On a bright autumn afternoon VFP London headed to Tower 42, which contains the offices of General Atomics in London. We took our placards bearing the slogans “GROUND THE DRONES” and “GENERAL ATOMICS, DEATH FROM ABOVE”. We unfurled our VFP flag donated by Gerry Condon and set about handing out our flyers.
Within minutes we were joined by over 20 nuns from the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace. They had heard about our protest and wanted to join in. They were soon into full song and dealt with an inquiring policeman effectively. Folks from Occupy, Friends of Bradley Manning, London Catholic Worker and supporters of Julian Assange also turned up.
Ben Griffin of VFP London addressed the crowd saying “General Atomics manufacture the Reaper UAV, it is in service with the US and UK military. The Reaper has been used in hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. People are targeted with these weapons without being identified and are killed from above without warning. Numerous innocent civilians including women and children have been killed as a result of these attacks. Mosques, schools, funerals and meetings of elders have all been attacked by Reaper drones. People responding to drone strikes by pulling the wounded out of buildings have also been attacked with these weapons. We must spread the word about these weapons, and the hidden wars they are used in.”
Passers-by were engaged in conversation and on the whole we got a good reception. We even got a few honks from passing vehicles. A local stall worker took some of our flyers to hand out to his customers and people leaving the building were surprised to know that they shared it with General Atomics. We met two veterans— one American and one French— who expressed interest in our protest and VFP.
Later on in the day we received word from Barry Ladendorf that the protest in San Diego was about to start and that there was a good turnout with VFP members from other chapters also in attendance. Here is a video of the action
Veterans For Peace is calling for the grounding of Predator and Reaper Drones and for General Atomics to stop manufacturing them. Other members of VFP are currently traveling from the United States to Pakistan as part of a delegation organized by Code Pink to visit one area where U.S. drone strikes have become frequent. VFP is part of a coalition organizing an online petition in support of banning weaponized drones.
For more information on Drones and their use please check out these reports: