Hancock 15 drone resisters convicted; 5 sentenced to 15 days in jail

from Upstate Drone Action:

In DeWitt, New York,  Town Court, in a swift four and a half hour trial on December 13, Judge Jokl found eleven of the original fifteen protesters of Reaper 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.

Judge Jokl did not allow the war crimes indictment into evidence, thus limiting his scope of interpretation to NY State law. Within ten minutes of deliberation the judge found 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. Ed Kinane and James Ricks started their 15 day sentence in Onondaga County Jail immediately. The other three report to jail at 5 pm on January 11th, 2012.

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 conditional discharge.

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 national sovereignty.

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, through protest. 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.”

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