Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Johns Hopkins University refuses to arrest anti-drone research activists.

National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, 325 East 25th StreetBaltimoreMD 21218 PHONE: 410-366-1637




CONTACTMax Obuszewski 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at




WHO: The Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore is a part of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR], which organizes direct action against U.S. wars. For example, NCNR members went to the National Security Agency on October 9, 2011 to seek a meeting with the director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to discuss the NSA’s involvement in U.S. war plans.  Instead of getting a meeting, fourteen citizen activists were arrested and are scheduled for trial in U.S. District Court on May 29 in Baltimore,


WHAT: On May 1, 2012, NCNR members sent a letter to Ronald J. Daniels, president of John Hopkins University, and Dr. Ralph Semmel, director of the Applied Physics Laboratory [APL], seeking a meeting to discuss killer drone research.  Since JHU’s APL has a contract to do drone research, the letter asks about the contract and if other types of drone research are being performed at the Hopkins lab.  It did not surprise the citizen activists that there was no response to the letter.


Around 12:15 PM on May 8, an NCNR entourage entered the president’s outer office to seek a meeting.  A female assistant to the president graciously greeted the activists and indicated she would investigate if the letter was ever received.  She never returned to speak with those of us concerned with drone research.  Instead a male vice president came out and graciously listened to each activist’s concern.  However, he informed us that the president was indisposed on a flight to Japan.  He suggested that we should leave, but the activists indicated they would wait in the office.


Soon thereafter, a parade of Hopkins officials, security officers and representatives of the Baltimore City Police Department came to speak to the group to encourage us to leave.  Everyone fit the description of a male dominant figure.  The only other female on the scene was a member of the Baltimore Police.  We assumed an arrest would take place at 5 PM, when the office was scheduled to close.  It became apparent that someone from the university, presumably the president, made the decision not to arrest anyone.  Another decision reached by someone was to deny the visitors access to a bathroom.  In fact, two Baltimore Police officers were guarding the door.  Also supporters were denied entry into the building, but they held an outside demonstration with a replica of a drone.


After about six hours, some of the citizen activists were desperate to use a bathroom.  Max Obuszewski challenged those inside the building, some 40 strong, not to follow an “illegal order” to deny access to a bathroom.  All but one lacked the courage to question authority.  However, a uniformed member of Hopkins security moved the officers aside and opened the bathroom.


Around a decade ago, there was an occupation of the building by students demanding that university personnel be paid a living wage.  Memory suggests this occupation went on for ten days.  So the NCNR activists--Ellen Barfield, David Barrows, Tim Chadwick, Cindy Farquhar, Joy First, Malachy Kilbride, Max Obuszewski, Manijeh Saba and Alice Suter--decided to depart at 8 PM, after reading the letter and singing the classic anthem VINE AND FIG TREE.  We are resolved to return, despite the fact that since we “trespassed” we are subject to arrest if we are again on campus.


WHEN: The date of return is to be determined.


WHERE: Garland Hall, Johns Hopkins UniversityHomewood Campus, 3400 North Charles StreetBaltimoreMD 21218


WHY: During the occupation, we had an opportunity to speak with various Hopkins officials and representatives of the Baltimore City Police.  Since we had a captive audience, we enlightened many who were present about the role played by the APL in doing drone research. There is a direct line between the APL’s research and killing of civilians in the Middle East.  We sat and stood with many anti-drone research signs and photographs of drone victims throughout the occupation.


We raised many questions: Who reviews the U.S. 'kill list?  Who decides the use of drones? Who decides who to target? Laws of war make it illegal to target civilians.  Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution guarantee due process to U.S. citizens and probably non-citizens?


Those who occupied the president’s office strongly believe in the Nuremberg Principles.  The Nuremberg Principles obligate citizens to challenge governments involved in illegal activities.  These Principles forbid wars of aggression, attacks on civilians and extrajudicial assassinations, all associated with drone warfare. Citizens have a duty to act where they can to prevent violations, even if the violations are committed by their government or a university engaged in research which helps develops the weapons used illegally.





1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny how there's no real dividing line between Hopkins police and Baltimore city police? My friend was arrested in his own dormitory, on specious charges, for speaking out against Hopkins earlier that day. Hopkins asked for him to be arrested, and the city arrested him -- no questions asked, no Miranda rights.

He was taken to Central Bookings and held for about twelve hours.

JHU had changed the locks on his room, but allowed him to return one time to collect his belongings. Escorting us to his room were multiple plainclothes officers on city and university payroll!