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) http://indytv.blip.tv/file/5089236/
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.