In ongoing protest: Anti-drone demonstrators continue monthly campaign

A RQ-4 Global Hawk taxies on the flightline as a U-2 makes its final approach Sept. 17, 2013, at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Air Force will spend $1.9 billion over 10 years to have Global Hawks take over the U-2 mission.


By DAVID BITTON | Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif. | Published: May 4, 2014

For three years, they've watched the sky turn from black to blue — the sun rising over the Sierra Nevada range — as they denounce drones at Beale Air Force Base.

The protesters gather monthly, flashing signs at the airmen driving onto base.

"You can't bomb the world to peace."

"Kill the drones, not innocent people."

Janie Kesselman, a peace activist from North San Juan, said the group's goal is to end the "remote-controlled murder of innocent people."

Beale supporters point out that the base doesn't have armed unmanned aircraft; they don't kill people. Instead, Beale is home to the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned high-altitude aircraft used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Protesters aren't too concerned with the distinction.

"Although the drones at Beale are not armed to kill, the RQ-4 Global Hawk plays an integral part in the killing scheme," Kesselman said. "It is a reconnaissance drone that gathers intelligence on possible targets for the killer drones."

Yuba County Supervisor John Nicoletti, a member of the Beale Military Liaison Committee, thinks the protesters are off target.

"I think it is misguided, and I'm sad that these folks lay it at the feet of something that is doing so much good for America," Nicoletti said. "Our UAVs are employed to monitor and take a field recording of an extensive area."

Janice Soohoo Nall, chairperson of the liaison committee, said the Global Hawk's role is one of gathering intelligence, not dropping bombs.

"I firmly believe that the Global Hawk helps minimize casualities," Nall said.

Nicoletti believes the Global Hawk is saving American lives.

The protesters disagree.

"Our message is that drone warfare is not in our best interest," said Flora Rogers of Marysville. "It is ineffective, unjustifiable, provokes animosity and retaliation."