All posts by admin

New Yorkers Are Saying “NO” To Drone Use In The City

Share

The City Council had one of its regular meetings today (13 November) in City Hall. And the Grannies were there with the “new” Ms Gizmo questions on issues of drone use in NYC. As the below table notes, the trend seen from recent actions in Union Square and at City Hall is that a vast majority of those participating do not want drones used in NYC.

Today, there was quite a diverse group of people participating in the survey including a city housing inspector, a group of Pakistani-Americans, businessmen, students, home-makers, care-takers.

Best were the individual discussions demonstrating an interest and concern on the issues involved. Many of those participating carefully studied the eight questions before deciding their “yes” or “no.” And, we were clearly recognized by some of the Council members and their staff…..with several commenting that they have seen us and our flyer before. And they will see us again!

2014_11_totals_dronesurveyNote from Barbara H: I find question 8 most revealing.  Whatever participants think of the use of drones, they basically believe they are here to stay.  A significant proportion of responders are cautious of weaponized drones, as it appears to them to be a possibility in NYC. Although this is a very loose survey, it does add to our understanding of what the general public currently knows and doesn’t know about drones and their potential use.

(Click on the chart for a larger image.)

 

– Marty Rajandran, text and photos
– Edith Cresmer, chart
for the Granny Peace Brigade

November 7 Drone Use Survey in Union Square

Share

New Gizmo. New Questionnaire. Friday, our day to try  them out near Gandhi’s end of Union Square. It’s a new chapter of the Drone-Free NYC campaign. The more you think and engage, the greater the odds of your joining in, we figure. And so…the poll – 8 questions “What Do You Think About Drone Use?”

(Click on the small images for a medium image. Click on the medium image for larger sizes.)

Today’s Granny team reached out with fliers: “Give us your opinion!  What do you think about drones?”  An example of one response to Phyllis:

Girl:  What’s a drone? I don’t know anything!…
Phyllis:  Take a look at these questions.
Girl:  (Does)  Oh…. You just want my opinion!
Phyllis:  Right! And you can join the poll at the table, over there! Vote red for NO and white for YES. We want to see how people respond and test our new questionnaire.
Girl:  OK!

The girl went to the table, for each of the questions there was a plastic tube.  If her answer was ‘no’, she dropped a soft, fuzzy red ball into the tube; if ‘yes’, she dropped a white one.

Phyllis was busy handing out fliers, but later she noticed, this girl was still standing near the gizmo table, talking with others, explaining the poll to them. Success!!! Over 100 people took the poll. The rain held off until we packed up and headed for lunch to tally the votes. The questionnaire worked well except for #2 that we’ll revise.

Meantime, we heard diverse points of view. Caroline dropped her leaflets. Before they could blow too far, a tall guy kindly helped her gather them up. He was interested in who we were: how many, where from. He addressed each question thoughtfully, at first seeing military use of drones as most efficient in terms of loss of lives. He would not want to limit the police in their choice of tactics…but, (as he continued down the list of questions) drones might not be the most cost-effective way to police the city…

We feel ready to go on getting people to think about it, care about it, talk about it. Next stop City Hall Thursday November 13th. We want the City Councilmembers to see us in action.

– Caroline Chinlund – with Phyllis, Joan, Nydia, Barbara H, Eva-Lee, Barbara W, Edith, Nancy and friends Steve, Bud, Fran and Cindy
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Parent Teacher Conference Night – November 5, 2014

Share

As volunteers handed out flyers to parents and students entering high schools for a meeting with teachers, the White House was deciding to send 1500 more troops to Iraq.

2014_11Stopping War Where It Begins

The information being shared with parents  includes Non-Military Options for Life After High School (link) as well as Questions to Ask and Points to Consider Before You Enlist (link).
How very important this action continues to be as wars are endless and new military recruits are needed.  For the military – where best to look than in the high schools.
To respond, we’re at high schools to counter military promotions and offer pro-peace alternatives.

At a couple of schools, the Question to Ask Before You Enlist flyer was received with greater interest than in the past.  A volunteer noted that it seemed avoiding the military was as important to parents as education after high school for their child.   I met with a mother who was thankful for that flyer and noted that the questions posed and answers provided were very pertinent. “Few kids know what enlistment really means. I want to show this to a few boys I know.”

At New Dorp High School on Staten Island, 3 students from a sociology class joined the volunteers.   It was their first time doing a street action, and they were effective in making a difference by adding their voice to the conversation. Youth helping to build the movement as apprentice activists.

Murry Bertraum HS Robotics Team(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

Members of the Robotics team at Murry Bergtraum Campus were psyched over the Options flyer (photo).  Their plans are focused on college.  While speaking with the guidance counselor at this high school, she mentioned  that career counseling is the last item on her agenda.  A shortage of guidance counselors leaves many students in the dark concerning future goals and non-military options. She took our handouts as well.

All those who volunteered, although they had little time for conversation with parents, made a difference.  It is appreciated when someone cares about their child’s  future, is willing to stand in front of a high school, and generously reaches out with educational and informational advice that they rarely receive.

Feel free to download our flyers and give them to friends, students, and teenagers you meet along the way.  You never know – you may well provide  the information they are seeking and change their future direction.

Many thanks to all the volunteers – in Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

– Barbara Harris
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Eight Questions About Drone Use

Share

What do New Yorkers think about the use of weaponized and surveillance drones?

To find out, on Friday, October 10th, members of the Granny Peace Brigade and Nick Motern of Know Drones went to the plaza at the NY State Office Building on 125th St and asked passersby eight questions about drone use. People were interested in the issues raised, and we had many thoughtful conversations.

While talking with people we saw that some of  our questions were confusing. We rewrote them to make them more clear:

  1. Does using drones overseas keep us safe?
  2. Do you think drones will be added to the military weapons used in the United States?
  3. The police department in Ferguson, Missouri used military weapons against the demonstrators.  Do you think it could happen in New York City?
  4. Should it be legal for the N.Y.P.D. to use drones to keep track of the public?
  5. Should the public be allowed to use drones to keep track of the police?
  6. Should it be legal for the N.Y.P.D. to use weaponized drones?
  7. Should the City Council pass a law banning weaponized and surveillance drones in New York City?
  8. Do you think drones are here to stay?

We’ll take this revised set of questions to the sidewalks of New York in November. Can you join us? Check our home page for dates and locations.

See you in the streets,

– Eva-Lee Baird, Edith Cresmer, Phyllis Cunningham, Nydia Leaf and Joan Pleune
for the Granny Peace Brigade

 

New Yorkers Speak Out On DRONE Use By NYPD

Share

“Should it be legal for the NYPD to use weaponized drones against individuals or groups?”

This was one of several questions posed to New Yorkers last Friday (October 10, 2014) as they walked by Nick Motern’s model Reaper drone and a gaggle of the Granny Peace Brigade, who set up a display and survey table in front of the State Office Building in Harlem. It was a perfect fall afternoon.

The survey attracted a lot of interest as well as questions by the passers-by. One young woman asked “What is a drone?” For Eva-Lee, the perfect question for a discussion on not only what is a drone, but how they are used world wide by the US military and the concerns about their use in the USA, leading up to asking the young woman to express her opinion in the survey. And she did: reading each of the 8 questions and choosing a colored pompom, red for No, white for Yes, to cast her vote. She was one of almost 70 survey participants that day, with all but one responding “NO” to the question of use of weaponized drones in NYC.

All the Grannies had a chance to chat with the survey takers, and to pass out copies of the two excellent handouts: Are Drones coming to your neighborhood/NYC Council Resolution on Drones and the NY Daily News re-print on the discussion of drone procurement and use. We encouraged them to contact their city council representative and express their views on the proposals to use drones in NYC.

Alice had a long session with Sarah, a high school student who was on a break and enjoying the afternoon. She took the survey, asking questions about drones and their use, as well as about the activities of the Granny Peace Brigade and KnowDrones. She sat with Alice for quite a long time, successfully attracting more young people to take the survey. And, before Sarah left, she mentioned that she has to do a project for one of her classes on “changing the world” and she would think about doing this on drone attacks.

