Why We Persist: Activists Have Protested US Drone Base for Over a Decade

by Ed Kinane, published on Truthout.org, December 22, 2019

Nonviolent civil resistance against international crime is about effectiveness and persistence. Or as Dorothy Day might say, faithfulness. We sow seeds — awakening the cogs in the machine of imperial crime and informing those who, with their federal taxes, help finance that crime.

But it’s about us — getting off our duffs and out of our comfort zones. Here in Syracuse, New York, we call it “street heat” — baby steps toward resistance, dipping our toes into the waters of risk and sacrifice. The “streets,” where Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky keep telling us that, if things on this planet are going to turn around, that’s where it has to happen.

In the fall of 2003 in a series of front-page stories, the Syracuse Post-Standard announce

d with satisfaction that our local Hancock Field Air National Guard Base was becoming the hub for the wondrous weaponized MQ9 Reaper drone. For several days over that Thanksgiving weekend, several of us protested and fasted in downtown Syracuse.

Since then, for the past decade, immediately outside Hancock, with over 170 more protests, activists from what soon became the Upstate Drone Action Coalition have sought to expose the ensuing Reaper drone terrorism in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Allies from the Syracuse Peace Council, Veterans For Peace, Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the Catholic Worker have provided the campaign’s life blood.

The Campaign

For 45 minutes every first and third Tuesday of the month, a handful of us locals demonstrate across from Hancock’s main gate. Yes, these are brief demos, but some of us are differently abled and some are “octos” — activists over 80 years old. We face the vehicles going in and out of the base at afternoon shift change. This is also rush hour along East Molloy Road. Our signs and banners urge, “STOP THE KILLING” and “ABOLISH WEAPONIZED DRONES” and “DRONES FLY, CHILDREN DIE.”

A second, more dramatic element of the campaign is our episodic (roughly twice a year) “tableaux” and street theater blocking the driveway into that main gate. Both approaches — the first with little risk of arrest and the second with inevitable arrests — seek to poke the conscience of the 174th New York Air National Guard’s Attack Wing operating out of Hancock.

Here at our very doorstep, 174th personnel pilot remotely controlled Reaper robots laden with bombs and “precision” Hellfire missiles. Via rapid satellite relay, from within the riskless anonymity of Hancock’s fortified base, those warriors and their chain of command spew death and destruction.

Maybe our repeated poking will afflict their consciences. To the extent that they have eyes to see, the pilots get to witness firsthand on-screen the carnage they perpetrate — scattered and smoldering body parts. Such exposure just may induce “moral injury,” the psychic wound caused by betraying one’s core values. We hope that, despite being offered hefty bonuses, these technicians will refuse to re-enlist. The fewer enlistments, the less death.

Their targets and their civilian victims are mostly uncounted, undefended, unidentified Muslims inhabiting oil-rich lands. Here is Islamophobia with a vengeance. Multitudes are terrorized. If they survive, many become internal or external refugees. And why wouldn’t some also become the imperium’s die-hard foes? As the Pentagon surely counts on, the inevitable blowback generates further mayhem. Such mutually reinforcing (but extremely asymmetrical) mayhems reliably produce the high-tech contracts Lockheed Martin and its ilk thrive on.

It’s usually mid-morning when two of our Upstate Drone Action members and a videographer approach Hancock’s main gate, unannounced, to hand-deliver a letter through the barbed wire fence to the armed gate-keepers. Addressed to the 174th Attack Wing, the letter urges personnel to uphold their oath to protect the U.S. Constitution. We cite Article Six of that Constitution, which mandates that international treaties and international law are the “Supreme Law of the Land.” Such law, including the legally binding UN Charter, supersedes federal, state and local law. It stipulates that such military aggression amounts to a war crime.

Simultaneously, down the base driveway, our flash mob sets up banners and dramatic props. These, along with our bodies — vertical or horizontal, sometimes clad in hijab or draped in bloody shrouds — block any incoming traffic.

Within minutes, soldiers pop out from behind cement barriers to divert incoming vehicles to Hancock’s other entrances. An officer marches out to inform us — with profound understatement — that we aren’t wanted on base property. Working hand in glove with the military, the town, county and state constabularies arrive, red lights flashing. These, helpfully, draw the public’s gaze to our event. The cops schmooze with the soldiers, taking an hour or two to assemble their forces. Then, having dutifully warned us for the third time to leave, they handcuff us while soldiers confiscate our props. Our supporters across the road chant and sing. Surveillance cameras and police and military videographers record the scene.

At our tableaux and die-ins, up to 38 of us at a time have been arrested. We are driven to cells in area police stations. Despite these many forays onto federal property, military police never arrest us and we’re never charged with federal crimes. Invariably we keep getting two contradictory state charges: trespass (private property) and disorderly conduct (for public places). Both charges are “violations,” a minor matter. Violations for others generally lead to quick release with an appearance ticket. But we get special handling: strip searches along with the protracted tedium of being booked. After some hours, we are arraigned. In the late evening, we may be released with dates for the DeWitt Town night court. Often there’s bail, not because we are flight risks (we relish our days in court) but as a kind of pre-trial chastisement. Some of us refuse to post bail.

