- Posted April 28, 2013 by
DEWITT, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
FUNERAL PROCESSION 31 DRONE PROTESTERS ARRESTED AT HANCOCK AIR BASE
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
HANCOCK AIR FORCE BASE IN DEWITT NY
DUE TO THE FACT I AM LEGALLY BLIND THE FACTS
OF WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY ARE FROM SYRACUSE.COM BELOW
Thirty one people were arrested outside the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base SUNDAY afternoon during a protest against the use of unmanned aerial drones.
The arrests came at the end of a series of workshops and rallies held in Syracuse this weekend and organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.
SUNDAY'S rally attracted more than 250 people who gathered on the grounds of OCM BOCES on Thompson Road, then marched in a funeral like process to the gates of the base, home to the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard. The unit operates unmanned, armed drones thousands of miles away. The drones are used for intelligence gathering and bombing ground targets.
Protesters pounded drums, chanted and carried mock coffins. A baby doll smeared with fake blood was suspended from a tall poll carried by one protestor.
A sheriff’s deputy speaking through a bullhorn warned protesters laying on the driveway in front of the gate to get up off the ground or face arrest for disorderly conduct. After they refused, the protesters were handcuffed and escorted to a Sheriff’s Department van.
Protesters were arrested on a variety of charges including disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration and loitering. Their names were not immediately available.
DeWitt town judges granted an order of protection last fall against peace activists who were showing up unannounced at the base and blocking its gate. That order didn’t deter protestors today.
Elliott Adams of Sharon Springs, one of the rally organizers, called the order of protection “absurd.”
“It is a flagrant effort to deny us our first amendment rights,” he said.
Adams said when he participated in anti-drone protests three years ago many people did not know what drones were. Since then opposition to using drones has grown, he said.
“It’s a cowardly way to fight a war,” he said.
People came from all over the country to attend the rally.
Larry Center, 61, of Charleston, S.C., said he came because “ ... this is ground zero for peace.” Center, who uses a walker, attends war protests across the country.
“I’m not going to shut up until we have an honest country again,” Center said.
Several peace activists addressed the crowd, including Bruce Gagnon of Florida, a coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.
Gagnon said using drones is a terrorist act no different than the recent terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon.