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Dozens arrested in Upstate New York drone protest

By Gary Waits, for the Syracuse Post-Standard.

On Friday, during a protest against the use of armed drones at Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York, some activists chose to violate the conditions of their permit and lie down on the road, blocking entrance to the base. 37 were arrested. Syracuse’s YNN network gives just one short paragraph to explain the protesters’ point of view, but it does give considerable space to the military and law-enforcement side of things:

 

Anthony Bucci, the 174th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Officer, countered, “While it is disappointing because we do think the MQ[-]9 is a great weapons platform, it is part of what we do wearing the uniform is to protect their constitution and their right to do exactly what they’re doing.”

As the permit expired, people refused to leave and began laying down in the street to represent the people killed by [R]eaper drones, blocking the entrance to the Air National Guard Base.

“They were given numerous instructions to get up. They refused to. Again, they were asked to get up. They refused to. At this point, the commanding officer made a decision to arrest them,” said William Gabriel, an Onondaga County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Kevin Walsh, the Onondaga County Sheriff, added, “People want to make a point. Part of making their point is the fact that they’re willing to be arrested. And we accommodated that.”

How accommodating. Read the full text and watch the video at YNN’s site.

Protesters included Retired Colonel Ann Wright and Waging Nonviolence contributor Kathy Kelly. Says Wright, on Democracy Now!:

As a former colonel, as a retired colonel, as a former government official who has been with the government 40 years, I think my greatest public service is now challenging the government and challenging these things called drones. These drones—and you might as well just call them assassination machines, that’s what these drones are used for: targeted assassination, extrajudicial ultimate death for people who have not been convicted of anything.

One person’s “great weapons platform” is another’s “assassination machine.”