Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field

Joy First August 26, 2015

Voices for Creative Nonviolence engaged with a number of Wisconsin peace groups to organize an 8-day 90-mile walk across southwest Wisconsin from August 18-25. The purpose of the walk was to call attention and make connections between the militarized police violence at home and the military using violence abroad through drone warfare and by other means. In both cases the victims are people of color, which forces us to reflect on the systemic racism of our society.

The walk began at the City/County/Jail complex in Madison on August 18. Dane County has one of the highest rates of racial disparity of any county in the country on many issues, including when it comes to incarceration – hence starting the walk at the jail. In fact, in order to make the prison population match the general population in Dane County, we would need to release 350 Black people. This is horrific, especially when we understand that so many people of color are in jail for nonviolent crimes and crimes of poverty that could better be solved by more positive interventions. It is up to all of us to stand up with our brothers and sisters and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter!”

There were about 15-20 walkers each day as we went through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside – Waunakee, Lodi, across the Merrimac ferry, camping at Devil’s Lake State Park and Rocky Arbor, up through Mauston and New Lisbon, and ending at Volk Field. It was eight nights of sleeping in the homes of supporters, in tents, and in church basements.

The walk participants kept going through inclement weather that is not typical for Wisconsin in August. There was rain, heavy wind, and very cool temperatures during the walk. The cooler temperatures were better than walking in 90 degree weather, but it still made for a difficult walk. However, they kept going 12-15 miles each day, persistent and determined.

What kept us going like this for eight days? People choose to be involved with the walk, knowing it would be difficult and push them to their limits, but also knowing that the militarized violence, both abroad and at home, is causing grave suffering to many innocent people and we must do something about it. We must speak out, raise awareness, share our concerns, and most importantly call for change. And that is what we did all along the route as we built bonds of friendship and connection with each other, and provided outreach and education along the way. We called for change in front of the City/County/Jail complex in Madison at the beginning of the walk, and we called for change at Volk Field at the end of the walk, as well as all along the route.

The walk came to an end at a beautiful rest area next to a noisy freeway near Volk Field. Volk Field is a Wisconsin Air National Guard Base near the village of Camp Douglas, WI. One of the jobs there is to train personnel to operate Shadow drones. Though the Shadow drones do not carry weapons (at least that is what we are told), they carry a camera that is used for target acquisition, surveillance, and assessment, and they are part of the bigger program of drone warfare in this country. The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has been vigiling at the gates of Volk Field for 3 ½ years – with three actions of nonviolent civil resistance during that time.

After a picnic lunch we formed our final circle to discuss details for both the vigil and risk arrest action, we read the nonviolence guidelines, and we shared a poem. Then we were ready to process to the gates of Volk Field. We walked slowly and solemnly to the gates with a drum beat and a lone voice singing a mournful chant. We walked to the gates with heavy hearts, remembering those who have died in drone strikes and as a result of police violence. Some of the signs we carried were pictures of children who have been killed by drones, stating, “U.S. Drone Warfare is Terrorism”.

The Juneau County sheriff was at the gate with several of his deputies when we arrived. There was also a police dog, which they have never used with us in the past.

We stood, as we always do, on the grass under a big beautiful tree. Buddy and Xan began to sing the names of victims of militarized violence, going back and forth between the name of a drone victim, and then the name of Black woman who was killed by the police in this country. After each name the crowd responded by singing, “We remember you” and a single drum beat.

After listening to the names for a few minutes, those of us who were going to risk arrest stepped off the curb and onto the road. We slowly walked towards the gate feeling the pain of living under a government that could commit these acts in our name. We took one step onto the base and were immediately taken into custody, handcuffed, and put into a police car.

We were handcuffed in front, given a bag of food once we got to the jail, processed and released within about four hours. We were arrested for disorderly conduct and also given a citation for trespassing. We have a court date on September 30. The arrestees were Bonnie Block, Cassandra Dixon, Joyce Ellwanger, Joy First, Jim Murphy, Phil Runkel, Mary Beth Schlagheck, Tyler Shiffer, and Don Timmerman.

