Tag Archives: surveillance

One Day-Two Demos: Control Drones in NYC & Shut It Down


New York’s “finest”: We have concerns

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 the Grannies had two actions. The first, outside City Hall. NO use of Weaponized Drones or Surveillance Drones in NYC. It was a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, which has before it two New York City code amendments that could result in the use of drones in NYC. We did try to meet with Council Members before the action, but no response. The public response is generally NO…..NO drones in NYC skies.
Contact your Council Member (council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml) and say NO DRONES for surveillance of citizens and no weaponized drone  in NYC.

The second action which should be related, but isn’t yet: SHUT IT DOWN. Ending police murder of our citizens. Its time for justice for Eric Garner, and so many others and stop the police harrassment of Ramsey Orta, the only person imprisoned for the murder of Eric Garner. What did Ramsey do? He took the cell phone photos!

A good mid-afternoon crowd at Union Square, then marching to Police Plaza. Many of the same faces, but even more young people coming out to say: Enough. A peaceful protest, but a very heavy NYPD presence. Good everyone has cell phones and media is around.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

Meeting at Senator Schumer’s Office About Weaponized & Surveillance Drones


Notes: Action and Meeting as part of the State-wide anti-drone actions in collaboration with Upstate Drone Action

Outside, six* of us gathered in the snow and blowing wind in front of the 3rd Ave offices of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. A leaflet distributed for the action can be downloaded here. Within the first half hour, Ms Sydney Renwick, Director Community Outreach and Intern Coordination (for Senator Schumer), with whom we had an appointment later, together with a security officer from the building joined us in the cold

The message was basically: What are we doing demonstrating in front of the office of the Senator immediately before we have a scheduled meeting! It was like this had never happened before. We were also asked not to photograph the encounter (already one taken though)! Joan used the opportunity to explain why we were there and talk about the actions at Hancock airbase, one of the sites where drones are managed. As the snow and wind picked up, we were invited to proceed earlier than scheduled to the Senator’s offices and after due consultation, we unanimously agreed to this.

After warming up, Ms Renwick invited us to a Conference Room and we continued the discussion. After introductions, we began by inquiring what the Senator’s position was. Ms Renwick indicated that he has not made any public statements on the militarization of drones since 2009. He has successfully obtained federal funds for drone research for NY universities (i.e. Syracuse, Cornell, Rochester). And two testing sites for drones have been awarded to NY. It was also noted that Senator Schumer is aware of some of the recent “accidents” by drones, the most recent in DC at the White House, but also one in NYC in which a drone almost hit a NYPD helicopter!

We summarized our efforts to enhance public awareness on drone use around the world and to generate public support for a ban on the use weaponized drones everywhere and surveillance drones in NYC, NY State and USA: the 2013 campaign with KnowDrones city-wide, collection of signatures on a petition calling for a global ban and our meeting at the United Nations; development and lobbying among the public and city council members for a resolution that would ban surveillance and weaponized drone use in the city over a 3 year period; public education and informal surveys on the public’s views on drone use abroad and possibly in NYC.  (Noted to Ms Renwick that citizens surveyed at sites in Harlem, Brooklyn, City Hall said overwhelmingly that they did not want surveillance or weaponized drones used in the city)

In a more detailed review of the NYC Council amendments to the City Code on drone use, it was felt both were inadequate: Councilman Vallone’s draft bans weaponized and surveillance drones, but exempts city agencies, e.g. NYPD; Councilman Garodnick’s amendments requires a warrant for use of surveillance drones (no reference to weaponized drones). A state bill currently in draft form on surveillance drone use appeared to be the most comprehensive and protective of civil liberties, but without a reference to weaponization.

Moving to our “ask” it was noted that the use of drones overseas foreshadows possible domestic uses, especially with the militarization of NYPD (noted with concern the recent press article that NYPD will have machine guns for use against terrorists and protestors). How can the Senator use his influence, which is substantial in the State and City, to ban the use of drones for surveillance of people: individuals and groups and to ban any weaponized drones anywhere…..similar to global bans on land mines and cluster bombs.   (We noted, we are not talking about use of drone use by hobbyists, around airports….etc as these seemed to be under the FAA)

Ms Renwick did ask us….in a war (declared war situation) would we rather have US boots on the ground or use drones……but she understood that we were basically against war.

Ms Renwick was not sure how the Senator could really assist and she suggested we might contact Rep Peter King, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.

We basically ended hoping the Senator would use his influence to ensure laws that protected our civil liberties and rights and that would ban weaponized drone use everywhere, including NYC. A wide range of drone materials were provided to her: from our website, the draft Code amendments and draft State legislation, Will I Be Next: US Drone Strikes in Pakistan (Amnesty International), You Never Die Twice: Multiple Kills in US Drone Program (Reprieve), and Living Under Drones (Stanford Law School/NYU School of Law).

And then we took photos in the hallway, near the elevators…..esp. for Joan who could show them to her judge, respecting his request that we contact our Representatives.

