Category Archives: Drones

The Golden Girls Go To Jail

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Press Release – 19 July, 2015 – The Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones & End the Wars

Four anti-drone resisters were sentenced on July 29 in Judge Joseph J. Zavaglia’s DeWitt (NY) Town Court for alleged trespass at a “die-in” on April 28, 2013 at Hancock Air Base, home to the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard, just north of Syracuse, NY. At their four-day trial this past June trial the six-person jury acquitted the four of disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration.

All four were identically sentenced to one year’s conditional discharge, $250 fine, $125 court costs and a two-year order of protection. Two of the resisters, Joan Pleune and Bev Rice told Judge Zavaglia, through their attorney Lewis Oliver, that they would not agree to the conditional discharge. This led the judge to sentence the two to 15 days in Jamesville Penitentiary. Joan and Bev were taken from court in handcuffs.

Dear Sisters and Friends,

Final Update—maybe

As most of you know, I had no idea what was going to happen at our sentencing. The only thing I knew for sure was that I couldn’t serve more than 10 days and I thought that to be fairly unlikely. HAH! Was I wrong!

Lew Oliver, our attorney, was thorough and pugnacious in his attempt to have the trespass conviction vacated. It was all to no avail. Judge Zavaglia ruled that the conviction held.

Then the sentencing. I was first. Because I don’t hear very well, Judge Zavaglia invited me to stand in front of the bench for the sentencing. He was clearly pleased that his sentence was a conditional release. Unfortunately, it was chock full of stringent requirements: I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that, blah blah blah. They printed it out for me and, standing there in front of Zavaglia, I read it. “I can’t do this,” I said. “Talk to your lawyer,” he replied. And so I did. As I talked with Lew, I considered two things. The first was how really bad the beds are in jail. The second: HOW HARD YOU ALL TRIED TO KEEP BEV AND ME OUT OF THE SLAMMER. But I couldn’t stomach the conditional release. I had to say no. I knew Bev wouldn’t be able to sign it, either. Judge Zavaglia asked me what I thought the sentence should be. I thought that was a little weird. I didn’t really know what the choices were. He called Lew up to the bench and asked if he had advised me not to take the conditional release. “I most certainly did NOT,” said Lew and then asked for a recess to confer with us. Bev said that she, too, would not accept the conditional release. At sentencing, both Zavaglia and the Assistant DA were visibly upset. Even though the DA had asked for 15 days, he didn’t consider us getting it to be a victory. At a certain point he informed Zavaglia that we didn’t have to actually SIGN the conditional release for it to be the sentence. Signing simply meant we had read it. TOO LATE. We were in cuffs.

And so, the GOLDEN GIRLS, as we would be dubbed by our fellow inmates, were off to the Jamesville Correctional Facility, where, in the morning, we would be warmly welcomed. But for the night, Bev and I had very different experiences. Bev was housed in a cell that hadn’t been cleaned after the last prisoner. Our Bev, who hates dirt, had to put up with multiple dust bunnies all night. She nailed them in the morning with kotex and spritzer. As for me, I was thrown into the hole for the night. They only had one empty regular cell, and that one had Bev’s name on it. I heard an officer say to the officer who had escorted us to the cell block, “We’re going to have to put her in THERE.” “Oh!” she said, “you can’t put her in THERE!” Put me in WHERE?” I asked. The officer kindly explained that it was an isolation cell where they house young women who are acting up. They assured me I’d be moved to a regular cell in the morning. A young woman (at least, young by our standards) pressed three books into my hands. “TAKE THESE WITH YOU!.” One turned out to be quite good and it kept me sane.

In the end, we served only 7 days of a 15 day sentence. That’s because you automatically get 1/3 off for good behavior and we had 3 days coming to us because of the three days we spent awaiting bail in 2013 (15-5-3=7). We had really good personal and political conversations with some really smart and talented women, and some not so smart and talented. We could go outside into a small asphalt yard with a chain link fence around it and razors on the top. We sat with other prisoners on that asphalt, as far as we could from the Canadian goose poop, with our backs to the chain link fence which had a sign on it saying:

Attention
Do Not Touch Fence
It is a violation to touch fence or lean on any part of it.

We’d have had to pay $25 if they had objected to us leaning on it. I don’t say get caught because with cameras all around, surely they had to know that everyone leaned on the fence. Catching the sun’s rays was almost the sole source of vitamin D.

We’re happy to be home and to be with you, but we left behind some pretty cool women.  In a week or so you can check the GPB blog to find out more about these women and our experiences.

