March 6 Event: Drones Targeting Our Bill of Rights

Join Drone Alert Hudson Valley and Hudson River Playback Theatre at the African Roots Library in Poughkeepsie for a night of theater to dramatize the stories of activists facing prison time for peacefully protesting US drone killings.

Some activists from Upstate Drone Action have already been sentenced to prison and handed heavy fines for the “crime” of engaging in peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience outside of Hancock Airbase in Syracuse, NY. Others have yet to go on trial. The airbase is used to pilot drones that have killed thousands of civilians in the Middle East. Several activists from Syracuse will be joining us for this special event to see their stories acted out.

The event will take place on Friday, March 6 @6:00 PM at the African Roots Library in the Family Partnership Center, 29 N Hamilton Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. For more information, call Andrew at 845 699 3051 or e-mail

Vote Hawkins/Jones for Governor!

campaign-logo-940v2Hello Friends,

Tuesday, November 4 is Election Day. New York State voters have an opportunity to take a strong, effective, yet remarkably easy action toward social and environmental justice by voting for the Green Party gubernatorial ticket on Row F.

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins stood with other protestors against predator drones at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse. In a town meeting in New Paltz this past July (organized by Margaret Human et al.- thanks, Margaret!), Howie answered a question posed by Andrew of Drone Alert, and Howie made it clear he is against assassination by drone, as well as surveillance and intimidation by drone, and militarization of police departments- unlike the other gubernatorial candidates.

Check out Howie’s full platform online at Also check out the Oct 22 gubernatorial candidates debate online, to hear Howie easily win by clearly & intelligently speaking about the issues, against a backdrop of poorlyacted & badlyscripted drivel from the Republicrats (or is it Democrans?)

The Green Party platform is clearly antifracking and anti-nuclear; progreen, safe, sustainable energy; against Common Core and for evaluation of students and teachers by respected, experienced teachers (rather than by profitdriven private corporations); for $15 minimum wage; for fair taxes (decreases for the poor and middle class, increases for the wealthywhat a concept!); pro-Earth friendly agriculture; prohumane treatment of wildlife (Cuomo‘s administration supports the current situation of leg traps that result in death by drowning of beavers and other wildlife— yep, this is legal in our fair state and Cuomo supports it). For a comprehensive and clearly written description of the Green Party platform, go to the website.

But if you want to support Wall St banksters, more pipelines filled with highly combustible fracked petrochemicals, storage of toxic fracked byproducts in rural NY, quite probably actual fracking, etc., then vote for Cuomo. If you want all of the above plus more nuclear radiation & return of assault weapons, then vote for Astorino. (By the way, it matters not if you vote for Cuomo on the wolfinsheep’s clothing Working Families’ party line, or on the Democrat lineCuomo is still Cuomo. And if you consider yourself pro social justice and environmental health and you vote for Cuomo, well then, in a remarkable display of self-defeating foolishness, you have just voted for your political enemy).

Let’s not blow this magnificent opportunity, people! Come Election Day this Tuesday, vote Green! Not Machine!

To peace & sanity,
Barbara Kidney
Drone Alert Hudson Valley

Sign Our Petition to Ban Drones in NY State!

Drone Alert Hudson Valley is proud to announce that we’re launching an online version of our petition to ban the use of both surveillance and military drones in New York State. This petition, modeled after Woodstock, NY’s historic resolution that has already taken effect, would prevent law enforcement or any individuals from using drones for surveillance purposes and ban any military drones bound to attack overseas from flying in New York State airspace.

With the increasing militarization of the police and the Federal Aviation Adminstration (FAA) set to open up U.S. airspace for private and government drones in 2015, now is the time to act!

Sign here!

