DEWITT, N.Y. -- A group of about 50 anti-drone activists cordoned off by barriers protested without any arrests or incidents Sunday afternoon.
The protesters, led by Upstate Drone Action and the Syracuse Peace Council, obtained a permit from the town of DeWitt, which allowed them to demonstrate for about two and a half hours starting at 1 p.m. The protest was part of a Global Action Day against the use of drones for surveillance and killing.
The 174th Attack Wing at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base designated a portion of the base for use by the protesters.
The participants unloaded signs, five-gallon buckets used for drumming, and a pulpit and speaker into the yellow "Free Speech Zone," so-named by the organizers. Activists spoke out against military tactics that result in civilian deaths, sang songs and staged a "die-in," suddenly falling to the ground as others yelled "The drones are coming!"
Anti-drone demonstrators stage a "die-in," where participants simulate being killed or injured by a drone strike. Michael Grenlar email@example.com About a dozen sheriff's deputies and another two dozen soldiers formed a half-circle around the protest. Yellow police tape surrounded the base.
Protesters were joined in that area by half a dozen military supporters, who held signs in support of the base and its actions.
Mark Colville, a 52-year-old Connecticut man convicted on a number of protest-related charges on Sept. 22, was a featured speaker at the demonstration. In December 2013, he walked up to the base's gates with a poinsettia, a dozen roses, a "people's order of protection" and a plea from an Afghan man who had lost family members in a drone strike.
For those actions, a jury found him guilty of five charges, including violating an order of protection which required him to stay away from the base commander, Col. Earl Evans.
The last charge didn't keep him from joining the crowd; If anything, it motivated him to be there.
Mark Colville speaks at the anti-drone demonstration. He was recently convicted of five charges related to a protest around Christmas 2013.Michael Grenlar firstname.lastname@example.org "It's incredibly important to come back here and let them know just by my presence that they are not going to supervise my conscience with these judges who act inappropriately and use their power wrongly," Colville said.
The protesters have drafted their own "people's order of protection," which demands the U.S. government keep drones and "500-pound bombs" away from the children of the world.
Colville and other protesters were pleased that the base designated an area for them to exercise their right to free speech.
"It's about time that they started disarming themselves a little bit," he said, "and opening themselves up to the people that supposedly this base is designed to protect."
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