November 9, 2001
Two Arrested as Historic Demonstration Confronts the Myths of a Peaceful Canada at A Site that Produces Components for the Tools of Global Terror
On November 9, the cover was lifted on one of Canada's best kept and most dangerous secrets: the research and development of Space Warfare at the "Defence" Research Establishment Ottawa (DREO). The secret was revealed despite the presence of almost 200 police officers, RCMP and CSIS agents, riot squad backup, the full canine unit, a police airplane constantly flying back and forth overhead, tons of cop equipment, and the presence of two ambulances and one fire crew from the Kanata Fire Department.
DREO's involvement in solving mysteries such as "how do we fit 70 tons of lethality into a 20 ton package?" was the focus of Friday's nonviolent direct action by Homes not Bombs, at which two individuals were arrested and charged with trespassing for attempting to enter the facility with citizens' inspection forms along with a Pledge of Conscience to End Work for War.
Even with all of the state force on display, though, authorities were taking no chances, and the presence of the demonstrators closed space warfare work at DREO for a complete day. Before the demonstration even began, the 50 or so people who had gathered from Burlington, Ancaster, Hamilton, Peterborough, Ottawa, Toronto, and Aylmer learned that their intention to go to Ottawa had shut down the space warfare facility.
Indeed, a source who worked for one of the facilities inside the DREO compound&endash;a collection of buildings including a branch of Industry Canada as well as the Canadian Forces Electronic Warfare Centre&endash;called in confidence to inform us that all employees within the area had been told not to come in to work or, alternatively, to arrive before 7 am, for after that no one would be allowed in or out of the area (the latter choice an unlikely outcome for a crew that is fairly privileged and not too concerned with punching time clocks).
The source also informed us that in addition to riot police, the area would be thick with RCMP and CSIS agents. We were also told that an open letter written by Homes not Bombs to all employees of DREO had not been shared with employees; nevertheless, numerous employees curious about the growing "security" presence had checked out details of the action on a protest website, and were aware of its nonviolent intentions.
The morning of the 9th was quite surreal. DREO, located in a fairly rural section of Nepean, is fronted by a large grassy area and features a long, winding road to its gated entrance, where it sits behind a wide swath of barbed wire fence. As the peace bus pulled up to the intersection where folks turn in to go to DREO, we could see scores of police lined across an open field. Behind them, more police were scattered behind the fence, along with dozens of police vehicles, police wagons, and a Cecil B. DeMille-style camera wagon with a huge tripod and large, almost old-fashioned looking camera to film the day's activities for the secret service files of RCMP and CSIS (despite the fact that such filming was recently ruled to be unconstitutional by the Canadian Human Rights Commission).
Add to this "middle of nowhere" feel was the disembarking of the Wizard of Oz's lion (Brian Edgecombe), scarecrow (Matthew Behrens), tinman (Matthew Beatty), and Dorothy Gale (Kirsten Romaine, fresh from her recent role as the Tooth Fairy in the Oct. 31 peace demo); a series of detectives; people dressed in scientist lab coats, and a host of props and costumes for the demonstration ahead. Police attempts to "explain the rules" of the day were ignored by the whole group as they set up the day's scenario: the staging of The Wizard of DREO. The Peace Detectives and Raging Grannies immediately occupied a space on the grounds which police had told us was strictly forbidden but which we knew was perfectly within our rights to occupy.
Homes not Bombs then engaged in a farcical play in which on-the-spot reporter Mary Tart (aka Laurel Smith) from "Bombardment Tonight," on hand to celebrate the "accomplishments" of DREO scientists, instead runs into a group of peace detectives scouring the grounds for clues about space warfare work.
Sure enough, those clues were found and read out to the eager but still skeptical Tart. Meanwhile, as the Homes not Bombs crew moved about the grounds, the police had to continue shifting their line, eventually forced to place hundreds of feet of yellow crime scene tape across a broad swath of grassy area. This was appropriate, one peace detective pointed out, because DREO's work as a space warfare facility qualifies the area as a crime scene, and police were thanked for their ability to understand this, even if that had not been their intention. Some also thought this was a ribbon to be cut because the closure of DREO might signal we could cut the ribbon on what we really wanted to do with the site: the creation of a far more needed, and safer, Civil Society Research Institute.
Shortly thereafter, visitors from Venus were welcomed, visitors who had picked up the Wizard of Oz characters in a stray hot air balloon. All commenced to sing songs about why they were at DREO&endash;to help scientists within use their hearts, brains, and courage to end work for war (see songs below) and help everyone find a home (because there's no place like it, as Dorothy learns). They started their journey to see the "Wizard of DREO" by following the Space Warfare Road (missiles and lasers and bombs, oh my!) and immediately ran into a thick line of police officers. Dorothy explained that they had come such a long way and really needed to see the Wizard, because we had to end the threat to humankind posed by space warfare and other research conducted at DREO.
