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Trial to continue for 32 Hancock Air Base drone protesters

The defendants in the case of the Hancock 38 wore blue scarves in solidarity for the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers.

The defendants in the case of the Hancock 38 wore blue scarves in solidarity for the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. Photo by Amanda Seef.

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Protesters from central and western New York assembled in front of the Syracuse Federal Building Tuesday afternoon to show support for the 38 charged at Hancock Air Base in April. Those individuals will deliver opening statements in their trial in the town of DeWitt Tuesday night at 5 p.m.

38 arrested at Drone Protest

The Syracuse Peace Council provided video of April's protest. Check it out on YouTube.

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The majority of those charged in April assembled outside of the Syracuse Federal Building with supporters Tuesday afternoon.

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Andy DelliColli, 30, and Rose Viviano, 59, both of Syracuse, join Brian Terrell, of Maloy, Iowa, in front of the Syracuse Federal Building Tuesday afternoon. Terrell was charged and flew back into Syracuse for the trial proceedings Sunday.

Opening statements in the case of the Hancock 38, which is down to 32 after plea agreements, guilty pleas and dismissals, are expected Wednesday night at DeWitt Town Court.

In April, the 38 protesters from Syracuse – but as far away as Honolulu, Hawaii – were charged with two counts of disorderly conduct after proceeding with a “die-in” at the main entrance to Hancock Air Base, in DeWitt. More than 300 protested the unmanned drones, which are being used in the war on terror overseas. Pilots of the drones train and work at the Hancock Air Base. The drones are often used to kill targeted members of terrorism groups, but the group protesting argues drones are used as "assassination" machines and innocent civilians often die in their attacks.

At the end of the protest, the 38 laid down in the driveway to participate in a “die-in,” where the protesters laid down in “bloodied” clothing to symbolize those who die from drones overseas. Police arrested the protesters after they refused to comply with their order to disperse and for restricting vehicular or pedestrian traffic, police said.

“It was to show our discomfort with the way the war is being prosecuted,” said Judy Bello, of Webster, northeast of Rochester. “We were showing our discomfort with the drones flown from our backyard and the way they’re used in general.”

The Air Base employs pilots who fly drones over Afghanistan and maintenance technicians are trained there, according to the Syracuse Peace Council.

“We are now in the midst of a war zone,” Syracuse resident Ed Kinane said. “It’s leading to a breakdown of international law. We have a responsibility to speak out and educate the public.”

Kinane says the charges shouldn’t stand.

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