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Protesters at stockholders meeting say “No killer drone for Boeing”

By Joe Iosbaker

Protest outside Boeing Company annual stockholders’ meeting.

Chicago, IL – The Boeing Company annual stockholders’ meeting took place at the Field Museum, April 28, and 25 activists protested, both inside and outside. Braving a cold downpour, they first gathered on the steps of the museum for a press conference in opposition to Boeing’s plan to build the next combat drone for the Pentagon. Then several of the protesters that had purchased stock in Boeing for this purpose went to make statements to the board of directors

Before going in Kait McIntyre from the Chicago Anti-War Committee (AWC) explained that she was presenting herself as a candidate for the board, because, “Time and time again AWC has addressed Boeing, in the media, outside their board meetings and at their headquarters. Boeing has either responded with ‘no comment’ or they bring out their guard dogs and call the Chicago police department. This time, we decided to nominate someone for the board in order to address them directly: me.”

She continued, “Boeing has already used a bureaucratic technicality to say I am ineligible but we all know the real reason they find me unqualified: Because I stand up to and defy the masters of war, not take and fill their orders.”

The AWC activists were joined inside by faith-based activists, including Sister Gwen Farry of the 8th Day Center for Justice. Meanwhile, other 8th Day activists, Sisters Dorothy Pagosa and Kathleen Desautels, spoke at the press conference. Speaking to the group on the steps, Pagosa addressed herself to the Boeing stockholders. “Your profits are not sustainable because it’s blood money used to destroy, rather than to build up the human community.”

Also at the press conference were Michael James, a long time peace activist in Chicago, and a veteran of the Vietnam War-era Students for a Democratic Society. Standing alongside James was another SDSer, Bernardine Dohrn. James said, “On the planet, there are few places with as diverse a population as Chicago. What we do rings out.” He added, “We don’t want anyone based in our home bringing destruction on the world.”

Brian Terrell of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, who had spent six months in prison in 2013 for protesting drone war at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, added his voice to the press conference as well. “We have not been simply protesting drones as they are now, horrific as they are. We also protest the next levels of development that logically follow. The Phantom Ray drone that Boeing is bidding to build would be a drone with the speed and killing capacity of a fighter plane and be another large step toward totally autonomous robotic warfare,” said Terrell

Once inside, Newland Smith of AWC rose to tell the meeting, “Drone strikes as conducted by our government, according to the Geneva conventions, are illegal and immoral and inflict terror on civilian populations.” Smith, McIntyre, and Richard Berg all succeeded in making their voices heard at the meeting.

When the delegation returned from speaking to the stockholders, AWC’s Berg told the waiting group, “Our statements caused a stir in there because there were protesters outside.” Berg urged the group to continue its efforts, “We are building the movement against war, and that’s what scares Boeing the most.”

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