UPDATE: 37 arrested after peaceful protest against drones
Fri, 22 Apr 2011 20:54:29 GMT —
It was a peaceful protest that ended with dozens in handcuffs.
More than 200 people traveled from as far as Iowa and Vermont to participate. "People are coming together with the strong statement of end these wars," said Protestor Nancy Gwin.
They also want to ground unmanned aircraft, known as drones, that fly over Iraq and Afghanistan. Friday, peace advocates were lying down in the driveway of the Hancock Air Base under what looked like blood-soaked sheets. A demonstration to signify the innocent civilians that protestors say are killed in drone attacks. The rally began at 9 AM at the Federal Building in downtown Syracuse and the march ended in the town of Dewitt at the Hancock Air Field.
"We are alienating everybody in the Middle East, by killing from afar," said protestor Jim Clune. "They look at it as the cowards way, when you bomb a village you lose it politically. We are turning so many people away from us."
"When you are making the general population mad at you, we are not winning hearts and minds," said protestor Elliott Adams.
But others argue the aircraft can accurately pinpoint targets and are needed to support our ground troops overseas.
"The MQ9 is a great weapons platform, a great aircraft and the work we do here at Hancock air field is to support our U.S. and allied forces on the ground," said Capt. Anthony Bucci with the 174th Fighter Wing. When asked about the protest on the base's front lawn he said, "This is disappointing but they are well within their constitutional right."
There was a large police presence throughout the afternoon, about 20 officers from the Dewitt Police Department and the Onondaga County Sheriff's Office. Behind the base's fence were military members wearing riot gear, in case the protest got out of hand.
Protesters who refused to follow police orders after their protest permit was up were arrested for disorderly conduct. 37 people were taken away in handcuffs. The oldest was 91 and the youngest was 17.
"Part of proving their point is they are willing to get arrested and we accommodated that," said Onondaga County Sheriff Kevin Walsh.
The debate over drones is far from grounded. This protest comes as President Barack Obama approves the armed un-manned aircraft to fly over Libya.
We've just learned 37 people have been arrested for disorderly conduct at the rally.
Stay with CNYcentral for more on this story.
More than 100 people gathered at Hancock Air Base to rally against the use of unmanned drones.
The rally came one day after the U.S. started flying armed drones in the conflict in Libya.
Demonstrators from the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars have been holding events throughout the week, culminating in Friday's rally. The anti-war activists say the Reaper drones controlled at Hancock put Central New York "on the frontline of the wars".