A small group of us from communities around the state gathered at the ArtRage Gallery; we decided to walk the 5 or 6 miles to the gates of the base where we would meet the larger group. We came earlier than the others so we could meet at the protest site at 1:30. The others would carpool to the site. The main group met at the gallery at noon. Jeffrey reports that they had lunch before carpooling to the base. There were:
“four different choices of soup and a packed house at the ArtRage Gallery (great name). Kathy Kelly was there but the brightest star was Dan Berrigan, who was really cool. The action at the base was really impressive for being almost entirely upstate NY activists. I would say at least 250 people, lots of drums and strong energy for saying no to the drones in upstate NY."The walk was short, the weather was perfect and the community was supportive. The purpose was inspiring: Begin the work to Ground the Drones in NY State. Work with other groups to Ground the Drones everywhere.
As Elliot Adams put it:
Drones are regularly used to commit assassinations. Assassinations are illegal in part because they violate our principal of "innocent until proven guilty." There is no trial, there is no evidence, there is no defense, there is not even positive identification to the intended person, there are just bodies. And usually many bodies, from recent reports often 100 innocent citizens are killed before they kill a person they think is the person they suspect is guilty.
We leafletted along the way. Many people didn’t know what the drones were. Others didn’t realize that they would be conducting assassinations right from their community. Most people seemed very interested.
As we arrived at our destination we were greeted by more people than I expected to see there. We all walked to the gates. There was an effort to meet with the base commander to present a letter. Although she agreed to come out and meet with us, she sent a lesser ranked soldier to collect. The soldier quickly snagged the letter and slipped back through the gates. Vicky had some letters from kids in Buffalo, but the soldier wouldn’t come back throught the gates, so the security collected them.
Then Dan and Jerry Berrigan came to the gate to present their letter, but security wouldn't allow them to meet with the base commander. When the security tried to send Carmen Trotta back, he said he was not leaving Jerry Berrigan, who was in a wheelchair. When they threatened to remove him, he knelt down and was arrested.
We went back to ArtRage and celebrated Cynthia Banas’ birthday. She sat up front with three other people. They were part of the 2002 Iraq Peace Team , a group of antiwar activists who chose to stand with the Iraqis when the Americans started the "shock and awe" bombing started.
We shared cake and planned to fight the drones.
-thanks to essential dissent for the video