“A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired.”

That’s former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, describing the first targeted killing carried out by a U.S. drone on Feb. 4, 2002.

It may not have received much attention at the time, but in the past few months a growing movement of activists and anti-war organizations have made the United States’ use of drones their issue of choice, over a decade and 2,500 targeted killings later.

In Santa Cruz, local activist groups have come together to organize vigils for drone victims. The first occurred two months ago on President’s Day, a move intended to highlight Pres. Obama’s central role in the U.S. drone program.

Due in part to the recent surge of interest on the topic, Phillip Crawford, President of the Monterey Peace and Justice Center (MPJC), has invited Marjorie Cohn to speak at both the MPJC and Santa Cruz’s Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV) on April 20.

Cohn, former President of the National Lawyers Guild and a law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is an outspoken critic of U.S. drone strikes and is currently writing a book about the topic.

In the event, titled “Drones, Murder and Targeted Killing,” Cohn will explore the problems she sees with drone strikes and discuss how a national movement might successfully come together to halt their usage.

“We really need a strong anti-war movement along the lines of the Occupy movement that can challenge this idea of continual warfare,” Cohn said in an earlier interview with City on a Hill.

“There are protests going on all over the country right now, but they need to get stronger,” Cohn said. “Whether the American understand or accept it or not, these strikes are being carried out and civilians are being killed in our name.”


 Marjorie Cohn will speak at the Resource Center for Nonviolence on April 20, at 3 p.m., and again at the Monterey Peace and Justice Center on April 20, at 7 p.m.