This is a preliminary report on last week’s six–day (Sept. 23-28) street witness that was organized at some of the busiest locations in New York City by the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB) to call for an international ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
The witness, which involved leafletting and sidewalk education, was timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, and it turned out to coincide with the plea before the General Assembly by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, for a halt to US drone strikes against Pakistan.
The GPB witness involved at least 20 volunteers from New York City, New Jersey, Westchester County, NY and even Rochester, NY, and was supported by KnowDrones.org, World Can’t Wait, New York Peace Action, Brooklyn for Peace, CodePink NYC and the War Resisters League, all joining the GPB in the No Drones Coalition.
In the course of the week we set up MQ-9 Reaper drone replicas to act as focal points for leafletting and conversation – three per weekday and one on Saturday – in 16 of the places most heavily trafficked by pedestrians, including Times Square, the New York Public Library, and the Guggenheim Museum.
The action was preceded by letters from the GPB to Ban Ki Moon, UN General Secretary, to appropriate UN agencies and to consulates of nations that are believed to be sympathetic to a ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
Over 5,000 leaflets were distributed, and of course, there were hundreds of conversations. We also collected signatures on petitions to the UN seeking the ban.
To my knowledge this is the first such concerted effort that has been undertaken in the US toward achieving an international ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
Nick Mottern is the coordinator of kNOwdrones.com.