Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Days of Action Against Drones Culminates with a conference in SYRACUSE and a massive demonstration at Hancock AFB- 31 arrested

Following the Convergence to Action, a weekend of workshops, panels, and organizing meetings in Syracuse headed by the Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, nearly 300 activists came out to Hancock AFB on Sunday (4/28) in a massive demonstration that helped to cap the nationwide April Days of Action Against Drones, which included events all throughout the state.
Over 275 people marched in a solemn funeral
 procession to demand that Hancock Air National Guard
 Base cease drone strikes. 

People carrying banners and coffins identified countries
 where U.S. drone attacks have killed over a thousand innocent civilians.

Vivid reminder that many of the civilians
 killed by drone strikes are children.

Demonstrators came from all over the country to raise an outcry against the proliferation of drone strikes abroad, including in countries with whom the US is not "officially" at war. Drone use violates article 6 of the US Constitution as well as International Law. Demonstrators also objected to the militarization of the police and the growing domestic use of drones. The protesters raised the issue that drone use globally actually perpetuates terrorism by stoking anti-American sentiment.


Veterans for Peace played a significant role in the demonstration,
as it has throughout the 
April Days of Action Against Drones.

The history of  demonstrations against the use of
 drones at Hancock apparently created the
 perceived need for a large police presence.
An account by Bruce K. Gagnon describes what happened next:

"After we had moved to the base in a slow funeral procession four of us from Veterans For Peace (VFP) stood next to the yellow crime scene tape the military and the local police used to mark the point we were not allowed to pass without risk of arrest. 
"A large number of activists crossed this line and
 performed a die-in blocking the entrance to the base.
  They covered themselves in white sheets smeared in red."

"While a policeman was issuing a warning with a bullhorn
 the four of us from VFP began reading the names of children
 killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan."

  "Once we finished reading the names we stepped over the line
 and were quickly grabbed by the cops, handcuffed, and
 escorted to the waiting big black police bus." 

Demonstrators delivered a war crimes indictment to the base. It reads:
"We, the people, charge the US President, Barack Obama, and the full military chain of command, to Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, every drone crew, and service members at Hancock Air Base, with crimes against humanity, with violations of part of the Supreme Law of the Land, extrajudicial killings, violation of due process, wars of aggression, violation national sovereignty, and killing of innocent civilians."

Even with 31 demonstrators arrested, hundreds remained to
 deliver the message that "We STILL Will not be Complicit"
 in war crimes committed in the name of U.S. imperialism.
The thirty one arrestees were arraigned in De Witt Town Court before Judges Benack, Gideon, and Jokl, who imposed bails ranging from $500 - $3500, totalling $34,000. As Bruce Gagnon notes, the bails were punitively high and were accompanied by abusive treatment of those in jail and waiting for arraignment. Some of the defendants were released with appearance tickets   Others are refusing to post bail and will be held in jail until the next court date of May 7th & 8th.

Those Arrested:
Beth Adams, Levertt, MA
John Amidon, Albany, NY
Cynthia Banas, Vernon, NY
Ellen Barfield, Baltimore, MD
Russell Brown, Buffalo, NY
Kate De Mott Grady, Ithaca, NY
Beatrice Dewing, New York City, NY
Max Farhi, Ithaca, NY
Sandra Fessler, Rochester, NY
Daniel Finley, Ithaca, NY
Bruce Gagnon, Brunswick, ME
Jack Gilroy, Binghamton, NY
Charlie Heyn, Damascus, PA
John Honeck, Hamlin, NY
Rae Kramer, Syracuse, NY
Joanne Lingle, Indianapolis, IN
Mary Loehr, Ithaca, NY
Bonnie Mahoney, Buffalo, NY
Harry Murray, Rochester, NY
Valerie Niederhoffer, Buffalo, NY
Julienne Oldfield, Syracuse, NY
Jules Orkin, Bergenfield, NJ
Elizabeth Pappalardo, Crystal Lake, DE
Joan Pleune, Brooklyn, NY
Beverly Rice
Grace Ritter, Ithaca, NY
Matthew Ryden
Andrew Schoerke, Shaftsbury, VT
Mary Snyder, Johnson City, NY
Eve Tetaz, Washington, DC
Patricia Wieland, Northampton, MA

Donations may be sent to the Syracuse Peace Council, with checks made out to Syracuse Peace Council, note: Upstate Drone Action Bail Fund.  2013 E. Genessee St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

For more information:
Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, 315-472-5478315-383-5738
Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-279-8303

To see the report in local news, click here.
For video of the demonstrations, click here.

April Days of Action Against Drones are only the beginning of the fight against U.S. imperialism and the illegal killing that perpetuates it.

To get involved, check out the No Drones Network or subscribe to get e-mails about impending anti-drone actions.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hancock AFB Commander requests "order of protection" from anti-drone activists

The truth hurts. At least, apparently for Colonel Earl Evans, commander of the Hancock Air National Guard Base in DeWitt. As reported by the Syracuse Post-Standard, Col. Evans has applied for and been granted a restraining order against 17 anti-drone peace activists from the Syracuse area, in retaliation for their peaceful demonstrations against the civilian carnage resulting in countries around the world from U.S. drone strikes.
Col. Evans has requested protection from 17 activists against
 their approaching Hancock AFB to protest its role as a drone
 base; a luxury unavailable to people whose lives are
threatened by drones piloted under Evans' command.

This move by Evans comes in the wake of ongoing demonstrations across the street from the base, and a recent protest in which 37 activists were arrested for blocking one of the base's gates. As noted by local drone resister John Hamilton, the irony is palpable:

 "Clearly the intent is to keep us away from his ‘place of employment’, the military base.  However, he is a government official, and the first amendment doesn’t say, ‘you can petition your government once… and after that it’s a felony.’
This is of course a pure perversion of the restraining order laws, and therefore illegal in itself.  Judge Benack, who issued these, and Judge Jokl who is enforcing them should, and soon will be ashamed of themselves.

Having the full force of the $700 billion a year US military to protect him is, apparently, to our trembling commander, but a weak shadow.  The plaintiff commander also requires the full force of the sheriff’s department, and the local courts to let him sleep easy.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, why his sleep is so fitful and his days troubled.  Makes you wonder why he’s so frightened of peaceful us citizens who stand before him only with signs and truth.
The killer  drones this commander commands are actually completely illegal, immoral, and are, according to the UN, undermining all  human law, by ignoring laws against extrajudicial  (outside the law) killings.  These are very serious offenses against common sense and common morality. Indeed as law-abiding citizens we are required by US law, customary international law, and the long established Nuremberg principles, to stop these illegal activities wherever they occur."
Local activists targeted by the order have filed a lawsuit in the state supreme court against Donald Benack, Jr. and Robert Jokl, Jr., the DeWitt judges who made the choice to threaten these citizens with felony charges for exercising their first amendment rights in protesting the unjust and illegal killing being perpetrated by drones in the name of the "war on terror."
Demonstrators peacefully submit to arrest after blocking the
 gate at Hancock Air National Guard Base.

April Days of Action Against Drones continue with the Convergence for Action and Inspiration against drone warfare in Syracuse this weekend. which will conclude with a return to demonstrate at the gates of Hancock Air National Guard Base!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

April Days of Action Against Drones in New York

Noor Mir
Judy Bello of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones joined Noor Mir of CODEPINK  April 15th on Clearing the Fog Radio with Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, MD. Mir discussed at length the challenges of documenting civilian casualties of Drone Strikes in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA): 

"what people don’t often realize is that these tribal territories are already so excluded from the urban centers of Pakistan that when these drone strikes happen it’s really very difficult to have a record of them or to bring that kind of narrative out to larger news sources, so these stories get lost."

Mir continued by describing in detail the traumatic effects of living under drone warfare:

"It is a visceral hatred…if you kill civilians and ruin [a home] you’re bound to create enemies”

“On the ground I see anxiety about the violation of their sovereignity and just a general fear and terror…just the psychological effects on the families of the victims I’ve spoken to, they talk about how the buzzing just never goes away…the administration targets group of people that are moving, so that’s why children never go to school and why funerals just aren’t held anymore."  
Judy Bello

Bello applied her experience visiting the FATA to communicate a sense of the isolation of the region, even from the urban populations of Pakistan. 

The remainder of the show focused on how activists in the U.S. have been protesting the killing of civilians in violation of international law, through the April Days of Action Against Drones. Mir gave accounts of the recent protests in San Diego and Washington, D.C..

Bello described the ways in which the anti-drone movement, with the help of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones, has been bringing the anti-drone message to upstate New York. She gave her account of a recent protest at Hancock AFB near Syracuse, a site of drone operation. Many of those demonstrating were arrested while blocking the gate to the base, and Bello described how they used their day in court as a platform to highlight the violations of international law entailed by U.S. drone warfare. 
Demonstrators arrested while blocking the gate to Hancock AFB
The momentum will continue with a Convergence to Action taking place at Syracuse's Southwest Community Center from April 26th-28th. The weekend will include panels on drone warfare, workshops on political organizing, and social events and will conclude on Sunday, 4/28 at 12:30 with a demonstration at Hancock AFB followed by a solemn procession around the base at 2.

To hear the full show, click here!

To learn more about the Convergence, visit the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones

(For rides to the Convergence, contact Ann Glick at aglick@hotmail.com)

April Days of Action Against Drones continues nationwide! How will YOU get involved?