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Thirteen anti-drone protesters found guilty of trespassing
DeWitt, N.Y. -- Thirteen anti-drone protesters were convicted of trespassing Thursday night, and five were sentenced to two weeks in jail.
Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, and James Ricks, of Ithaca, went directly after their sentencing to the Jamesville Correctional Facility.
Rae Kramer, of Syracuse, and Ellen Grady and Clare Grady, of Ithaca, were ordered to report to Jamesville Correctional on Jan. 11, said Ann Tiffany, of Syracuse, who attended the trial, which took about 5 1/2 hours in DeWitt Town Court.
The jail terms were reserved for repeat offenders, Tiffany said.
All were fined $250 plus $125 in court costs. Those not sentenced to jail were given one-year conditional discharges and required to perform 25 hours of community service, Tiffany said.
The other defendants were Daniel Burns, of Ithaca; Judy Homanich, of Binghamton; George Homanich, of Binghamton; Mark Scibilia-Carver, of Ithaca; John Hamilton, of Ithaca; Dave McClellen, of Ithaca; Nate Lewis, of Trumansburg; and Dan Burgevin, of Trumansburg.
The protesters were charged after they spent more than two hours on June 28 at Hancock Air Base’s main entrance while attempting — and failing — to deliver a “citizens’ indictment” for what they are calling reaper drone war crimes committed at the base.
They were convicted by Judge Robert Jokl in DeWitt Town Court. The 13 defended themselves without using attorneys.
The base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard, pilots the MQ9 reaper drone, a weaponized aerial robot, over Afghanistan and serves as the national training center for Reaper maintenance.
The indictment, prepared in consultation with former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, invokes international law, the Nuremburg Protocols, and U.S. constitutional law. The indictment charges Hancock personnel and their chain of command with responsibility for large-scale civilian deaths and with terrorism.
Two others were arrested on June 28 at Hancock, but not charged.
UPDATE from the protesters:
Hancock 15 Drone Resisters Found Guilty
Syracuse. Last night, in DeWitt Town Court,
in a swift four and a half hour trial, Judge Jokl found
eleven of the original fifteen protesters ofReaper drones,
guilty of trespass. Hancock Air National Guard Base is
home of the MQ-9 Reaper drone maintenance and training
center, adjacent to Syracuse Airport where soldiers pilot
drones used in the extra judicial killings in Afghanistan.
The eleven pro se* defendants argued that their action of
civil resistance, of blocking the front gate of the base,
on June 28th, was two fold.
First, to present grievances to the government by delivering
a War Crimes Indictment, co-authored by former
Attorney General of the U.S., Ramsey Clark, indicting
Hancock base personnel, up their chain of command
to President Obama, of war crimes. Second, to prevent
war crimes of: extra judicial killings, killing of innocent civilians,
wars of aggressions, and the violation of
Defendants argued that civil resistance is upholding
law, as opposed to civil disobedience which is about
changing laws as was done during the civil rights era,
This action was done in accordance with
customary law, which prohibits acts of aggression by all nations.
In his closing argument John Hamilton said,
"There is no exception anywhere, for you, for me, for anyone
from this overarching legal certainty: acts of aggression are always
and everywhere illegal, and must not by ignored by the courts.
Extra-judicial murder must be called out and stopped." Using the
analogy of extra judicial killings by lynching of African Americans
throughout US history, Hamilton stated, "We ask that you take a bold step
tonight to end lynching, not in some backwood Alabama town in 1912,
but here in Dewitt in 2012. We ask you to find us not guilty of the (trespass) charges.
In Daniel Burgevin's closing, he stated,
"I am innocent of trespass. The unlawfulness of trespass is when a hellfire
missile enters through the roof of a family's home, exploding and spreading
fire and shards of metal through the bodies of the family living inside. ...
That is the unlawfulness and the criminality of trespass."
Judge Jokldid not allow the war crimes indictment into evidence, thus
limiting his scope of interpretation to NY State law.
Within ten minutes of deliberation the j udgefound the eleven guilty.
The judge sentenced Ed Kinane and Rae Kramer,
of Syracuse, Clare and Ellen Grady, and James Ricks of Ithaca,
to 15 days in jail.
Dan Burgevin, Dave McClallen and Nate Lewis of Trumansburg,
George and Judy Homanich of Binghamton, and John Hamilton of
Ithaca, were all given fines and community service and one year
Last night Ed Kinane and James Ricks started their 15 day sentence in
Onondaga County Jail. The other three report to jail at 5 pm
on January 11th, 2012.
On January 10th, 2013, two groups of drone protesters will
be in De Witt Town Court to argue motions with their trial
dates to be announced possibly that night. On Oct. 25th, 2012,
the protesters closed all three gates of the base, blockading it,
for two hours and forty minutes.
An order of protection was signed by Judge Jokl on behalf of
Col. Earl A. Evans, preventing protesters from going near his
"place of employment", or face the penalty of seven years in prison.
* Pro Se - Defending one self in court.