Sometimes, arbitrarily, misdemeanor charges are piled on: obstruction of government administration (OGA) or contempt of court for allegedly defying Orders of Protection (OOP) forbidding us to return to the base. Those stay-away orders “protect” the base commander who has alleged that we physically threaten him. This fiction parallels the perennial propaganda trope that migrants from afar – in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Afghanistan — threaten the U.S. The local judges impose OOPs on dozens of us. Bizarrely re-purposed, OOP wording is derived from child or spouse abuse boilerplate.

Such OOPs have been enforced unevenly. Several years ago, Mary Anne Grady Flores, a grandmother from Ithaca, New York, got a yearlong sentence for allegedly violating her OOP. Her sole crime: photographing protesters (who subsequently were all acquitted) from Molloy Road’s shoulder. After a few months in Jamesville Penitentiary, Mary Anne won release pending appeal. If eventually her appeal fails, she’ll be re-incarcerated.

We’ve long lost track of the numbers, but well over 100 of our cases have been tried before either of the two elected part-time DeWitt Town justices, Robert Jokl Jr. or David Gideon. Those are mostly bench trials, in which a judge determines verdict and sentence; or, if involving misdemeanors, a six-person jury renders the verdict. In this court, not shy about doling out maximum sentences, juries are forbidden to hear what the max can be.

On the brink of a trial, the prosecutor may suddenly drop the misdemeanor charge, cleverly disrupting our defense prep. Jury trials in DeWitt are only occasional, since these burden the court calendar and the town budget, while providing us the opportunity to testify about drone atrocity. In an arrest-happy time and place, law enforcement and the court prop up the ambient militarism, particularly where a community embraces its military base as a “job-provider.” Conveniently for stoking public buy-in, multitudes of redundant military installations are spread widely over congressional districts across the land.

Central New York is one of the nation’s major drone technology incubators, housing a branch of Lockheed Martin and SRC Inc., a defense research company. This gravy train seems to mesmerize local mainstream media, the Chamber of Commerce, nearby citadels of higher learning, and those of all political stripes dependent on government jobs and grants: co-optation broad and deep. Even liberal activists compartmentalized in their domestic issues shrink from acknowledging Hancock’s war crimes.

When we point out to police that war crimes occur just yards from where we’re being arrested, we hear, “It’s not our jurisdiction.” The court dismisses out of hand our International Law and Necessity defenses. Nor, of course, does it acknowledge that Hancock, in violation of the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, occupies Haudenosaunee Indigenous land. Note the historical continuity: most Reaper victims are themselves tribal or Indigenous people of color inhabiting formerly colonized but now nominally sovereign lands such as Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. All areas, it happens, the U.S. has yet to even officially declare war upon. Those Hellfire missiles — talk about trespass!

The disorderly conduct charge is bogus; as the base’s surveillance cameras attest, we treat everyone with respect and don’t resist arrest. (Before each demonstration, every participant signs a pledge of nonviolence.) Nor do our blockades discommode the public. The OGA charge is likewise bogus: trial witnesses, citing “security,” refuse to reveal details of Hancock’s illegal and clandestine operations, which we call out and allegedly disrupt.

At trial, we defend ourselves pro se or with pro bono attorneys. Our lead attorney travels well over 300 miles from Long Island at his own expense. On the witness stand, we speak to what drone strikes do to human flesh, psyches and souls, and thus why we risk prison opposing brutality. We note that we don’t do civil disobedience — we do civil resistance. We don’t disobey law; we seek to enforce law — both U.S. and international. We observe the Nuremberg injunction that those aware of war crimes must try to expose and impede them — or else we would be complicit ourselves.

For the DeWitt court, international law is an alien concept. In many of this rogue nation’s law schools, international law apparently isn’t taught. U.S. superpower exceptionalism prevails. The Constitution’s First Amendment — which validates our right to petition the government for redress of grievances — is also alien.

In the early days, seeking to deter continued civil resistance, we were each customarily fined the maximum amount of $375, and some of us were also sentenced to 15 days in jail. In a further attempt to deter, the DeWitt judges — in apparent cahoots with the base — eventually conjured up those aforementioned Orders of Protection. Fortunately, suburban juries can’t always be counted on to find scrupulously nonviolent defendants guilty. Sometimes they find us not guilty on one or more counts, or the court feels compelled to dismiss a lackadaisically prosecuted charge.

Nowadays, the DeWitt court seems to be kicking the judicial can down the road. As I write in December 2019, our July 2018, June 2019 and September 2019 arrests have yet to be assigned trial dates. In DeWitt, New York, the notion that “justice delayed is justice denied” is quaint. This past summer, one judge, without explanation or apology, simply didn’t show up for a motions hearing or to set a trial date. More recently, one evening’s judge told us, after we’d all traveled to a mandated court hearing, that our case wasn’t on that evening’s docket. Can it be that the validity of our cause is now dawning on the judges, making it hard to know what to do with us?

