Turned away by military police, Sgt. Micah Turner says he’s “on the run”

Photo by @Unoccupier

Turned away from Fort Hamilton for a second time, AWOL soldier and anti-war protestor Sgt. Micah Turner says he’s “on the run.”

This is how he recounts his attempts to turn himself in on his blog, Unoccupier:

Just before midnight on Sunday, October 7, 2012, the anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, I drove into Fort Hamilton with five activist friends… The police took me into custody for about 15 minutes, or perhaps a little longer. They told me to come back the next morning as they couldn’t process me at that time. So, one cheap hotel room later, and one awesome night with my friends, I reported to the military police at Fort Hamilton again at 0800 hours sharp. I was handcuffed and searched. But once again, I was told to come back as they didn’t have personnel to process me at that time.

While he tweets that he’s a fugitive and uses the hashtag #ontherun, at the same time Turner believes his actions have given him a temporary reprieve:

[My lawyer] said that my having appeared at Fort Hamilton to try to turn myself in automatically gives me a 30-day extension of my AWOL status. (After 30 days, I become a fugitive and the sentencing could get much harsher!)

He’s looking into obtaining status as a conscientious objector. In the meantime, he’s hitting the road with Occupy the Roads, an RV piloted by Tino Fuentes and Janet Wilson. They visited the anniversary celebration of Occupy Buffalo, and next destinations are Erie and Cleveland.

In addition to an active Twitter account, he’s upped the social media campaign with a Facebook page and blog.

AWOL combat veteran turned war protestor faces uncertain fate

Sgt. Micah Turner

This post has been updated below.

Late Sunday night Sgt. Micah Turner, an active-duty soldier deployed multiple times to Afghanistan,  surrendered to authorities at Fort Hamilton after being absent from his unit for more than a month.
He had abandoned his post on September 7, and as of today, would have been officially considered a deserter.

The day before in Washington, DC, Sgt. Turner, 24, risked immediate arrest by revealing his status as a soldier absent without leave (AWOL) and publicly stating his opposition to the war in Afghanistan. Today he joined Veterans for Peace in New York and again spoke out against the war, saying that what was happening to soldiers and citizens in Afghanistan was a tragedy. Then he drove with supporters to the gates of Fort Hamilton near New York City and surrendered to military authorities.

“The Army tells us to be people of integrity, personal courage, and duty,” he said. “As a person of courage, it is my duty to dissent.”

He walked away from his post 31 days ago. Saturday at Freedom Plaza, he said, “As of today I am officially designated AWOL.” He wore his Class A uniform blouse, “Army greens” and stood in front of a line of supporters who held “No More War” posters. The announcement was livestreamed over the internet to large audiences.

He has served five years in the Army, only one year short of his six-year commitment, and has been deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan three times. His assignment was in PSYOPs, which, according to the Army Field Manual, uses manipulative techniques “to influence foreign target emotions, motives, objective reasoning” to achieve the goals of a military mission. Sgt. Turner’s 6-year obligation to serve in the Army would have ended with an honorable discharge had he not gone AWOL.

During his most recent deployment to Afghanistan, his feelings about the 12 year-long war began to change. He recently became active in the Occupy movement. He also participated in the Occupy DC anniversary protests and the Veterans for Peace rally and vigil in front of the Veterans Administration.

Sgt. Turner will have a long legal road ahead of him before he knows his fate. He may be tried by court martial with the possibility of losing his rank and all pay and benefits. It could take years before the final disposition of his case is adjudicated by the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sgt. Turner speaks to media about his reasons for going AWOL.

UPDATE 10/8/12: According to Sgt. Turner’s twitter account, authorities at Fort Hamilton released him last night after he turned himself in and requested that he come back in the morning. He returned to Fort Hamilton at 8am and once again was released, because today is a federal holiday, Columbus Day, and no military detectives are working.

He’s currently considering his options, including seeking Conscientious Objector status.

Video of Sgt. Turner speaking in New York at Veterans for Peace Vigil on October 7:


Cool Quote of the Day

In order for the world to become peaceful, people must become more peaceful. Among mature people war would not be a problem–it would be impossible. In their immaturity people want, at the same time, peace and the things which make war. However, people can mature just as children grow up. Yes, our institutions and our leaders reflect our immaturity, but as we mature we will elect better leaders and set up better institutions. It always comes back to the thing so many of us wish to avoid: working to improve ourselves.

Peace Pilgrim

(Image by coolrevolution.net)