Even though it was one of the easiest arrests I have been through, it nonetheless felt like a powerful action. The whole eight days built up to this action where we were able to really make the connection between militarized violence at home and abroad. It is time for real action and real change in polices regarding drone warfare and police violence. We cannot, we will not rest until we have peace and justice. Let it shine! And let’s keep working.

Let it Shine

Antiwar/Antimilitarism In the News
By Kathy Kelly, August 25, 2015
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna’; let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.’
Imagine children lustily singing the above lines which eventually became a civil rights anthem. Their innocence and happy resolve enlightens us. Yes! In the face of wars, refugee crises, weapon proliferation and unaddressed climate change impacts, let us echo the common sense of children. Let goodness shine. Or, as our young friends in Afghanistan have put it, #Enough! They write the word, in Dari, on the palms of their hands and show it to cameras, wanting to shout out their desire to abolish all wars.
This past summer, collaborating with Wisconsin activists, we decided to feature this refrain on signs and announcements for a 90-mile walk campaigning to end targeted drone assassinations abroad, and the similarly racist impunity granted to an increasingly militarized police force when they kill brown and black people within the U.S.

Walking through small cities and towns in Wisconsin, participants distributed leaflets and held teach-ins encouraging people to demand accountability from local police, and an end to the “Shadow Drone” program operated by the U.S. Air National Guard out of Wisconsin’s own Volk Field. Our friend Maya Evans traveled the furthest to join the walk: she coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence in the UK. Alice Gerard, from Grand Isle, NY, is our most consistent long-distance traveler, on her sixth antiwar walk with VCNV.

Brian Terrell noted what mothers speaking to Code Pink, as part of the Mothers Against Police Brutality campaign, had also noted: that surprisingly many of the officers charged with killing their children were veterans of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He recalled past national events, such as the NATO summit in Chicago, in 2012, whose organizers tried to recruit temporary security officers from amongst U.S. veterans. Former soldiers, already traumatized by war, need support, healthcare and vocational training but instead are offered temp jobs to aim weapons at other people in predictably tense settings.

The walk was instructive. Salek Khalid, a friend of Voices, shared “Creating a Hell on Earth: U.S. Drone Strikes Abroad,” his own in-depth presentation about the development of drone warfare. Tyler Sheafer, joining us from the Progressive Alliance near Independence, MO, stressed the independence of living simply, off the grid and consuming crops grown only within a 150 mile radius of one’s home, while hosts in Mauston, WI welcomed Joe Kruse to talk about fracking and our collective need to change patterns of energy consumption. The ability to withhold our money and our labor is an important way to compel governments to restrain their violent domestic and international power.

We weren’t alone. We walked in solidarity with villagers in Gangjeong, South Korea, who’d welcomed many of us to join in their campaign to stop militarization of their beautiful Jeju Island. Seeking inter-island solidarity and recognizing how closely they share the plight of Afghans burdened by the U.S. “Asia Pivot”; our friends in Okinawa, Japan will host a walk from the north to the south of the island, protesting construction of a new U.S. military base in Henoko. Rather than provoke a new cold war, we want to shine light on our common cares and concerns, finding security in extended hands of friendship.

On August 25th, some of the walkers will commit nonviolent civil resistance at Volk Field, carrying the messages about drone warfare and racial profiling into courts of law and public opinion.

Too often we imagine that a life swaddled in everyday comforts and routines is the only life possible, while half a world away, to provide those comforts to us, helpless others are made to shiver with inescapable cold or fear. It’s been instructive on these walks to uncoddle ourselves a little, and see how our light shines, unhidden, on the road through neighboring towns, singing words we’ve heard from children learning to be as adult as they can be; attempting to learn that same lesson. The lyric goes l’m not going to make it shine: I’m just going to _let_ it shine. We hope that by releasing the truth that’s already in us we can encourage others to live theirs, shining a more humane light on the violent abuses, both at home and abroad, of dark systems that perpetuate violence. On walks like this we’ve been fortunate to imagine a better life, sharing moments of purpose and sanity with the many we’ve met along the road.