Reaper terror, first under Bush, increasingly under Obama, then far more under Trump, keeps escalating. We may never know if our efforts somehow slow the pace. But we do know that here in our backyard, if we don’t stand up and speak out against war crimes, it’s unlikely anyone else will. And we know that if no one speaks out, the Pentagon will keep operating as if it has a popular mandate to keep up the killing.

So we persist.

For video footage of Hancock actions, see upstatedronaction.org. For updates on our arrests and trials, see nukeresister.org. To glimpse the horror of weaponized drones, see the Stanford and NYU Law Schools’ joint 2012 report, “Living Under Drones.”

*Featured Image: An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft flies by during a training mission at Creech Air Force Base on November 17, 2015, in Indian Springs, Nevada. ~Isaac Brekken / Getty Images

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission.


Ed Kinane is a cofounder of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition. With Voices in the Wilderness in Baghdad in 2003, Kinane survived “Shock and Awe.” He has been jailed numerous times for civil resistance at Hancock and elsewhere. Reach him at edkinane340@gmail.com.




Drones Fly, Children Die

by Judith Bello

Hancock Air National Guard Base was one of the first domestic drone bases to come on line. The base is located in a pleasant suburb of Syracuse New York, along side the International Airport. The 174th Attack Wing at Hancock is tasked with flying Reaper Drone missions over Afghanistan and other places on the far side of the world that they are unwilling to name. They also fly Drones berthed locally over the Adirondacks to the East and Lake Ontario to the West. I saw one 100 miles west of there heading for Rochester International Airport one day. Hancock is the domestic center for training Reaper pilots and mechanics. The men of the 174th are proud of their work, which is important to the imperial U.S. international policing mission. At least in some cases, the human consequences of their work is not entirely clear to these men.

About a week ago, a small group of protesters went out to Hancock Air National Guard Base to exercise their civil rights and petition the government for redress of grievances. They believe that the use of hunter, killer Drones to attack people in countries we are not at war with, mostly countries that do not have the international status or military capacity to defend their people, is morally wrong and a violation of international consensus in general and international law. Further, they believe that the use of Drones piloted from the neighborhoods where we live and work endangers us in the long run.


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

International law protects the rights of civilians. It also says that it is fair to retaliate against an attacker in the location where the attack is coming from. That would be Hancock, or more generally, Syracuse New York. Drone attacks rarely target anyone who is an immediate threat to the United States or countries at war with the U.S. They protect U.S. ‘Interests’ abroad. Drones attack people in their own lands, often in countries that are destabilized by competing foreign interests. Drone bombs take out anyone who happens to be in the same area as the target. Though the targeting is technically precise, it is often inaccurate due to misunderstanding of the actions of innocent people on the ground.

But ‘Why protest military Drones now?’ The United States is currently at war with Afghanistan (after nearly 18 years), has a significant presence in Syria and Iraq and Yemen where it is engaged in proxy wars, and is threatening Venezuela and Iran very directly. The Russiagate enthusiasts and China-phobes are making plans for a ‘limited’ nuclear war and developing tools for a war in space that could isolate the earth from the rest of the universe for a very long time. Meanwhile, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with Russia, which limits the development of medium range nuclear missiles. In early June, Russian President Vladimir Putin complained that the U.S. has been unwilling to engage in negotiations which must be completed by 2021 to to renew the New START treaty which is the only remaining strategic nuclear arms control agreement in place between the United States and the Russian Federation. We are entering the world of Dr. Strangelove. The Atomic clock is a few seconds from midnight and global nuclear annihilation is now a serious risk.


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

So, why devote ourselves to protesting military Drones? Well, I’ll get to the concerns that mobilized us in a minute. But first, the universe provided a perfect example of the significance of Drones in the above context a day or two before our protest. The Iranians shot down a U.S. surveillance drone over their coastal waters. It was a Global Hawk, large and expensive, but unarmed. Trump and the ‘B’ team (Bolton, BiBi, Bin Zayad, Bin Salman) immediately went into action, preparing a retaliatory strike. The Pentagon worked out a plan and initiated it. Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, choking off oil shipping in the region, and asserted that they would defend their sovereignty to a very bitter end. But, according President Trump, he called off the attack, 10 minutes before the strike because he was told there would be 150 casualties.   If a U.S. attack were to trigger a larger warm there might be  tens of thousands of casualties, including U.S. casualties.

Instead he called for new sanctions against individuals including sanctions against the Javad Zarif, a long time diplomat and peace maker who went to school in the U.S. and is very friendly to Americans, and Supreme Leader Khamenei, who does not have any assets outside of Iran. Since Iran is a relatively large country with an identity and history going back several millenia, and is very closely affiliated with Russia and China, starting a war over a piece of machinery would indeed have been a pretty stupid thing to do. But they didn’t, this time.


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

There were a number of factors that motivated the protesters to go out to Hancock in June, and that wasn’t one of them. It was a total surprise. We haven’t heard much about Drones lately, until the Iranian shoot-down, but not because they weren’t in play.Military Drones are ubiquitous messengers of U.S. aggression.. A friend who did several tours of duty in Iraq pointed out that they provided protection for the soldiers on the ground. Of course, we don’t have any soldiers on the ground in Libya, and supposedly, our soldiers in Iraq and Syria are keeping the peace, not engaged in open warfare.  What soldiers are they protecting in the battlefields where U.S. soldiers are not supposed to be present on the ground?

