Twenty one hearty souls gathered at the main gate of the Hancock Air National Guard base in DeWitt N.Y. at noon. Rain and a dank wind blew across the grey sky. We had gathered to march from the drone base to Jamesville Correctional Center, some 12 miles, with three of our numbers to begin serving their sentences at Jamesville at 5 PM for trespassing on base property while exercising their constitutional rights as U.S. citizens.
The three women, Rae Kramer a Syracuse Peace Council board member, life long peace activist and mother of two; Ellen Grady, peace activist, mother of four, and Clare Grady, peace activist, mother of two, both of the Ithaca Catholic Worker, marched with their supporters, including a three and a half year old girl and her grandparents from Ithaca, toward the jail through a driving rain.We braved the chilly wind swept streets of downtown Syracuse to deliver an indictment for war crimes committed by the drones piloted at the airbase, to the offices of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer located at the Syracuse Federal Building.
Mary Anne Grady adds: Clare stopped us at the Jerry Rescue Monument in Clinton Square, dedicated to a man named Jerry (a.k.a. William Henry) who was being held under the Fugitive Slave Act. Church bells signaled the start of his rescue. Abolitionists convening blocks away joined 2,500 African Americans and radical people of conscience, storming of the court building, freeing Jerry and taking him north. Syracusans became the national symbol of resistance against the Fugitive Slave Act. Clare challenged us to operate at the “Jerry Level” to abolish drones and abolish all extra judicial killings of people of color here, in the US, and abroad, in the spirit of the Syracuse Abolitionists.
Continuing on we passed abandoned factories, neglected and forgotten neighborhoods but worst of all, homeless young people, wounded souls without jobs or hope. We saw gang folk and prostitutes, the only hope for “employment” in our forgotten populations. As my aging body walked on, I wondered how many of those broken lives could be helped by the cost of only one drone strike. I wondered how many jobs could be created for peace and security within our own borders if we just stopped killing people in foreign countries and helped the people here in our country.
We marched another mile or so, soaked, cold and running out of time for the lock up. We decided to hope in the support vehicles and met at our incarceration destination with minutes to spare. Giving final hugs and well wishes to our sisters we lined up behind a beautiful pink sunset back dropped behind the prison. Our fellow defendants exclaimed look!!. We all turned to see a fleeting full rainbow across the sky. We all saw this apparition as a good omen. One of the guards stared and said “its a covenant ”. One of our own said- “It is! We are serving time here for obeying laws, not breaking them.