Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hancock Show Trial #1: Anti-Drone Protester Convicted of a Misdemeanor

Jack Gilroy
In the first of a string of "show trials" aimed at quashing First Amendment activity in Upstate New York, Jack Gilroy of Binghamton, NY, was convicted after a two-day jury trial in DeWitt Town Court yesterday. The charges stemmed from Gilroy's arrest during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013.

Gilroy was convicted of Trespass, a violation, and Obstructing Governmental Administration, a misdemeanor by a jury of five women and one man. He will be sentenced by Judge Robert Jokl on October 1st, a year and a half after his arrest. The sentence for the latter charge may be up to one year in jail and a fine of $1000. Gilroy’s Order of Protection was also reissued today as a 2 year Permanent Order protecting Commander Greg Semmel, the commanding officer at Hancock Base.

Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for MQ-9 Reaper drone support. It is a training site for pilots and technicians, a drone test location and an active site in the ongoing wars overseas. Heavily armed Reapers piloted at Hancock fly lethal missions over Afghanistan and possibly elsewhere. Hancock pilots also fly test flights from Fort Drum over Lake Ontario.

The Gilroy Trial

Jack Gilroy is a nationally prominent peace activist, writer, and educator, who has worked in numerous media to communicate the truth about drone killings to other Americans. Notably, Gilroy's  dramatic work, The Predator, has been performed by groups nationwide who are trying to engage in public education and debate about the wide-ranging challenges posed by drones, drone surveillance, and drone warfare.

At trial, Jack Gilroy testified that he joined the Army out of high school, and was stationed in Austria in the early '50s at a time when the Cold War was hot. He says that despite a climate of distrust and contempt towards Russians, when he actually had to look a young Russian soldier in the eye during a ceremonial event, he didn’t see the evil he’d been trained to expect. Since then, Gilroy has spent 30 years as a teacher. A member of Veterans for Peace and Peace Action New York, he is currently working with Peace Action at Binghamton University to convince the college to offer a Peace Studies Program.

Regarding the April 2013 protest, Gilroy testified that the boundaries of the base were unclear and unmarked at the time. He said his intention was to send a message to base personnel and the public, not to disrupt the operation of the base. Only one gate was affected by the symbolic die-in he participated in, which blocked the inbound lane of the access road. Jack was arrested and removed 30 seconds after lying in the road so he had little effect on potential base traffic.

The Struggle to Publicize the Truth About Drone Killings Controlled from Hancock

Upstate Drone Action has been protesting the Drones at Hancock Base since 2009 with bimonthly vigils, annual rallies and a Gandhian Wave of civil resistance.

Because U.S. drone killings are carried out in secret -- and often never even acknowledged off-the-record -- activists at Upstate Drone Action and others around the country have been engaged in a sustained struggle to publicize the truth about the drone killings, bring about their cessation, and bring the killers to justice.

Legislation now pending in the U.S. Congress would require full disclosure of the details of the U.S. killing program, but as yet only ten (10) members of Congress have stepped forward to co-sponsor the legislation, and none of those are from New York State.

There are 11 trials scheduled for Hancock protesters in DeWitt between now and next July stemming from the April 28 protest. Several more trials are pending. (In addition, Mary Anne Grady Flores was convicted of violating an Order of Protection by standing in the road in front of Hancock Base and was sentenced on July 9 to one year in prison.)  On July 30th and 31st Russell Brown will be tried pro se, serving as his own defense council, on the same charges Jack Gilroy faced today.

Related posts

The trials of citizen activists in Upstate New York are part of a government plan to put a chill, once and for all, on citizens' exercise of Constitutional rights.  The citizens rely on Bill of Rights protections, Constitutional provisions about civilian control over the military, and the international treaties covering conduct of war and human rights, to which the United States is a party. The position of the government is that no dissent will be tolerated, and that the severity of the penalties for expression will be rapidly escalated, until the point where dissent is cut off entirely.

(See The Hancock Show Trials: Quashing Dissent Against America's Criminal Drone Killing Program )

As indicated above, the majority of the trials (including the first) stem from protests that occurred at the end of April, 2013.

(See April Days of Action Against Drones Culminates with a conference in SYRACUSE and a massive demonstration at Hancock AFB- 31 arrested )

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