Over the last couple of years, the Africom has built several large military bases across Africa to support a massive expansion of the Reaper drone fleet there.  Currently, Somalia is a primary target. Somalia became a failed state the last time the U.S. tried to democratize them. Armed Drones fly routinely over Yemen, where they target al Qaeda, Islamists who are allied, with our proxy, Saudi Arabia. They fly over Iraq and Iran. Reapers continue to be the primary air force in Afghanistan. When you hear a report that 3 or 5, or 10 or 50 people were killed in an airstrike there, most likely it was a Reaper Drone strike. A 500 lb Paveway bomb will kill a lot of people in a wedding tent or at a town meeting or in a multi-family household, a compound, as they like to call it. Of course, this is just the way people live in Afghanistan, at least people who can afford a decent home.

Drones are deeply embedded in every U.S. warzone and area of military interest.  Drones are used to seek out individuals where they live and work. Maybe they are bad people, or maybe they just appear to be the bad people. And usually, they are in the company of their families and friends, engaged in the normal activities of their community when the Drone catches up with them. Targeted assassinations often rely on a cellphone to identify the target, so don’t borrow anyone’s phone there, don’t walk in the store where a targeted individual is shopping. One man told me he sleeps in the mountains to protect his family. Heaven forbid someone should think he is home one night and take them all out while they are sleeping.

Signature Strikes, which target people who appear to be ‘acting like militants’, are still approved. So, men gathering for a meeting or emerging from their workplace, people praying after lunch along the roadside, schoolboys in a bus, people at a wedding firing their guns into the air, all might seem like good targets. The possibilities are endless when drone pilots who have never left the U.S. and never met anyone from Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, or wherever, and knows nothing about Islam. But at least our guys are safe over here.


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

Drones violate international law. You have probably heard that before. What does it mean to say that military Drone strikes violate International Law. It means that they tear the very fabric of global society. It means that those who fly them do not feel constrained by the boundaries of nations or the rules of war. Drone warfare dehumanizes targets who are far away, and at least on the surface, appear to be more ‘enemies’ in a video game than humans living in society. The United States, having first launched a campaign of armed drones as weapons of war, is a role model for others coming on line,  Russia, China and Iran.  Israel pioneered Drones over the last decades, and also contempt for international law and the rights of other nations.  Drones are consistently used against presumed ‘fighters’ who are not on a battlefield.  Whatever war plans are in the making, Drones will be a central part of their enactment.

Now ‘unarmed’ Reapers are patrolling our borders. With the growing hysteria over illegal immigration, how long will they remain unarmed?  ICE agents routinely check out the passengers on buses with dogs, and dust the baggage at train stations along the Canadian border for explosives. Drones have been used to target a couple of high profile criminals in this country. China and Russia, and even Iran now have their own military Drones. Armed Drones are not useful for dogfights, but they are very useful for policing. Just as in the interior of our cities, suspects are routinely killed to avoid risk and confusion, around the world suspects and anyone near them are routinely annihilated by hellfire missiles and Paveway bombs.


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

Is this the world we want to live in? Members of Upstate (NY) Drone Action say no. And they put their bodies on the line to say it. If you want change, you have to do something about it. It is difficult to be heard these days, but its important to make the effort. If more people were to protest regularly in the name of peace and justice, it would become easier to be heard. Lots of people don’t like U.S. wars and interventions. But if you don’t come forward and put something on the line then your voice will be silent. Voting is a good idea, but so few candidates oppose the wars that most people don’t have access to them. Donald Trump, of all people, ran as an advocate for withdrawing from the many ongoing U.S. wars around the world, but he seems to have forgotten now that he is in office. He has doubled down on military Drone use around the world.  Obama ran as a peace candidate but he too presided over a huge increase in lethal Drone activity, the destruction of Libya and Syria and Honduras (to name a few), and the beginning of the Saudi war to occupy Yemen.

So, on the appointed day, we met at 6:45 with the items for our tableau, in the pouring rain and decided to go ahead anyway. Drones Fly; Children Die. War is an ugly and dark theme, why not roll it out in the rain. People set up the Tableau blocking the ingress lane of the road leading to the main gate at Hancock Field, and went to the Guard Shack to read the guards our complaint and ask them to forward it to the Colonel who is responsible for the Base. A soldier in a rain slicker immediately went into the main road to direct traffic to a different gate, and a lone policeman arrived. Sherri began chanting. She called out the names of some of the dead children killed in drone strikes. We joined her in a lament. Sherri and Peg chanted, sang and wailed through the entire event in the pouring rain, a couple of hours until the police took those practicing civil resistance to a holding pen in Onondaga County Jail.


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez

And all the while it rained and rained and rained. The rain poured down like tears from a universe where people’s lives are a matter of consequence.

The clips embedded in this article were taken from footage filmed by Heriberto Rodriguez, who somehow captured beautiful clean footage in the pouring rain, including nice cameos of  activists stating their reasons for protesting at the base and images of the vivid tableau in which they embedded themselves and the supporters across the street who held signs and chanted.


