Three-time Nobel peace prize nominee Kathy Kelly and a band of supporters from Central New York began walking from Hancock air base to Niagara Falls Wednesday to protest the use of weaponized drones.
Kelly recently returned from her 16th trip to Afghanistan, where a father and four fellow graduates of the police academy were killed by drone fire while sipping tea in a garden.
"The wife of this young man said 'Believe me, I hope this never happens to someone from your country.' How is she going to tell this child, your father was killed by a computer."
Kelly says that’s the kind of unnecessary killing of innocent people they hope will capture the public’s attention during their 165 mile walk.
Russell Brown is with the upstate coalition to ground the drones and end the wars. As a Vietnam veteran and a U.S. Marine he is aware first hand of the brutalities of war. Last year, he was acquitted of obstruction of governmental administration after laying down in protest of drones at the Hancock Airport in 2013.
"We're gonna do this walk because we recognize that Schumer and all of our other Congressmen and Senators are going to nothing about this unless they are forced to. We are going directly to the air men and women and the people in the communities along the way and asking them to refuse to pilot them and allow the bases in their area."
Another activist, Jack Gilroy of Binghamton, served two months in Jamesville prison last fall for protesting drones in front of Hancock field. He hopes people begin to question the use of all warfare, especially after the recent U.S. bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that killed 22 people.
" I think people are going to be listening a little bit more now. If they do they will finally find out that we have to get out of these countries. We have troops in 140 countries around the world. It is wrong. We have no right, there is no such thing as American exceptionalism. We have to start thinking about generosity and compassion"
The peace walkers will stay the night at a church in Marcellus before making the trek to Auburn Thursday. They’ll hold outreach programs at colleges and community centers along the way before arriving at Niagara Falls Air Base on October 20th.