On the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday 10 people in Tucson, Arizona chose to honor his legacy with a peace vigil at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, which has played a central role in the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, and is also home of the Arizona Air National Guard's 214th Predator Unit.
If Dr. King was alive today I have no doubt that he would be one of the most vocal critics of the endless cycle of war perpetrated on the world by the United States. He would most likely be on the front lines of nonviolent civil resistance to the war machine. And so three of the ten, Dennis DuVall, John Heid, and Jean Boucher walked into the base carrying a letter to present to the base commander opposing depleted uranium munitions and armed drones.
They never made it past the front gate, and the military police called the Tucson Police to arrest the men. Here (below) are the resisters' Action Statement and the letter carried into the base on January 17th. If the base commander won't get it, at least others will have the chance to read it.
Thanks to all who participated in nonviolent civil resistance actions on or around Dr. King's birthday. As Dr. King said the night before he died in 1968, “For years now, we have been talking about war and peace. But now, no longer can we just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.” Indeed, we must learn that nonviolence IS the only way, and we as members of civil society must lead the way through nonviolent action.
Action Statement, January 17, 2011, Tucson, Arizona
The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy· returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
An entire generation has grown up under the deep darkness of war. Across two decades thousands of U.S. and U.N. soldiers have been killed. Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians. The wounded are innumerable. The cost immeasurable. The end nowhere in sight.
War is bipartisan. It knows no limits. And takes no sides. Everyone becomes its casualty. Its appetite insatiable. Its destruction total. War is perpetual. It cannot stop itself. "Only love can do that."
Today, our country commemorates the birth of Nobel Peace laureate Martin Luther King Jr. His words are as timely as the day they were first spoken. They echo across the decades. Clarion and compelling. Today, animated by Dr. King's words, we walk. Both on Tucson's public streets and where we are prohibited, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. We walk under the midday sun, pursuing an end to "a night devoid of stars."
We are mindful too that January 17 marks the 50th anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell speech. We recall his indictment:
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every missile fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense."
Davis-Monthan has played a central role in the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq. Today we call upon General William M. Fraser III, Air Combat Command Leadership and Colonel John A. Cherry to comply with the recent United Nations mandate to reveal the sites where the U.S. has fired depleted uranium shells in Iraq. Today we redouble our twenty year long call for an end to the war. Disarm and disclose!
With a spirit of nonviolence, we carry the U.N. resolution along with our own resolve in seeking the ways of peace to Davis-Monthan, at once both symbol and substance of our nation's commitment to the use of armed force, spending the hopes of our children. And Iraq's.
One step at a time we can usher in the light, ending this decades long darkness devoid of stars.
Letter Carried into Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, January 17, 2011
Dear Col. Inman:
At a time when Tucson is mourning senseless violence in its own community, we must also mourn the victims of the U. S drone attacks 7,000 miles away.
Tucson's complicity in the drone air war is another Tucson tragedy. The tragedy is that Arizona Air National Guard's 214th Predator Unit here at Davis-Monthan AFB is helping to murder hundreds of innocent people by remote control in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. By guiding "Hellfire" missiles to their targets in homes and villages, ANG's Predator Unit will typically kill 10-50 innocent people for each targeted victim. Even more tragically for the people of Arizona and aircrews of the 214th Predator Unit, international killing is a war crime! No U. S. court has ever ruled on the legality of "targeted assassinations' by drones.
Col. Inman, I urge you to end the military operations for the 214th Predator Unit and stop bombing the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Blowing people apart with Hellfire missiles only unites people in outrage and incites more revenge, violence and retaliation. Drone air attack do not prevent or eliminate terrorism. They are terrorism! I implore you to ground the 214th Predator Unit and use diplomacy and other nonviolent means for opposing terrorism. As a veteran, and in the spirit of Martin Luther King, I would welcome the opportunity to enter into a dialog with you and your aircrews.
As President Obama said in Tucson just a few days ago, "Only an honest discourse and debate" can honor those who die in senseless acts of violence.
Toward peace and a nonviolent world,
January 17, 2011