On June 20th 2019, 8 protesters outside the front gate of Hancock were arrested and charged with Trespassing and Disorderly Conduct, both violations, and Obstructing Governmental Action, a misdemeanor. They were Ann Tiffany, Ed Kinane, Dan Burgevin, Julianne Oldfield, Les Billips, Ray Kraemer, Mark Scibilia-Carver and Tom Joyce.




8 Arrested Exposing Hancock AirForce Base Terrorism

by Ed Kinane, June 22, 2019

Shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, our Upstate Drone Action caravan of six or seven vehicles arrived, unannounced, at the main gate of Hancock AFB in De Witt, a suburb of Syracuse, New York. Two of us – accompanied by one of our videographers – proceeded to the guardhouse 50 yards in from East Molloy Road to read aloud and deliver a statement (below). The statement called on base personnel, in accordance with U.S. and International Law, to refuse to obey their chain of command’s illegal orders to commit what are ongoing drone war crimes.

Simultaneously we set about creating a street theatre tableau blocking the main entrance to the base. As we have many times over the past decade, we were calling out Hancock for hosting the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard. The 174th remotely pilots missile-spewing robotic MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan (and probably elsewhere). These classified operations result in the terrorizing, maiming and killing of uncounted and uncountable numbers of  unarmed and undefended  children and their parents.

Until our arrest about two hours later, we held an unadorned, white 3×8-ft. banner across the driveway leading to the gate. In bold black letters, it read:

DRONE FLY, CHILDREN DIE  —  OUR HEARTS ARE BREAKING.

Nearby, also in the ingress, two grandmothers in traditional black dresses silently sat grieving, holding “infants” in bloodied swaddling clothes. Bloodied “body parts” and children’s toys and things were strewn about. Crossing back and forth between the banner and the road, pushed by a man in a cape and death’s mask, a model Reaper on wheels fleshed out the tableau.  Across the road from base property, over a dozen supporters, singing and chanting, held signs like: CHILDREN ARE NOT “COLLATERAL DAMAGE.”

Two rain-soaked hours later, the DeWitt town police and Onondaga County sheriffs, having converged in numerous vehicles, ordered us to leave base property.   Those eight who chose not to do so were arrested:  Tom Joyce (Ithaca); Dan Burgevin & Mark Scibilia-Carver (Trumansburg); and Rae Kramer, Julienne Oldfield, Les Billips , Ann Tiffany and Ed Kinane (Syracuse).

We were handcuffed, separated by gender and taken in two paddy wagons to the sheriffs’ north station where we were held in three small cells. After a couple hours we were transported by van to the downtown Syracuse “Justice Center.” In booking we were ordered strip, spread our cheeks, and where applicable, lift our scrotums. Our street clothes were put in a device for what seemed to be some chemical inspection and replaced with jail issue.

We were held in a chilly, dirty holding cell with other inmates all day. In the early evening we separately appeared before a Judge Murphy. Public defenders pled us not guilty. The assistant D.A. recommended we be ROR’ed and, released on our own recognizance, without bail. After being taken back to the holding cell, we were released – to the welcoming arms of support people and fellow perps –  sometime after 10:30 p.m.

Five of us — LB, DB, TJ, EK, RK —  must appear in the DeWitt town night court at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25;  JO, AT & MS-C. must appear June 26, also at 6 p.m. We were each charged with two violations — trespass and disorderly conduct, and with a misdemeanor, obstruction of government administration (OGA). Thus far Hancock’s crimes against humanity go insufficiently exposed.

Thanks to our videographers our entire action was live-streamed. The arrest appeared on YouTube. The next morning brief footage appeared near the top of Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now” news hour viewed by hundreds of thousands here and abroad. For a three-minute overview, check out:


Video by Heriberto Rodriguez


Arrest Video by John Amidon

*Featured photo by Heriberto Rodriguez




Five Witness Against Torture Activists Arrested In Washington DC

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release:

Contact:  Kathy Kelly  773 619 2418
Brian Terrell  773 853 1886

Five Witness Against Torture Activists Arrested for Bannering on the Supreme Court Steps as Part of “Stop Torture” protest

January 9, 2019   ~Activists Participate in week long fast calling on the U.S. to Stop Support for the Murderous War in Yemen and Close the Prison Camp at Guantanamo

On January 9, 2019, five human rights activists protesting all forms of torture were arrested while bannering on the Supreme Court steps. Their banner stated:

“We Target. We Torture. We Terrify,” followed by the question “Who Are We?”

Joining them were dozens of protesters who formed a tableau to denounce US-backed war on Yemen and call for closure of Guantanamo.

Alongside the banner, children’s bookbags were scattered atop bloodied shrouds. Each backpack bore the name of a Yemeni child killed on August 9, 2019 when a Saudi warplane fired a Lockheed 500 lb. missile at a school bus. Remembering nine prisoners who died in Guantanamo, activists clad in jumpsuits and hoods laid down on bloodied shrouds, across from the backpacks.