September 28 in Cornwall: Memorial for Civilian Victims of U.S. Drones


For more information, contact:

Peter Phillips at, or by phone at (845) 534-7474, or

Drone Alert Hudson Valley at or by phone at (845) 699 3051

Civilians who have been killed by U.S. drone attacks will be remembered in a memorial service from 1 to 2:15 p.m. on September 28 at the Cornwall Friends Meeting House. All are welcome to join. The memorial will begin with a short lecture and Q&A about the impact of drone strikes. This will be followed by a reading of testimony from survivors and then music and meditation. The memorial is sponsored jointly by Cornwall Quakers and Drone Alert Hudson Valley.

Before the memorial, all are welcome to join in silent Quaker worship at 10:30 a.m. and a potluck lunch at noon.  The Meeting House is located on Quaker Avenue in Cornwall, NY, next to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital.

The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work after World War II, takes the position that “ending drone warfare is a necessary step toward building a more peaceful world.”

More information about the Quaker response to drone strikes is available at the following websites:

Activists Sound Alarm as More Police Departments Consider Using Drones

by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams

An unmanned drone hovers in the air. (Photo: David Rodriguez Martin)

An unmanned drone hovers in the air. (Photo: David Rodriguez Martin)

Police departments in the U.S. are increasingly considering the use of drones as a law enforcement tool, even as civil rights groups and media turn up scrutiny of police militarization in the wake of brutal crackdowns on anti-brutality protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities.

The Baltimore Sun reported on Sunday that agencies in several Maryland counties are considering testing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for intelligence gathering and “high-risk tactical raids.” That news comes less than a week after anti-war activists in California protested against “mission creep” by the Los Angeles Police Department, which recently acquired several of their own drones. Indiana police departments also recently announced their plan to pursue adding drones to their weapons arsenal.

In a letter (pdf) to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Drone-Free LA spokesperson Hamid Kahn expressed “deep concerns about the recent ‘gifting’ of two Draganflyer X Drones” by the Seattle Police Department to the LAPD. “We believe the acquisition of drones signifies a giant step forward in the militarization of local law enforcement that is normalizing continued surveillance and violations of human rights of our communities,” Kahn wrote.

The SPD originally purchased the unmanned aerial vehicles using a federal grant called the Urban Areas Security Initiative — a common example of the effects of the government’s pervasive, $34-billion militarization program that enables domestic police departments to acquire and trade tools and weapons intended for warfare. In a June press conference, LAPD chief Charlie Beck said drones would be useful in “standoffs, perimeters, suspects hiding,” and defended the department’s acquisition of the UAVs by stating, “When retailers start talking about using them to deliver packages, we would be silly not to at least have a discussion of whether we want to use them in law enforcement.”

But while many police departments claim that they would use the vehicles strictly for high-risk scenarios, critics have sounded the alarm over the risks of drone use, particularly by entities they say are as historically oppressive as American law enforcement agencies.

Tara Tabassi, national organizer with the War Resisters League, told Common Dreams that with the “current nationwide public outcry against police militarization, it is the many invisible methods of domestic warfare, such as the use of drones by police departments, that must be a major focus… Warfare indeed knows no borders, nor does the US government’s lack of transparency and accountability as they choose to protect the identities and crimes of drone operators over the civil liberties and human rights of unarmed populations across the globe.”

Police militarization and violent police responses to peaceful protests have faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks after activists and reporters in Ferguson were tear gassed and shot at while demanding justice for Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot to death by a police officer earlier this month.

“A lot of what can be done with this equipment is very much questionable, as far as adherence to the Fourth Amendment,” Nathan Sheard, a campaign organizer with anti-war group CodePink, told Common Dreams. “The fact that it’s being paid for by Department of Homeland Security shows a very obvious connection with militarization. When police departments start to be armed… as military forces, rather than protecting and serving, they start occupying and oppressing.”

In California, Kahn pointed to the LAPD’s history of “lies, brutality, and violence against communities,” and said that the department is “incapable of creating any policy that would protect our human and civil rights.”

Sheard also noted “the very real possibility of installing infrared cameras” on UAVs, models of which have already appeared in the U.S.

