The controversy over the use of military drones is coming to the Quad-Cities.

A Chicago-based group will launch a 195-mile demonstration walk in the Quad-Cities on Monday, with organizers saying they want people to know that places in the Quad-Cities and Des Moines are involved in developing drone technology and piloting the unmanned vehicles.

The protest is being called "Covering Ground to Ground the Drones," and it will leave from Rock Island on Monday.

Brian Terrell, a former Quad-Citian who lives in southern Iowa, will take part in the march and is a key participant. He has been objecting to drone use since 2009.

"They're killing people. We've got them in the air 24/7 by the thousands," he said this week.

Too many of those people, critics say, are innocent civilians.

The group that is organizing the march and a speaking event on Sunday is called Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Terrell is a co-coordinator of the group.

Voices says the Quad-City connection to drones stems from the making of engine components at the Quad-City Manufacturing Lab, a nonprofit research group on the Arsenal Island.

The protest group says it hopes to draw the public's attention to those connections, pointing to a brochure on the lab's website that refers to "engine components" for unmanned aerial vehicles built under an agreement with Western Illinois University and a Rushville, Ill.-based company.

"We at Voices are opposed to further research and development of drone technology at Rock Island Arsenal," the group said in a statement.

An official with the lab, however, said that it isn't producing drone technology and the work it did do was to make only a small number of prototype parts a few months ago for its partners to experiment with.

"The lab was contracted to make some prototype parts out of some unique metals," said Sam Kupresin, a board member and retired Navy admiral. "That's all that was done."

The lab specializes in titanium and lightweight materials.

Kupresin said he could not identify the entity that the lab contracted with. But a Western Illinois University news release in 2011 said a professor there was working on a Department of Defense grant with Rushville-based Innovative Design and Research Corp. to develop computer models for new engine designs for drones. Part of the grant also involved making prototypes, the news release said.

Drones have been used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, beginning with the Bush administration. Their use, however, has spiked under President Barack Obama, prompting increased scrutiny by Congress and protests.

The New America Foundation, which tracks drone-related deaths, said last month that up to 3,336 people have been killed in strikes, according to The Associated Press. Critics say too many of those deaths were innocent civilians. Some estimates put the number of civilians killed in the hundreds, but estimates vary.

The 195-mile walk will end in Des Moines, where the Air Force plans to base a drone operation in 2014, replacing the F-16 program there.

Last month, protesters demonstrated against the plans.

Pilots in Des Moines with the 132nd Fighter Wing will fly the drones over Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to The Des Moines Register. The drones will gather information, monitor troop safety and, on rare occasions, drop bombs, the article said.

Terrell, who lived in the Quad-Cities from 1979 to 1986 and lives on a small farm in Maloy, Iowa, said he's been working on the drone issue since 2009, attending protests in Nevada, New York and Missouri. He just finished a six-month jail term after being sentenced for trespassing at Whiteman Air Force base in central Missouri, where he also was protesting the use of drones.

In addition to exacting a toll on civilians, Terrell complained drone use is changing the nature of warfare.

"At this distance, it's all the more vague," he said. "It's just becoming too easy."

The Obama administration has said little publicly about the use of drones, but it has said civilian deaths are limited. Last month, Obama defended the program, calling it an effective and necessary tool in the fight against terrorism.

He acknowledged civilian deaths but said the program is legal.

A drone strike was used in 2011 to kill U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, whom the Obama administration identified as a key al-Qaida leader. The man's 16-year-old son also was killed in the attack.

The Voices organization says marchers will be walking the approximately 195 miles from the Arsenal to the Air National Guard facility at the Des Moines Airport. The march will begin after a 9 a.m. news conference on Monday.

Voices says about 20 people will take part in the walk. Some are local people, but others are coming from other parts of Iowa and Illinois and from Wisconsin, New Jersey, Colorado and England.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, there will be an event at Magnificat Chapel, 820 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport, which is open to the public and sponsored by the Sisters of Humility. Speakers will include Terrell and Kathy Kelly, an Illinois peace campaigner who is returning from a trip to Afghanistan, the group said.

(10) comments


LoL.......... When all else fails just blame it on GWB..


@Randy Pitcher,

You certainly have a lot to say about this subject (and others). Every subject you have posted you have defended Obama on each issue and criticized Bush. It is obvious what pitcher of Kool-Aid you are drinking from. Saying that you have an objective opinion on drones is a laugh.

So let me ask you this since you are the expert on all things Anti-Bush. Show me the proof where Bush used drones to kill U.S. citizens. Just your comments here isn't proof. In fact you are wrong on several things you have posted. So, instead of stating your ignorant comments here, show some proof that you can carry on an intellectual conversation with facts. Show me where Bush grabbed phone records from Verizon and violated the 4th Amendment. Yes, Bush signed the Patriot act which violates our Constitution, but with Obama being the "Constitutional lawyer" why did he renew this act and EXPAND on it? Where is your criticism of Obama there? Once again you are absent on this. How predictable. Bush targeted Liberal Churches? Once again, show proof. Are you admitting that the IRS under Obama did attack Tea Party groups, because everyone knows that he did.

The difference between you and I are easy to point out. I have NO problem pointing out Bush's failures. He had MANY. Patriot Act being his worse offense. Unfortunately with Obama his list of failures are too numerous to list here, (Benghazi, Fast & Furious, IRS scandal, Patriot Act expansion, drones, AP wire taping) but when he expands on the Patriot Act then I have the right to criticize as I did Bush.

Bottom line: Stop giving Obama a free pass and blaming Bush for all things wrong. You do realize that got old under Obama's first term. By you continuing to do that under Obama's second term only weakens any argument you have on this subject.


Nobody seemed to care when Bush was using them. The drone program has been used for years.


Don't you realize that it's only bad, if we have a Democrat as President?


No, you have it backwards. You democrats only cared when it was a republican. And Bush didn't do nearly as much of this stuff as Obama. And he didn't use the IRS to control his political opponents. Have any of you hypocritical democrats demonstrated against Obama's wars like you did Bush's? No, you do not.


Fool are you. As the article clearly states, Mr. Obombya has DRASTICALLY increased the use of drones, and he is the first POTUS to personally direct drone assassinations. Once again Comrade Obama follows in the footsteps of Lenin and Stalin.


EXCLUSIVE: CIA didn't always know who it was killing in drone strikes, classified documents show


We either are waging a war on terror, or we are not. War is he!!. it is horrible. It is NEVER fun and never fair. What is the solution? I do not know. But I decline to criticize Mr Obama as I declined to criticize Mr Bush. We could stop the drone attacks, no question. What would be the result? More terrorist leaders alive and well and working to kill us? This is far from a simple and easy question to answer.


“We have the closest thing to Joe Stalin sitting in the WH now. This guy will stop at nothing to destroy the country.”

If Obama is the closet thing to Stalin, then Bush II had to of been Hitler’s twin!

I do believe, your hero Bush II, had already accomplished the feat of destroying our country!

But, there’s one thing that you learned and do well, and that is mimicking Beck, Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh, and your only source of news, Faux.


They won't get any interest from Obama democrats. They aren't interested in civil liberties unless its a republican administration. We have this bunch of authoritarians/totalitarians running the country now. Privacy and civil liberties are trumped by political considerations. They can use the IRS, EPA and OSHA to control and suppress the opposition. They tap the phones of the press to keep them in line. They monitor every electronic communication in the country. We have the closest thing to Joe Stalin sitting in the WH now. This guy will stop at nothing to destroy the country.

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