Love to you all,
joan

– Joan Pleune
for the Granny Peace Brigade

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

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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

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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

Anti-Drone Action in Harlem elicits a surprisingly strong police presence!

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We were back at our usual spot in front of the Recruiting Station on Lennox Ave/125th St. sharing information on the latest drone news that can affect NYC residents: the recent statements by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton who said “I’m supportive of the concept of drones, not only for the police but for public safety in general.” He is quoted as also saying: “The Mayor is supportive of it as are many members of the Council…” Is this why there were at least 10 officers at different times during our 1.5 hour action hovering around us; ensuring we did not block the entrance to the Recruiting station; forcing us to remove our posters from the wall? And what about the cameras on the back of the police car, parked in front of us….blocking the bus stops….just for us!? (Click on Photos for larger images.)

2014_06_06martyAs we engaged with the public, this is clearly a subject that many have not given any consideration. However, as we discussed this possibility with them, it was increasingly clear that there is concern about this. Issues like where would such drones be used…..mostly likely in this (Harlem) area, but probably not in Wall Street where so many “criminals” hang out!

2014_06_06joanandguyOne resident felt that the police will not like drones, as it will also capture what they are doing! But generally, people felt that with cameras everywhere, there is enough surveillance….”we don’t need them peeking in our windows” as another resident said. But drone use may have another side as we watched one young man run down the street. Was the police car with the siren following him? Would a drone have been safer? And realizing that the neighborhood had a major police action against large gangs earlier this week, would this have been stopped sooner if drones were following the members around?

2014_06_06jennyandguyWe urge a serious public discussion of the possibility of drone use by the Police force by the City Council, perhaps coming up from Community Board Meetings, and maybe even something on the next ballot. We see the use of drones in NYC as further infringing on our rights to privacy. And we definitely don’t want drones weaponized with rubber bullets, tear gas, real bullets, etc. Call your city council member and share your concerns with them directly!

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

2014 Grassroots Community Fair at Hunter College

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Tuesday, March 18 at the Hunter Grassroots Community Fair:

The Granny Peace Brigade came to the fair to ask Hunter students for help. We would like the New York City Council to pass a resolution banning weaponized and surveillance drones in NYC. How will that happen? If many, many voters call their City Council representatives asking for drone-control legislation we just might get a law passed. (Click on photos for larger images.)

Photo: Caroline Chinlund
Photo: Caroline Chinlund
Photo: Caroline Chinlund
Photo: Caroline Chinlund

As students stopped by we gave out flyers and FAQ sheets…

 

 

Photo: Phyllis Cunningham
Photo: Phyllis Cunningham

 

 

 

…and got into many interesting conversations about drones.

 

 

Photo: Eva-Lee Baird
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird

 

 

 

Photo: Phyllis Cunningham
Photo: Phyllis Cunningham

Here’s what we asked them to do:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go to http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml
Type in your address and borough.
Your council person will appear along with contact info.
Get the phone number and make a call.
Identify yourself as a constituent,
and say that you want your councilperson to support a resolution banning weaponized and surveillance drones in NYC.

– Caroline Chinlund, Eva-Lee Baird & Phyllis Cunningham
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Grannies meet with United Nations officials

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During the last week of September, the GPB, with other groups, participated in 16 street events over six days throughout NYC [three locations each day in a different neighborhood and one on Saturday]. Each event had a one-fifth scale model [11 feet wide and 8 feet long] of a Reaper Drone – complete with Hellfire missiles and 500 pound bombs, provided by Know Drones, to draw attention and to illustrate the horror of drones as deadly weapons and fearsome spies on communities.

Signing the petition at the NYPL
Signing the petition at the NYPL

We chose that week because the United Nations General Assembly was in session; literature given to the public urged them to contact the UN asking that the killing stop and 649 persons signed our petition addressed to the Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon calling for the banning of weaponized and surveillance drones worldwide. Over 60 volunteers gave out literature, got signatures and helped assemble and mount the drones with Nick Mottern and George Guerci of Know Drones. We had many interesting conversations with the public, including visitors from several countries.

Last Drone event at Guggenheim Museum
Last Drone event at Guggenheim Museum

To prepare for the events, the GPB sent letters outlining our position against weaponized/surveillance drones to approximately 80 UN personnel including Permanent Representatives of Member States, special committees and officials such as Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, who responded and invited us to meet with her.

On October 25th, Phyllis Cunningham and Edith Cresmer of the GPB, together with Nick Mottern of Know Drones, met with her Senior Political Affairs Officer, Randy Rydell, PhD. The meeting lasted 2 hours. Dr. Rydell was joined by one of his staff, Katherine Prizeman.