The risks are “beyond what’s just visible to the eye,” Sheard said. “These are cameras that would pick up heat signals rather than video. How does that play into the Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure?”

David Rocah, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, told WJZ that drones pose an inherent risk to the right to privacy. “That is completely incompatible with a free society and I think poses real dangers and is a real possibility unless we act to prevent it,” Rocah said.

Regulation of drone technology is a concern as well. Claims from police departments that the UAVs would be used transparently and “would not sacrifice public trust,” as LAPD spokesperson Bruce Borhian told KNX, are not enough, Sheard said.

“Who is monitoring [the police]?” Sheard told Common Dreams. “Who’s holding them accountable? What ability do citizens have to view that information? Where do those recordings go? There are just too many questions.” He noted a successful CodePink campaign to end the use of drones by a department in Washington state that simply resulted in the vehicles being traded to an agency in California. “The equipment just changed hands,” Sheard said.

“Now is the time to stop the engine of surveillance technology and state repression,” Tabassi told Common Dreams. “By continuing to build across all communities mobilizing against police militarization, we can effectively resist the solidifying relationship between the Pentagon and police departments, demanding an end to all drones, and militarization more broadly.”

Pending Senate approval, the presence of drones in US airspace is projected to increase by 10,000 in 2015, Tabassi said. Although the use of drones by police departments is still in relative infancy, waiting on testing and Federal Aviation Administration rules, more than 500 agencies were approved to use them in the last year alone.

Stocks Rise for Israeli Drone-Maker as Gaza Slaughter Continues

by Rania Khalek, Electronic Intifada

Bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike on the floor of a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, earlier today. (Ramadan El-Agha / APA images)

Bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli air strike on the floor of a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, earlier today. (Ramadan El-Agha / APA images)

As Israel ruthlessly destroys the besieged Gaza Strip, its largest developer of military technology, Elbit Systems, is benefitting from the bloodshed.

US-traded shares of Elbit have climbed 6.1 percent since 8 July, when Israel began its latest offensive against the Gaza Strip. 

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Israel’s three-week long massacre of 1,200 Palestinians in Gaza, including nearly 300 children, “has pushed [Elbit’s] stock close to the highest level since 2010 while its valuation on a price-to-earnings basis is near the most expensive in five years.” 

The rising stock is driven by speculation that the Haifa-based company will see increasing demand for its products from both the Israeli and foreign governments impressed by the performance of Elbit’s blood-soaked performance in Gaza. 

Palestine is a laboratory

Like most Israeli military contractors, Elbit benefits from Israel’s decades-long brutal occupation of Palestine, which serves as a laboratory for Israel’s ballooning “homeland security” industry to test and perfect methods of domination and control, with Palestinians as their involuntary lab rats.  

Israel’s suppression technology is then exported to regimes that are similarly invested in subjugating the poor and marginalized, like the United States, where Elbit was recently granted a lucrative $145 million contract to provide surveillance technology at the Arizona-Mexico border. 

This is the same Elbit surveillance technology used to construct and maintain Israel’s apartheid wall in the occupied West Bank, which the International Court of Justice has deemed illegal under international law.

Exporting repression

Experimenting on Palestinians has paved the way for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, to become the world’s number one exporter of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones. 

Elbit’s Hermes drone is one of the most widely used by the Israeli army, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where the Hermes 450, outfitted to carry two medium range missiles, has been heavily deployed against civilians in Gaza.

Marketed as “combat-proven” on the company’s website, the Hermes 450 drone boasts “300,000 operational flight hours and a class-leading safety and reliability record,” a bold declaration for a product that, according to Human Rights Watch, was used by the Israeli army to deliberately target civilians in Gaza during Israel’s 2008-2009 onslaught, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, including at least 400 children. 

The Hermes drone was also used to kill civilians in Israel’s war on Lebanon in 2006, including Red Cross workers, ambulance drivers and dozens of people fleeing their homes in a desperate and futile search for safety from Israeli bombardment. 

