Carrying flowers and documents to Hancock Air Base, outside Syracuse, New York, can result in severe consequences. After a two day jury trial in DeWitt Town Court, Drone resister Mark Colville was found guilty on September 19 of five charges stemming from a non-violent civil disobedience action in December 2013.
Most of the charges against Colville will be recognizable to those who have participated in civil disobedience actions: trespass, disorderly conduct and Obstruction of Government Administration. But one charge stands out: violation of an Order of Protection. Orders of Protection (OOPs) have been imposed on dozens of activists who have participated in demonstrations outside the Air Base over the past three years. As a rule, OOPs are generally applied to individuals who may pose a threat to another individual (such as a victim of domestic violence). In this situation however, the activists are ordered to stay away from the Commander of the Air Base, Colonel Earl Evans.
Activists are challenging the validity of the Orders of Protection, which the Colonel acknowledged in court in two separate cases, are served “to keep the protesters away from my base” (that’s something lawyers call “prior restraint”.
Colville is a member of the Amistad Catholic Worker, in New Haven, Connecticut. Like most of the activists slapped with OOPs, he is a pacifist who is committed to nonviolent protest. On December 9th, 2013, Colville and two Yale divinity students, brought a People’s Order of Protection to the front gate of the base “to prevent further victims of drone attacks perpetrated from inside Hancock Airbase,” according to a press release issued by Upstate Drone Action.
After today’s trial Colville stated, “This court, by its conduct, continues to condemn itself by manipulating and misapplying the law, intentionally disregarding the cries for justice from those who the law is supposed to protect. The petition that we brought to the base, the People’s Order of Protection, demanding that we give relief to the innocent victims of these horrible drone killing machines remains unanswered. We will continue to tell the truth in the streets of the Town of De Witt and in its court room until true justice flows.”
Also according to the press release “an hour before trial, in judge’s chambers, Assistant District Attorney McNamara and Mark Colville met with Judge Jokl, who promised to sentence Colville to the maximum penalty allowed. When Colville asked “Why?” The judge responded, “Because I think you deserve it.”” Sentencing will be on Dec. 3rd, at 4pm, at 5400 Butternut Drive, De Witt Town Court, E. Syracuse.