We told them about our desire to see weaponized and surveillance drones outlawed.  We then learned that the two recent reports about drones had been requested by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee which deals with Social, Humanitarian and Cultural concerns;  Special Rapporteur Christof Heyns reported on Extrajudicial and Summary Executions while Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson reported on Protecting Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism.

The Office of Disarmament Affairs reports to the First Committee which deals with Disarmament and International Security.  [If killer drones were illegal, they would be the responsibility of the First Committee, as Disarmament would be required.] Although the drone reports were not under the purview of the First Committee, Dr. Rydell was, nevertheless, keen to hear our ideas.  He provided us lists of contacts in Member States offices and gave us two suggestions for how to bring our concern – that drones be outlawed, not just regulated – to the attention of the UN.

One idea was to get a group of Member States to request of the International Court of Justice a ruling on the legality of weaponized/surveillance drones.

The other suggestion was to have several States request of the Secretary General that a committee of Experts be empanelled to study and examine the issue.

He further suggested that we contact other NGOs [non-governmental organizations] such as Article 36 and Reaching Critical Will, part of International WILPF.

Unfortunately, according to the above-noted UN reports, weaponized drones are not considered illegal; they are assumed to be legal provided rules are followed.  The rules include necessity, proportionalty, avoiding civilian casualities, and transparancy. The reports also considered the question of how to deal with a conflict which is not between two States [nations], but between non-state actors which can be located anywhere [al Qaeda and its associates] and the United States of America.

Reports recently issued by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also declined to call killer drones illegal, although they did criticize States perpetrating drone killing for failing to report known details of civilian deaths.  While States have acknowledged their drones caused deaths of civilians, they claim such killing was infrequent, unintended, an accident, collateral damage.

Dr. Rydell seemed receptive to our goals. He and Ms. Prizeman explained that the UN’s purpose is to maintain Peace and if conflict nevertheless occurs between states, to establish and monitor rules for the conduct of the conflict.  They explained the difference between two kinds of laws: Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law.  International Humanitarian Laws prescribe rules for conduct during war; they originated in the Seventeenth Century.  These rules include protection of civilians, no torture of captured enemy and a duty to capture rather than kill, if possible.   Human Rights Law is of more recent origin and deals with treatment of people worldwide in all circumstances [including war but not only war].

We learned after we met with Dr. Rydell that the legality of the drone as a weapon had been challenged during the meeting of the Third Committee of the General Assembly on the morning of October 25th by the Permanent Representative from Brazil.  He expressed surprise that the reports said weaponized drones are legal if they follow the rules, saying that he believed that there had never been a determination as to their legality; furthermore he said the chain of command within the US precludes transparency because the CIA by definition does not evaluate and report on its actions.

Also, a report by a Swiss based agency known as Alkarama, concluded that recent use of weaponized drones in Yemen is illegal. A recent email from David Swanson of WarIsACrime.org, who has read this report, stated

this group finds the entire practice of murdering people with flying robots to be illegal.
Alkarama makes this finding, not out of ignorance of the endless intricacies deployed by the likes of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Rather, Alkarama adopts the same dialect and considers the same scenarios: Is it legal if it’s a war, if it’s not a war? Is it discriminate, necessary, proportionate? Et cetera. But the conclusion is that the practice is illegal no matter which way you slice it.

Alkarama and Brazil agree with our position. Dr. Rydell suggested other countries that may consider drone warfare illegal: Pakistan, Switzerland, Austria and Mexico.

We need to connect with all possible allies to press for ending all use of weaponized and surveillance drones. In the meantime, we will continue to focus on New York City, whose legislature, the City Council of the City of New York, we hope to persuade to outlaw drones over the city’s territory.

– Edith Cresmer
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photos: Bud Korotzer

A Funny Thing Happened Outside the Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference

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DARC – Lunchtime on the sidewalk: Attendees and staff step outside for a bit of fresh air. Nick Mottern of KnowDrones has a model drone. The GPB has flyers. Everybody has opinions. Many lively discussions ensue among demonstrators, conference attendees and staff. It’s times like these when I’m really sorry I have only one set of ears.* I keep hearing things like “Thank you for being here. You are raising issues that are important to us. We want these issues discussed.”

One attendee – let’s call him Joe – works on robotic safety, Trying to make sure the things do exactly what they are programmed to do with no nasty surprises. Okay, he knows perfectly well there’s more to safety than that, and he’s interested, but he has to go back to the conference. Another guy, a retired pilot – let’s call him John – works on pilot psychology. A drone pilot doesn’t have to be inside the thing to have psychology. Our pilot shrink is concerned about bringing soldiers home and back into society. These returning soldiers have been trained to kill to win. Many look for jobs with police forces and security agencies. John looks around at the nearby policemen and women. He says they are trained to defuse situations, not to kill.

