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Drone protesters target BAE

FORT WAYNE -- Nine people gathered Thursday outside the BAE Systems plant on Taylor Street to protest the manufacture of drones by the company.

On the same sidewalk, eight union workers at BAE staged their own demonstration in support of their employer.

"If you are going to protest, protest in the right place," Brent Eastom, president of IUE-CWA Local 901, said in an interview. "You are protesting a plant that doesn't even make drones."

Although the British company does manufacture remotely controlled, unmanned aircraft commonly known as drones, its Fort Wayne operation designs and builds electronic controls used mostly in commercial aircraft.

"We don't even know exactly what plants are manufacturing drone components," protester David Lambert of Fort Wayne said. "That's all pretty classified information. For all I know, they may be making them here and even the workers don't know it. So we came here because BAE is part of the greater BAE international."

Thursday's protest was part of "April Days of Action," which was organized by a coalition of antiwar organizations that oppose the use of drones for military and surveillance purposes. Similar protests were planned this week around the country at defense contractors, military bases and universities involved in drone research.

For more on this story, see Friday's print edition of The Journal Gazette or go to after 3 a.m. Friday.