Kelly and Walker offering bread at gates of Missouri drones base.
On International Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker were convicted of trespass at a military installation where armed drones are operated. Kelly, who has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, was sentenced to a three month prison sentence, while Walker was sentenced to a year of supervised probation. Kelly will begin her prison sentence in January.
The two were tried in federal court in Jefferson City, Missouri, on charges of trespassing at Whiteman Air Force Base last June 1st protesting U.S. use of weaponized drones which are remotely piloted from the base.
Kelly is the co-coordinator of the Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Georgia Walker is the director of Journey to New Life, which helps former prisoners obtain jobs and housing in Kansas City, Missouri. Both have been actively involved in Campaign Nonviolence.
Kelly was interviewed on Worldview, a National Public Radio program taped at WBEZ in Chicago on December 8, 2014, on the trial and her recent work in Afghanistan. Hear the program here.
Kelly and Walker had sought to offer testimony on the Nov. 24, 2014, report that for every intended target of a U.S. drone strike, 28 unidentified persons are also killed. Drones change the nature of warfare, turning whole regions into battlefields where merely suspected militants, often uninvolved in combat, are identified and executed, without trial, from obscuring distances and with no chance to surrender.
Kelly and Walker offered bread and a letter to guards at Whiteman Air Force Base, near Knob Noster, Mo., on June 1, 2014. The guards accepted the bread but refused the letter, which addressed the base commander citing a consensus of international legal experts condemning drone warfare. Because, in doing so, Kelly and Walker had stepped across a designated line on the road toward the base, they will be tried at 9 a.m. in the Federal Courthouse at 80 Lafayette St. in Jefferson City, before Judge Matt Whitworth. In a similar case in 2012, Whitworth gave three defendants sentences of 6 months, 4 months, and probation, respectively.
Citing a Bureau of Investigative Journalism report, Georgia Walker stated, “In order for the U.S. to kill a single terrorist leader with our militarized drones, U.S. airborne attacks kill at least 28 innocent non-combatants. How can we tolerate these extra-judicial executions done in our name? These are weapons of mass destruction which are not making U.S. people safer. These killings could feasibly recruit individuals to engage in anti-U.S. activities. In the name of permanent and total war on terrorism, we are committing human rights violations. Have we totally lost the moral high ground?”
Kathy Kelly has accompanied numerous delegations to Iraq and Gaza where she lived through the U.S. “Shock and Awe” and Israeli “Cast Lead” campaigns alongside ordinary civilians in communities under heavy bombardment. Her recent work in Afghanistan as a guest of Afghan Peace Volunteers, has connected her with the drone issue. “I have lived with people who have shuddered, on the ground, under air attacks, some of which are carried out by drones and some of which have occurred because of information collected by drones,” she says.
“I have been with children while Hellfire missiles were aimed at their street and listened as U.S. Air Force planes shrieked through the skies overhead. I’ve been at the bedsides of children whose bodies were ripped apart, and I’ve been with families who have exhumed the bodies of their children and held funerary rituals. I’ve been with young teenagers accompanying their fathers and uncles to exhume the bodies of victims. I cannot pretend that these people haven’t entrusted me with their grievances and asked me to please beg the government of the country where I live to stop the airborne surveillance and attacks.”
Walker and Kelly sought to give testimony to the judge about the June 1 action and will cite Constitutional protections of free speech and of the right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances.
Walker’s and Kelly’s June 1 resistance occurred during the May 30-June 1, 2014, Trifecta Resista, cosponsored by PeaceWorks-KC, All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Social Responsibility Board, Voices for Creative Non-Violence, Journey to New Life, Peace Network of the Ozarks, Disciples Peace Fellowship, War Is a Crime (David Swanson), Mid-MO Fellowship of Reconciliation, Loretto Peace Committee, Peace Farm (Pantex, TX), Veterans for Peace-St. Louis, Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, Sisters of Charity Social Justice Office, Chelsea Manning Support Network, & local Catholic Worker Houses.
PeaceWorks, Kansas City
4509 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64111
Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 1249 W. Argyle St. #2, Chicago, IL 60640, vcnv.org, info@vcnv,org, 773-873-3815