We thanked Ms Renwick for her time and asked her to inform us of any feedback from the Senator.

– Marty Rajandran
for the Granny Peace Brigade

*Edith, Eva-Lee, Joan, Marty, Phyllis and Mel from our neighbors list

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


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


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

New Yorkers Speak Out On DRONE Use By NYPD


“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

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


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


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

Keep New York Free of Weaponized and Surveillance Drones — Resolution to City Council



You’ve heard of U.S. military drones spying on and killing people overseas. That could happen here in our hometown, so let’s stop it before it starts. There is precedent. On March 18, 2013, in Seattle, Washington, Mayor Mike McGinn ordered the city police department to scrap plans it had to roll out drones, and instead to focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the city’s priority. In Charlottesville, Virginia a version of the resolution presented below, calling for a moratorium on drones in Charlottesville, was passed on February 4, 2013.

Let us join other cities and persuade our City Council to pass a resolution banning the use of weaponized and surveillance drones in New York City. The Granny Peace has spoken with a representative in every New York City Council Member’s office about the resolution. Most often we spoke with the legislative director. Next we sent this resolution to all New York City Council Representatives and also to a staff member.

Below is an Anti-Weaponized and Surveillance Drone Resolution written by David Swanson and modified for use in New York City by the Granny Peace Brigade. The original resolution was presented to the Charlottesville City Council in December 2012. It is clear that drones are here to stay. Only by constant vigilance and outcry will we be able to stop the use of drones in NYC for all but humanitarian reasons. A resolution such as this would be a good first step.


Keep New York City Free of Weaponized and Surveillance Drones

A Resolution by David Swanson
Modified for New York City by the Granny Peace Brigade


DRONES, OR UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES (UAV) are aircrafts without pilots. Some are operated by computers on board, others by a human being in another location. The human operator can be thousands of miles away.


WHEREAS, United States airspace is the busiest in the world, “air traffic controllers handle 50,000 flights a day;”


WHEREAS, unmanned aircraft (drones) have an accident rate seven times higher than general aviation and 353 times higher than commercial aviation; On March 4, 2013 an unidentified drone came within 200 feet of an Alitalia passenger plane preparing for landing at Kennedy airport.


WHEREAS, the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 directs the FAA to create regulations that will enable drones to fly throughout U.S. airspace by September, 2015;


WHEREAS, small drones, 25 pounds or under, are now permitted to fly in general airspace below 400 feet for the use of police and first responders, with FAA permission;


WHEREAS, drones do not have the same capability to avoid other aircraft as aircraft piloted by humans on board;


WHEREAS, drones have at times gotten out of human control, in at least one instance having to be shot down, and drones are susceptible to electronic interference and having control seized electronically by unauthorized operators;


WHEREAS, drones can be used to film individuals or groups around the clock, in public spaces and through the windows of private homes, and to continuously monitor cell-phone and text messaging;


WHEREAS, drones are being developed that will use computerized facial images to target individuals and, once launched, to operate, autonomously, without further human involvement, to locate and kill those individuals;


WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of New York City;


WHEREAS, the federal and New York State governments have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States;


WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;


WHEREAS, the federal use of drones provides a poor precedent for their domestic use, drone wars having turned public opinion in Yemen and Pakistan dramatically against the U.S. government, drone strikes having killed far more non-targeted people than those targeted, targeted victims having included men, women, and children known by name and unknown, no targeted individual having been charged with any crime, no legislative or judicial or public oversight having been permitted, “double-tap” strikes having been used to target rescuers of victims of previous strikes, children and adults having been traumatized by the presence of drones, over a million people having fled their homes in heavily droned areas, drones having killed Americans in accidental “friendly fire,” drone operators having been targeted and killed on a base in Afghanistan, and drone pilots having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder at a higher rate than other pilots as a result of watching families for long periods of time before killing them.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the New York City Council calls on the United States Congress and the New York State Legislature, to adopt legislation prohibiting the use of drones for surveillance, and prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the New York City Council calls on the U.S. government to immediately end its practice of extrajudicial killing, whether by drone or any other means.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the New York City Council declares New York City a No Weaponized and Surveillance Drone Zone, and performs the necessary legal tasks to transform this declaration into Code wherein weaponized and surveillance drones are hereby banned from airspace over New York City, including drones in transit, to the extent compatible with federal law.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that exemptions will be made for hobbyists to fly remote controlled model aircraft and other unmanned aerial vehicles in specified areas, away from dwellings and the urban cityscape of people and buildings as long as those devices are not equipped to monitor any person, private residence or group of persons or equipped with any weapon.


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that drones will not be purchased, leased, borrowed, tested, contracted or otherwise used by any agency of the City of New York.

For more information and to get involved, contact the Granny Peace Brigade grannypeace@gmail.com

Download the resolution
Keep New York City Free of Weaponized And Surveillance Drones