Monday, August 4, 2014

August 16-17: Protest U.S. Kidnapping, Torture, and Drone Assassinations at the 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show Protest

Press Reports


Media Advisory


"During a demonstration against Boeing, protestors held a die-in at North Ave. beach, where
spectators came to watch the Air & Water Show." | Nader Ihmoud,


Die-in by demonstrators at Chicago 2014 Air and Water Show
protesting assault on civilians in Gaza by Israeli warplanes
supplied by Boeing. (Photo courtesy Lina Thorne)
CBS Chicago: "Not everyone was there to enjoy the show. About a dozen people gathered on the other side of the North Avenue pedestrian bridge west of Lake Shore drive to protest this year’s Air and Water show. They were members of local peace and justice groups trying to bring attention to what they say is the glorification of war and are calling on the city to drop Boeing as a sponsor of the show. They staged a so-called “die in” where demonstrators fell to the ground while an air-raid-style siren blasted to signify the dying in Gaza and Afghanistan from drones made by Boeing." (See "Thousands Crowd Lakefront As Blue Angels Return To Chicago Air And Water Show")

Press TV: "The most pressing concern of the activists appeared to be Boeing's connection to the recent Israeli military offensive in Gaza. They reenacted for the public a scene from civilian deaths in Gaza by lying on the ground, with bloody sheets over them as war planes put on a show nearby. Boeing does not deny the sale of weaponry to Israel, and in fact, celebrates the company's historical connection to the Israeli military. Chicago and Boeing appear non-responsive to protestor demands. Boeing continues to operate its headquarters in Chicago, and according to some activists, without the obligation to pay taxes. " (See "Anti-war activists slam Boeing’s sale of arms to Israel")

CCTV China:

CCTV China: report on Boeing protest and die-in at Chicago Air and Water Show Anti-war activist protest Boeing at Air and Water Show:

"Boeing is considered a 'sterling corporate citizen,' a 'great Fortune 100
company.' But we're telling people the truth, which is that Boeing is a
merchant of death and destruction."

Chicago Tribune: "Joe Scarry, center, of Chicago, talks about military drones during a protest against the Chicago Air & Water Show. The protest took place in order to remind spectators that the planes flown in the show are normally used for war and not entertainment. — Jessica Tezak, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 16, 2014" - included in Chicago Tribune 2014 Air and Water Show photo gallery.

Drone: "Surgical Precision Weapon"

And don't forget citizen media:

More at #GazainChicago

Watch the
 Facebook event page for the
for more press updates, photos, and more!


The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantánamo will protest U.S. militarism and human rights violations at the 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show, Saturday/Sunday, August 16-17.

Year after year, hundreds of thousands of people from Chicago and the surrounding area gather on the lakeshore to watch aerial displays by an array of planes. Most don't suspect that they are being subjected to an intense propaganda effort by multiple branches of the U.S. military.

The Coalition views this as a perfect opportunity to engage with the public and enlist them in the growing movement against U.S. war, torture, surveillance, and other crimes.  We will join activists from many other peace and justice groups who have had a growing presence at this event in recent years.

The focus of Coalition activity at the Air and Water Show 2014 will be drone killing and surveillance, rendition torture flights, and Guantánamo (see statement below) and will include the following:

* Recognizing the Boeing is a major sponsor of the Air andWater Show, we will educate the public about the U.S. program of extraordinary rendition (kidnapping and torture) carried out with the assistance of Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen, and highlight the national campaign to "Acknowledge and apologize for the wrongful imprisonment and torture of Abou ElKassim Britel"
* Recognizing the intimate relationship between the practices of imprisonment and torture, and those of extrajudicial execution being carried out by the U.S. military and CIA, we will call for an end of the U.S. drone killing and drone surveillance program ("Fly Kites Not Drones!")

In support of our presence at the Air and Water Show, as in previous years, we will publish and distribute an educational program sheet for the public about the need to stop the illegal and illegitimate practices of the "war on terror" and U.S. militarism in general, and how people can get involved in the Coalition and associated peace and justice organizations in the Chicago area.

>>see educational program sheet from 2012 Air and Water Show ... front ... back

Please join the Facebook event page for the protest at the 2014 Chicago Air and Water Show and share widely! (The Coalition will be present during the show on Saturday, August 16, and tentatively also on Sunday, August 17.)