Phyllis noted that one young man, yelled with both arms extended in the air, “There should be drones in every bad neighborhood ” three times. When he walked by me I asked him what he considered a “bad neighborhood?” An interesting discussion ensued: who and what determines “a bad neighborhood”, who determines who is a bad person, who would determine when to use drones for surveillance, who would make the decision to use weaponized drones and for what justification would these decisions be made. Much to ponder. The young man stated that he then thought that privacy would be invaded by drones and he certainly didn’t want them to hurt people as he moved to participate in the survey.

A man from New Jersey had his is own encounter with a drone. A local real estate agent was using one to survey a neighborhood. He found the humming sounds and the hovering frightening. In describing how the Reaper drones work to an elderly man, I described the constant humming sound, which can go on all day and night. For the villagers in Pakistan or Yemen, they never know when a missile will be launched. They all, especially the children, live in daily terror.”Do we want drones hovering above us in NYC?” A question most people responded “NO.”

I may have had the pleasure of chatting with the one who person who voted yes on the use of weaponized drones in the city! This was a pleasant middle age man. He felt that it is only a matter of time before drone technology will be used in the city. He felt that drones would help to curb crime, especially drug sales on the streets and crimes against persons. However, he did think that it was essential that controls be established on when, where, how drones could be used by the NYPD and that any use of drones be announced in advance so the public is aware of their use and reasons why. He did accept that NYPD may take liberties with any guidelines on drone use, as has happened in the controversial “Stop and Frisk” approach to law enforcement. During the discussion, it did come out that he had family that were in NYPD.

This was the first use of these questions and approach with the “Ms Gizmo” technique. It worked well! It generated interest and good discussions. And for those taking the survey, a thoughtful process. What we learned: some questions were confusing. Maybe there were too many questions, especially for street use on a working day. We look forward to feedback as we make adjustments for the next action. Date and Time to be announced!

We, the Granny Peace Brigade, stand by our position: No Weaponized or Surveillance Drones in NYC. Do speak to your City Council representative and share your views with them. We urge the NY City Council to set in motion an expansive process of public hearings prior to any actions to procure drones by the NYPD. Any decision on drone use will have far reaching implications on all of us!

Thanks to Alice, Eva-Lee, Nydia, and Phyllis for sharing their experience.

– Marty Rajandran
Photos: Marty Rajandran and Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

HEY SENATORS: TALK TO YOUR CONSTITUENTS ABOUT PALESTINIANS AND ISRAEL!

Share

A short note to share this day of action organized by JEWS SAY NO and JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE outside the offices of our Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, condemning their support for the Israeli government’s systematic violations of the Palestinian people’s basic human rights AND their refusal to meet with constituents who do not support Israel’s policies.

The action started in the morning, with the Granny Peace Brigade joining in the afternoon, with the representations of the Palestinian children who were killed just a few months ago in Gaza. The Grannies,together with others, read out the name and age of the child and then placed his/her representation in a mock burial plot. The mood was somber. It was sad. What happened is a crime against humanity and our own laws: the federal “Leahy Law” which requires US funding to be cut off to units of a country’s armed forces that have committed a “gross violation of human rights.”

It’s about time we respect and implement our own laws…….but the reality, the US  implements most vigorously those laws which suit the corporate-government-military complex, EG PROFITS. We stand as a silent reminder that there are things more important that profits.

a representation of a Palestinian child

Our bottom line is peace, justice, and a respect for the humanity of all children, including Palestinian children and their families.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Remembering Gaza’s Youngest Victims

Share

With so much attention on the Climate March, I don’t want to forget our action at City Hall, on 10 Sept, the first fall session of the City Council. Why City Council? Well you will recall, Mayor DiBlasio has stated that his job includes “defending Israel.” Many members of the City Council likewise supported Israel’s actions during the recent massive bombings in Gaza. And neither the Mayor nor Council Members have said or done anything to recognize the rights of Palestinians, the illegal occupation of Israel in the West Bank and the disastrous consequences of the Gaza blockage by Israel on the population.

There was a good Granny turnout; an excellent flyer done by Ann; and the “Representations” of the 577+ children who died in Gaza during this latest Israeli siege. Not to be forgotten are the 3000+ children wounded and the over 1400 orphaned. And the women and other civilians who died were wounded, lost loved ones or made homeless.

