End Blue Angels

We at Extinction Rebellion Seattle are working to end Boeing’s Military Airshow at Seafair.  Read more to learn about our journey and how you can become involved.

Here’s a little background as to how a coalition of climate and peace activists got started on the path to end the military air show. In 2017, a friend posted in Next Door a message saying, “Is anyone worried about the excessive air and noise pollution of the Blue Angels?” She was looking for some compatriots to join her in questioning the Blue Angels as a beneficial tradition that should be continued.

She now has something akin to PTSD from the response to her question, which reached, not quite the level of death threats, but was decidedly negative. How dare she question our traditions? How dare she question such a show of skill and might? After hearing her story, it’s been on my mind ever since.

For me, the planning of the Blue Angels Airshow protest started when I attended a Resist US Led War- Seattle rally at the Museum of Flight in Seattle in early 2023. This is where I learned that sixty percent of Boeing’s business is military sales to the US government.  At the protest, I received a flyer — The Climate Crisis and US Militarism from Veteran’s For Peace (VFP) and added it to my pile of interesting information. When Extinction Rebellion Seattle had a spring ‘Allies in Activism’ rally, we invited Will from VFP Chapter 92 to speak.

Sometime later, I went to an activism training weekend where I was able to make screen prints, stencils and a linoleum cutting. Although the weekend was focused on forest defense, I persuaded my group to create a poster in protest of Military Airshows — getting me one step closer to making a protest against the Blue Angels military airshow a reality.

Meanwhile, my friend Beth is an active member of a group called Earth Care not Warfare. She’s been a peace activist for many years and was itching to get a petition going or somehow sway the Seafair Board into ending the airshow. She put me in touch with a group, part of 350 Seattle, focused on calling out the impact that the US Military has on the climate.

So, we joined together, Extinction Rebellion Seattle, the Seattle Antiwar Coalition, South Seattle Climate Action Network and Veterans For Peace to protest the Boeing Airshow in August, 2023.

Originally the folks from Veterans For Peace were reticent to prepare a protest with just over a month to plan. But Gary Butterfield from VFP San Diego stressed to the group that their chapter’s engagement with the public at protests became much stronger when they started highlighting the climate impacts of the military and forming coalitions with climate groups.  He helped give VFP the motivation to make the protest happen.

I had plenty of motivation– reading such news in July as we were having the hottest days in 120,000 or so years, or was it the flooding in Vermont, or Italy, or the prolonged drought in Spain.  I just kept thinking to myself, ‘What are they waiting for?!’ We were going to do this.

So, we spent the month of July working together — representatives of Extinction Rebellion Seattle, the Seattle Anti-War Coalition and Veterans For Peace. Our coalition developed a flyer and poster to share in the neighborhood and across Seattle: Blue Angels — Not “Good Clean Fun” that included some interesting facts.

· Each Navy Blue Angel or Air Force Thunderbird burns approximately 1500 gallons of expensive jet fuel per hour — 68,000 total gallons for a weekend show.

· This means that each airshow adds 650 metric tons of CO2 into the air, contributing to climate change more than 10 cars would by driving 150,000 miles each.

· The air-splitting noise triggers veterans and war refugees with PTSD — the exhaust causes cancer and harms heart and lungs.

The U.S. military is the world’s largest institutional source of greenhouse gas emissions, causing climate change.

The US military budget is bigger than the military budgets of the next 11 countries combined, including Russia and China.

We distributed flyers throughout the neighborhood.  We shared a petition that had been started in 2022–

We All Want to Feel Safe: No More Blue Angels Over SeattleWhen I first opened the link there were under 200 signatures. Now there are over 3,500. The local community is making its voice heard. We are, of course, the flea fighting against Boeing, but us fleas fighting against injustice “can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable.”

Concurrent with our efforts, a piece was published in the Urbanist Op-Ed: It’s Time for Seattle to Cancel the Blue Angels by Barbara Clabots and Rachel Heaton.

We protested the Military Airshow with about 25 people carrying banners and signs at the park’s entrance.  Since last year’s protest, the problems of increasing emissions and the devastating destructive power of war have become clearer. Our climate coalition continues to work to end the Blue Angels military airshow.

At Extinction Rebellion Seattle, it’s not just about the airshow’s emissions, or safety or the stress caused by the noisy planes, but about making the statement that “Business as Usual” cannot continue and ending this airshow would be an important, small step toward a livable future.  Many people hate having the Blue Angels airshow fly over Seattle.  We must come together to make our voices heard.

If you are interested in joining this campaign, please contact Andrea at andreaoferrall@comcast.net.

About Andrea

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