Seeing this was a no go, the characters proceeded to join a scene in which scientists converted an affordable housing project into a giant missile (egged on by war criminals including George Bush, Bill Clinton, Jean Chretien). The missile was then used to crash into and destroy another housing project (a symbol of the fact Canada spends almost 800% more on war and armed enforcement of injustice than it does on affordable housing programs, and that any budget surplus which might have gone to housing this fall is instead going to blow up housing in Afghanistan).
With the help of the visitors from Venus and Oz characters, the scientists were eventually convinced to join the community in rebuilding the housing and dismantling the missile, a symbol which we hoped would not be lost on the real scientists within DREO.
After reading aloud the Pledge of Conscience (see below), dozens of people then moved forward to meet the police line face to face. All carried with them origami peace cranes, which were offered to the police in an attempt to open dialogue and open the door to DREO. When police did not accept these peace gifts, the cranes were placed at the officers' feet, and soon one could see a long line of cranes at the feet of a long line of police.
Attempts to enter the facility were physically blocked by police on occasion after occasion, forcing those attempting to get in to continue walking further out into the "countryside," followed by police walking almost sideways to keep up. Eventually, the Scarecrow (played by Behrens, of Toronto) was able to evade police and enter a more "secure zone", where he was immediately stopped. After sitting down and asking again to see the Wizard of DREO and offering the Pledge of Conscience, he was immediately arrested, placed in tight plastic handcuffs, and hauled off between the police dogs to an awaiting van to be photographed, losing a good deal of his straw stuffing in the process! He was shortly followed in custody by Andrew Loucks of Hamilton, who had attempted to enter with a similar pledge and who had been engaged in the choreography of police line evasion a bit longer. He had with him a copy of the excellent new Rosalie Bertell book Planet Earth: The Newest Weapon of War, which he was prepared to read out to the police even if it took all day and night. A third inspector was stopped and, when he sat on the ground, reading out international laws and covenants that DREO's work violates, police formed the new "security" line around him, refusing to make further arrests.
In the end, the two arrestees did make it inside the DREO compound, as the police van was driven inside the gates to a temporary holding facility that had been set up to process arrestees. Originally told we would be charged with trespassing, the charge was suddenly upped to the criminal obstruct police. After some interesting discussion between various police agencies, it seems the decision to downplay the demo was made, and the two were placed back in the van, driven out to the peace bus, and cut free from their tight handcuffs and issued trespass citations.
This first-ever demonstration at DREO was historically significant, in that, to the best of our knowledge, Canadians have never attempted to conduct a direct action at one of the five federally funded war research facilities (a situation we hope more Canadians will remedy in the coming months). The demonstration and the campaign of education around it were also interesting, as they showed how much Canadians like to cling to the myth of Canada as innocent, peacekeeping nation.
Indeed, the absence of most media (Bombardment Tonight notwithstanding!) from the demonstration, despite a well-documented five-page press release detailing Canada's involvement in Space Warfare, showed how little courage exists within the fifth estate. Canadian media prefer to focus on the big bad U.S., conveniently forgetting how difficult it would be for the U.S. to be big and bad without Canada's $5 billion a year war industry and security state apparatus.
The lack of media coverage was consistent with the lack of response from many corners of Canadian society to the news that a self-proclaimed "peaceful" nation was involved in the development of the star wars system of the Bush administration as well as plans to help institute the US Space Command's infamous 2020 Vision document about conquering space in order to control earth.
The refusal to confront our own violence was reflected as well in the decision by the board of Bells Corners United Church not to house the demonstrators the night before; the political decision was based in large part on one member's refusal to believe that DREO was involved in such work (he used to work there), and neglected to take note of those sections of the Bible which call on us to be peacemakers, to do justice, to beat swords into ploughshares.
Furthermore, the continued stance of most "established" peace groups that we should lobby the federal government not to be involved in star wars when we already have made that commitment in physical terms speaks to the psychosis of a country which is like a bump-covered carpet: so much dirt has been swept underneath the rugs that you cannot walk across it anymore without falling over and then wondering why the ground wasn't level.
Thomas Merton seems to sum up Canada's hypocrisy best when he writes, "The population of the affluent world is nourished on a steady diet of brutal mythology and hallucination, kept at a constant pitch of high tension by a life that is intrinsically violent in that it forces a large part of the population to submit to an existence which is humanly intolerable. Our social structure is outwardly ordered and respectable, and inwardly ridden by psychopathic obsessions and delusions."
The "order" and "respectability" of quiet and ignored space warfare research was interrupted for a whole day at DREO on November 9; it will be interrupted at trial, and will continue to be interrupted. We hope the RCMP and CSIS have large budgets for the film crews that recorded our every move from the ground, from atop vehicles, from the skies&endash;they'll certainly need it!
