Public Leaders Speak Out Against the F-35s: “This Is Not Inevitable”

On July 8, community leaders and about 70 members of the community gathered at Washington Manor Park in the Eken Park neighborhood to speak to the media and voice their opposition to the potential basing of F-35 fighter jets at Truax Field. The press conference was organized by State Representative Francesca Hong and leaders of the Eken Park Resistance and the Safe Skies Clean Water Coalition. What follows are a few of the comments expressed at the press conference.

Video of full press conference

Brian Benford, Alder, District 6, Madison Common Council

“In the City of Madison, we suffer from some of the worst racial disparities in the country. Whether it’s education, whether it’s income, whether it’s housing insecurity, whether it’s police interactions, whether our criminal justice system. So, here we are today, another disparity is headed our way, another assault is headed our way. I can’t even call them what they are. I call them an insidious weapon of mass destruction. They’re not jets. They’re designed to kill black and brown people all around the world.”

Omar Poler, leader, Eken Park Resistance

“What we’re facing here is not noise, it’s harm. And our community here in Eken Park is being sacrificed for F-35s that are immoral in every possible way . .  . We refuse to be sacrificed . . . This is not inevitable. We cannot accept this blight in our community. We cannot accept the harm that it will bring to our children, to our neighbors, to people of color, to all the people who live near the airport. We cannot accept that and we will not accept it.”

Yogesh Chawla, Dane County Supervisor, District 6


“Do we want the City of Madison to turn into French Island, where the entire east side and north side has to live on bottled water with no solution in sight? That is the reality we are facing with construction that is happening at the Truax Field airbase in Dane County right here in our neighborhood. They [Air Force] value those fighter jets more than they value the people who live right here in these neighborhoods and we are not going to stand for it anymore.”

Kelda Roys, State Senator, 26th District

“I’m really frustrated that we have to continue to use our loudest outside voices to say “no” to something that this community, again and again, for years, has said “this is not right for us, it is going to harm us, and we don’t want it,” and yet somehow we are not heard. This is a dense urban environment. It is not suitable for the kind of heavy military activity that F-35s are going to bring.”

Syed Abbas, Common Council President, District 12 Alder

“We have a golden opportunity when the F-16s are retired to get rid of this red-lining which has been imposed on our neighborhood, imposed on the northside and eastside. We need to stop this brutality forever. This is not acceptable.”

Francesca Hong, State Representative, District 76

“We say “no” to F-35s. We will continue to say “no” to F-35s. They are not inevitable.”