The City of Buffalo has a chance to be the first in the country to ban Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also known as drones.
A group of activists and community leaders came to City Hall on Tuesday to have their say in front of the Common Council Legislation Committee.
"You guys have an opportunity to make Buffalo the first drone-free city in the United States, and I hope you take that seriously," John Washington of Occupy Buffalo told lawmakers.
While the city has not been approached by the federal government or any other entity about purchasing drones, about 20 people showed up for Tuesday's public hearing to encourage lawmakers to support a proactive ban.
"Drone manufacturers will push this hard on you and other elected officials, They will say that one of the reasons [for drones] is fighting crime," said Charles Bowman of the Western New York Peace Center.
"We don't need drones in the City of Buffalo. We don't need further militarization of our police department," he added.
Earlier this month, Occupy Buffalo and the WNY Peace Center proposed legislation to the Council prohibiting the use and purchase of unmanned aerial vehicles in Buffalo, arguing that they violate constitutional rights and pose imminent danger to the public.
Excerpts from the proposal state that "drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to public safety in the air and to persons and property on the ground ... due to limitations in drone vision, capability to avoid other aircraft and adequate control."
Another part of the proposed legislation reads "armed drones and surveillance drones present an unreasonable and unacceptable threat to the rights of individual privacy, freedom of association and assembly, equal protection and judicial due process ..."
Victoria Ross of the Peace Education Project noted that the drones in Buffalo most likely would be used primarily for surveillance, "which means warrants won't be needed."
The proposed legislation submitted to the Common Council asks that drones not be purchased, leased, borrowed, tested or used by any agency of the City of Buffalo.
The hearing was a chance for concerned citizens to voice their opinions on the matter, and the committee took no action.
"I will be thrilled if Buffalo will be the first in the nation to go down on record we are against drones," said Lesley Haynes, a social activist and retired social worker, during the hearing.
"I think it would be a really nice thing for Buffalo," Haynes said. "I would be proud to know Buffalo was leading this."