This article first appeared on ZMag

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

VIGIL AGAINST THE DRONES OUTSIDE THE GATES OF VOLK FIELD TUESDAY AUGUST 25, 2015 3:30-4:30 pm We need YOU there

Dear Friends,

We will hold a special vigil this month, the culmination of an eight day 90-mile walk for peace and justice, from the Dane County Jail to Volk Field. Anti-drone activists from across the country will be joining us, and we need you there.

We start from the Dane County Jail and end at Volk Field to underline the connection between the violence perpetrated by the drones indiscriminately killing people of color overseas and the militarization of our police forces at home where people of color are being killed through the use of police violence.

The vigil at Volk Field is a legal vigil where we will be on public property. As always, it will be a solemn vigil, remembering the victims of US government drone attacks. There will be a group who will engage in nonviolent civil resistance. If you are interested/willing to risk arrest, please contact Joy at 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5@gmail.com .

Attached find a flyer with details on the kickoff event at Edgewood College on Monday August 17, details on the walk, and a copy of the press release. We invite all to join the walk from Madison to Volk Field as you are able.

DIRECTIONS – To get to the vigil, take the Camp Douglas exit off Interstate 90/94 between Mauston and Tomah. When you exit take County Rd. C to the northeast. You will see the base straight ahead, but follow County Rd. C to the right and within a few blocks is a picnic wayside where you can park. The wayside is now open for the summer and bathrooms and parking are available.

THE VIGIL – We will gather at the wayside between 3:00-3:15 for introductions and to review the plan for the vigil, and then process together to the gates of the base where we will hold a solemn vigil for one hour to remember those killed by drones. Participants can stand in silence or read poems and stories about the effects of drone warfare. It is important that the voices of the victims be brought to the gates of Volk Field.

Bring posters if you can.

A WORD ABOUT THE WEATHER – If you have questions about the vigil because of the weather, please make sure to call Joy at 608 239-4327 or Bonnie at 608 256-5088 for an update.

CARPOOLING CHANGE FOR THIS MONTH ONLY- We want to have more cars driving up this month with extra seats so we can transport walk participants back to Madison after the vigil. If you need a ride or if you can drive and take walk participants back to Madison after the vigil, please contact Bonnie at 608 256-5088.

We hope to see you at the vigil on Tuesday August 25. If you can’t come this time, mark your calendar for the 4th Tuesday of every month and join us when you can. If you have any questions please call or email Joy at 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5@gmail.com or Bonnie at 608-256-5088 or blbb24@att.net .

Peace,
Joy and Bonnie
Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Why we walk against racial profilint and drones

Image

Image from The Reel Network

Image from The Reel Network

The concept of any one nation taking the role of “global policing,” troubling in itself, becomes even more disconcerting when that nation shows consistent disdain for rule of law. The U.S. breaks international law by using armed drones, detaining and torturing prisoners, and testing nuclear weapons on native treaty lands. It violates the U.S. Constitution by profiling people of color. These violations call into question the notion of casting the U.S. in the role of world police.
The U.S. is policing the globe using measures similar to tactics exercised, increasingly, by police patrolling the streets of U.S. cities and towns. The federal government issues assault weapons, even armored cars and tanks, to local police departments in cities large and small. Police are trained to view the people they are supposed to protect and serve as enemies.
With less than 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has more than 25% of the world’s prisoners. Black and brown people are disproportionately represented in the U.S. prison population. To quote Madison-based coalition Young Gifted and Black (ygbcoalition.org),

flag

Let It Shine! is a 90-mile walk over 8 days.

