A group from San Diego Veterans for Peace has been gathering at the corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and General Atomics Way on Thursdays, protesting the escalating use of drones by U.S. forces overseas and their potential use in the United States.
The Predator unmanned aerial aircraft is made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, an affiliate based in Poway at the east end of the business park. About two dozen protesters were on the sidewalk Thursday afternoon across the street from where some General Atomics employees leave work.
Encouraging drivers to honk as they sped past, protesters held signs calling for an end to war and the use of drones, with one declaring that 10,000 drones are surveilling America.
“We’re here in front of General Atomics because they’re the big boys in the business,” said Dave Patterson, one of the protesters. “We’re actually demonstrating and trying to get some oversight on the use of these drones locally and internationally.”
U.S. forces use the drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan against suspected terrorists, but the use of unmanned aircraft in the United States by government and law enforcement agencies is a growing concern, according to the Associated Press. A recent poll by the Associated Press and the National Constitution Center concluded that more than a third of Americans worry about privacy concerns if law enforcement agencies begin using drones.
While 44 percent of those polled supported allowing police departments in the United States to use drones, 33 percent responded that they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about a loss of privacy, according to the Associated Press.
The Obama administration defends the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan, citing their accuracy and safety for U.S. troops. Patterson of San Diego Veterans for Peace questions the legality of drones targeting people with lethal force.
“Since when was it OK for the president to assassinate anybody he wants? That’s what I want to know,” Patterson said.