Spring Days of Action at Hancock Air National Guard Base

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Connecting the Dots with Cornel West and Delivering a People’s Order of Protection for the Children of the World.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars had a surprise ending to their  April action this year.   On April 27, they hosted Cornel West at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church, to talk about Connecting the Dots: Poverty, Racism and Drones.   The 600 people in attendance gave a standing ovation to Dr. West as he took the stage.   He said “none of us wants to engage in that sanitized sterilized, deodorized, truncated discourse that passes for political dialog” in a market driven “news” which creates a “consensus that hides and conceals the catastrophes taking place every day” in the world.

Also on the program, Buffalo Hip Hop artist Quadir Lateef presented a new rap about drones and drone victims that he had created for the occasion called “While You Were Watching TV” and Vicki Ross sang her latest song, “Drones Bury Beautiful Lives”, a ballad based on the testimony of Afghan youth, Raz Mohammad, about the death of his brother-in-law in a drone attack.

Following Dr. West’s speech, he joined our rally at BOCES parking lot across from the East Gate of Hancock base.  About 200 people attended, and of those, 192, including Dr. West, walked to the base with People’s Orders of Protection for the Children of the World, and laid flowers along the boundaries of the property in memory of those who have been murdered by drones.  There were no arrests though many with OOPs marched.   The police had threatened that anyone with an Order of Protection would be arrested if they joined the permitted march.  Some with OOPs stayed behind at BOCES, but the good news is that there were 50-100 new people marching who haven’t protested at Hancock in the past.

The surprise mentioned in the title of this note was a courtroom victory Monday evening when John Amidon, who was arrested during the march last April dressed as the Grim Reaper, was acquitted of Loitering and Criminal Attempted Trespass charges.   Shortly after arrival in the permitted area in front of the base, Amidon was tackled by police and dragged away in handcuffs.   The Loitering charge was due to his wearing a mask.  Judge David Gideon allowed that ‘Street Theater’ is not a crime.  John’s lawyer, Kathy Manly, said that she produced so much first amendment case law that the judge made an allowance for ‘entertainment’ was an easy out.

PHOTOS BY KIMBERLY MCCOY: