Four Arrested Enacting Nativity at Hancock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

23 December 2016

Contact: Ann Tiffany (315) 478-4571 home- Syracuse, NY
Mary Anne Grady Flores (607) 280-8797 Ithaca

UpstateDroneAction.org                                                                               Video by Jay Wilcox

FOUR ARRESTED ENACTING NATIVITY SCENE AT HANCOCK DRONE BASE

Syracuse, NY – On Friday, December 23, four activists were arrested at the main entrance of Hancock Air National Guard Base as many throughout the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace from Palestine.   The base is located on East Molloy Road in the town of DeWitt, E. Syracuse New York.

Upstate Drone Action members engaged in civil resistance by setting up a traditional Christmas nativity scene at the main entrance of Hancock Reaper Drone Base.  Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus were attended by a shepherd and a wise man.   Angels and carolers played a supporting role from across the street.

While being handcuffed, Mary (Bev Rice) noted that, “If Herod had a Reaper, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have been been incinerated.” Joseph (John Amidon), also arrested, said “The indiscriminate and illegal killings of so many holy families in the Middle East must stop!”

Hancock hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard – the MQ9 Reaper drone hub. Hancock is also the national Reaper maintenance training center.

The MQ9 Reaper is a robotic, satellite-linked, remote assassin drone. Hancock drone pilots fly unmanned missions over Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern, African and West Asian nations. The CIA uses Reapers for its illegal lethal missions over Northwest Pakistan.

According to “LIVING UNDER DRONES: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan,” published by Stanford University and New York University Law Schools, such missions are responsible in that region for the deaths of hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, and for the terrorizing of thousands more.

Today’s civil resistance action is one chapter in Upstate Drone Action’s Gandhian Wave, a six-year scrupulously nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock AFB war crime. Since 2010 there have been over 170 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock.

Those arrested:

  • John Amidon, Albany, NY, (518) 312-6442 cell
  • Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY, (315) 478-4571 home
  • Jules Orkin, Bergenfield, NJ, (201)566-8403 cell
  • Bev Rice, New York, NY., (646) 335-2404 cell

They were charged with Trespass, 2 Counts of Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing Governmental Activities.   Their next hearing will be in late January.

 




MultiFaith Anti-Drone Conference

I attended the Multifaith Anti-Drone Warfare Conference at Stony Point Retreat Center in the lower Hudson Valley.   It was a busy event with good food, good company and interesting discussions. The videos were made by Wilton Vought and can be found on Other Voices Other Choices, along with a lot of other interesting materials including audio podcasts.

The panel Friday evening featured ex CIA officer, Ray McGovern, ex Airforce Intelligence Officer Christopher Aaron who served in Afghanistan, and Kambali Musavuli of the Friends of the Congo.   Between them, they revealed the connections. . . between lethal drones flying over Africa and the ongoing theft of resources in Africa. . . between government service and service to one’s country. . .  between telling the redacted truth to the rest of us and joining us on the street in active resistance.  Both kinds of action are necessary for democracy to thrive, good information – right action.

Saturday morning, Arun Kundnani, Arun Kundnani is Adjunct Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University and author of “The Muslims are Coming” and most recently, “Violence Always Comes Home: Terrorism, Empire and Islamophobia”  gave the first Keynote. He spoke about the misleading social and cultural distortion of our perceptions about Islam and terrorism.

Followed by Medea Benjamin of CodePink Women for Peace who spoke about US policies, including drone warfare, that disrespect the people in foreign lands, exacerbate misunderstandings and invite continued threats and violence.

In the afternoon, a panel of religious people discussed the place of activism in a religious context and the insight that our faith can give to the ongoing wars and terrorism that our country is engaged in.

Multifaith Perspectives on Drones, Islamophobia & Movement Building featuring Featuring: Muhammed Malik, Rabbi Michael Feinberg,
Imam Hamin Rashadah, Aaron Stauffer & Irene Siegel

Conference Sponsors:

Peace Action Education Fund
Interfaith Drone Network
KnowDrones
Community of Living Traditions

Endorsed by:

Code Pink, Veterans For Peace, Muslim Peace Fellowship, Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia, Standing Together Against Racism and Islamophobia, WESPAC, United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), Muslims for Ferguson, Middle East Crisis Response, Veterans For Peace




Inside Drone Warfare Symposium

If, like me, you were not able to attend “Inside Drone Warfare”, the Whistle Blower Symposium organized by Nick Mottern and Ann Wright in Las Vegas this spring during Shut Down Creech!, you can still view the speakers in these YouTube videos.   I watched them and was glad I took the time.   Ann Wright moderates the event.

Part 1:  Jesselyn Radack of Whisper Whistleblower and Resource Protection Program and Cian Westmoreland, former Drone Maintenance Technician

Part 2: Christopher Aaron, former Air Force Intelligence Officer with the Drone program in Afghanistan and Reverend Chris Otto, Unitarian Universalist Minister and former Chaplain with the US Army in Afghanistan

Part 3: Shelby Sullivan Dennis of Reprieve with Faisal Bin Ali Jaber

Part 4: Marjorie Cohn

Part 5:  Brian Terrell, Catholic Worker Drone Activist, Q&A




SHUT DOWN CREECH- A Success!

Successful Week at SHUT DOWN CREECH!
Democracy Now, April 4, 2016 (At 11.50)
Democracy Now, April 1, 2016 (At 11.27)

25 Activists Arrested in Two days of Nonviolent Blockades at Gates to Creech AFB;
Activists from over 20 states participated in week-long Mass Mobilization to End Drone Warfare

Videos of action by Holly Severson:
1- Full Length kids action:
http://smallworldradio.net/doubletap.mov

2- Edited shorts from the action:
http://www.smallworldradio.net/DN.mov      

Shut Down Creech! with CodePinkAnti-drone protesters executed waves of multiple non-violent peaceful actions at Creech Air Force Base throughout the morning last Friday, April 1, with the intent of interrupting the drone killing activities that take place there. Creech AFB, in southern Nevada, is the primary Command Center for the CIA’s and President Obama’s Drone Assassination program. At the most heavily used eastern gate, a total of 13 people were arrested in 4 separate actions. After military personnel re-opened the main base gate in the later morning after the 1st action there, three more waves of blockades occurred. The 3rd and 4th waves breeched a barricade near the gate and continued to block the road, ultimately stalling gate operations for nearly an hour totally, counting all actions at that gate. Another 4 were arrested at a 2nd gate.

Shut Down Creech - Stop Drone attacks
Shut Down Creech

The first incident at the eastern gate occurred at approximately 7:00 AM when a group of six children and eight adults all dressed as angels, performed a mock drone attack on a funeral. The activists were demonstrating the gruesome U.S. practice of firing drone missiles into funerals for victims previously killed by U.S. drone attacks, with hopes that militants might also be killed. A ballerina led the procession, laying red roses on the entry road of the main gate, followed by the other children carrying a casket. The funeral procession was interrupted by a simulated drone attack that killed and injured many of the mourners. Ultimately seven adults were arrested after they refused to leave the roadway after a 5 minute warning.

Shut Down Creech with Peg GefellAt approximately the same time, actions took place at the other two base gates, leading to more arrests. The blockade at the 2nd gate focused on the criminal aspects of the U.S. drone assassination program. Activists stretched yellow crime scene tape around the base sign and across the entrance to the gate, preventing vehicles from entering. One protester laid across the roadway to portray a drone victim. And at the seldom used most western gate a small group held a silent meditation vigil for peace. Activists successfully delayed Air Force personnel (and presumably some drone pilots and technicians), from entering the base throughout the morning.

Shut Down Creech Angels “Many Creech personnel arrived to the base before the normal 6-8am rush hour on Friday, presumably to avoid the protest. Activists who participated in this collective effort consider even that a success because the protest is having a direct impact on daily drone operations. These sustained actions are forcing the military to change their daily routines, and potentially stimulating more discussion about the drone policies in question and the growing national opposition to drone killing,” says Toby Blomé, one of the organizers. “We deeply hope that our voices will one day soon be heard, and the expanding use of these deadly and destabilizing weapons against the most vulnerable people in the world will cease.”

