebration for fear of becoming a “target.” I have also read that 75% of Pakistanis now view the U.S. more as an enemy than an ally.
Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) can drop bombs on targets on the ground anywhere in the world, based on information from surveillance cameras mounted on another drone. This remote technical warfare removes the human dimension from war. People are not meeting face to face. It’s much more like a computer war game. The battlefield is often in a country that we have not declared war with. Are these drone attacks making Americasafer? I believe they are just creating more enemies.
A person becomes a drone target based on their “suspicious” activities, and their associates appearing “suspicious.” These are often called “signature strikes” when there is not a specific target – very different from the specific people whose names appear on kill lists (who are also killed by drones). Often in drone strikes innocent bystanders are also killed, including women and children. Is it moral to kill multiple innocent bystanders in order to kill a particular person/target? I say unequivocally NO – killing is wrong.
So what have we accomplished with our drone attacks? When will we wake up and see that there are much better ways to win the respect of the world’s people?
What if we spent the money currently going to develop drone warfare (and maintenance of over 800 military bases around the world) on effective economic development projects in other countries, and expanded the number of people serving in the Peace Corps? I am sure it would do more to end the violence against the U.S. than our targeted killings by drone strikes ever could. Each innocent killed as “collateral damage” makes us MORE enemies, not LESS – and makes us less secure as a people and a nation.
As a mother and grandmother I seek to find ways to help create a more peaceful world for future generations. Ending drone warfare is a concrete step we can and must take. I feel I must speak out against this new form of warfare before it’s too late. That’s why I stood in front of Beale Air Force Base last October.
Direct Action Protest Demands prepared for Beale AFB Commander — 10/30/2013
1. An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing.
2. Halt all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights, and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.
3. Prohibit the sale and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security.
4. The U.S. must immediately stop this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.
Jane Kesselman — Statement at Sacramento Federal Court Sentencing hearing — 9/9/13
I was too preoccupied with a death in the family to be able to organize my thoughts to be read in absentia at our trial last month, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak today.
Although I was found guilty, I don’t believe I have done anything wrong by my action. Indeed, I believe that NOT acting to bring attention to the immoral and illegal use of drone warfare would’ve been a far worse offense.
As I understand it, in a so-called “signature strike” the military targets a supposed enemy based on profiling a particular set of movements and activities that are deemed likely to be that of a “terrorist.” This profile is tracked using surveillance drones such as the ones at Beale AFB. Drone strikes are then ordered for those who match the profile. Using this protocol, many innocent people are killed by US drones, in countries with whom we aren’t even at war!
With every drone strike, with every death of an innocent child or adult, our country generates more and more hatred, exponentially boosting the number of terrorists driven to act against us. This is such a sad and dangerous strategy!
Imagine if we used just a fraction of the money spent on drone strikes to help repair the educational, health, and economic infrastructure of the countries whose populations we’ve been terrorizing… I believe that by acting as a humane rather than a disciplinary force in the world, the US could replace fear and hatred by our so-called enemies with respect and even gratitude.
Judge Delaney: I am thankful to be here today with my co-defendant comrades to speak from my heart and conscience against the grievous offenses of the US military. I am ready to be sentenced for my own offense: my civil disobedience. If you deem it necessary, I will go to prison, but I hope you will afford me the opportunity to do community service in lieu of any fines, probation, or prison time.
Thank you for hearing me.
Judge, although you did not allow us to use the necessity defense or to appeal to international law or to use expert witnesses, the facts are still there. My faith compelled me to act, and I’m willing to accept the consequences. I stepped onto Beale property because of conscience. U.S. drones are killing people, including children. U.S. drones are creating enemies who will want revenge. U.S. drones are not making us more secure, but less secure. By acting outside of international law we are making the world a more dangerous place.
The classic metaphor when talking about the necessity defense is the imagine of a house on fire, with a child crying from the window and a No Trespassing sign on the door. What is the right thing to do n such a situation? Can a person ignore the sign and enter the house to save the child? That is what we are talking about here.
In 2011, Brian Terrell was arrested with 13 others for protesting drone at Creech Air Force Base. At the trial, Brian said: “The house is on fire. And we fourteen are the ones who have seen the smoke from the fire and heard the cries of the children.. We cannot be deterred by a No Trespassing sign from going in to save the children.
People are dying. The house is burning. We crossed the line at Beale to try to stop the conflagration and keep it from spreading. We were obeying a higher law.
I am non-repentant. I do not regret standing in front of the gate at Beale and holding our sign. I think our action was a success. I would do it again. In fact, I encourage others to take nonviolent direct action to interfere with the U.S. drone program and stop the most recent rush to war with Syria.
I will not pay a fine, but I will gladly go to jail or accept community service. My faith compelled me to act, and I am willing to accept the consequences.
“…I think of my grandbabies. They are children of the world. I have an image of the 178 children who have been killed by U.S. Drones. I have an image on a mother holding her dead child. It’s not OK. Not OK. Going to Beale to protest may not do anything, but I have to do something.”