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Woodstock Becomes Eighth City to Pass Anti-Drone Resolution
On May 20, a drone ban resolution was approved in a 4 to 1 vote by the Woodstock, NY Town Board. (There was one abstention).
The resolution (below) was introduced by board member Jay Wenk, who said he adapted it from a resolution that was approved in Charlottesville, VA.
Here is a report of the board action from The Woodstock Times:
Drone free Woodstock seeks ban on law enforcement drones
by Nick Henderson
‘I do not believe, from the bottom of my shoe soles, that the use of this equipment in particular is in any way designed or implemented to protect us…’
As surveillance technology becomes more widely used by law enforcement, Woodstock lawmakers, at their May 20 meeting, took one step toward making the town a drone-free zone.
The use of drones in war zones, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan is well known, but the unmanned craft are now being used by police agencies in the United States.
The Shadow Hawk drone, made by Vanguard Industries, which can be outfitted with a grenade launcher, tear gas and rubber buckshot, is being marketed to police agencies.
But Woodstock went in the opposite direction, passing a resolution expressing the desire that the town be a "No Drone Zone."
"The rapid development of drone technology throughout the United States poses a threat to the privacy and Constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Woodstock," reads the resolution, proposed by Councilman Jay Wenk.
The resolution states that drones can also be used to "film individuals or groups around the clock, in public spaces or through the windows of private homes, and to continuously monitor cell phone and text messages." It calls on Congress, the state and county legislatures to prohibit use of drones for domestic surveillance and law enforcement. It also calls for the prohibition of weaponized drones.
The original resolution declared Woodstock a "No Drone Zone," but wording was changed after concerns from Councilman Bill McKenna. "To me, it brings the resolution down a little bit." he said. We can't declare Woodstock a no drone zone. I know it's a great sentiment."
McKenna agreed with the other points made in the resolution, but thought the declaration would open the town to ridicule. "For us to go and declare something is meaningless and it almost makes the rest of it a joke in some people's eyes and I don't want that to happen," he said.
Wenk agreed to the change in language.
Deputy Supervisor Laura Ricci said she wants to protect law enforcement's ability to use technology for legitimate purposes, but Wenk countered that these drones have no such use in his view. "I do not believe, from the bottom of my shoe soles, that the use of this equipment in particular is in any way designed or implemented to protect us," Wenk said. Rather, it is "designed to create more of a police state."
Added Wenk, "We are living in a state where agencies like the NSA, for example...have run roughshod over the constitutional respect for Americans. To say nothing of the fact that these drones have been used in horrible ways overseas."
Woodstock is not the first municipality to work toward banning drones. Charlottesville, Virginia, Iowa City, and St. Bonifacius, Minnesota are other examples, Wenk noted.
All voted in favor of the resolution except Councilman Ken Panza, who abstained. When asked, Panza said he didn't have enough understanding of the resolution, which was added late, to cast a vote.
The resolution does not apply to recreational drones, provided they are not used to monitor people or residences.
Desire Town of Woodstock to be a “No Drone Zone”
Offered by Councilman Wenk, seconded by Councilman McKenna:
Whereas, the use of drones by the United States military provides a dangerous precedent for their domestic use; and
Whereas, the rapid development of drone technology throughout the United States poses a threat to the privacy and Constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Woodstock; and
Whereas, the Federal Government and the State of New York have failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and
Whereas, drones can be used to film individuals or groups around the clock, in public spaces or through the windows of private homes, and to continuously monitor cell-phone and text messaging; and
Whereas, Police departments throughout the country have begun implementing Drone technology absent any guidance from law-makers; and
Whereas, Vanguard Defense Industries has confirmed that its Shadow Hawk Drone, which is already being sold to law enforcement agencies throughout the country, will be outfitted with weapons, including a Grenade launcher, or Tear gas and rubber buckshot, thus sending a clear and chilling message to those attempting to exercise their First Amendment rights by taking to the streets to protest government policies; now therefore be it Resolved, that the Town Board of the Town of Woodstock New York,
· Desires Woodstock to be a “No Drone Zone;”
· Strongly warn that the unrestricted, unregulated use of drones is a serious threat to the Constitutional rights of all Americans;
· Call upon the United States Congress and the New York State legislature to recognize the extreme danger and urgency of the issue, and to adopt legislation that would prohibit the use of drones for domestic surveillance and law enforcement purposes;
· Call upon the United States Congress and the New York State legislature to adopt legislation that would strictly prohibit 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 intimidate, harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact human beings;
· Call upon the United States Congress and the New York State legislature to adopt legislation to prohibit information obtained by drones to be used as evidence in Federal or State judicial proceedings; and
be it further Resolved, this resolution does not apply to hobbyists that fly remote controlled model aircraft, away from areas where they could harm people, as long as those devices are not equipped to monitor any person or residence; and
be it further Resolved, that the Town Board authorize the Town Clerk to forward a certified copy of this resolution to Ulster County Executive, State and Federal representatives, to the Governor of New York State, and to the President of the United States.
All voted 4-1-0:
Supervisor Wilber - aye
Councilwoman Magarelli - aye
Councilman Wenk - aye
Councilman McKenna - aye
Councilman Panza - abstained