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VID-37 Anti-War Activsts, Catholic Workers & Militay Veterans Arrested Blockading Drone Base in USA

category international | anti-war / imperialism | other press author Friday May 06, 2011 08:42author by Solidarity with Hancock 37

Fiction as Reality: Two Perspectives, Two Drones, One Demonstration, and 37 Bodies

Fiction as Reality: Two Perspectives, Two Drones, One Demonstration,
and 37 Bodies

VID (18 mins)

This is an anti-drone demonstration video report back from Syracuse,
NY. The demo happened on April 22, 2011. Thirty-seven people were
arrested for blocking the entrance to Hancock Air National Guard Base
after being told to move by sheriffs. Demonstrators were charged with
disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration. Now,
what else is this video? Aside from the facts, is it fiction or
reality? Or perhaps both?

Interspersed with the footage of the
speakers, demonstrators, and interviewees are cuts from a video of a
drone mission being carried out. Eventually, it (hopefully) becomes
apparent that the drones portrayed in my video, are going to, and in
fact do, attack peaceful protesters at Hancock Field on April 22.
After the bomb drops, we see the bodies. In the drone video, all you
can hear are the voices of the pilot, sensor, and command. You see
them in the cockpits of what seem to be glorified flight simulators.
Unlike regular flight simulators though, these are remote cockpits for
actual aircraft with a full range of devices to maim and kill people.
In fact the video depicts the destruction of a pick-up truck and its
passengers. Who were they? Why were they killed? Who or what gave
these pilots the “OK” to commit these acts of murder? We don't know.
The video doesn't tell us. We see what the pilots see; their mission
from the cockpit of a sterile environment, where decisions are made
that objectify people, which allow the pilots to murder with impunity,
all with the aid of an unmanned aerial platform with near omniscient

All this speaks to the realities of people in places
where drones circle above daily as either a menacing panoptic force or
a terror that reigns down hellfire and death. Brian Terrell, in
relating the words of a drone pilot, gave me chills when he quoted the
pilot, “When I'm flying the drones, the war is 7,000 miles away
[meaning the distance from Nevada to Afghanistan] and the war is 18
inches away [the distance from his face to the screen].” Over that
same weekend, the main supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan was
temporarily closed on Sunday after thousands of people blocked a key
highway in Pakistan to protest against U.S. drone strikes, according
to Reuters. My intent by mixing both actual news gathering and
reporting with a narrative containing elements of fiction (at least
for the people in Syracuse on that Friday afternoon) is to bolster the
news with moral weight. What's happening isn't right and it needs to
be stopped. Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Elliott Adams, and Ann Wright
were in attendance at the Syracuse demonstration.

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author by Truth Outpublication date Sun May 08, 2011 06:59author address author phone

Saturday 7 May 2011
by: Nick Mottern, Truthout

In the week leading up to Easter 2011, antiwar organizers in upstate New York held a remarkable series of events aimed at grounding the MQ-9 Reaper drones flying over Afghanistan controlled from Hancock Field in Syracuse, one of several drone bases in the United States.

The culmination came on the afternoon of April 22, Good Friday in the Christian calendar, when 37 protesters were arrested for refusing to leave the main driveway into Hancock Field.

I went to Syracuse on April 21 because of my opposition to drone warfare and to bring to the protest an eight-foot long replica of a Reaper drone that I built and have used in rallies in Washington, DC and New York City, among other places. I did not plan to write about the Syracuse protest, but what I experienced was so unusual in the course of my participation in nearly ten years of antiwar actions on Afghanistan and Iraq that I changed my mind.

I found that the organizers were able to create, for a week, a small world in which people could feel the power of their consciences in confronting official lawlessness and recognized their personal responsibility to do so.

While protesters mentioned the financial cost of our current wars in terms of lost jobs, education and health care, unlike many other antiwar actions, the primary focus in Syracuse was on the illegality and immorality of the wars and killer drone operations and on empathy for suffering and lives lost.

Before discussing the details of the protest that I believe created this world, which - judging from subsequent email traffic - appears to continue to exist in the hearts and minds of the participants, it may be useful to discuss the larger world of US public consciousness regarding war and drones, which the Syracuse action sought to address.
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author by sentencingpublication date Fri Mar 02, 2012 14:19author address author phone

Remaining Hancock 38 Drone Protesters Sentenced

On April 22, 37 people were arrested for lying down in a blocked access road leading into Hancock Air National Guard Base along with a support person. On February 29, the last members of the Hancock 38 were sentenced in DeWitt Town Court by Judge David Gideon. Each defendant was given a 1 year conditional discharge and fined $250.

Kathy Kelly, Ann Wright, Martha Hennessy of NYC Catholic Workers, Elliott Adams, past President of Veterans for Peace and Jules Orkin appeared in front of Judge David Gideon in DeWitt Town Court yesterday evening.

Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Non Violence, who had not been previously tried because she was in Afghanistan, India and Australia supporting youthful Afghan peace activists, plead guilty to the two counts of Disorderly Conduct so that she would be free to return to her work. However, she did not elocute to the charges as she was unwilling to make false statements before the court.

Each of the defendants made a uniquely powerful sentencing statement. Kathy Kelly told the stories of Afghan victims of Drone strikes; Martha Hennessy spoke for our youthful Afghan friends, who said that they would like to live in peace. They asked “Aren’t we human beings like you?” Retired Colonel Ann Wright and Elliott Adams spoke from their experience in Military and Government roles about the dangerous proliferation of the Drones and aggressive US foreign policy.

Jules Orkin enumerated instances where the government of the UK and the United States asserted their support of the first amendment rights to assemble in public and to ask for redress of grievances, the most recent examples being quotes from President Obama and Hillary Clinton talking about the rights of the people of Syria and Libya.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars will continue to resist the use of drones. As we argued in court, drone warfare violates the Nuremberg Principles and other international, as well as moral, laws. We resist those who would normalize the use of robotic assassins as mode of warfare and reject the policy of dehumanization of peoples in other land.

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