On Thursday, the day before Friday’s gate blockades, 8 activists, including 7 veterans were arrested in a earlier blockade at the heavily used eastern gate, blocking morning traffic as well.

Shut Down Creech! Angels as victimsThe two days of actions were part of a week-long protest at the base, culminating in a total of 25 arrests during the 2nd Annual National Mass Mobilization against Drone Warfare known as SHUT DOWN CREECH. Activists from over 20 states converged at “Camp Justice,” the peace camp directly across from Creech AFB, for daily rush hour vigils,
nonviolence training workshops, and strategizing meetings to prepare for these nonviolent blockades to impede drone killing.

www.ShutDownCreech.blogspot.com

These activities were done to highlight the Obama administration’s drone killing program that leads to many civilian deaths and violates international law.

Friday’s arrestees:

Inside CreechLeslie Angeline
Fred Bialy
Toby Blomé
Cynthia Papermaster
Dennis DuVall
Arla Ertz
Rene Esplanade
Ron Faust
John Ford
MaryKate Glenn
Chris Nelson
Mahai’a Oliveira
Shirley Osgood
Flora Rogers
Tyler Schaeffer
Brian Terrell
Susan Witka

(Photos by Holly Severson and Toby Blomé)




Veterans and Activists Arrested Protesting Drone Terror at Creech AFB

 Veterans and Activists Arrested Protesting Drone Terror
at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada

Veterans For Peace national President Barry Ladendorf, Board member Tarak Kauff, and Advisory Board member Ann Wright were among eight peace activists who were arrested early Thursday morning, after physically blocking the main gate to Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Also arrested were VFP members Barry Binks (long time, often arrested drone protester),Ken Mayers, Chris Kundson and Leslie Harris, along with Joan Pleume of the New York Granny Peace Brigade.

Drone pilots based at Creech AFB, directed by the CIA and the Pentagon, regularly carry out drone strikes against targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing many civilians and terrorizing the population.

A larger civil disobedience action is planned for Friday.

—————-

March 31, 2016 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Robert Majors 702-646-4814 rmajors@mail.com

Military Veterans Arrested at Creech Air Force Base Trying to Stop Drone Warfare 

Indian Springs, NV – During peak rush hour traffic on Thursday March 31st at Creech AFB, military veterans and friends were arrested while waving Veterans for Peace (VFP) flags and nonviolently blocking traffic at the East Gate on Hwy. 95, the primary commuter gate into the base. As the traffic was impeded, Las Vegas Police diverted cars up the highway to less used, alternative gates.

At the same time, 20 people held vigil between the frontage road and US Highway 95 as four other peace and justice activists greeted the diverted traffic with a second peaceful anti-drone blockade expressed as a sitting silent meditation in front of the second gate.

The arrests at 7:50 AM today were part of a week-long orchestrated effort by over 100 activists from over 20 states in the country, mobilized to oppose the U.S. drone program that uses remotely controlled planes controlled at Creech to indiscriminately drop missiles on some of the most vulnerable populations in the world. Thursday’s traffic was delayed for fifteen minutes, as Creech employees and contractors were diverted to the 2nd gate, and then to the 3rd gate once demonstrators blocked the 2nd gate. The prayer-activists at the 2nd gate were not arrested.

This was the first of several civil resistance actions planned during the week-long National Mass Mobilization against Drone Warfare known as SHUT DOWN CREECH. All of the demonstrators who were arrested were taken to the Las Vegas Metropolitan County Jail.

Meanwhile the remaining activists at “Camp Justice” across from the base continue the regular schedule of nonviolence training and strategy sessions for creative and nonviolent ways to stop the illegal assassination program at Creech Air Force Base for as long as possible.