While Supreme Court security guards handcuffed those holding the banner, supporters sang:

“Know where you stand. No more war. Know where you stand and stand there.”

Explaining why she chose to risk arrest, Ellen Graves, a social worker from Western Massachusetts said she is troubled by grotesque practices that have starved, maimed, dismembered and traumatized Yemeni children. Graves and many of the other activists have gathered for a week of fasting and action that marks January 11, the seventeenth year since Muslim men have been imprisoned in Guantanamo. “The misery of Muslim people continues,” said Dr. Maha Hilal, after reading the names of the Yemeni children being commemorated along with the names of nine Muslim men who have died in Guantanamo.

Photo caption: Witness Against Torture activists demonstrate at Supreme Court
Photo credit: Steve Pavey

#  #  #  #

Note: The five who were arrested (Joanne Lingle, Manijeh Saba, Ellen Graves, Sherrill Hogen and Charley Bowman) will likely be held overnight and appear in court tomorrow. (Arraignments tend to happen at 1:00 p.m.) All best, Kathy




Trident: Illegal and Immoral

“The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide”

Reprinted from Kings Bay Plowshares

Seven Catholic plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4th, 2018.  They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares”.

The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing what he called the “triple evils of militarism, racism and materialism.”  Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction.  They hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day, by their mere existence and maintenance.

Kings Bay Naval base opened in 1979 as the Navy’s Atlantic Ocean Trident port.  It is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.  There are six ballistic missile subs and two guided missile subs based at Kings Bay.

The activists went to three sites on the base: The SWFLANT administration building, the D5 Missile monument installation and the nuclear weapons storage bunkers.  The activists used crime scene tape, hammers and hung banners reading: “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide – Dr. Martin Luther King”, “The ultimate logic of Trident is omnicide” and “Nuclear weapons: illegal / immoral.”  They also brought an indictment charging the U.S. government for crimes against peace.

The activists at the nuclear weapons storage bunkers were Elizabeth McAlister, 78, of Jonah House, Baltimore; Fr. Steve Kelly SJ, 69, of the Bay Area, California; and Carmen Trotta, 55, of the New York Catholic Worker.

At the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic Administration building were Clare Grady, 59, of the Ithaca Catholic Worker; and Martha Hennessy, 62, of the New York Catholic Worker.

At  the Trident D5 monuments were Mark Colville, 55, of the Amistad Catholic Worker, New Haven, Connecticut; and Patrick O’Neill, 61, of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker, Garner, North Carolina.

This is the latest of 100 similar actions around the world beginning in 1980 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.




Gene Sharp Taught Us How and Why Nonviolence Works

by  Ann Tiffany and Ed Kinane of the Syracuse Peace Council

Activist, author and scholar Gene Sharp died this past January 28. Inspired by Gandhi and deeply informed by history, Sharp (b.1928) founded the Albert Einstein Institution in Boston. Back in the 80s, Ed plowed through Sharp’s three-volume, 900-page, “The Politics of Nonviolent Action” (Porter Sargent, 1973).

The tome pivots on Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” for toppling dictators and enlarging liberation. Widely reprinted, the systematic (though somewhat redundant) list examines methods that over the centuries had been successfully used at least one time or another across many cultures.

These methods apply not only to regime change, but also to other causes. Grassroots groups we’ve been a part of have used dozens of them. Many would be familiar to Peace Newsletter readers. For all its breadth, that iconic list still remains, as if in amber, at 198 items. Activists in this age of social media could now cite additional tactics.

Sharp wrote many books. His intellectually exciting “Making Europe Unconquerable” (Harper & Row, 1985) is highly practical. It draws on nonviolent tactics used by the Resistance during the Nazi invasions. At 93 pages Sharp’s more theoretical “From Dictatorship to Democracy: a Conceptual Framework for Liberation” (Bangkok, 1993) is Sharp’s most impactful work. It is downloadable for free and, according to the Albert Einstein Institution, has been translated into dozens of languages. Anti-tyranny activists circulated the handbook clandestinely during the East Europe color revolutions and during the Arab Spring. Some commentators claim that the handbook played a significant role in those mostly nonviolent upsurges of grassroots resistance.

Our local Beyond War and Militarism committee’s working paper, “Getting Beyond War and Militarism: A To-Do list” (Jan/Feb 2018 PNL – Syracuse Peace Council Peace News Letter), complements Sharp’s “198 List.” Where “198” is rich in examples and documentation, our single-page, 22-item to-do list points out major goals and policy areas for activists to pursue. Shar provides tools for overthrowing state oppression, while ours seeks to counter the militarism infecting political parties and regimes, “democratic” or authoritarian. Unlike much mainstream media commentary, the to-do list can guide us in resisting US exceptionalism and imperialism.

To resist Mr Trump, many US activists have recently taken their cues from “The Indivisible Guide,” also freely available online. Compiled by former Congressional staffers, the Guide has gone viral in the wake of Trump’s election. It promotes Tea Party –type electoral efforts. For a decidedly distinct approach we encourage activists to study Sharp – thereby getting beyond the Democrat/Republican duopoly with its bipartisan, heavily-lobbied, profit-hungry lust for war.

