Monday, March 22, 2010

Drone protesters arrested at Tucson airshow

March 21, 2010
Contact in Tucson: Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa at 520-323-8697


TUCSON -- On Sunday afternoon, March 21, at the Aerospace and Arizona Days military exhibition and air show at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, two Tucson residents were arrested for trespass. John Heid, 55, and Gretchen Nielsen, 77, unfurled a banner declaring "War is Not a Show" and stood peacefully near the Predator UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle).

Nielsen stated, "When I see the display at the Air Show --- the fighter planes, the bombers, the attack aircraft ---I see a display of yesterday's toys. When I see the ground control station and data terminal for the unmanned MQ-1 Predator, I see an extension of teenage computer games. When I see our young adults in uniform who have been trained to kill on command, I see yesterday's children.

"When I see proud, patriotic parents and grandparents enjoying the thrill of war games at the Air Show, I see tomorrow's parents and grandparents begging what's left of the world for forgiveness."

Heid stated, "War is not a show. It is killing us. And them. Combatants and children alike. Our soul and civil society. The moral order too is a casualty. War is hell. Not a cause for celebration. A frontal assault on reason. And the earth. War is not a spectacle or family entertainment.

"Today at the Air Show we see its shiny weapons, not its bloody victims. Not the nearly 4,400 dead U.S. soldiers. Not the tens of thousands of Iraqi, Afghani or Pakistani civilians. We glorify the mighty flying death machines and ignore the havoc they wreak.

"Today, just after the seventh anniversary of the war on Iraq, we vigil beside an MQ-1 Predator drone. Over 700 Pakistani civilians have been killed by this machine's Hellfire missiles. Davis-Monthan is home base for the 214th Reconnaissance Group of the Arizona National Guard which flies around-the-clock combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan with the Predator.

"In the shadow of death we raise our plea for peace. For skies free of weaponry. For an end to war without end. The show is over, let peace begin."

The pair was taken to the Pima County Jail, where they were processed and released by 10 p.m. They are scheduled to appear in Tucson City Court for arraignment - Heid on April 29 and Nielsen on April 30.

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