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Around 3:30pm yesterday, 9 individuals were arrested by DeWitt Police and Onondaga County Sheriffs for peaceably blocking the main entrance to Hancock Air Base on East Molloy Rd in the town of DeWitt, a Syracuse, NY suburb. Hancock is the regional hub for the hunter/killer Reaper drone deployed over Afghanistan, Pakistan and, increasingly, elsewhere. This nonviolent civil resistance is the most recent in a series of actions at Hancock meant to expose and deter the Reaper war crimes originating there. Over the last two years dozens of Upstate Drone Action members have been arrested as we sought to communicate our concerns to the Base Command and personnel by delivering to them a Citizens’ War Crimes Indictment [see attached]. Ironically, at a base bristling with lethal weaponry, the bases Mission Support Group Commander, Col. Earl A. Evans, once again, requested and received from the Dewitt Town Court an order of protection against the nonviolent activists. The activists are bewildered by the request and the Courts acquiescence to it, not merely for its demeaning implications but for its as yet unknown legal ramifications. Currently, 20 non-violent citizens have received this order.
According to Upstate Drone Action member, Jim Clune,
“The Reaper strikes and the United States’ killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. These strikes are illegal and immoral. Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murder, violation of national sovereignty, and violation of due process are all illegal acts.”
Father Bill Pickard , member of Pax Christi, further noted:
“We came to Hancock Air Base this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these weaponized drones.”
Those arrested today include: Bill Frankel-Streit, Trevilians, VA Nancy Gowen, Richmond, VA Ellen Grady, Ithaca, NY Linda LeTendre, Saratoga Springs, NY Rev. Bill Pickard, Scranton, PA. Matt Ryan, Ithaca Mary Anne Grady, Ithaca, NY Carmen Trotta, New York, NY Jim Clune, Binghamton
Statement of the Defendants
We come to Hancock Airfield, home of the National Reaper Drone Maintenance and Training center, this Ash Wednesday — to remember the victims of our drone strikes and to ask God’s forgiveness for the killing of other human beings, most especially children.
The killer drone strikes and the US’s killer drone policies have taken the lives of thousands in a number of countries, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. These strikes are illegal and immoral. Under international agreements, which the US has signed, the killing of civilians, extra-judicial murders, violations of national sovereignty, and violations of due process are ALL illegal acts.
We come to Hancock Airfield this Ash Wednesday to repent for the actions of our government and to ask God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the people we daily terrorize with these drones.
We remind ourselves that our lives are brief and mysterious, and that “from dust we were created and to dust we shall return!” The significance of our brief animation is the degree to which we love one another.
Lent is a time to repent—literally, to change our minds. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is a time to REMIND ourselves of Jesus’ radical, non-violent message love.
Stop the Killing. Ground the Drones. STOP the Wars.