A School Bus Is Blocking a Boeing Entrance in St. Charles to Protest Yemen Airstrike


A painted bus used to block entrance to a Boeing facility this morning. - COURTESY OF EARTH DEFENSE COALITION
  • A painted bus used to block entrance to a Boeing facility this morning.

The use of U.S.-made bombs in the ongoing conflict in Yemen brought activists in a painted school bus to a Boeing facility just outside St. Louis this morning — and the protesters came not with demands, but with a message for the people of Yemen.

"The action was done in solidarity with the people of Yemen as they are murdered by Saudi Arabia using weapons supplied by Boeing and other weapons manufacturers," the activists said in a statement posted to the Facebook page of the Earth Defense Coalition.

According to a coalition representative on the scene, police have already arrested one activist, Phillip Flag, who had locked his arms to the rear axle of the bus. A second activist, Ashton Howell, is apparently still inside the bus.

"Given the air strikes in Yemen against children on a school bus, we decided to use a bus in solidarity with them," Earth Defense member Amber DuVall tells RFT, referring to an August 9 airstrike that reportedly killed 50 people on a school trip. Of the bombing's victims, 40 were boys under the age of twelve.

The air strike had been launched by a Saudi-led coalition that's been waging an ongoing war to influence the civil war in Yemen. There, loyalists to the country's former president continue to clash with forces that benefit from U.S.-made weapons.

Following the August 9 airstrike, a Saudi spokesperson said the attack was a "legitimate military operation" that did not target civilians. A CNN investigation indicated that the bomb used in the strike — a 500-pound laser-guided MK 82 — was manufactured by U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

As for Boeing, Duval points out that the St. Charles-based company manufactures similar guided weapons, and that today's protest blocked the entrance to the very facility that develops Boeing's Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, which allows militaries to equip unguided "dumb" bombs with GPS navigation kits.

The protesters did not submit a list of demands to Boeing, deciding that would be "futile," according to their statement. Rather, the protest is about "motivat[ing] other Americans to act boldly and nonviolently to force an end to the criminal actions of the United States and its allies."

"We know we're not going to be shutting down Boeing," Duval says. Yet she believes that Boeing, like Lockheed Martin, bears responsibility for the weapon systems it designs and sells for military use.

Boeing itself does extensive business with Saudi Arabia, and Duval says that a guided bomb hitting a school bus full of children should send a message to every domestic company involved in warfare. Either the bombs are faulty, she suggests, "or places like Saudi Arabia are creating very evident war crimes."

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]

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