The New Poor People’s Campaign

The Gandhi-inspired Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) is one of any number of domestic US campaigns mobilizing to resist Trump. The new PPC, committed to nonviolence, channels Martin Luther King Jr’s 1980s Poor People’s Campaign. Today’s campaign is co-chaired by Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, longtime organizer among the poor, and by Rev. Dr. William Barber, the spark behind North Carolina’s Moral Mondays movement. Like MLK’s PPC, the new PPC calls out King’s three entwined evils: racism, poverty and militarism. Today’s PPC adds a fourth: global warming – an existential threat to many species.

Today’s PPC is organizing in over 30 states and envisions 40 days of civil resistance from Mother’s Day, May 13, to the June 21 summer solstice. We intend those 40 days to be a fresh start on defanging the Trump regime. In New York State, the PPC is preparing for a large civil resistance action in Albany on Monday, May 14, the day after Mothers’ Day. Details forthcoming. Here in Syracuse, one or more May 14 affinity groups are forming.

Why civil resistance? As Gandhi and Sharp and Poor People’s campaigners know, tyrannical regimes can only exist with the compliance of those they rule. We, the ruled, must forsake our fears, our distractions, our addictions, our co-optations and, to keep us free, resist the lure of consumer credit. If enough of us shed our aversion to risk, our habits of obedience and deference to power, and if we do what we can to thwart the complicity of institutions with the power structure, the pillars propping up the regime will give way.

In closing, let us leave you with yet another key resource to read: Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan’s Why Civil Resistance Works: the Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict (Columbia U. Press, 2011). These two heirs of Sharp don’t lean on either the idealistic or the spiritual. Like Sharp, they provide pragmatic and rigorous – yet accessible – analysis of why nonviolent tactics are usually more successful and always less destructive than militarism.


Ed Kinane and Ann Tiffany have long been anti-militarism activists. Since 2010 they have worked to expose Reaper drone war crime perpetrated by Hancock Air Base, home of the 174th NYS National Guard Attack Wing. Reach them at edkinane340(at)gmail.com or anntiffany6236(at)gmail.com.




Gallery of Images from Hancock Resistance, 9/25/2017

Here is a gallery of images from “Rich Man’s War, Poor People’s Blood“, a civil resistance action by Upstate Drone Action at Hancock Air National Guard Base that resulted in 7 arrests on September 25, 2017.

Click on an image to see it enlarged in a frame.   The photographer’s name is highlighted on hover.   Right click on an image to see it full sized for download.   You can click through the framed images as a slideshow.




Good Friday Review

Photos by Eddie Rodriguez and Judy Bello

Hover to see name of photographer.   Click on an image to view in lightbox.  Use arrows to click through.   To view full sized image (though none are ‘high def’) right click on the image in the lightbox and select ‘View Image’.




Hancock Litany for Good Friday

Written by Jack Gilroy…www.bensalmon.org

Good Friday Prayer for 174th Attack Wing


Video by Judy Bello

Men of the 174th Attack Wing, Stop the Killing

Women of the 174th Attack Wing, Stop the Killing

Men & Women of the 174th Attack Wing, Stop Drone Crucifixions

Men & women of the 174th Attack Wing,—Leave the Military

People of Iraq
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Afghanistan
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Pakistan
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Syria
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Yemen
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Libya
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Somalia
Forgive us our Killer Drones

People of Gaza
Forgive us our Killer Drones

Our Tax Dollars for Death
Forgive Us

Slaughtered Native Americans
Forgive Us

Teaching Hate
Forgive Us

Our Sins against our Black  brothers and sisters
Forgive Us

Tortured people of the Philippines
Forgive Us

United States invasions of Mexico
Forgive Us

United States invasions of Haiti
Forgive Us

United States invasions of  Nicaragua
Forgive Us

United States imperialism in  Latin America
Forgive Us

United States killings in the Great War
Forgive Us

60 Million dead in World War II
Forgive Us

Calling 60 Million dead a ‘Good War’
Forgive Us

Believing War can be Just
Forgive Us

Christian Churches’ Silence in Nazi Germany
Forgive Us

German Catholic Bishops’ silence
Forgive Us

Lutheran Church Silence
Forgive Us

Dresden Fire Bombed
Forgive Us

Hiroshima Incinerated
Forgive Us

Nagasaki Destroyed
Forgive Us

Nagasaki Cathedral Ground Zero
Forgive Us

All Christian Crews Do Bombing
Forgive Us

38,000 Americans Died in World War II
Forgive Us

1 Million North Korean Soldiers & Civilians Killed
Forgive Us

United States Kills 3 Million Vietnamese
Forgive Us

58,000 American Troops Killed in Vietnam
Forgive Us

Dow Chemical’s Agent Orange Devastates People and Land of Vietnam
Forgive Us

American Napalm Burns Vietnamese Children
Forgive Us

Trillions Spent on Nuclear Weapons & War Preparation
Forgive Us

United States Supports El Salvador Death Camps
Forgive Us

United States CIA Helps Assassinate 250,000 People in Guatamala
Forgive Us

United States Creates a Torture & Assassination School at Fort Benning, GA
Forgive Us

