Three Activists Detained at Climate Protest at Beale Air Force Base

cross-posted from Indybay

Yuba County, California: Three climate activists were detained at Beale Air Force Base after an unnecessary show of force by military police in response to activists crossing the demarcation line at the Schneider gate.


At 7:15am on Thursday the 19th of October, two youth climate activists associated with the group Occupy Beale gave a speech decrying the imperialist military-industrial complex which is responsible for countless ecological atrocities, energy consumption, and carbon emissions.

The speech first started with a youth activist giving a statement of solidarity with the people of Palestine and saying that the climate crisis can only be won when everyone is free, including the people of Palestine. After the statement about Palestine, another youth activist called out Beale Air Force Base commander Geoffery Church for his empty promises about “listening to the community” and wanting to make a base that works on “community values”. This youth activist then went on to call out the entire institution of the US military as an imperialist machine that destroys the environment and is inherently antithetical to community values.

From there the activist called for the immediate removal of Beale Air Force Base and the shifting of all of its funding towards fighting the climate crisis. After that the first youth activist took the megaphone back and put out a call to action for other young people to join the fight for the climate, and called for an immediate escalation of the fight for the future.

This escalation took an immediate step as four activists, banners in hand, marched across the demarcation line at the Schneider gate of Beale Air Force Base. The military police soon after attempted to forcibly remove the activists from the base by aggressively shoving and pushing them back towards the line. After this unnecessary show of force the military police attempted to close the gate to the base, but did so incorrectly allowing the activists to stand in a blockade across the line. With the activists now blocking the gate from being shut the military police grabbed three of them and handcuffed them before shutting down the gate.

The three detained activists were then marched into the gate building where they were held for over an hour. Outside of the gate eight other climate activists renewed the blockade in front of the now closed gate and held the line until the activists were released. Of the three activists detained, two were members of the youth, with one being a minor and in little over an hour they were released with two being charged with trespassing charges, and the third getting off without a charge. The activists were met with cheers as they were released across the gate, which remained closed for a significant amount of time afterwards.

Outside of the gate the eight climate activists sang songs for the environment and held banners and signs in front of the gate forming a blockade of the closed gate. Among them included three people with guitars playing revolutionary songs and an activist in an elephant costume with a sign saying “Militarism = the Elephant in the Climate Room”.

The activists had originally arrived the night before and set up an occupation camp outside of the gate, with banners and signs being put along the side of the road, and on parked cars. Despite floodlights, and several CHP visits the activists held the camp and sang songs long into the night not leaving until after the action the following morning.

The court date for the detained activists has yet to be assigned, but when it is it will most likely be at the federal courtroom in Sacramento, and we’ll pack the room and make the whole world know that the people stand with climate justice, and against imperialism and militarism.

Below is the statement read by the youth activists.

“Last July, Colonel Geoffrey Church addressed Yuba City’s City Council as the new Beale Air Force Base commander and urged civilians to hold him and his personnel accountable. “I really hope that we represent the best ideals of which you could see from members of the military. If we’re not, then please by all means let us know and we’ll be more than happy to correct it…. We truly do want to be good members of your community and look forward to serving the public.” Unfortunately for Colonel Church, everything his organization and those who serve it represent is antithetical to community values. We are here today to voice our outrage at how America’s armed forces have avoided accountability for contributing to global climate disaster.

The US Department of Defense accounts for approximately 80% of domestic energy consumption and over half of federal emissions. It is the world’s largest institutional consumer of petroleum. Our military industrial complex as an entity on its own is responsible for more greenhouse gas pollution than the majority of entire nation states, with a greater annual output of CO2-equivalent than 171 countries.

Climate change, overwhelmingly a product of American interests, is a tangible threat to humanity that will only compound over years of inaction. The Air Force’s current climate goals include net zero emissions by 2046. That timeline is unacceptable. Decades of systematic environmental destruction have already occurred. 3.6 billion humans currently live in areas highly susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change. 2 billion lack safe drinking water. A quarter of a million preventable deaths from water- and foodborne disease, malaria, undernutrition, and disasters such as floods are projected every year until we commit to immediate radical transformation of priorities and operations. Climate-related tragedy, though it has historically disproportionately affected populations in the Global South who bear the least responsibility for contributing to this crisis, is already starting to affect more and more Americans. We experienced 23 separate climate disasters in January to August of 2023, surpassing the previous year’s count in only a few months and causing 253 direct and indirect fatalities. We, the youth, are forced to bear witness to catastrophe as our leaders prioritize war and profit over our futures every single day. We cannot allow this.

We cannot accept inaction and we cannot accept delayed action. Promises to strive for net zero air force emissions within a decade or two are empty, meaningless promises and the idea that we would settle for anything less than expedited demilitarization and a massive investment in climate protections is insulting. But here’s a meaningful promise to you: we will escalate this issue until we see immediate, impactful results. We will continue to hold you and your associates accountable until you acknowledge and abandon your role in global disaster. We promise no peace until justice is served on behalf of our planet and the billions jeopardized by American interests. No peace for the cowardly cogs of the imperialist machine who speak of honor and yet betray themselves by their complicity in the most unforgivable, dishonorable venture in all of human history. We promise that your memory will be a legacy of lies, spinelessness, and violence on a scale unimaginable.

President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, United States Air Force Chief of Staff General David Allvin, Beale Air Force Base Commander Colonel Geoffrey Church, and everyone in every rank of every sector of the United States military:

Let it be clear that we thoroughly refuse to operate within the framework of political debate. To entertain debate on issues of life and death is to concede to a bureaucratic process that smothers the sparks of revolution before they can ignite any meaningful change. We are uncompromising in our pursuit of climate justice and the dismantling of American imperialism, and we will take any action necessary to defend the future of humanity. We are not afraid, because we have nothing left to lose but our chains. We have no desire for the short-term comfort earned by complacency in the desecration of our planet. No amount of empty promises, propaganda, repression, or violence can stop us from advocating for justice. “Climate action now” is a demand, not a request, and it is a demand that we will amplify by any means necessary.

We demand a cease of operations and the evacuation of all personnel and weapons and vehicles of American imperialism from Beale Air Force Base. We demand the return of the land to Indigenous stewardship. We demand that our government immediately invest the financial resources wasted on maintaining Beale Air Force Base into halting and reversing climate change. We deserve a safe and sustainable future and we refuse to sacrifice our environment for war.

This struggle is greater than me, it’s greater than any single one of us, and for our mission to succeed we must fight together. We must stand together against imperialism and capitalism. Today we are escalating this fight to show the people that we cannot stand by in fear, because that is how the forces of oppression and exploitation win. To all the young people out there, to all those who are too scared to act, to all those who fear for their future: we can win, but only together. This is a call to action because we can’t do this alone – although right now we may be divided, when we organize together we can take down this empire of hate, violence, and destruction. Siblings, comrades, fellow workers, people of this Earth, join us – because we, the 99%, are the climate revolution.

We will now hand Colonel Church this letter to let him know how he fails to represent the ideals we wish to see from the most well-funded sector of our government, and we hope that in alignment with his commitment to our community he’ll be more than happy to correct himself.”

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