We start from the Dane County Jail and end at Volk Field to underline the connection between the violence perpetrated by the drones indiscriminately killing people of color overseas and the militarization of our police forces at home where people of color are being killed through the use of police violence.
The walk includes various speaking events in cities and towns that we pass through and ends with a protest vigil at the gates of Volk Field on Tuesday Aug 25 at 3:30pm. Call us for more information about attending or participating. The daily walks range from 12 – 16 miles. Please join us whenever you are able!
Logistical support:
608-239-4327 or
312-933-1120
FACTS ABOUT DRONES
US drone strikes kill 28 unknown people for every intended target.
http://www.reprieve.org.uk/topic/drones/
US drone strikes cause considerable psychological trauma in the daily lives of ordinary civilians.
http://www.livingunder drones.org/
US drone pilots are leaving the military in large numbers because of psychological pressures.
http://www.thebureau investigates.com/category/projects/drones/
JOIN MONTHLY VIGIL AGAINST DRONES
joyfirst5@gmail.com blbb24@att.net
Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
http://www.wisconsincoalitiontogroundthedrones.wordpress.com
info@vcnv.org
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
info@wnpj.org
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
FACTS ABOUT DRONES
US drone strikes kill 28 unknown people for every intended target.
http://www.reprieve.org.uk/topic/drones/
US drone strikes cause considerable psychological trauma in the daily lives of ordinary civilians.
http://www.livingunder drones.org/
US drone pilots are leaving the military in large numbers because of psychological pressures.
http://www.thebureau investigates.com/category/projects/drones/
JOIN MONTHLY VIGIL AGAINST DRONES
joyfirst5@gmail.com blbb24@att.net
Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
http://www.wisconsincoalitiontogroundthedrones.wordpress.com
info@vcnv.org
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
info@wnpj.org
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

#Let It Shine! Stand up to the Shadow Drone and End Killing by Racial Profiling

A 90-MILE PRO-PEACE, ANTI-RACIAL PROFILING WALK, FROM THE DANE COUNTY JAIL IN MADISON TO VOLK FIELD NEAR CAMP DOUGLAS

Madison–20 activists from across the U.S. will participate in a pro-peace, anti-drone demonstration and walk from August 17 – August 25th beginning in Madison, WI and ending outside of Volk Field. Marchers will be walking about 90 miles from Madison’s City-County Building to the Wisconsin Air National Guard base at Camp Douglas. The Air National Guard Base trains pilots to operate “Shadow Drones” that are used in surveillance, flying over other countries to determine targets for the Predator and Reaper drones.

The walkers aim to educate the public on racial profiling both locally, as it relates to the propensity of police officers to use violence against people of color; and internationally, as it relates to the propensity of drone surveillance to target foreign nationals deemed “nefarious” on not much more than a hunch, resulting in the death of innocent people, including many children.

On Monday, August 17, in Madison’s Edgewood College, a kick-off event will begin at 7:00 p.m. The daily walks will range from 12 -16 miles.

In Baraboo, on August 21st, at 7:00 p.m., a public event will be held at the United Methodist Church at 615 Broadway.

In Mauston on August 23rd walk participants will be part of a discussion on fracking in the Community Room of the Mauston City Hall from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm.

The walk ends on Tuesday, August 25th, with a vigil against drones, from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. at the gates of Volk Field. Some individuals may engage in nonviolent civil resistance during the vigil.

The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has been holding monthly vigils at the gates of Volk Field for 3 ½ years.

For information about daily starting times, and updates on where the walkers are at a given time, please call the contact numbers listed above.

The walk is sponsored by:

Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Vets for Peace Madison Clarence Kailin Chapter 25
Vets for Peace Janesville Chapter 970
Upstate Drone Action
Nukewatch
Madison Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
“Turn by Turn” daily walk route

