Drone resister sentenced to one year in prison

0UPDATE: GRADY FLORES RELEASED ON APPEAL ON JULY 17 (scroll below for details)

Base’s Order of Protection Begs Judgement

On July 10, Mary Anne Grady Flores, grandmother of three, was sentenced to one year in prison for being found guilty of violating an order of protection. A packed courtroom of over 100 supporters was stunned as she was led away, and vowed to continue the resistance.

These orders of protection, typically used in domestic violence situations or to protect a victim or witness to a crime, have been issued to people participating in nonviolent resistance actions at Hancock Air Base since late 2012. The base, near Syracuse, New York, pilots unmanned Reaper drones over Afghanistan, and trains drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians. The orders had been issued to “protect” Colonel Earl Evans, Hancock’s mission support commander, who wanted to keep protesters “out of his driveway.”

Mary Anne began her sentencing statement with, “Your honor, a series of judicial perversions brings me here before you tonight.” She concluded that the “final perversion is the reversal of who is the real victim here: the commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people themselves who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of U.S. drone attacks?”

The orders of protection are being challenged on many legal grounds.

Mary Anne had been issued a temporary order in 2012. The next year, she photographed a nonviolent witness at the base, not participating herself because she did not want to violate the order. The irony is that those who actually participated in the action were acquitted, while Mary Anne was charged with violating the order.

Even though the pre-sentencing report recommended no jail time, Judge Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to the maximum of a year in prison. As he imposed his sentence, the judge referred to his previous Hancock decision. He had stated then and insinuated now, “This has got to stop.”

In addition, Mary Anne was fined $1000 plus a $205 court surcharge and a $50 fee to have her DNA collected.

Her verdict is being appealed.


1. Mary Anne is at:

The Onodaga County Department of Correction
PO Box 143
Jamesville, NY 13078

She can receive letters and would probably love to hear from folks.

2. So many of you have asked how to help. Mary Anne’s lawyer is appealing this case. It was submitted today. There are expenses related to the appeal and financial support would be gladly accepted.

You can make checks payable to:

Ithaca Catholic Worker (with Mary Anne’s name in the memo)

And send it to:

133 Sheffield Road
Ithaca, New York 14850

3. There has been some good press coverage. Democracy Now ran a clip in their headlines http://www.democracynow.org/2014/7/11/headlines/grandmother_sentenced_to_1_year_in_prison_after_protest_at_us_drone_base and there has been a bunch of press calls today, but it would be great if you can get the word out either by asking your local press to cover it or write something yourself if you are able.

4. Also, there are many more trials coming up in the next year for our resistance work at the base, but specifically we have two in the next couple weeks.

Jack Gilroy from Binghamton will have jury trial on Monday and Tues., July 14 and 15 for an Obstruction of Governmental Administration and a Trespass charges stemming from his April 28, 2013 arrest at the base.

Russel Brown from Buffalo will have a jury trial on Wednesday and Thursday, July 30 and 31 for an Obstruction of Governmental Administration and a Trespass charges stemming from his April 28, 2013 arrest at the base.

Please consider attending their trials. Having a presence at court let’s the court know that we are not alone!

5. And because there are over 50 other people with Orders of Protection we need a lot more support legally, so if you are or know a lawyer who might be able to advise or get seriously involved please let me know.

As we get more news I will try to keep people posted.

Once again, thank you so much for all the support!!

In Peace, Ellen

Stiff sentence for Hancock drone protester does not fit the crime 

from the Syracuse Post Standard

By Patrick O’Neill

(also see this National Catholic Reporter article by Patrick O’Neill)

There’s a saying among lawbreakers: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” There’s also another saying for law-keepers: “Make the punishment fit the crime.”

The latter was not the case July 10 in the Town of DeWitt where local Judge David S. Gideon handed down a one-year jail sentence to Ithaca grandmother, Mary Anne Grady Flores, stemming from her involvement in an Ash Wednesday anti-drone protest at Hancock Field Air Force Base. Grady Flores’ civil disobedience was nonviolent and faith-based.

Her actions were carried out in broad daylight, and in full view of police officers. Acting in the nonviolent tradition of Indian pacifist leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, she joined others who stood opposed to the use of military drones, which are the key component in President Barack Obama’s “targeted killing” program.