Graduates of the School of the Americas Kill Peasants and Union Leaders
Forgive Us

Graduates of the School of the Americas Kill Priests & Nuns
Forgive Us

US Troops IN 180 Countries Around the World
Forgive Us

US Led Sanctions Kill 500,000 Iraqi Children
Forgive Us

United States Slaughters Fleeing Iraqi Soldiers
Forgive Us

US Troops Stationed in Muslim Countries
Forgive Us

Invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan
Forgive Us

Shock and Awe Bombings of Iraq Kill Civilians by the Thousands
Forgive Us

Two Million People Flee American War Making in Iraq
Forgive Us

American Violence Spreads Throughout The Middle East
Forgive Us

Refugees Die in the Deserts & on the Sea Fleeing Wars Promoted by the United States
Forgive Us

United States Rejects Middle East Refugees
Forgive Us

Islamophobia Sweeps the Nation
Forgive Us

United States Drones Assassinate People in Seven Muslim Nations
Forgive Us

One Half Our National Spending is for Death & Weapons
Forgive Us

Weapons Are Our Largest Export
Forgive Us

United States in Year 2017 Will Cut Assistance to the Poor & Children’s Programs
Forgive Us

Building Walls Instead of Empathy and Generosity
Forgive Us

Our Bloated Military Budget Will be Increased $54 Billion This Year
Forgive Us

Republicans & Democrats Praise Trump for Killing Syrians
Forgive Us

Aaaaa men…..Aaaaaa men….Amen Amen Amen




War Crimes Indictment for Good Friday

WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT

WAR_CRIMES_INDICTMENT_Good_Friday_2017.pdf

Indictment read by Matt Ryan, recorded by Judy Bello:

http://upstatedroneaction.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/Audio/Good_Friday_Indictment-Matt_Ryan.mp3

To President Donald Trump, to Secretary of Defense Secretary James Mattis, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Command Chief Michael Will, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Hancock Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of Dewitt, NY:

Each one of you, when you became a public servant, serving in a government position or when you joined the United States Armed Forces or police, you publicly promised to uphold the United States Constitution. We take this opportunity to call your attention to Article VI of the US Constitution, which states:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not with standing.

This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the Constitution and laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be supreme law of the land.

The Supremacy Clause provides part of the Supreme Law of the Land.

One Treaty duly ratified by the U.S. is the United Nations Charter. It was ratified by a vote of 89 to 2 in the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President in 1945. It remains in effect today. As such, it is part of supreme law of the land.

The Preamble of the U.N. Charter states that its purpose is to“save future generation from the scourge of war” and it further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”

This Treaty applies both collectively and individually to all three branches of government, on all levels, U.S. federal, state and local governments, starting with the executive branch: the U.S. President and the executive staff; the judicial branch: all judges
and staff members of the judiciary; the legislative branch: all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and all departments of Law Enforcement and all civilian staff, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, which includes Article VI.

Under the U.N. Charter and long established international laws, anyone–civilian, military, government officials, or judge-who knowingly participates in or supports illegal use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.

Today you must recognize that when you promised to uphold the Constitution, you promised to obey Treaties and International Law – as part of the Supreme Law of the Land and furthermore, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the U.S., you arerequired to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.

Based on all the above,

WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, DONALD TRUMP AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND

TO COMMAND CHIEF MICHAEL WILL, EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS AT HANCOCK AIR BASE, WITH CRIMES AGAINST PEACE & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS, WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.

We charge that the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, under the command of the 174th Fighter Wing Commander, Command Chief Michael Will, is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft, called drones.

These drones are being used not only in combat situations for the purpose of assassinations but also for killings far removed from combat zones without military defense, to assassinate individuals and groups far removed from military action.

Extra judicial killings, such as those the U.S. carries out by drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force to commit murder in violation of U.S. and International Law.

It is a matter of public record that the US has used drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq for targeted killings to target specific individuals which has nearly always resulted in the deaths of many others.

There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used; no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassinations.

In support of this indictment, we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates “a highly problematic blurring and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force…. The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum…. In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules.”
See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28, May 2010.

The drone attacks either originating at Hancock or supported here are a deliberate illegal use of force against another nation, and as such are a felonious violation of Article VI of the US Constitution. By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes. We demand that you stop participating in any part of the operations of MQ-9 drones immediately, being accountable to the people of United States and Afghanistan.

As citizens of this nation, which maintains over 700 military bases around the globe, and the largest, most deadly military arsenal in the world we believe these words of Martin Luther King still hold true, ”the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.

There is hope for a better world when WE, THE PEOPLE, hold our government accountable to the laws and treaties that govern the use of lethal force and war. To the extent that we ignore our laws and constitution and allow for the unchecked use of lethal force by our government, allowing the government to kill who ever it wants, where ever it wants, how ever it wants with no accountability, we make the world less safe for children everywhere.

We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, to do as required by the Nuremburg Principles I-VII, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them, and to resist them nonviolently.

Signed by: THE UPSTATE COALITION TO GROUND THE DRONES AND END THE WARS