Aug 18 12.1 mi
Begin at City-County Complex in Madison (MLK Blvd between Doty and Wilson) Remarks in front of Dane County jail;
Head Southeast on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Make the first right onto E Wilson St
Make the second right onto S Hamilton St
Make the first Right onto Doty St
Make the second Left onto Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Walk straight to the State Capitol on MLK
Head Northeast along E Washington Ave
Turn Left in 1.4 miles onto Yahara River Bike Path (immed. after Sparkle Ct)
Follow main bike path along the near side of Yahara River
Turn Right in 0.5 miles onto Sherman Ave
Turn Left in 0.7 miles to stay on Sherman Ave
Turn Left in 1.9 miles onto Northport Dr (Rt. 113)
Curve Left in 4.8 miles
After 2.2 miles, end at Waunakee Village Park
Aug 19 12.3 mi
Begin at Waunakee Village Park
Head West on E Main St (Rt. 113)
Turn Right in 0.7 miles at traffic circle, then right onto N Century Ave (Rt. 113)
Turn Left in 4.0 miles to stay on Rt. 113
After 1.5 miles, follow Rt. 113 straight through downtown Dane
Curve Right in 1.2 miles to stay on Rt. 113
Turn slightly Left in 4.4 miles onto S Main St (Rt. 113)
Turn Left in 0.3 miles onto Locust St
After 0.1 miles, end at Lodi United Methodist Church
Aug 20 14.7 mi
Begin at Lodi United Methodist Church
Head north on Gay St
Turn slightly Left in 0.1 miles onto N Main St (Rt. 113)
Turn Right in 3.5 miles onto Shamrock Rd
Arrive downtown Okee in 0.2 miles
At stop sign, continue straight onto Old Sauk Rd
Turn Right in 0.5 miles onto Rt. 113
Turn Right in 1.7 miles to stay on Rt. 113
Board Ferry in 0.1 miles
Take Ferry 0.5 miles to other side of Lake Wisconsin
After getting off Ferry, go North on Wis. Ave through downtown Merrimac
Turn Left in 0.2 miles onto Main St (Rt. 113)
Turn Right in 0.1 miles onto Baraboo St
Turn Left in 0.3 miles onto Cemetery St (becomes Marsh Ave)
Turn Left in 2.7 miles onto County Rd DL
Turn Right in 0.8 miles onto Rt. 113/County Rd DL
Turn Left in 2.3 miles onto County Rd DL
After 1.5 miles, arrive at Ice Age overpass
Take next right onto the park service road leading to Devils Lake campsites
Take following left toward Ice Age campground loops
End at Ice Age campsites #306 and #307
Aug 21
Rest Day
Aug 22 15.5 mi
Begin at Devil’s Lake campground
Proceed back to County Rd DL via the park service road
Turn Right onto Hwy DL
Turn slightly Right in 0.7 miles onto State Rt. 123
Curve to the Right in 0.2 miles to stay on SR 113
Turn slightly Right in 1.6 miles onto Walnut St
After 0.5 miles, cross the Baraboo River, and Walnut St becomes Ash St
Make the second Right onto Water St
Make the next left onto East St
After 1.2 miles, East St becomes County Rd A
Head North on County Rd A
Turn Right in 10.4 miles onto Wisconsin Dells Pkwy (US 12)
After 0.4 miles, end at Walgreens parking lot on the corner of SR 13 and US 12
Aug 23 14.7 mi
Begin at Walgreens parking lot, corner of SR 13 and US 12 (Wisconsin Dells)
Head Northwest on US 12
After 8.3 miles, follow US 12 straight through downtown Lyndon Station
After 6.4 miles, end at the corner of US 12 and County Rd O
Aug 24 12.6 mi
Begin at US 12 and County Rd O
Head Northwest on US 12
After 4.8 miles, follow US 12 straight through downtown Mauston
After 7.7 miles, US 12 curves Right into downtown New Lisbon
End at Heritage Park (corner of US 12 and Elm St) New Lisbon
Aug 25 7.4mi
Begin at Heritage Park in New Lisbon (corner of Adams and Elm)
Head North on Adams St (US 12 West)
Curve Left in 0.5 mi
Turn Right in 2.3 mi onto 6th Ave
Turn Left in 1.9 mi onto County Rd C
Turn Left in 2.4 mi into Castle Rock Wayside Parking Lot

