Ithaca, NY – On January 12, the National Day of Action to Stop Killer Drones, grandmother and drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores learned that she is to go back to jail for six months starting Tuesday, January 19. She is to report to the Dewitt Town Court (5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY) at 5 p.m. to be remanded to Jamesville Correctional Facility in East Syracuse, N.Y.
Mary Anne had been out on appeal of a lower court convicting her of violating an order of protection. It had been given on behalf of Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (in Syracuse, NY), to “protect” him from nonviolent anti-drone activists. She had been charged with violating the order while taking pictures of eight Catholics protesting the U.S. drone assassination program at Hancock on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013. Onondaga County Court Judge Miller upheld the lower court conviction. Of note is that all eight Catholic drone resisters were acquitted because they went to uphold law, not break it.
Orders of protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, have been used by the Court and the Base in an attempt to deter protest and suppress free speech. Judge Miller also upheld a lower court ruling on the Hancock 17, seventeen nonviolent drone resisters given orders of protection, jail time, and fines.
Mary Anne, a grandmother of three, has been a part of The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, resisting the drone assassination program since 2011. According to leaked military documents called the Drone Papers sent to the Intercept, 90% of drone assassinations target and kill civilians, including children. On the National Day of Action, drone resisters were arrested at Creech Air Force Base (Nevada), Beale Air Force Base (California), and Volk Air Field (Wisconsin), and Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany and in Pakistan, all a part of the worldwide resistance to drones.
Mary Anne received the verdict and sentence by mail, even though she was originally told to appear in County Court on January 22 to hear the court’s decision. This may have been an attempt to prevent a full courtroom and press with cameras from attending, as occurred at the time of her original sentence.
For more information, visit www.upstatedroneaction.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council 315-383-5738
Beth Harris, Ithaca Drone Resistance Support Team, 607-266-7587
Grandma Drone Resister Appealing
While being Remanded to Prison
Press Conference Tuesday, January 19 at 4:30 pm
Hancock drone resister and grandmother Mary Anne Grady Flores will be taken into custody on Tuesday, January 19 at the Town of DeWitt Court at 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY. Her lead Attorney, Lance Salisbury, will speak at the 4:30pm press conference at the court. Grady Flores appears before the court at 5pm.
On May 16, 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, February 13, 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 letter 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 letter 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 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, in a letter, 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 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.
Mary Anne Grady Flores is being sent to prison the day after celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. when many Americans reflect on his opposition to U.S. military aggression and his commitment to nonviolent protest against injustice. Supporter Beth Harris said, “Join the nonviolent resistance against U.S. drone warfare and challenge the unlawful application of orders of protection to peace activists as ways of carrying on Dr. King’s legacy.”
Only Coordinated Prison Visits Please – Contact Carol Baum- 315-383-5738
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
Listen to Mary Anne on Democracy Now here.
DONATIONS: Make checks payable to Ithaca Catholic Workers, with “Mary Anne Grady Flores” written in the memo line, and send to the Ithaca Catholic Workers, 514 North Plain, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Mary Anne Grady Flores #12001966
Jamesville Correctional Facility
PO Box 143
Links to video from the press conference before Mary Anne was taken into custody:
–Ann Wright called in from Honolulu with a statement: https://youtu.be/ChJ-kxuQM-w
–Mary Anne spoke: https://youtu.be/G_r-7wiBkg4
–Atty. Lance Salisbury talked a bit about the appeal: https://youtu.be/-_D_LbBodYE
–Ellen Grady talking about drone victims: https://youtu.be/vgX9x2-MQJk
–Carol Baum reading the November 2015 letter from the four drone operators to Pres. Obama: https://youtu.be/r_engGBmYbI
Hancock Drone Resister Grandma Goes to Jail
DeWitt, NY, Jan 19 – Following a 1/2 hour press conference, Mary Anne Grady Flores, a mother, grandmother and daughter, proprietor of a small Latino catering business, was sentenced to 6 months in jail, then handcuffed and taken from the courtroom to Jamesville Correctional Facility in East Syracuse. In December, Judge Miller of the Onondaga County Court of Appeals heard arguments for an appeal of her previous conviction for violating the terms of an Order of Protection issued in 2012 on behalf of the base commander at Hancock National Guard Base to her and other protesters to keep them away from the base property.
