14 activists on trial for entering Air Force Base

by Joshua J. McElwee

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With the aim of resisting the use of deadly unmanned drones by the U.S. military abroad and the hope of sparking some sort of public dialog, 14 peace activists go on trial today for an action they committed at a Nevada air force base.

The trial comes about a year and half after the April 2009 action and after charges against the activists were at first dropped and then reinstated.

The activists, known together as the 'Creech 14,' walked onto the grounds of Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev. on Holy Thursday 2009 and offered the Air Force personnel they met there bread and water as a sign of peace as they started a prayer vigil. After about an hour at prayer they were arrested and taken into custody.

Among those in the group is Jesuit Fr. John Dear, who wrote about the witness and trial in his latest column on the NCR website.

Kathy Kelly, another in the group and coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, talked about the action yesterday on the syndicated radio and television program Democracy Now!.

Speaking to host Amy Goodman, Kelly said she and the other 13 activists believe they didn't commit civil disobedience, but were rather fulfilling obligations under international law.

"It’s clear that targeted assassinations, these arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings, are not allowed and that citizens have a duty, a responsibility, to prevent it," Kelly said.

According to a press release, the activists hope to call several notable figures as expert witnesses during the trial: Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Center for Constitutional Rights legal director Bill Quigley, and retired U.S. Army Colonel Amy Wright.

The other 12 people arrested during the vigil at the base were Jesuit Fr. Steve Kelly; Franciscan Frs. Louis Vitale and Jerry Zawada; Holy Child of Jesus Sr. Megan Rice; Mariah Klusmire; Brian Terrell; Renee Espeland; Dennis DuVall; Judy Homanich; Brad Lyttle; Libby Pappalardo; and Eve Tetaz.

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