The 8 activists arrested were:

Barry Binks, VFP, California
Leslie Harris, VFP, Texas
Tarak Kauff, VFP, New York
Chris Knudsen, VFP, CA, California
Barry Ladendorf, VFP, California
Ken Mayers, VFP, New Mexico
Joan Pleune, NY Granny Peace Brigade, New York Col.
Ann Wright, VFP and retired 29 year army veteran, and former U.S. diplomat, Hawaii



Shut Down Creech, 1st Report

REPORT # 1: SHUT DOWN CREECH
by Toby Blome
Tues. Mar. 29, 2016

We had a most successful 1st vigil on Mon. Mar. 28, with a good crowd of about 20 “Creechers” joining us for the very 1st morning vigil, with over 16 campers for the first evening at Camp Justice Sunday night.

Monday afternoon spring desert winds picked up ferociously, at times with gusts at over 60mph (evening weather reports said 70mph winds), and temperatures dropped drastically, testing our inner strength to continue our protest of drone warfare at the killer drone base known as Creech AFB, in southern Nevada. Large banners were substituted for smaller visuals and signs, including the 7 small coffins with names of 7 of the predominantly Muslim nations we have been bombing over the last 15 years. We also showed a banner for GI RIGHTS HOTLINE with its phone number. Surprisingly, we stayed our ground throughout most of the 2 hour planned vigil, in spite of strong winds and dropping body temperatures.

The winds were still blowing fiercely throughout the night, and CODEPINK welcomed all campers onto the sacred grounds of the Temple of Goddess Spirituality, where the walls of the modest guest house/mobile home provided a haven and protected us from nature’s elements. Everyone was well nourished with a simple meal and friendship…and space was found in the guest house for even the campers, as many of their tents had been blown into uninhabitable shapes! The winds howled through the night, and continued into the morning, letting up for only brief moments. Gigantic thanks to Don Kimball who held the peace fort at Camp Justice thru the night, keeping all secure. Dennis, Ralph and Ray have also been super generous, taking on the role of peace camp security crew for the entire week!

Col. Ann Wright joined us in the wee hours of the night, and woke up at 5am with the rest of us for today’s vigil….with continuing very cold gales, some of us dared to hold a few of the medium sized banners, and smaller signs and visuals. As body temperatures continued to drop, an impromptu silent “funeral procession” was created with most of the 7 coffins/countries represented, with activist Susan Witka carrying the final message, following the coffins: “Who’s Next?” The procession gave a somber tone about the overall human costs of global wars, while allowing some of the activists to warm up while being in continuous motion.

Counter protesters from town, the same 3 to 4 that have been coming regularly for years, are holding their space, in at times a very confrontation-seeking fashion, but thus far we have been able to do our best to stay within our nonviolence guidelines, and keep the confrontations from escalating, though it has been trying for some. The police have lined up barricades on most of both sides of the entrance into the base, anticipates the major civil resistance planned on Friday, but also showing favoritism, at times, to the counter-protesters. A beautiful sight this morning was seeing Phil, a local counter-protester deliver a cart load of firewood for our fire circle.

As I write this message the early afternoon winds continue to blow, with a forecast for calmer weather in time for our 3pm vigil today….let us hope so. Weather predicted to warm as week progresses. The EEK Team, “Environmentally Evolved Kids”, our beautiful children’s affinity group from Northern California, has been working hard today getting their “Angel attire” ready for the big day on Friday to SHUT DOWN CREECH.
The peace keepers bright yellow headbands were completed yesterday, thanks to the help of Arla, Maggie, Casey and Toby, ready for the “big day.”

More folks are due to arrive tonight, as we all get ready for 3 days of more scheduled activities, including civil resistance/affinity group preparedness, the Drone Whistleblowers Symposium on Wed. night, the Concert with David Rovics on Thurs. night, and the big climax on Friday to peacefully and nonviolently put a halt to the killer drone operations at Creech, for as long as possible.

We will try to update you all throughout the week.
Please consider joining us next time.

TOGETHER WE CAN:
Ground the Drones & Stop Global Warfare,

Toby Blome
SF CODEPINK




Indian Springs, Creech Home

Video by John Amidon that reflects on the presence of Creech Airforce Base, a national center for Military Drone control, beside the town of Indian Springs.

Indian Springs has Fallen shows some of the affects of the USAF on Indian Springs, NV and invites you to join with VFP at Shut Down Creech!

