Thirty-three members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones were preemptively arrested on Earth Day, April 22, two blocks from the entrance to Hancock Air Base. The arrests by the Onondaga County, New York sheriff’s deputies preempted political free speech as the anti-drone activists proceeded silently and in single file on the shoulder of a public road towards the air base entrance. Sheriff’s Department vehicles blockaded the road and police officers corralled the group.
Arrests began without warning; most were charged with violating a Town of DeWitt ordinance requiring a permit to march. Those arrested included an 87 year old woman in a wheelchair, parents (accompanying their children), a member of the press, and the group’s attorney Ron Van Norstrand. Cameras, camcorders and phones were confiscated by the Sheriff’s Department. Most were ticketed on site, but one man who lay down in the road was taken into custody and arraigned on another charge before posting bail. As many as 14 different court dates were assigned among those cited.
Six people, who had not been walking, did reach the gate of the base, where three women were arrested as they read from the group’s War Crimes Indictment. The Indictment calls attention to Article 6, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and reads: “…we charge that the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Air Field Air National Guard Base …is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft…Extrajudicial targeted killings such as the U.S. carries out by unmanned aircraft drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force in violation of U.S. and international human rights law…” Everyone in the chain of command, from President Obama to drone operators, is charged in the Indictment.
For more information visit the blog of upstatedroneaction.org