The circus continues in upstate New York, where a judge has imposed Orders of Protection (OOP) on over 50 non-violent activists. I’ve been writing about this folly for years, but it crossed the line from ridiculous to ruthless earlier this month when the judge actually sentenced an activist to a year in jail for violating her OOP.
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 Judge Gideon is using 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.
Here is the latest press release:
For Immediate Release 30 July 2014
Vietnam Vet Drone Resister’s Trial Begins While $10,000 Bail Reduced to $100 for 2 Drone Resisters
Contacts: Ed Kinane 315-478-4571 Upstate Drone Action Ellen Grady 607-279-8303 Ithaca Catholic Worker Russell Brown 716-570-5201 Vietnam Veteran/Upstate Drone Action upstatedroneaction.org; twitter @droneresister
Syracuse July 30, 2014 Vietnam Veteran and Buffalo resident Russell Brown’s trial began today in Dewitt Town Court in East Syracuse. Mr. Brown is representing himself and is facing charges stemming from his arrest during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013.
Mr. Brown laid down peacefully with red paint to symbolize the death of drone victims in a roadway across from the Airbase. He is charged with Obstruction of Governmental Administration (OGA), a misdemeanor carrying up to a year incarceration and up to $1000 fine, as well as Disorderly Conduct charge, a violation. Mr. Brown’s trial is one of 20 upcoming trials of drone resisters working with Upstate Drone Action facing prosecution.
Mr. Brown also has an Order of Protection (OOP) against him by the presiding Judge David S. Gideon, on behalf of Colonel Greg Semmel, commanding officer at Hancock Base. The OOPs have been imposed on more than 50 nonviolent civil resisters arrested in DeWitt since October 2012. Under oath, a military official acknowledged that the protesters were acting non-violently and posed no threat to the Airbase or military personnel.
With a 6-person jury chosen, defense witness Jessica Azulay testified today that Mr. Brown was well beyond the military base and was not obstructing traffic as the roadway had been blocked by local police ahead of the demonstration. She spoke in support of his constitutional right to protest.
Russell said that the wars of the last decade brought back his experiences in Vietnam. “Lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I experienced since I left Vietnam,” he said.
In other news of drone resistance, 2 upstate drone resisters had their bail drastically reduced after being arrested one week ago from another action against killer drones on July 23, 2014 at Hancock. Clare Grady of the Ithaca Catholic Worker and Martha Hennessy from New York Catholic Worker were arrested and charged with violating an Order of Protection. Judge Jokl of the Town of Dewitt had originally set their bail at $10,000 each. During a bail reduction hearing Ms. Hennessy’s bail was reduced to $100 on Monday. Today, Ms. Grady’s bail was also reduced to $100. Both women have been released. Three others, Joan Pleune, 75 years old, former Freedom Rider from the Civil Rights Movement, and NYC Catholic Workers Erica Brock and Felton Davis remain in jail and are still being held of $2,500 bail each. Ms. Pleune has a bail reduction hearing tomorrow morning in Syracuse.
Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for drone assassinations, support and operation, particularly in Afghanistan. The Niagara Falls Air Base is also embarking on a mission to operate weaponized drones. The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, supported by local organizations such as the WNY Peace Center, works nonviolently to stop the scourge of assassination and community terror perpetrated by weaponized drones. The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones is in coalition with the global movement to end the drone assassinations and to stop US imperialism and militarization.