One Year Jail Term for Drone Protester at Hancock AFB, NYS
by Debra Sweet. July 10, 2014: Syracuse, NY. Anti-drone protester Mary Anne Grady was sent to county jail for a maximum 12 month sentence for violating a temporary "Order of Protection" granted by a County Judge to explicitly to protect the Commander Evans of Hancock Air Force Base, who said he wanted to keep protesters "out of his driveway." Years of non-violent protest, including civil disobedience, led by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and Stop the Wars, have focused public attention on the role of Hancock in remotely piloting US drones around the world, particularly Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and also in training drone operators.
The use of Orders of Protection (OoP's) is an outrageous application of an instrument developed to protect women from domestic abusers. Ironically, those actual orders are often violated, or unenforced. But to use the same framework to cast political protesters as a danger to the commander of the base is an outrageous attack on the free speech and assembly rights of the people who are risking their freedom to stop US drone war through holding signs on public property.
The Upstate Drone Coalition reported:
A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.
Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, “Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight.” She concluded that the “final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of US drone attacks?”
The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.
Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The next year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.
Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, “This has got to stop.”
In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.
Her verdict is being appealed.