Other groups have committed to join the coalition at the Air & Water Show protest. (See "Boeing peace protesters to go to court; Vow to continue efforts against Boeing’s complicity with Israel’s murder of Palestinians in Gaza" and "What's New in Chicago: Connecting the Dots - US Aid, Boeing Weapons, Gaza Massacre, Chicago Complicity")

If your group is planning to join the protest at the Air & Water Show, please email jtscarry at

See you there!


What: PRESS CONFERENCE by protesters condemning glorification of violence and militarism in Air & Water Show
Where: North Avenue Beach, west side of North Avenue Bridge (park side)
When: Saturday, August 16, 12:00 noon


Protesters Condemn Air & Water Show's Glorification of Violence and Militarism
Say Guantanamo Injustice Tied to Torture Flights, Drone Killings

A coalition of more than 15 local peace and justice groups has held a vigil every week for the past year at Federal Plaza, dramatizing the fate of Guantanamo detainees. On Saturday, the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo will take their protest to the millions of spectators at the Chicago Air & Water Show. They will demand an end to entertainment that glorifies war and tell the public about the role of Chicago-based Boeing in U.S. kidnappings, torture, and drone assassinations.

"We'll be there to help people connect the dots," said Jay Becker of World Can't Wait Chicago, a coalition founding member. “The CIA torture flights that became a common occurence in the late ‘90s were precursors to Guantanamo." Those "extraordinary rendition" flights were coordinated by Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan.

The protesters will also draw the connection between drone assassinations and Guantanamo detention. "In the Bush era, the government filled the detention center at Guantanamo with people who had never committed a crime, and were never given due process," explained Joe Scarry, coordinator of No Drones Illinois, another coalition member. "The difference under Obama is that uncharged, untried, unconvicted people simply get assassinated with a U.S. drone."

The Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo has also joined the call for the end to U.S. drone assassinations and the suspension of production of new "killer" drones like Boeing's "Phantom Ray," as well as the call by the Anti-War Committee Chicago to drop Boeing as a sponsor of the Air & Water Show due to its central role in violence including Israel's massacre in Gaza and renewed U.S. attacks in Iraq.


S  T  A  T  E  M  E  N  T
Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantánamo

Why Are We Protesting
at the Air & Water Show?

We are here to supply the missing pieces of the military spectacle performed here. We are here to remind everyone that war planes and ships are instruments of death, not entertainment. Civilians are victims of these weapons on a daily basis. We are here to say we oppose the crimes committed by these weapons of war in our name, regardless of the deadly rationales given to justify them.

"Drone" flights

Although most of the military hardware at the Air and Water Show consists of fighter planes and other piloted aircraft, the U.S. military is moving rapidly in the direction of unmanned aerial vehicles, or "drones."

By now, everyone knows how U.S. drones have been used by the CIA and the military to execute thousands of men, women, and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other locations; drones are being used in Iraq right now to select targets in a possible re-escalation of US attacks there. A recently released Obama administration memo reveals how our government has completely abandoned the notion of due process -- law codes, legal charges, legal defense, evidence, trials, and verdicts -- and has jumped straight to executing death sentences.

In addition, drones are used as surveillance by the US government around the world. Many Americans are struggling to prevent drones from being used for policing and surveillance in their communities. In recent weeks, the government has signaled its intent to greatly increase the use of drones on the U.S. border.

“[Drones’] presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.” [Living Under Drones report]

"Rendition" flights

Some of the most terrifying U.S. abuses of air technology don't even involve military planes.

Extraordinary rendition is a phrase that disguises the kidnap, detention and torture of individuals alleged to be enemies of the United States, including those guilty of nothing other than being misidentified. Since September 11, 2001, over 135 people have been seized, abducted and tortured as part of the U.S. extraordinary rendition program. Abou ElKassim Britel, an Italian Citizen is one of them. U.S. agents secretly transported Mr. Britel to the notorious secret Temara prison in Morocco where he was held for over eight months in complete isolation.  Throughout this savage ordeal, Mr. Britel's Moroccan captors continually tortured him and threatened him with greater pain, castration, sodomy with a bottle, and even death. Mr. Britel has said, “The wrong has been done, sadly. What I can ask now is some form of reparation, so that I can have a fresh start and try to forget, even if it won’t be easy . . . I want an apology; it is only fair to say that someone who has done something wrong must apologize.” Today, Mr. Britel lives in Bergamo, Italy, with his wife. Still haunted by his experiences, he suffers from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, amnesia, loss of concentration and visual acuity, limb weakness, and dizziness. No government has acknowledged wrongdoing in his ordeal. We ask that our government issue an apology to this man to aid in his healing.