A week ago, on January 12, Grady Flores was informed by her attorney, Lance Salisbury, that he had received a letter saying that her conviction had been upheld but her sentence would be reduced from a year in jail to 6 months. The letter also re-affirmed the conviction and sentence of Grady Flores and 11 others in a January 2013 trial on charges of disorderly conduct for the 2012 protest where they had blocked the access road to the base. Since they had completed their sentences, the decision was moot except in so far as it affirmed Grady Flores’ Order of Protection issued in conjunction with sentencing.
The system is waiting for a signal. The case of Mary Anne Grady Flores, who was convicted of violating her order of protection by standing in the public highway in front of the Hancock Base taking pictures of a protest, is now being appealed to the New York State Supreme Court. Only after Grady Flores’ arrest, Base personnel informed protesters that the Base property extends to the center of the thoroughfare, more than 100 feet from the 10 foot high chain link fence that surrounds the compound. . Despite ongoing civil resistance at Hancock Base, no other protester has been convicted of violating an order of protection, an instrument designed to protect victims of domestic violence and witnesses subject to intimidation
This is a critical case for civil liberties and freedom of speech. The right to petition the government for redress is guaranteed by the first amendment of the constitution.
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars was formed in 2009 when Hancock Air National Guard Base, now home of the 174th Attack Wing and a center for Reaper Drone piloting and training, became one of the first drone support bases in the US. Since 2011, there have been 160 arrests of nonviolent anti-drone protesters at Hancock. Since 2012, the courts handed down orders of protection to every protester until the Grady Flores case was appealed. Grady Flores is the 2nd protester to be sentenced to more than 2 weeks in jail. The first was a 79 year old WWII Vet, a retired school teacher and lifelong advocate for peace and justice.
Since 2002, drone strikes have killed 5,000 people, at least 1/4 of them civilians, in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. There are no good statistics for drone strikes in Afghanistan beyond the fact that the majority of airstrikes there have been drone strikes, which would indicate a higher total than anywhere outside Afghanistan, which is a declared war-zone. Civilian deaths are likely under-counted because methods of identifying ‘militants’ are poorly defined and self-referential.
Resistance continues at Hancock and drone bases around the country. Drone Warfare Must END! For more information on Drone Warfare and resistance to drone warfare at Hancock Air National Guard Base: http://upstatedroneaction.org
Colonel Ann Wright’s Statement 1-19-16
As grandmother Mary Ann Grady Flores is taken to jail today for violating an “Order of Protection” requested by the Commander of the U.S. National Guard, Hancock Drone base, Syracuse, NY, I, as a retired U.S. Army Colonel with 29 years in the U.S. military find it quite embarrassing and ludicrous that a U.S. military commander decided that his personal security was so threatened by peaceful, nonviolent protesters of the drone policies of the United States that he applied for an “Order of Protection” from the courts—and that the courts issued the “Order” without any evidence that any protester had ever even seen the Commander, much less constituted a threat to him.
I would have expected a U.S. military commander to have had the courage to meet with the group of concerned citizens rather than obtaining a cowardly “Order of Protection.” Had I been the commander, I certainly would have met with the citizens and would never have contemplated getting an “Order of Protection”.
I have just returned from South Korea and Okinawa where citizen protesters daily block gates to military bases where highly contentious runways and ports are being built. Each day police remove nonviolent protesters from the gates, but they have never been prohibited from exercising their rights to protest, a right that is under siege by the military and the courts in Syracuse, New York.
As further evidence of how contorted the law enforcement and judicial process in the U.S. is about protests, while armed, white militia hold a federal wildlife reserve in Oregon in protest of the government having too much land and are not even arrested, Mary Ann Grady Flores, a peaceful grandmother who stepped on a double line and therefore violated an “Order of Protection”, is going to jail for six months.
The actions by the U.S. military at Hancock drone base and the town courts of DeWitt, New York are blatant measures taken unconstitutionally to silence dissent against the assassin drone weapons policy and intimidate protesters. They both should be ashamed.
US Army Colonel (retired)