Grady Flores and her family are among a cadre of some of the nation’s best-known anti-war activists who have maintained a regular presence at Hancock to say to no to violence and war. With the “war on terrorism” raging and nuclear weapons proliferation always expanding, there has never been a time when humanity has been more imperiled by the folly of war.

Grady Flores is following a noble U.S. abolitionist tradition in which people of conscience take a stand, risk personal freedom and subject themselves to arrest in order to challenge unjust government policies. In past eras, civil disobedience has been successfully employed to oppose British tyranny (the Boston Tea Party); to stop slavery and segregation, to gain suffrage for women. to stop child labor and in opposition to the Vietnam War.

Those who are war abolitionists believe modern weapons represent the pre-eminent threat to human survival. Preventing war is the life’s work of many of those arrested at Hancock. These are good people who devote their lives to warning the rest of us about the moral imperative of disarmament and peace.

While most readers likely believe some form of punishment is in order for the Hancock protesters, it is also critical that said punishment be reasonable in light of the offense. The response of the Hancock officials, and enforced by Judge Gideon, was unreasonable. Gideon imposed an overly punitive sentence on Grady Flores for what was a minor transgression of the law. As a mother of four, grandmother of three, Grady Flores will miss Thanksgiving, Christmas and numerous birthdays with her family in the coming year because of Gideon’s harsh sentence.

Democracies function best when a system of checks and balances is in place to hold governments and political leaders accountable when they fail to uphold democratic principles or when the excesses of government needs to be checked. While the three U.S. branches of government often function as a system of checks and balances, that is not always the case. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all three branches of government have essentially marched in lock step in support of the seemingly endless war on terrorism, the torture of prisoners and the use of drones for extra judicial killings of even our own citizens. Reports also confirm the devastating lose of civilian life from U.S. drone attacks.

That’s why it’s important for nonviolent citizens of conscience, like Grady Flores, to step up and take prophetic action to address the reckless policies of the government. Gideon obviously thinks it was important to impose a stiff sentence on Grady Flores as a deterrent to both her and others who may be inclined to join her. Gideon has also sent other protesters to jail, although for far less than a year.

Rather than concern himself with deterrence, Gideon would have better served society if he had recognized the important role the Hancock protesters play in keeping a check on the U.S. military-industrial complex. Our democracy needs people like Grady Flores and her cohorts, who resist violence and war by placing their bodies on the line. Why deter them? Grady Flores and the other Hancock protesters are good people of conscience who are doing the time for the rest of us.

We deter them at our own peril.

Patrick O’Neill is co-founder of the Fr. Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House in Garner, N.C., an intentional, pacifist, Christian community that provides hospitality to people in crisis.

MAG-Garry ThomasJ-10-14_5944 copyUPDATE

Drone Activist Mary Anne Grady Flores Released on Appeal of Violation of Order of Protection

July 18, 2014, Syracuse, NY –  Last night Mary Anne Grady Flores was released on $5,000 bail from the Syracuse Justice Center after appearing before County Court Judge Thomas J. Miller who granted a stay of execution of her one year sentence, pending appeal of the Order of Protection granted to Col. Earl A. Evans by the DeWitt Town Court judges requiring drone protesters to stay away from the Hancock Airbase.

“The local judges of the Town of DeWitt have helped shut down the protests of the murder of Afghan civilians by drones piloted from the airbase. They have prevented us from exercising our First Amendment rights by issuing the Orders of Protection on behalf of the base,” said John Hamilton of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones.

Hancock is a training center for drone pilots, technicians and maintenance workers, as well as a hub of drone activities. From the base the unmanned aircraft are flown over Afghanistan, where they kill people, including numerous civilians.

Grady Flores, grandmother of three, was the first alleged violator of the 50 drone activists who have been given the Order of Protection in 2012. She was tried and sentenced for a year in jail. Despite being out on bail, she still faces returning to jail. Her appeals process will take months.

“There are 30 upcoming trials over the next year. DeWitt Town judges threaten to sentence activists to a year in jail, many of them in their 60’s and 70’s,” said Judy Bello of Rochester. Bello noted that donations are essential to meet the costs of bail for so many as well as $5,000 transcripts for the appeals to move forward.

“This is far from over! The drones are still flying and the killing continues. We invite people to join the non-violent witness at the base,” said Rae Kramer of the Syracuse Peace Council.


The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars is made up of antiwar organizations and formed around resistance to the MQ-9 Reaper Drone program at Hancock Field Air Force Base.