Drone-use protesters gather in La Jolla

By Ashley Mackin

As part of a multi-day series of protests against the use of the remotely piloted aircrafts known as drones, costumed protesters gathered on April 5 in front of General Atomics Aeronautical headquarters in La Jolla, one of the world’s leading drone manufacturers.

Beginning the day protesting in front of the home of Neal Blue, CEO of General Atomics (also in La Jolla), the protesters moved on to the headquarters, and from there, to the headquarters of Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the Global Hawk surveillance drones.

Martha Sullivan of Women Occupy San Diego, one of the many sponsoring organizations, said the purpose was to “shine the light” on General Atomics.

“They are the leading manufacturer and promoter of the Predator and Reaper drones, which the U.S. government is using to target terrorists, supposedly,” she said. “But they are also killing multiple times more civilians, including children.”

In addition to the reported deaths of children overseas (Sullivan cited a New York University study that documented the stories of at least 180 children who were killed by U.S. drones), other concerns for the demonstrators included the fact that those at General Atomics are profiting from the use of drones, including drone use in the U.S. “Drones are being used, not just

overseas in military operations but increasingly right here by law enforcement for surveillance and there’s no regulations on the use of these machines, so it’s like the Wild West. This is untested technology basically, in terms of how it’s going to impact society, and we don’t have any rules to govern them,” she said.

Providing no additional comment, representatives from General Atomics released the following statement:

“General Atomics and its affiliated companies (GA) constitute one of the world’s leading resources for high- technology systems. GA is involved in developing transformational technologies such as electromagnetic systems, airborne sensors and energy research. It also manufactures remotely piloted aircraft systems, which protect our troops and support national security. GA is honored that it can contribute in this way while at the same time recognizing the right to demonstrate.”