Pentagon officials apologized Saturday for threatening to unleash deadly Air Force firepower on any “millennials” who tried to “storm” Area 51.
As alien aficionados prepared to gather near the mysterious Nevada military base, a Defense Department media service on Friday tweeted a photo of Air Force service members arrayed in front of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
“The last thing #Millennials will see if they attempt the #area51 raid today,” the post by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service said.
Some Twitter users were upset that the Defense Department was suggesting, even jokingly, that it might turn its weapons against Americans.
“The military should not be threatening to kill citizens, not even misguided ones,” Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, tweeted Friday.
The military should not be threatening to kill citizens, not even misguided ones. https://t.co/roJpr5Sgvs
— Jeffrey Lewis (@ArmsControlWonk) September 21, 2019
The following day, DVIDSHub deleted the offending tweet and issued an apology.
Last night a DVIDSHUB employee posted a Tweet that in NO WAY supports the stance of the Department of Defense. It was inappropriate and we apologize for this mistake.
— DVIDSHub (@DVIDSHub) September 21, 2019
The idea of gathering near Area 51 came from a satirical June Facebook event that made headlines as more than 2 million people signed up to attend. The organizers of “Storm Area 51” proposed to infiltrate the Air Force base on Sept. 20 and “see them aliens.”
Conspiracy theorists have for decades believed that Area 51 contains secret information about aliens, including their remains and captured UFOs. In “Independence Day,” a 1996 alien invasion movie, the base served as an alien testing laboratory.
Amid stern warnings from the Air Force and local law enforcement, “Storm Area 51” faltered but eventually evolved into a number of parties around the base. According to the Los Angeles Times, over the weekend, some 3,000 people traveled to music festivals in a pair of small desert towns near Area 5, while others met up at an outdoor venue in Las Vegas, a couple hours’ drive away.
CNet sent reporters to cover the festivals.
— Erin Carson (@ErinCarson) September 20, 2019
Authorities said more than 1,000 people visited Area 51 gates on Thursday and Friday. But with Nye County deputies on hand, no one actually stormed the base in the end.
Sheriff Kerry Lee said military security officers did detain two men inside of the Nevada Test and Training Range, a sprawling facility that encompasses the Air Force Base. The men were turned over to sheriff’s deputies and charged with trespassing, Lee said, and their vehicle was impounded.