2013_10_11_1(Click on photos for larger images.)

Police? What police? Well, of course. Yes, after asking us to leave (we don’t) the NYU security people call the police and another lively discussion ensues. There is a bit of confusion. DARC attendees have yellow and black badges. DARC staff wear yellow and black t-shirts. Grannies are wearing yellow and black tunics. It is kind of hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys and at least one officer gets mixed up. Oh, he says, “Those aren’t demonstrators?” pointing to a couple of DARC staffers.

The discussion gets livelier. Must the demonstrators go or can we stay? This isn’t going well. Joe – remember him, the robotic safety guy – Joe materializes and records the increasingly irate cop on his cellphone.

2013_10_11_2

At the same time DARC staffers appear with bag lunches for the demonstrators. “This is a turkey sandwich. Are you a vegan?” asks the staffer handing me a lunch. The cops move the model drone away from the entrance. We stay. Later some of us will go to the conference. Yeah, they gave us passes.

Can we work with these people to ban all weaponized and surveillance drones?

2013_10_11_3

I sure hope so. At least with some of them.

– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade

*Need more ears? Get a drone. But be careful what you wish for. They just might change the vibe.

No to Weaponized and Surveillance Drones

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Response to questions about U.S. military use of drones is often — use of drones lessens the numbers of ground forces required and, therefore, our military casualties. Here in the U.S the battlefields of the Civil War are known  but most military actions in the Middle East, South Central, South Asia, and Africa in which we have been and are engaged are carried on principally in towns and villages, whether or not there are drones in the sky.  So, as I see it, our young still go off to war and continue to serve as ‘cannon fodder.’  It is they who carry out on the ground the military, often demeaning sometimes deadly, confrontations with townspeople-villagers — waking sleeping families, breaking into celebrations, disrupting ordinary gatherings — and they who reap the reaction of the invaded people.  Yes, there may be a saving drone — but not always.   David Swanson points out in “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields”  ‘The Battles of Fallujah were fought in the city of Fallujah, Iraq.'(1)  We know the result — destruction of the City of Mosques; aftermath: continuing high rate of birth defects, scientists suspect tied to the use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus in military assaults.(2)

Countering the claim that drones are more precise in targeting than manned aircraft, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analysis found that missile strikes by drones ‘were 10 times more deadly to Afghan civilians’ than were strikes by fighter jets.(3) Officials who conducted a study for the Pentagon noted with regard to some drone pilots who suffered symptoms of PTSD — ‘Unlike traditional pilots flying manned aircraft in a war zone, the pilots operating remote drones often stare at the same piece of ground in Afghanistan or Iraq for days, sometimes months  They watch someone’s pattern of life, see people with their families, and then they can be ordered to shoot. (4)

In an Afghan village the Predator drones  are referred to as benghai, the ‘buzzing flies.’  Civilians are terrorized.  A villager said ‘They are evil things that fly so high you don’t see them but all the time you hear them.  Night and day we hear this sound and then the bombardment starts.'(5)  Some abandon hometowns in fear.   It is reported that in 2012 in Afghanistan 506 weapons were fired from unmanned aerial aircraft.(5)

Some drone strikes are carried out as killings of persons targeted by top U.S. officials for assassination abroad, this may include U.S. citizens. These are options for action not only in Afghanistan but also in countries with which the U.S. is not officially at war — Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia.  The circumstances of the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, American/Yemeni Imam, in Yemen, on September 30. 2011, as well as  the circumstances leading up to it, is dealt with by Jeremy Scahill in has book “Dirty Wars – The World Is a Battlefield” and in the film “Dirty Wars.” (6)  On October 14, 2011, after the assassination of Anwar Awlaki, his son Abdulrahman was kill by a drone while visiting relatives in the Yemeni village of Shabwah; relatives were also killed. Why?  “Dirty Wars” provides information gleaned by the author from media and other sources.(6)

I was 8 years old when, on December 8, 1941, we were sent home from school after being told the United States was at war.  Never since that morning have I been so terrified.  But we in the U.S. were spared; others, sadly, have not been so spared. Modern warfare has not been experienced on U.S. soil.  Do most of us know, do most of us care about the terror, and massive suffering, death, destruction our military and CIA operations in countries we have invaded (officially or not) has caused?  These have been countries that have not attacked, nor planned to attack, the US.  It seems that the 1997 “Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century”  [e.g. its positive view of U.S. military intervention](7) weighs heavily in U.S. foreign policy.  However, in this time of widespread international conflict and dissension, I believe the U.S. government  should desire to act to seek just resolution through diplomacy rather than through expressions of military might.  What is called for now is not military use of the drone nor design of more capable versatile versions of it but a worldwide ban on weaponized and surveillance drones, as well as enforcement of the ban on production and use of chemical weapons.  It is hoped that toward this end many of us will direct our views to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and to the United States Government.

