"Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters' Verdict Is In: All found guilty of disorderly conduct but acquitted of trespassing; Order of Protection extended 2 years; Judge decides to send a message"
2014-02-09 from the Syracuse Peace Council:
Ellen Grady, Ithaca Catholic Worker, Ithaca NY, (607) 279-8303
Elliott Adams, Past President of Veterans for Peace, Sharon Springs NY, (518) 441-2697
Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council, Syracuse NY, (315) 472-5478, (315) 383-5738
On Friday, February 7, Town of DeWitt Court Judge David Gideon found twelve of the Hancock Drone War Crimes Resisters guilty of disorderly conduct, but acquitted them of trespassing.They had gone to Hancock Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, NY, on Oct. 25, 2012, to bring a Citizens War Crimes Indictment to the base and symbolically block the gates. Their nonviolent action had called for an end to drone warfare.
Saying, "At some point this has to stop," the judge gave the defendants the maximum sentence - 15 days in jail (starting immediately) and a $250 fine with a $125 court surcharge. He also imposed a two-year Order of Protection, prohibiting the defendants from going to the home, school, business or place of employment of Col. Earl A. Evans, Commander of Hancock's mission support group. Considering that the defendants had never met or knew of him before their arrest, it is clear the intent is to keep people away from the base. Defendant Rae Kramer stated, "No person on the base was intimidated by us, that is clear. But the end result is to deprive me of my 1st Amendment Rights."
In their sentencing statements, the defendants spoke from their hearts and minds. Some reaffirmed their legal duties as citizens to stop war crimes. Clare Grady said, "We went there to stop the war crimes. That was our intent." James Ricks hoped the judge would "sentence us to community service to investigate the war crimes they are committing at the base." Judy Bello said, "The people suffering are so significant. It requires a persistent response," and argued that the international law argument is indeed valid. Mark Scibilia-Carver quoted the Pope saying "violence is a lie," and "Faith and violence are incompatible." Mark Colville challenged the Court, stating, "This court has been found guilty of stopping it's ears to the laws that are in place to protect life. This court has been found guilty of stopping it's ears to the voices of the victims of the drones."
The defendants were prepared for whatever sentence the judge imposed. In the words of Ed Kinane, "Any penalty this court can impose on me is trivial compared to the death sentences imposed on the drone victims."
Of the five defendants not sentenced, one, Elliott Adams, is to be sentenced later. Two others had their cases dismissed on technical grounds, and the remaining two had plead guilty earlier.
The defendants are part of the Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which seeks to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel about the war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan with the MQ-9 Reaper Drone piloted from Hancock Air National Guard Base. See upstatedroneaction.org.
Video of the sentencing and sentencing statements will be available soon at [www.peacecouncil.net].
Defendants who were sentenced:
* Judy Bello, Rochester, NY
Daniel Burgevin, Trumansburg, NY
Mark Colville, New Haven, CT
Clare Grady, Ithaca, NY
Mary Anne Grady Flores, Ithaca, NY
Martha Hennessy, New York, NY
Brian Hynes, Bronx, NY
Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY
Rae Kramer, Syracuse, NY
James Ricks, Ithaca, NY
Mark Scibilia-Carver, Trumansburg, NY
Patricia Weiland, Northampton, MA