Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Syracuse grandmother facing a year in prison for photographing anti-drone warfare action at Hancock AFB

Sentencing: July 10th
Drone Attack Victims Need Orders of Protection!

SyracuseNY.  Drone activist, Mary Anne Grady Flores, is facing 1 year in jail for violating an order of protection. She will be sentenced at 6pm, Thursday, July 10, 2014,by Judge Gideon of De Witt Town Court (5400 Butternut Dr., East SyracuseNew York). The grandmother of 3 had been issued a temporary order of protection for participating in a nonviolent civil resistance action in 2012 at Hancock Air Base. Col. Earl A. Evans, the base’s mission support group commander, was granted the order from local judges, to shut down protests at the base.  
Mary Anne Grady Flores, facing a 1 year jail term for violation
 (by photographing a demonstration) of an "order of protection"
 against the Commander of Hancock AFB, notorious hub
 of drone warfare activities.
The base is a hub of reaper drone activity – drones are piloted over Afghanistan from the base; and reaper pilots, sensor operators and maintenance people are trained there. Who actually needs an order of protection – the base commander, behind a barbed wire fence and surrounded by military might, or families in AfghanistanPakistanYemen and elsewhere subject to the terror of drone strikes?

On Ash Wednesday 2013, while standing in the public intersection, Mary Anne, in a support role, photographed eight Catholics who participated in a nonviolent witness at the base. She did not participate in the witness because she had intended not to violate the order of protection. She understood the order to mean that she was forbidden to join the protest or be on base property. Following the arrests the activists learned that the base property line went out to the double yellow line in the middle of the road. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted of their charges. Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.

Fifty activists have received orders of protection on behalf of the base Colonel, signed by the DeWitt Town Court Judges. The orders, typically used to prevent domestic violence and abuse of victims, are being challenged for their blatant abuse of the First Amendment, shutting down free speech and the right to protest at the base and for their inappropriate application of NY State Law. In a recent ruling, acting NYS Supreme Court Judge Brunetti ruled the order of protection was invalid. The Assistant District Attorney is currently appealing that decision.

In spite of Mary Anne’s conviction and upcoming sentence, the protest will continue. No one can stand silent and ignore the pleas from victims of drone attacks.

The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars is a coalition of antiwar organizations in Upstate New York that formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Base, where they train pilots and technicians with local missions from Fort Drum and fly lethal Reaper missions over Afghanistan.

Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-279-8303
Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, 315-472-5478 (SPC) or 315-383-5738 (cell)
Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca Catholic Worker, 607-280-8797
(All are a part of The Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars)

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