Try to imagine how people are terrorized by the idea of being seized, blindfolded, flown to a foreign country, and tortured.

Guantánamo: America's Land "Outside the Law"

Once the government decided to abandon due process and start to whisk people off for detention and torture, at secret locations, it soon arrived at something called "Guantánamo."

The American public has been treated to accusations that the men held at Guantánamo are "the worst of the worst," but the vast majority of them are random Muslim men who were seized in Middle Eastern countries. The facts speak for themselves: hundreds have been held at Guantanamo; to date, only 8 have ever been tried in a military commission. Indefinite detention, without charges or trial, is defined as torture under international law.

President Obama promised to close Guantánamo again in May 2013. Since that time, only a handful of men have been released, although he has the power to release almost all of them.

Today 149 men remain imprisoned at Guantánamo, of which 78 have been cleared for release to a host country. Inexplicably, the U.S. government holds these remaining men. Many are on hunger strike -- a fact the US Army does everything possible to cover up -- and some are being force fed using an extremely painful method, in violation of medical ethics and international law.

It now costs $454 million per year to keep Guantánamo open. The Pentagon will have spent $5.242 billion on the prison by the end of 2014.

What is our responsibility?

When he ran for office, Pres. Obama promised to restore the rule of law. Instead, he has claimed and exercised unchecked executive powers beyond even those used by George Bush. Guantánamo remains as far outside the law as ever, and Obama has taken the criminal drone assassination program to new heights.

All this is done in the name of “national security” and “protecting the American people.” We reject security based on fear and terrorizing whole communities and nations. We reject torture in our names, and we invite you to join us in acting to stop it, at Guantánamo, or anywhere it is committed in our names, through drone strikes and extraordinary renditions.

Detention without due process, torture, and extrajudicial execution are always wrong and illegal. Everyone who enjoys the privilege of living in the U.S. bears responsibility for these acts conducted by the U.S. government, and everyone who enjoys the privilege of living in the U.S. must act to remedy the current situation.

Related posts

Coming off our experience this past weekend once again protesting against drone killing, drone surveillance, and related acts of militarism at the Chicago Air and Water Show, I am more confirmed than ever in my view that air shows are a very effective place to get our message out to the public.

(See Why Air Shows Are a Very Effective Place to Protest Drone Killing and Drone Surveillance )

When Chicagoans fully succeed in fully connecting the dots -- especially to the crimes being committed in their name with their tax dollars and the weapons produced by their favored corporate citizen, Boeing -- I think there will be some new and different phone calls taking place . . .

(See What's New in Chicago: Connecting the Dots - US Aid, Boeing Weapons, Gaza Massacre, Chicago Complicity )

July 2014 - Many organizations from across the city joined the call by Anti-War Committee – Chicago, Jews for Justice in Palestine, U.S. Palestinian Community Network and 8th Day Center for Justice: Protest Boeing Death Machines in Gaza: Demand Chicago Drop Boeing from Air and Water Show!

(See No Drones Illinois Endorses Call to Drop Boeing from Chicago Air and Water Show)

A large contingent participated in creative resistance activities at the 2012 Air and Water Show.

(See Taking the NO DRONES! Message to the Masses at Chicago's Air & Water Show for full details.)

August 19, 2013 -- We had an outstanding day on Saturday at the Air and Water Show! There was an antiwar presence in at least three distinct locations:  east of the North Avenue Bridge with the Free Bradley Manning Contingent, representatives of the Anti-war Committee of Chicago, World Can't Wait, and allies from the north and west suburbs on the west side of the North Avenue Bridge, and members of Occupy Chicago on the bridge itself, as well at various places along the beach.

(See We're Pushing the Chicago Air & Water Show to be "War-Free"!)