For more info: http://www.knowdrones.com/

– Barbara Walker
for the Granny Peace Brigade

(1)  “Wars Are Not Fought on Battlefields,” David Swanson, Global Research, January 19, 2011 (from book “War is a Lie”).

(2) “Iraq War Anniversary:  Birth Defects And Cancer Rates At Devastating High In Basra and Fallujah (VIDEO),”  Eline Gordts, Huffington Post, March 20, 2013.

(3) “US drone strikes more deadly to Afghan civilians than manned aircraft — adviser”  Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, July 2, 2013.

(4) “Report:  High Lelvels Of ‘Burnout” In U.S. Drone Pilots,” Rachel Martin, NPR, December 18, 2011.

(5) “U.S. Drone Strikes In Afghanistan Cause Villagers to Flee:  Report,” Kathy Gannon, Huffington Post,  March 28, 2013.

(6) “Dirty Wars – The World is a Battlefield,” Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books, New York, 2013.

(7) “Statement of Principles June 3, 1997 – Project for the New American Century.”

Keep New York City Drone-Free — We Are Rolling

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world…”* or maybe even New York City.

There we were with Ms. Gizmo at the “Power of Aging” Annual Health Festival.

2013_09_05health_fair(Click on the photo for a larger image.)

The day was brilliant, Thomas Jefferson Park was sparkling, and so was Joan’s Granny Peace Brigade button. City Council member and Manhattan Borough President candidate Jessica Lappin spotted Joan with her button in the busy park. “I am introducing the drone resolution,” she told Joan.

What drone resolution? The GPB as part of our “Keep New York City Drone-Free” campaign has sent a sample No-Drone Resolution to each member of City Council. Using our material for reference, Lappin asked the City Council legal staff to write drone-control legislation. Even when they are lawyers themselves, Council members may not write legislation. Staff lawyers do that, and have 30 days once a request is submitted. In October the drone-control legislation should be written and we can give it a big push (if we like what they write).

Stay tuned.

In peace always,
– Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade
Photo: Edith Cresmer

*Margaret Mead

Marty And The Soldier Who Controlled Drones

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As I handed our drone leaflet to a quite handsome young man, he stopped and asked why were we against drones in New York City. I commented that we do not need that level of surveillance and the opportunity for misuse against peaceful demonstrations among other things could not be discounted. He said, but drones can save lives. They can spot bombs in a backpack on the street. Shouldn’t we want that kind of technology protecting us. I replied, that I didn’t think drones could do that. And he replied that he knew they could….so I asked him why.

2013_08_22marty_dronepilot(Click on photo for larger image.)

He commented that he had spent two tours in Afghanistan and had actually controlled drones as part of his assignment. He further commented that drones saved US lives there. He showed me the black bracelet he wore in honor of his colleague who had been killed there, he said saving his life. And, I thanked him for his service and was sorry about the loss of his colleagues.

The conversation shifted to the use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen and I referred to the deaths of thousands of civilians including children and women. He said he believed  these were justified casualties of war as terrorists were killed. He asked me, would I rather he be on the ground fighting, possibly dying, or those terrorists in one of those countries. I said I don’t want any more deaths among US soldiers or any others in any country. I asked him, who was profiting from these wars….not the soldiers, nor the American people who pay taxes, but the corporations that supply the weapons of war and continue to need wars to make such profits. He agreed to this, but felt that without the military terrorists would destroy our country. I commented that we do need a national military, but that there are other and better ways to protect ourselves. He then said, well, what about WWII….did I think that war was necessary to stop Hitler. And I said no,  that there had been many opportunities that might have stopped the events from unfolding as they did, but were not applied. At that point, I really didn’t want to go down that road, but rather wanted to introduce him to Nick but he just shook his head and said we disagreed and walked off. But he kept the leaflet.

I have to say that I was a bit upset afterwards, thinking what could I have suggested he read on these issues….and of course what more could have been said or what could have been said better. I wished I had Medea’s book on Drones with me to pull out (next time will have it in my bag).

-Marty Rajandran
Photo: Eva-Lee Baird
for the Granny Peace Brigade