Apparently impressed by the aircraft’s capacity for bloodshed, the Brazilian government purchased a fleet of Hermes drones to help crush the massive protests that erupted across Brazil against the recent World Cup. 

In a deal worth $280 million, the Swiss government last month purchased the Hermes 900, a surveillance version of the more deadly Hermes 450.

Elbit is also involved in a $1.6 billion joint venture with Thales, a French weapons company, to develop a drone similar to the Hermes 450 for the UK defense ministry.  

Exporting death

Palestinian children whose tiny bodies are torn to shreds by Elbit’s equipment are central to the company’s advertising strategy. 

In June, Elbit secured a $20 million contract to supply the Philippines armed forces with, among other things, unmanned turrets, remote control weapons stations and fire control systems. All of these systems furnish various models of the Israeli army’s most widely-used Merkava tank, several of which are currently inside the Gaza Strip, shelling hospitals and UN-designated shelters and reducing entire civilian neighborhoods, like Shujaiya, to rubble

Elbit’s unmanned turrets — electronically-controlled missile launchers mounted on top of tanks — are advertised as offering “combat-proven firepower.” 

The company similarly markets its remote-controlled weapons station as “field-proven,” adding that it “incorporates over thirty years of development in stabilization systems.” As for Elbit’s fire control systems, they have “repeatedly met the test of combat.” 

Decades of “field-testing” its killing machines on Palestinians is a selling point for Israel’s “homeland security” industry, and judging by the anticipation for profit that prompted Elbit’s shares to grow, it is a strategy that works. 

This is one of many reasons Palestinians have demanded an immediate and comprehensive military embargo on Israel.

Gaza is a ghettoized open-air laboratory of death and destruction. Equipment tested there is being exported to other parts of the world.

It is long past time to heed the Palestinian call to sever ties to this oppressive system at the source.

NY Drone Activist Mary Anne Grady Flores Released Pending Appeal of Charges

July 19, 2014
2:30 PM

CONTACT: The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars

Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-280-8797

Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-279-8303

Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, 315-472-5478 or 315-383-5738

ITHACA, New York – July 19 – Last night Mary Anne Grady Flores was released on $5,000 bail from the Syracuse Justice Center after appearing before County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller who granted a stay of execution of her one year sentence, pending appeal of the Order of Protection granted to Col. Earl A. Evans by the DeWitt Town Court judges requiring drone protesters to stay away from the Hancock Airbase.

Mary Anne Grady Flores at sentencing at DeWitt Town Court, July 10, 2014

Mary Anne Grady Flores at sentencing at DeWitt Town Court, July 10, 2014

“The local judges of the Town of DeWitt have helped shut down the protests of the murder of Afghan civilians by drones piloted from the airbase. They have prevented us from exercising our First Amendment rights by issuing the Orders of Protection on behalf of the base,” said John Hamilton of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones.

Hancock is a training center for drone pilots, technicians and maintenance workers, as well as a hub of drone activities. From the base the unmanned aircraft are flown over Afghanistan, where they kill people, including numerous civilians.

Grady Flores, grandmother of three, was the first alleged violator of the 50 drone activists who have been given the Order of Protection in 2012. She was tried and sentenced for a year in jail. Despite being out on bail, she still faces returning to jail. Her appeals process will take months.

“There are 30 upcoming trials over the next year. DeWitt Town judges threaten to sentence activists to a year in jail, many of them in their 60’s and 70’s,” said Judy Bello of Rochester. Bello noted that donations are essential to meet the costs of bail for so many as well as $5,000 transcripts for the appeals to move forward.

“This is far from over! The drones are still flying and the killing continues. We invite people to join the non-violent witness at the base,” said Rae Kramer of the Syracuse Peace Council.


The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars is made up of antiwar organizations and formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Field Air Force Base.