About 250 anti-war protestors from across New York and several other states rallied at Hancock Air National Guard base Sunday to protest the military’s use of armed drones. The demonstrators wore long, black robes, carried fake coffins, and held pictures of innocent victims of drone strikes as they solemnly walked along Thompson Road to the base’s gates. They tapped drums and chanted “arrest the war criminals.”
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars organized the protest. Rae Kramer lives in Syracuse and volunteers with the Syracuse Peace Council. She wonders how the U.S. can win hearts and minds in the Middle East while continuing to kill innocent people there.
“We get a bad guy, however that is determined, and then kill 35 civilians as well and we apologize. I think those apologies are sincere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone in the U-S war machine wants to hurt innocents.”
But she says these apologies remind her of raising her children when they were small.
“They did something wrong and we talked about it and they apologized. An hour later they did the same routine with the apology, etc. After awhile I said don’t apologize; it’s meaningless. If you meant it, you’d stop the behavior,” Kramer said. “Likewise, it’s offensive we keep killing and apologizing, killing and apologizing.”
SUPPORT FOR DRONES
A recent Gallup Poll finds 65% of Americans believe drones should be used to target suspected terrorists abroad. But anti-war activists, like Veterans for Peace Member Bruce Gagnon are more focused on the number of innocent lives lost from the strikes. Gagnon labels this terrorism and says the U.S. shouldn’t keep its double-standard.
“Terrorism was wrong in Boston, which I think it was, then isn’t it also wrong when we do the same thing to other people? We glorify this stuff here; we glorify it when we do it, Gagnon says. “But when someone else does it, it’s wrong, it’s evil.”
Near the end of the rally about 30 protestors lined up in front of the Onondaga County Sheriff's office van after being arrested. They face charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing and obstruction of Government Administration. These arrests come just days after five drone protestors were sentenced to jail time from a previous demonstration.