 




Harry Murray’s Sentencing Hearing (videos)

Harry Murray initiated a discussion about drone warfare, and about civil disobedience with Judge Gideon at his sentencing hearing, and through a sentencing memorandum sent to him before this hearing.   You can read that memo in the previous post, if you haven’t alread read it.    There was some disagreement regarding how those of us present felt about Judge Gideon’s response.   You should read the memo before deciding what you think.

You can see a complete video by Wilton Vought of the Press Conference and Harry’s Sentencing Hearing HERE.

Videos below by Charlie Bowman –

Harry Murray Reads his Sentencing Statement (not the Memorandum he had mailed to the Judge in advance)

Judge Gideon Responds




Courthouse Press Conference (Videos)

On March 10, we held a Press Conference at DeWitt Town Court before Harry Murray’s sentencing hearing.      The Press Conference provided an opportunity for Harry to speak about his trial and his activism, and Mary Anne Grady Flores was present to talk about her time in jail, her recently granted stay and her appeal which is pending before the New York State Supreme Court awaiting a decision as to whether they will rule on it.  

Press Conference
Syracuse Resident Ed Kinane introduces the event and talks about recent actions at Hancock:

Ithaca Resident Mary Anne Grady Flores talks about her conviction and jail time, and about her appeal:

Nazareth College Professor Harry Murray talks about his conviction and upcoming sentencing:

Ithaca College Professor Beth Harris talks about the veil that has been drawn over the US drone program:

Q&A:

Videos above by Charlie Bowman.
You can see a complete video by Wilton Vought of the Press Conference and Harry’s Sentencing Hearing HERE.




Press Conference: Drone Resisters Speak

Harry Murray to be sentenced at 8pm
Mary Anne Grady Flores released on bail

Press Conference:
DeWitt Town Court, E. Syracuse, N.Y.
March 10, 7:15pm

Syracuse, N.Y.  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars invites the press and public to hear from drone resisters Mary Anne Grady Flores, released on bail Monday night, and Prof. Harry Murray.  Judge David Gideon will sentence Nazareth College Professor Murray in the DeWitt Town Court on Thursday at 8pm. Convicted of a trespass charge, Murray faces 15 days in Jamesville Correctional Facility. His conviction stems from the Hancock 31 action (April 28, 2013) denouncing drone killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are directed by drone operators sitting in computer rooms at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on E. Molloy Rd. in DeWitt, NY.

After completing 49 days in the Jamesville jail, Mary Anne Grady Flores, grandmother of 3, was released on $5,000 bail.  She had been convicted of criminal contempt of an order of protection signed by a DeWitt judge on behalf of the Hancock base commander who claimed that he wanted the protesters away from his base. Grady Flores’ attorney Lance Salisbury submitted an appeal of her conviction to the NYS Court of Appeals, the highest state court. He writes, “There exists a split within the decisions of the Onondaga County Courts on the validity of the order of protection at issue in this case,” and that the Court of Appeals must resolve this difference. Salisbury argues that the New York Criminal Code requires that orders of protection be issued only on behalf of a crime victim or witness, not for the protection of property, including a military base, as happened in the case of Grady Flores.

Hancock air base commanders have used orders of protection to silence First Amendment protected rights to protest the crimes committed by entire chain of command of the US drone program. These crimes include violation of sovereignty laws, extra-judicial killings, violation of due process rights, and the killing of innocent civilians. “We know from leaked government documents, the Drone Papers, during a five month period in Afghanistan, 90% of all drone victims were bystanders. If the American people knew the impact of the drone program, they would shut it down, “ said Grady Flores. Four former drone operators wrote President Obama,

“This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world. When the guilt of our role in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD.”

Prior to Professor Murray’s January trial, a Hancock base lawyer argued to quash the subpoena, which Judge Gideon had signed, for the base commander to produce information about Hancock drone strikes. Professor Murray recounts,

“He told the judge that the information I had requested, including the number of children killed by drone strikes piloted out of Hancock, was classified and that Col. Semmel could be prosecuted if he answered any of those questions.  If letting the people know how many children its military has killed threatens the security of our nation, what does that say about the US as a country and as a democracy?”