(Below are songs from the Wizard of DREO, adapted from the movie version of the Wizard of Oz)
Somewhere over the DREO
There's a land where there's no more war
each and every day
Somewhere over the DREO
Bombs don't fall
There's a land where everything is
shared by all
If cluster bombs and laser beams
Were overcome with justice dreams
And people worked out problems with
A handshake and a hug and kith
And peaceniks weren't crazies
Somewhere over the DREO
New worlds lie
Cops and courts may try and stop us
And Call us pie in the sky
But if funny little Venusians see
Beyond the DREO
why oh why can't we?
SCARECROW (BRAIN SONG)
They would learn not to drop bombs on
The children of Vietnam
Iraq and Balkans Too (where lives go down the drain)
They'd stop playing war at DREO
They'd Sing songs from Mamma-Meo
If they only had a brain
They'd stop making things so lethal
And listen to the Beatles
Cause all you need is love (it's just around the curve)
They might smoke some marijuana
Maybe make love if they wanna
If they only had the nerve
Oh they'd stop plans for war
For housing they'd provide so much more
They'd be heroes of anarchistic lore
And then they'd soothe
The world's sores
They might go to demonstrations
And help United Nations
Keep them from goin' insane
Life could be a real doozy
Peaceniks' get some extra snoozy
If they only used their brain!
TIN MAN SONG
What a man is disconnected
Emotions not affected
He couldn't give a fart (ba ba ba ba bum, ba bum)
Doesn't care about the world
Or the havoc he's unfurled
Cause he doesn't have a heart.
When a man's job's plannin' murder
His feelings go no fur-der
Than shopping at the mart. (ca ching ca ching ca ching)
He won't stop this deadly business
Or pass empathy's pop-quiz-ness
Not until he has a heart
Picture me, society
People treated equally,
Where no one has to be a target-ee
Of laser beams
And DREO's dreams
When a man's job's makin missiles
Not from-the-heart epistles,
His poetry won't flow (his friendly muse won't start)
He would find himself more loving
HOMES NOT BOMBS he might be hugging
If he only had a heart
LION'S SONG (COURAGE)
When morality is hazy
It can really drive ya crazy
And leave ya feeling blue, (up to a certain length)
You might feel a whole lot better
Write a social justice letter
If you only had the strength!
When a scientist gets lazy
His moral pulse gets hazy
He starts to play with war
You would think he'd be quite nervous
Cause it ain't no social service
When the product's blood and gore.
Oh he, should show some sense
stop sitting on the LIBERAL'S fence
He should sign this here Pledge of Conscience
He'd help the world
Get his hair curled!
So it's time to show some courage
Stop messing with the scour-age
Of planning future wars (a simple moral choice)
So let's go down there and see' em
Need no scientific theorum
Just to help give peace a voice!
THE WIZARD OF D-R-E-O
Follow the space warfare road
Follow the space warfare road
Follow the follow the follow the follow the
Follow the Space Warfare Road
If ever there were a road to stop
The space warfare is near the top
And so and so and so and so and so
It's to the DREO we must go.
We're off to see the wizard
The wizard of D-R-E-O
He gives to war lethality and
to the world much woe,
He puts bad things up in the sky
They're likely to kill you and I
And so and so and so and so and soooooooo
And so that's why we have to go
We're off to see the wizard, the wizard of D-R-E-O
Pledge of Conscience to End Work for War
* the horrible toll war has taken during the 20th century, and to honour the 110 million-plus victims of warfare (a figure which surpasses one billion victims, according to leading radiation expert Sister Rosalie Bertell, when we consider the victims of the nuclear fuel cycle);
* the massive poverty which consumes the majority of the world's population because governments continue to devote over $800 billion annually to the planning and preparation for warfare instead of investing these funds in desperately needed social programs;
* the world's biggest polluter is war and the military;
* plans to further militarize space and wage war from the upper atmosphere represent what could be a final, fatal blow to the fragile planet we call home;
* the only way for us to stop war is to stop not only war but the political, social and economic causes of war;
I/we pledge never to participate in
1. the research, design, development, testing, production, maintenance, targeting, or use of any form of military weapons (be they nuclear, biological, chemical or so-called "conventional" weapons), their means of delivery, and their related components;
2. research or engineering that I/we/informed individuals and groups have reason to believe will be used by the military.
I/we further pledge to
* cut any and all ties to military contractors;
* seek out only that work which benefits the environment, humanity, and all life forms which inhabit the earth.
*place a restriction limiting to civilian uses only any technological advances and research which result from our work.
Homes not Bombs, PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto, Ontario M6C 1C0 Canada (416) 651-5800, firstname.lastname@example.org
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