Lieutenant Colonel Earl A. Evans can sleep easy tonight, knowing that Mary Anne Grady Flores is finally behind bars.
Hancock drone resister and grandmother Mary Anne Grady Flores was taken into custody this evening, to spend 6 months in Jamesville Correctional Facility in East Syracuse, NY, for violating an Order of Protection that prohibited her from coming close to the Lieutenant Colonel, his home or his place of work.
Here’s the quick explanation: after a series of protests involving non-violent civil disobedience outside Hancock air base, a local judge began imposing OOPs on activists who had been arrested. These orders are the same tool judges use to keep abusers away from their victims, but here they are being used them to stop the protests, and to promote a false narrative that the protesters are somehow dangerous. It’s pure idiocy: the activists are prohibited from getting too close to a particular commander at the base, or his home or his place of work (the base, outside of which they are protesting). Further, the orders prohibit these peace activists from from engaging in “menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct” toward the Commander. Many of the activists have continued to protest, have been arrested and now are in court or in jail.
In May, 2014, Grady Flores was convicted of violating an order of protection while taking pictures of eight Catholics nonviolently protesting the US drone assassination program at the Hancock Air Base in DeWitt, New York on Ash Wednesday, 2013. DeWitt Judge David Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to one year in prison and fined her $1000, but she was released on bail while her appeal was pending. All eight Catholic drone resisters arrested that Ash Wednesday were acquitted, by a judge who asserted that the protesters intended to uphold law, not break it.
On January 12, Grady Flores received a notice saying that Onondaga County Court Judge Thomas Miller upheld her lower court conviction, but he had reduced her sentence to six months. In the same notice she was informed that Justice Miller also upheld the Hancock 17 nonviolent drone resisters’ orders of protection, convictions of disorderly conduct, and 15-day sentences.
Grady Flores’ legal team, headed by Ithaca Attorney Lance Salisbury, is filing an appeal in the NYS Court of Appeals in Albany. At stake is the local government’s new tactic of using Orders of Protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, to deter protest and suppress free speech. OOPs were never intended to allow army officers to hide from grandmothers who seek to educate on matters of law and justice. This novel use of a law designed to protect individuals against violence and intimidation must not be allowed to become a tool for repression.
Grady Flores’ supporters were there when she surrendered, filling “the courtroom, cheering, clapping and shouting out words of encouragement.”
Grady Flores and the other members of the Hancock 17 are activists in The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which has resisted the drone assassination program since 2010. According to recently leaked military documents, the Drone Papers, Washington’s use of drones for the last 14-year in a “high-value targeting campaign” has been based on faulty intelligence. In Afghanistan, 90% of those killed were not “intended targets.” This remote-control killing has exacerbated “the very threat the U.S. is seeking to confront.” According to the Intercept, former drone pilots have come forward to say they were “horrified” by “abuses” in the program.
On November 18, 2015 four former drone operators, who are Air Force veterans, publicly criticized President Obama’s targeted assassination program for inflicting heavy civilian casualties and developing “an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents.”
Both the Drones Papers and testimony of the former drone operators support the stance of drone and war resisters who have been petitioning military officers, courts and political representatives around the world to end the program. On January 12, the date that Mary Anne and the Hancock 17 heard that they had lost their appeals, drone resisters were arrested at Creech Air Force Base (Nevada), Beale AFB (California), and Volk AFB (Wisconsin), and Ramstein AFB (Germany) and in Pakistan.
For more information on drone resistance around Hancock Base: UpstateDroneAction.org
For video on Mary Anne and her actions (in English with Spanish subtitles) https://youtu.be/3V8ElSbrEHg
To donate for Mary Anne’s support , make checks out to Ithaca Catholic Workers (with Mary Anne Grady Flores in memo line) and send to: Ithaca Catholic Workers, 514 N. Plain St., Ithaca, NY 14850