There were many good, positive, and supportive individual discussions. It seemed that many of those who stopped to chat were concerned and upset about the terrible loss of life during this conflict, especially innocent civilians and children. That Palestinians have rights, not respected and no real solution in sight was likewise expressed. Palestinians are no longer “invisible” to the public.  Several of those we spoke with thought our representations of the young victims made a creative action and thanked us. Others voiced surprise and concern about the continued US funding for Israel ($3.1 billion in Military funding for just 2014, and $100’s of billions over the years.)

US Taxpayers give Israel $9.9 million a day for WEAPONRY, much of it used during this fifty day attack as well as to maintain the occupation — this was a shocking statistic to many.   As expected, there were several vocal objections to what we were doing; but fewer than in previous actions.  Overall, this was a good action.

A word about the “Representations” of the children:  Making these “Representations” was itself a process: reviewing the lists of dead to select those below age 18. Going through the names was heartbreaking to see whole families gone…..and the names of 3, 4, even 5 or 6 or more children with the same last name. Entire families! To ensure we correctly identified boys and girls, checks of names were done via internet.  While we did it as a group, these were solemn sessions.

We will continue to say “End the Occupation/End the Gaza Blockade.” It is time we move our Government to recognize its duty to ensure that the rights of Palestinians are as respected and implemented as those of others.

– Marty Rajandran, text and photos
For the Granny Peace Brigade

More photos by Bud Korotzer: The Little Dolls of Gaza’s Dead Children

NY City Council Hearing on the Climate March

Share

The Public Hearing on the Climate March was chaired by Donovan J. Richards, with several other members of the Environment Subcommittee joining. The objective was the Resolution 356 to support the Climate March in NYC, 21 Sept 2014 and its objectives, mainly to influence a positive outcome of the upcoming Climate Meetings at the UN in Sept towards a stronger national and global commitment in addressing climate change.

The Hearing opened with an overview of global warming by the Archbishop of Mexico! The Hearing concluded 3+ hours later with a strong statement by our Barbara Harris focusing on the importance of closing Indian Point, moving to renewable energy, especially solar energy, highlighting the efforts of CUNY  throughout the metro area to introduce solar  energy on rooftops, training programs on green energy, among other innovative activities that the city and Council can draw upon. The Chairman indicated that he expected that Council Members will be joining the March.He also emphasized the March was a “new” beginning to mobilize  actions at all levels in the city, state and country towards a carbon neutral future.  ACTION: Call our local council members ensuring they vote yes on Resolution 356 asap!

Continue reading NY City Council Hearing on the Climate March

Counter Recruitment at the East Harlem Youth Fair

Share

Barbara Walker, Edith, Marty, and I tabled at the East Harlem Youth Fair, Wednesday 8/13. We provided materials and conversation concerning military recruitment, Drone issues, and the September Climate March in NYC.

2014_08_14 Youth Fair MARTY & students
Although there were fewer teens at the fair than usual, our Truth or Myth question board attracted some and several were unsure of answers. This lead to conversations and provided information about military recruiters tactics and the personal commitment required for military service.

2014_08_14 Youth Fair table
But, I was troubled to learn how many high school students are thinking about military service as a future choice and the several who had friends or relatives who had enlisted after HS graduation. Having members of their family who had served was an incentive, as well as the appeal of “military style” and possible advantages of financial aid and providing money for their family.

.
I haven’t encountered so many pro-military responses lately and was very glad that we were at the fair to share information and provide a reality check on military commitment, service, and life choices. That’s why we need to be at High Schools. Many students are impressionable and at loose ends.
.
Only one student I spoke with had an opportunity to meet with a guidance counselor and get information about future career planning. Our handout ‘Non-Military Options for Life After High School’ was well received by students as well as adults who were at the fair.
Every time we talk with students, it makes a difference – even if it’s only one teen who is truly listening.
Peace,
Barbara Harris

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Share

Dear Sisters,

What a meaningful event….the silent vigil remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6, the 69th anniversary year. (Click on photos for larger images.)

IMG_3172 (2)

Wonderful signs made by Eva-Lee forming a solid line on the steps of the 42nd Street Library. So many passers by did stop to read each sign. And many photos taken…..and I think we ran out of flyers!

 

 

IMG_3174 (2) cropped

However, not fully silent. Tom could not help but remind people that Indian Point, nuclear power plant, is just down the road….and it should be shut down!

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade