On Wednesday, Ed Kinane and Dick Keough of Syracuse were arrested at Hancock Field. They were standing with their signs across from the gate at the base as they have for two years, twice a month. At the beginning of these vigils a couple years ago, they were told by the sheriff and deputies that as long as they stayed off the road and didn't cause a safety hazard or attempt to enter the base it was ok.
However the base seems to be getting rattled by the presence of the demonstrators. As soldiers and other workers leave leave their jobs each day, they see the signs informing and reminding them of the crimes they are committing and the victims they are killing with the drones . The demonstrators stand there from 4:15 to 5pm.
Thirty-three people were arrested on April 22 as we walked orderly in single file to deliver an indictment for war crimes to the base. Most of us never made it there, victims of a mass violation of their first amendment rights.
On May 2nd, Ed and Dick were arrested by the Onondaga County Sheriffs Department. They were told the base had filed a complaint to have them removed. The sheriff's deputies obliged. Before they were arrested they had a lengthy discussion on first amendment rights. The activists said they have been coming here for years and would continue, leaving at 5pm as usual. At three minutes before five the cop told them they had to leave now or be arrested. Dick said it wasn't 5 o'clock yet. The armed men handcuffed the peaceful protesters and put them in their vehicles.
If the Air Force had sent its soldiers into the civilian streets to round up citizens, it wouldn't look good since they weren't doing anything wrong. So they had the Sheriff's deputies do the dirty work.
What this amounts to is the military taking over the civilian streets around their base and the local deputies bowing to their new masters. During our arraignments, the judge gave us a document showing us an email and his response to it. The email demonstrated an illegal attempt to influence the court by one of the town's councilors asking the judge to dismiss the case.
"...I am of the opinion we do not spend Town resources on what is a federal issue. As head of the budget committee I am asking that we do not spend any dollars on prosecuting this nor additional court room security. Please advise and let me know what has been charged to the Town to date and how we can dismiss at no more charges. Thank you, Kerry Mannion."
As the resistance to the killer drones grows here in upstate NY and across the country, and the militarization of our police forces increase, we can expect the military to increase efforts to suppress opposition. I hope the actions by people like Ed and Dick inspire others to participate in acts of civil resistance and it becomes the norm in America.
As Paul Frazier put it, "Looks like the beginning of a Ghandian wave!"