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At around noon, everyone who was participating in the action gathered together in the food court at Union Station. After filling in the latecomers who had been at the Arc of Justice on final details for the action, we left Union Station.
There were about 40 of us who walked down Delaware Ave. towards the Capitol. It was close to 1:00 pm and there were floods of people filling the street walking away from the Capitol and we knew it was likely the inauguration ceremony was likely over.
When we got to the Russell Senate Office Building we decided that this would be a good place for the action. Art Laffin pointed up into the sky and loudly said, “Look up in the sky. It’s a drone.” Other participants started pointing to the sky and yelling that we were being attacked by a drone. I think this may have been unsettling to the crowd walking by as they also looked into the sky.
The 11 people risking arrest dropped to the ground, covering themselves with the bloody shrouds. I joined others in lying poster-size pictures of drone victims on top of them. They were moaning and crying out in agony as they lay there. People tried to stop and take pictures as the police tried to move them along. The police did not want the crowd to see what we were doing, but we were successful in getting their attention and getting our message out there.
Within about a minute a Capitol Police officer shouted, “This is your final warning. If you don’t leave immediately you will be arrested.” Less than a minute later the police started taking people by the arm, pulling them to their feet, and removing them from the scene. I could see Max was being held by a police officer with hands being held behind his back, but I couldn’t see the others and assumed they were being arrested and cuffed.
All of the sudden, the others returned and lay down on the street again. An officer continued to hold Max with his hands behind his back. The police again removed everyone from the scene and informed them they would not be arresting them. Eventually Max was also released. We thing that there were orders likely coming down from above that they did not want any protesters arrested at the inauguration, making it look like people were against anything Obama was doing.
So, we stood with our signs for a time, chanting and trying to talk to the crowd, but a line of about 15-20 police officers stood should-to-shoulder trying to block us from the view of the people streaming by. Still quite a lot of people got our message that day.
When I returned home and looked at news reports of the inauguration, I saw that the big concern was Michelle Obama’s new bangs and the dress she wore to the ball. No one in the news wondered how we could have elected a war criminal to serve as our president. I saw pictures of Obama with his daughters, and a video of him dancing with his wife. Family seems to be so important to him. Doesn’t he realize that family also is the most important thing to people living in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen? Doesn’t he understand that they love their families and mourn their children when they die like the parents of the children in Newton? Doesn’t he get that we need to take care of all the children of the world, not just the children of the United States?
I returned to my husband on Monday evening and was so glad to get home to him. On Tuesday a group of seven activists here in Wisconsin held the monthly vigil at Volk Field where they are building an $8 million drone training facility. It was seven degrees with a wind chill well below zero. I had to stay with my husband and couldn’t join them, but was glad for their perseverance in the cold.
National, statewide, and local groups are all mobilizing and coming together to work to stop drone warfare. They have formed a coalition called Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (NSDSW). April will be a month of actions, and there are plans coming together in locations around the country targeting military bases, manufacturers of drones, and schools doing research. For more information and to get involved, go to http://nodronesnetwork.blogspot.com/
Our government tries to whitewash what is happening with the drones, but I believe that when people understand what is really going on, there will be an outcry that can’t be stopped. It is up to us.