Activists Take Protest to the Heart of the 'Drone Zone'

Published on
by
Common Dreams

Activists Take Protest to the Heart of the 'Drone Zone'

CODEPINK takes resistance to drone industry CEO who 'literally makes a killing out of killing'

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Medea Benjamin demonstrates with drone outside home of General Atomics CEO Neal Blue. (Photo: UT San Diego / Howard Lipin)

Anti-drone protesters made their presence known in one of the epicenters of the drone technology industry, San Diego, Calif., over the weekend—protesting in several locations including the home of Neal Blue, chief executive officer of General Atomics which manufactures the Predator drone.

Starting on Friday morning, dozens of protesters from the anti-war group CodePink took to the neighborhood of La Jolla in San Diego, gathering in front of Neal's residence—a man who "literally makes a killing out of killing," said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.

The group then continued on to protest in front of General Atomics offices also in San Diego and later at Northrop Grumman, whose products include the Global Hawk. On Saturday the group rallied in front of the the USS Midway Museum, a U.S. naval and aviation museum.

The protests, which will continue Sunday, are part of the "April Days of Action"—a month long series of anti-drone protests coordinated in dozens of cities nationwide through a coalition of peace and justice groups called the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (NSDSW).

Events are planned for Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Dayton, Ft. Wayne, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Seattle, Tucson, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Honolulu, "as well as in dozens of other locations, including many of the communities that host the estimated 100 drone basing sites in the U.S.," the group states.

“What I want to see is a transparent, national discussion about our use of drones,” Benjamin said on Friday.

“This is not the kind of world we want to live in,” she said. “We think we are beginning to turn the tide on public opinion.”

While many of the protesters sang, danced, and chanted anti-war slogans at times, others read the names of children killed by drones in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

The protesters also attempted to fly their own miniature drone over Blue's residence, but were stopped by local police.

“It’s ironic that we almost lost our drone because the police said it might hurt somebody,” Benjamin said referencing the thousands of innocent civilians that have been killed by U.S. drone strikes in recent years.

San Diego has a large and quickly expanding drone production industry, which has generated $1.3 billion in economic activity in 2011, according to a study by the National University System. 

Watch footage of the protests here:

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