33 Arrested Outside Drone Base in New York State

Veteran for Peace's Elliott Adams of Sharon Springs NY, is handcuffed and led into a Sheriffs van after his arrest for protesting the use of drones by the United States. (Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard)

33 Arrested Outside Drone Base in New York State

Group arrested preemptively, as they walked single-file and silently along a road

Thirty-three activists were arrested Sunday afternoon outside Hancock Air Field base in New York. Nore than 150 had turned out to protest the use of US drones to attack countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq. The activists were preemptively arrested two blocks from the base.

They said they were hoping to put up crime scene tape around the front of the base to demonstrate that the entire operation is a crime.

Protester Rae Kramer said, "This notion that drone warfare is an exciting replacement to manned planes is a deception. In fact, what's happened is we are making more enemies, making the world less safe, including here at home."

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The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY reports:

(33) people were charged Sunday after failing to obtain a DeWitt town permit to march into the town and protest the U.S. military's use of unmanned drones.

The gathering, which included members of the Syracuse Peace Council and other groups from across the state, had intended to walk along East Molloy Road from Route 11 in Syracuse to the New York Air National Guard's base at Hancock Field in DeWitt.

They were met at the town line by Onondaga County sheriff's deputies, who said the group hadn't applied for a permit with DeWitt.

Twenty-seven of the 28 who were arrested in front of the air base or near it on East Molloy Road. They were charged with violations and issued appearance tickets, according to Onondaga County Detective William Gabriel.

The 28th person, Jamie Stewart, 29, of Coatsville, Pa., was charged with resisting arrest, a misdemeanor, after lying down in the middle of East Molloy Road, Gabriel said. Stewart was arraigned in the village of East Syracuse and held at the Onondaga County Justice Center on $250 cash or $500 bond.

At least one man who drove to the protest separate from the march was seen in handcuffs and being put into a sheriff's car after approaching the base's gates. Others who approached the gates were met by deputies; at least one other was also cuffed and placed in a deputy's car.

Sunday's protest was part of a weekend event by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars. The group opposes the military's use of unmanned drones to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Organizers said about 50 people participated. The Onondaga Sheriff's Department estimated that about 150 protested.

The 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard has been remotely flying MQ-9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan, from Syracuse, since late 2009. The unmanned surveillance aircraft is armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.

The protesters had wanted to deliver a written message, which they called an indictment, accusing the military of engaging in "illegal use of force against another nation."

At a similar protest on April 22, 2011, the group did get a permit, according to Peace Council member Ed Kinane, because they requested, and were allowed to, gather on a piece of land just outside the base's gates. More than three dozen people were arrested at that April 2011 protest, including Kinane. He also was arrested Sunday.

This year, Kinane said, protesters didn't pursue a permit because they planned to stay on the shoulder of the road where he and others gather to protest about twice a month without issue. Of the 28 arrested Sunday, about 10 were arrested last year.

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