Upstate New York protests drone warfare

Resistance to U.S. drone warfare intensified in upstate New York on April 28 as more than 250 people rallied at the gates of Hancock Air Base in Syracuse. The rally was organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. Thirty-one people were arrested in the action.

Pilots at the base operate unmanned, armed Reaper drones, bombing people in Afghanistan. Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The base houses the 174th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard, and is a hub for U.S. military drones.

Local activists have been arrested and sent to jail for repeatedly mounting “civil resistance” against the drones for more than a year. On April 24, four activists were sentenced to 15 days in jail for an action at the base in October. (upstatedroneaction.org)

Military and local authorities have stepped up measures to limit anti-drone actions. Local judges granted an “order of protection” to a drone group commander against demonstrators. Local police have severely limited public areas allowed for protests, and local courts have imposed unusually high bail requirements on protesters.

Significant military spending for drone warfare is projected for Central New York. A recent Pentagon budget earmarks $40 billion for the purchase and development of drones over the next 10 years. (peacecouncil.net)

The April 28 action aiming to accelerate anti-drone organizing was the culmination of a three-day conference, “Resisting Drones, Global War and Empire: A Convergence to Action.”  The conference was sponsored by more than 70 regional and national organizations, including the Syracuse Peace Council, the United National Antiwar Committee and Veterans for Peace. Regional sponsors ranged from Ithaca Catholic Worker to the Buffalo International Action Center to Occupy Albany.

Speakers at the conference and the rally included Marilyn Levin of UNAC, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative NonViolence, Col. Ann Wright of Occupy DC and Elliott Adams of Veterans for Peace.