Contact: Buddy Bell 312-933-1120
August 14, 2015 buddy@vcnv.org

Joy First 608-239-4327
joyfirst5@gmail.com

walk to Ground the Drones:  Madison, Wisconsin to Volk Field, August 18-25

Stand Up to the Shadow Drone and Killing by Racial Profiling

Join Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

Madison, Wisconsin to Volk Field, August 18-25

We will walk from the Dane County Jail in Madison, Wisconsin to Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, about 90 miles.  Volk Field is the home of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.  This base trains pilots to remotely operate the “Shadow” drone by computer linkup.  Drones of this type are used in conjunction with the U.S. Army and Marine Corps for reconnaissance, surveillance, targeting, and assessment.
We start from the Dane County Jail and end at Volk Field to underline the connection between the violence perpetrated by the drones indiscriminately killing people of color overseas and the militarization of our police forces at home where people of color are being killed through the use of police violence.
There will be a kick-off event on the evening of Monday August 17 in Madison.  The walk will begin on Tuesday morning with a short program in front of the Dane County jail.
We will be walking through the beautiful, hilly Wisconsin countryside. The daily walks will range from 12 – 16 miles.  We will take advantage of opportunities to share with communities we are passing through.
The walk ends on Tuesday August 25 with a vigil against drones at the gates of Volk Field.  The Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars has been holding monthly vigils at the gates of Volk Field for 3 ½ years.

We hope you will join us for this crucial walk to ground the drones!
If you live in Wisconsin and would like to participate, provide housing, or organize meals and events, please contact Joy First at joyfirst5@gmail.com or call 608 239-4327.
If you live outside Wisconsin and want to discuss participating in the walk, please contact Buddy or Carly at info@vcnv.org or call 773-878-3815.

VIGIL AGAINST THE DRONES OUTSIDE THE GATES OF VOLK FIELD TUESDAY MAY 26, 2015 3:30-4:30 pm

Dear Friends,

All lethal US drone strikes are guided via the Satellite Relay Station located on the US Air Force Base in Ramstein, Germany. More than 10,000 people worldwide have been killed by these drone strikes. The bin Ali Jaber family lost two of its members through a drone strike in Hadramout in Yemen.

Now Reprieve and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights
(ECCHR) have filed a lawsuit against the German government in a German court on behalf of the bin Ali Jaber family. The suit demands that the German government “take legal and political responsibility for the US drone war in Yemen”. The case will be heard in a German court on Wednesday May 27.

Our vigil on May 26 will be in solidarity with many other actions around the world supporting this lawsuit. For more information on the lawsuit, go to http://reports.papillonweb.net/ .

The vigil at Volk Field is a legal vigil where we will be on public property. As always, it will be a solemn vigil, remembering the victims of US government drone attacks

DIRECTIONS – To get to the vigil, take the Camp Douglas exit off Interstate 90/94 between Mauston and Tomah. When you exit take County Rd. C to the northeast. You will see the base straight ahead, but follow County Rd. C to the right and within a few blocks is a picnic wayside where you can park. The wayside is now closed for the winter, but you can legally park on the side of the road. There are no bathrooms available during the winter months

THE VIGIL – We will gather at the wayside between 3:00-3:15 for introductions and to review the plan for the vigil, and then process together to the gates of the base where we will hold a solemn vigil for one hour to remember those killed by drones. Participants can stand in silence or read poems and stories about the effects of drone warfare. It is important that the voices of the victims be brought to the gates of Volk Field.

Bring posters if you can.

A WORD ABOUT THE WEATHER – If you have questions about the vigil because of the weather, please make sure to call Joy at 608 239-4327 or Bonnie at 608 256-5088 for an update.

CARPOOLING – If you are interested in carpooling to Volk Field from Madison, please contact Bonnie at 608 256-5088 or Kathy at or 608 278-0483.

We hope to see you at the vigil on Tuesday May 26. If you can’t come this time, mark your calendar for the 4th Tuesday of every month and join us when you can. If you have any questions please call or email Joy at 608 239-4327 or joyfirst5@gmail.com or Bonnie at 608-256-5088 or blbb24@att.net .