by Megan Merrigan
Local activists marked the 417th consecutive peace vigil outside the Teaneck National Guard Armory Wednesday by setting up a replica drone in a call to end the U.S. unmanned air attacks.
The group has gotten together for the Teaneck Peace Vigil weekly for the past eight years to wave signs, display the number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rally for war funding to be redirected to domestic issues, including health care.
The group decided to commemorate the eight year anniversary of their weekly peace vigil by shipping an eight foot long drone model from New York City to Teaneck, in an effort to make the community more aware of the assaults.
“Drone attacks cost money, they cost lives and they increase tension with the countries that we’re trying to ease tensions with,” Madelyn Hoffman of New Jersey Peace Action said. “Not enough people know about them.”
There have been 475 known U.S. drone strikes between 2002 and 2013 in Pakistan and Yemen, according to a CNN report from May.
“The whole problem with that, is there’s never been a war declared against Yemen just like there’s never been a war declared against Pakistan” Hoffman said. “There’s a question about how legal it is and there’s a question about how widespread it is.”
“I think it’s a pretty cowardly way to wage a war,” Teaneck resident Norman Fisher, who has been attending the vigils for about two years, said of the drone attacks. “I can’t imagine the outrage if (other countries) were doing it to us here.”
One controversial September 2011 drone attack killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen described by President Obama as a top Al Qaeda operative. In recent weeks, the U.S. has used drones to target militants in Yemen amid a terror alert that prompted the closure of scores of American diplomatic families across the Middle East.
According to the same report, $26.16 billion for unmanned aircraft systems was requested for fiscal year 2013 in the president’s budget. The program is reportedly maintained jointly the military and CIA.
The replica drone was brought to the vigil by The Catholic Worker organization out of New York City. The Catholic Worker brings the model drone to parks across the city “to make a statement,” according to Feldon Davis, a member of the organization.“If you want to be heard you have to make the effort,” Davis said.