Several states and cities are refusing to use drones provided by the Federal government, after public outcry and protest.
This demonstrates that when the citizenry is involved and active we can control our own destiny. Just say no to the drones.
Washington State Residents Say “No!” to Police Surveillance Drones
David DiSalvo, Contributor
Forbes Magazine, Pharma & Healthcare 2/08/2013
Last February, President Obama signed a bill allowing up to 30,000 police drones to be flown by police departments and the Department of Homeland Security within the United States to keep an eye on “we the people.”
On the heels of the “Occupy” protests, the Seattle police department became one of the first 50 agencies in the country to be granted permission from the federal government to start using drones. After a Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee hearing in Seattle (held the night of Feb 7), where residents raised concern over the Seattle Police Departments attempt to use surveillance drones, the program was successfully killed.
In a written response, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn wrote: “Today I spoke with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz and we agreed that it was time to end the unmanned aerial vehicle program so that SPD can focus its resources on public safety and the community building work that is the department’s priority. The vehicles will be returned to the vendor.”
This victory of Seattle’s citizens over police-state surveillance is the culmination of protests that started in October, when police held an open-door gathering to explain how the drone program would work. According to coverage in The Seattle Times, protesters “stole the show” by shouting down the organizers.
“We don’t trust you with the weapons you do have,” shouted a man who said his name was General Malaise. “We are not going to tolerate this in our city. This is unacceptable,” yelled Emma Kaplan from The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality. “NO DRONES!” The Seattle Times, October 26 2012.
According to coverage in Reuters, Police in Florida‘s Miami-Dade County and Houston are among the other law enforcement departments that have acquired aerial drones (note, they have acquired the drones but are not yet using them).
On the legislative side of things, multiple states are already moving to enact laws to strongly regulate the use of surveillance drones. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Maine has a bill introduced to regulate drones, as do Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Texas. In Virginia a hearing has already been held on a bill, while Montana has three bills, and hearings have already been held there as well.
Of all states, however, Florida is the closest to enacting domestic surveillance drone regulations into law. The Florida legislature doesn’t convene until March 5, but legislators have been moving the drones bill during their pre-session committee organizing meetings to position it for rapid approval once the session begins.
The Florida bill was introduced by state Senator Joe Negron—a very powerful Republican who chairs the budget committee. The actual title of the bill is the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act,” and according to the ACLU it has strong bipartisan support, along with support from public defenders, the Florida Sheriff’s Association, and Florida Police Chiefs.
With Seattle, and possibly Florida, setting the stage for widespread opposition to surveillance drones, it remains to be seen if President Obama will step back from his original support.