It’s a crisp beautiful morning, the outer circle of the top of the sun barely seeping over the mountains as the earliest pink-orange light leaks into the star-less horizon. Ann and I are on our way to meet Toby and Marie for our last Creech NO DRONES vigil.
As we approach the base, neither Toby nor Marie are visible. What we do see is not unlike an old-time movie panorama where the white men dressed as Indians have suddenly appeared along the cliff. It is a whole a whole battalion of police - cars lined up along one side of the side street into the base, officers roaming among those cars and still more officers on the gravel side, ‘our’ side, of street.
Plus FOUR mounted police on horses, silhouetted like the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse (Candace dubs them later).
The thought that possibly something dreadful and unrelated to us has happened vies ever so briefly with my amused astonishment that this huge display of might and force is meant for US: the four anti-drone, anti-war, pro-peace, pro-love older women of CodePINK – two of whom whose bodies and vehicle are disconcertingly no where in sight.
I ask Ann to make a u-turn to travel northbound on 95 in order to try to find Toby and Marie, maybe they were delayed coming, hopefully they were not in custody.
As we pass the brigade of dark blue, sterile sand, and even bright yellow uniforms with black guns and various other instruments of bullying and death, we are relieved to see Toby and Marie standing near the entrance gate into the base. Ann grins and honks, I hang out the window and mime shout ‘we’re coming back’.
Ann makes the first u-turn she can and returns to park her car across the highway where we normally park, making sure she uses her blinkers. We grab our posters and cross the street.
As we approached the gravel area on ‘our side’ of the side street, the police began to advance on us like the night of the dead zombies. I see a lone white male in redneck hunter rags waving an American flag, a large maybe 4’x8’ sign, standing just off the edge of the asphalt.
The commanding officer barks out we are to be separated from each other today: “He’s over here, you’re over there” he punctuates his directions with stiff arm movements.
I smile politely as I hear Ann greet Phil. Reaching Phil first I offer him my hand, introducing myself and inquiring what his sign says. Ann also approaches him and they shake.
I peer around the sign, careful not to step on the asphalt – which I assume is still an arrestable offence (for anti-war protestors that is) and ask if he minds if I take a picture.
“DRONES save American lives!” his sign declares. He nods as the police tell me the restrictions for us are still enforced.
The same commanding officer – they have tiny badges that cannot be read with the human eye (at least 59 year old human eyes) – barks out he’s had enough, we need to start moving immediately.
We comply as I smile regretfully over my shoulder waving at Phil – I was looking forward to dialoguing with him – and thank him for caring enough to join us as we all practice those pesky democratic responsibilities. A mounted police makes his mount prance and dance in nudging escort. I think to politely ask if he’s perhaps training the animal – or himself maybe. I get the overwhelming suspicion that this must be some kind of training exercise for these three or four branches of ‘law enforcement’ visible here.
We join Marie and Toby at the fence by the gate, hold up our signs, and begin to interact with the soldiers in their cars entering the base. Yet another police truck arrives, the occupant quickly jumping out to confer with the commander.
I am so pleased this morning to see several soldiers responding positively, waving back, a couple even give the peace symbol. A tractor trailer driver, hauling a new rectangular heavy maybe drone-proof glass gate, lets out a low, long tugboat rumble of support as he grins and flashes the peace symbol.
Out the corner of my eye, I see the newly arrived officer approaching. He passes me, surprising me even more as he singles out Ann motioning for her to come with him to her car. He informs her he is going to cite her.
They walk across the gravel to the highway, transversing the asphalt double lanes, and end up at her car. I get the camera and tell Marie and Toby I’ll do cop watch. I walk to the edge of the asphalt myself shooting pics as I feel the cops once again do that night of the living dead thing, approaching me.
I am informed that I am not on my side of the line. I am confused. I heard about no line. I let them know I didn’t realize there was a demarcation line. One of the dismounted police officers indicates a police truck that is parked at least 30 feet behind us. He draws an imaginary line from the truck to the road.
I step over to ‘our’ side of the imaginary line, trying to keep my focus on watching what is happening across the street. I hope Ann knows she has the right to refuse to allow searching of her car.
Before I know it, the female mounted officer has directed her horse in between me and the road, telling me to get off the highway. I point out to her that I am at least 4 feet from the asphalt, obviously as she has placed her mount in between the asphalt and me, successfully blocking me from filming the police action across the street.
I am very aware of horse hooves stirring up desert dust, and movement all around me. I hear the commanding officer shout as he is scurrying to get out his police vehicle parked behind us on the other side of the entrance road.
He is encouraging the others to arrest me. He bellows he’s warned me to stay on my side. He insists I need no further warning.
I turn my back to the horse, facing the other horses and police. I am sure my incredulousness emanates brighter than the early morning desert sun.
“You’re going to arrest me for crossing an imaginary line you never indicated to me?”
They seem temporarily arrested in their approach. I take advantage of the lull to return to our little protest group, emp
Ann also approaches, telling us she was given a citation for honking her horn. We burst into disbelieving yet amused laughter.
It is true. We see the citation with our own eyes!
The police break up from their huddle and approach me. I am under arrest. I ask them for what? They do not answer.
To be continued….