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Buffalo woman arrested in protest

One Buffalonian was among 37 arrested at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse on Friday.

The arrests came after a rally in which the Associated Press estimated 250 people gathered to protest the flying of unmanned drones over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan since late 2009 by the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard.

The nonviolent protesters, draped with red-spattered sheets, lay down at the main entrance road to the New York Air National Guard's base at Hancock Field.

They were arrested by Onondaga County sheriff's deputies on charges of obstruction of governmental administration and, in most cases, disorderly conduct.

"We were there because the extrajudicial assassination that the drones specialize in are unjust, unwise and go against international law," said Victoria Ross of Buffalo, who was arrested. "Many innocent people are being killed, and it's a very bad direction for any government to be going in."

Maj. Jeff Brown, a spokesman for the 174th, said in a statement that the unit was proud of its mission.

"We are proud of the role we play protecting the lives of military men and women on the ground, in harm's way. This state-of-the-art technology saves American lives on a daily basis," he said.

Syracuse was the first location east of the Mississippi River to fly the unmanned surveillance aircraft armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs.

Four Buffalonians who participated in a walk from Rochester to the air base, part of a week of escalating actions meant to draw attention to the drones at Hancock Air Base. One of them, Russell Brown, a Vietnam war veteran, said he is still haunted by a sniper attack in the 1960s that led soldiers in his army unit to accidentally gun down women and children.

"If we can make that mistake from a few hundred yards, imagine what we can do from 7,000 miles away," said Brown, a member of Veterans for Peace.

e-mail: msommer@buffnews.com

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