Harry Murray’s Sentencing Hearing (videos)

Harry Murray initiated a discussion about drone warfare, and about civil disobedience with Judge Gideon at his sentencing hearing, and through a sentencing memorandum sent to him before this hearing.   You can read that memo in the previous post, if you haven’t alread read it.    There was some disagreement regarding how those of us present felt about Judge Gideon’s response.   You should read the memo before deciding what you think.

You can see a complete video by Wilton Vought of the Press Conference and Harry’s Sentencing Hearing HERE.

Videos below by Charlie Bowman –

Harry Murray Reads his Sentencing Statement (not the Memorandum he had mailed to the Judge in advance)

Judge Gideon Responds




Courthouse Press Conference (Videos)

On March 10, we held a Press Conference at DeWitt Town Court before Harry Murray’s sentencing hearing.      The Press Conference provided an opportunity for Harry to speak about his trial and his activism, and Mary Anne Grady Flores was present to talk about her time in jail, her recently granted stay and her appeal which is pending before the New York State Supreme Court awaiting a decision as to whether they will rule on it.  

Press Conference
Syracuse Resident Ed Kinane introduces the event and talks about recent actions at Hancock:

Ithaca Resident Mary Anne Grady Flores talks about her conviction and jail time, and about her appeal:

Nazareth College Professor Harry Murray talks about his conviction and upcoming sentencing:

Ithaca College Professor Beth Harris talks about the veil that has been drawn over the US drone program:

Q&A:

Videos above by Charlie Bowman.
You can see a complete video by Wilton Vought of the Press Conference and Harry’s Sentencing Hearing HERE.




Press Conference: Drone Resisters Speak

Harry Murray to be sentenced at 8pm
Mary Anne Grady Flores released on bail

Press Conference:
DeWitt Town Court, E. Syracuse, N.Y.
March 10, 7:15pm

Syracuse, N.Y.  The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars invites the press and public to hear from drone resisters Mary Anne Grady Flores, released on bail Monday night, and Prof. Harry Murray.  Judge David Gideon will sentence Nazareth College Professor Murray in the DeWitt Town Court on Thursday at 8pm. Convicted of a trespass charge, Murray faces 15 days in Jamesville Correctional Facility. His conviction stems from the Hancock 31 action (April 28, 2013) denouncing drone killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are directed by drone operators sitting in computer rooms at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on E. Molloy Rd. in DeWitt, NY.

After completing 49 days in the Jamesville jail, Mary Anne Grady Flores, grandmother of 3, was released on $5,000 bail.  She had been convicted of criminal contempt of an order of protection signed by a DeWitt judge on behalf of the Hancock base commander who claimed that he wanted the protesters away from his base. Grady Flores’ attorney Lance Salisbury submitted an appeal of her conviction to the NYS Court of Appeals, the highest state court. He writes, “There exists a split within the decisions of the Onondaga County Courts on the validity of the order of protection at issue in this case,” and that the Court of Appeals must resolve this difference. Salisbury argues that the New York Criminal Code requires that orders of protection be issued only on behalf of a crime victim or witness, not for the protection of property, including a military base, as happened in the case of Grady Flores.

Hancock air base commanders have used orders of protection to silence First Amendment protected rights to protest the crimes committed by entire chain of command of the US drone program. These crimes include violation of sovereignty laws, extra-judicial killings, violation of due process rights, and the killing of innocent civilians. “We know from leaked government documents, the Drone Papers, during a five month period in Afghanistan, 90% of all drone victims were bystanders. If the American people knew the impact of the drone program, they would shut it down, “ said Grady Flores. Four former drone operators wrote President Obama,

“This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world. When the guilt of our role in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD.”

Prior to Professor Murray’s January trial, a Hancock base lawyer argued to quash the subpoena, which Judge Gideon had signed, for the base commander to produce information about Hancock drone strikes. Professor Murray recounts,

“He told the judge that the information I had requested, including the number of children killed by drone strikes piloted out of Hancock, was classified and that Col. Semmel could be prosecuted if he answered any of those questions.  If letting the people know how many children its military has killed threatens the security of our nation, what does that say about the US as a country and as a democracy?”




Grandma Drone Resister Released on Stay

Grandma Drone Resister
Released on Bail Pending Court of Appeals Decision

A court has ordered that Mary Anne Grady Flores be released on $5,000 cash bail from the Onondaga County Correctional Facility in Jamesville NY on Monday, March 7, pending the New York State Court of Appeals decision on whether it will consider her case. That decision could take a month or two. Should the court decide to take the case, it could be quite a long time before it is heard.  

Grady Flores’s appeals case, which was submitted on Feb. 19 by attorney Lance Salisbury, hinges on the validity of the order of protection granted to Colonel Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (Syracuse) by a judge. Orders of protection are generally issued to protect vulnerable people from domestic violence. Grady Flores was arrested for ostensibly violating this order while standing in the road outside the base and simply photographing peaceful drone protesters.

She was sentenced to six months (reduced from the original 12 months) and began serving the time on January 19. She has now completed 49 days in the prison. She would have to return to serve the remaining 65 days if the Court of Appeals decides not to hear the case.

On Friday, February 26, as she wrote in a public letter, Mary Anne was granted a deathbed visit to her mother, Teresa Grady, who had entered hospice care (at home) on February 19. As she wrote us afterward,

“I walked, shackled, wrists to waist and ankles, to be at mom’s side,
leaning over her to kiss her big smiling face. I told her over and
over that I loved her, my tears wetting her soft cheeks. I asked if
she was in any pain. ‘No, I’m not in pain. I’m o.k.’ She kept smiling
and fell asleep. What a precious, blessed moment.”

Mary Anne is especially looking forward to spending more time with her mother, as well as with her children, three grandchildren, siblings, and extended family. She is very grateful to the many people who wrote to her and visited her during her time in prison.

Mary Anne is 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.

——

To write to Mary Anne at home:

Mary Anne Grady Flores, c/o Ithaca Catholic Worker, 514 North Plain Street, Ithaca, NY 14850




Activists Arrested for Entering Drone Base With Loaf of Bread

ACTIVISTS ARRESTED FOR ENTERING DRONE BASE WITH LOAF OF BREAD

PRESS RELEASE

Camp Douglas, WI — On February 23rd, two peace activists with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, were arrested when they attempted to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to drone operators at Volk Field, an Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin, which trains pilots to operate Shadow Drones over other countries. Voices activists have lived alongside ordinary people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Gaza. People who can’t flee from drone surveillance and attacks have good reason to fear people from the U.S., but instead they have broken bread with Kelly and Terrell and have welcomed opportunities for deepened mutual understanding. Kelly and Terrell carried the loaf of bread to signify the worth of relying on words rather than weapons.

Before entering the base property, Kathy Kelly said: “Living alongside ordinary people who can’t escape drone surveillance in places like Iraq, Gaza and Afghanistan and knowing that a drone operator could be ordered to assassinate civilians who have nowhere to turn and nowhere to hide affected my conscience. I wanted to ask drone operators in Volk Field whether they had been asked to target any people for possible assassination that day.  I want to ask how the base training manual teaches people to distinguish between civilians and armed combatants. If an operator wants to quit, what does the commander of Volk Field do?”

Brian Terrell also noted: “Wisconsin is where I was born and raised and so I feel that coming to Volk Field is a responsibility that I owe in gratitude to my home state. The premise that drones will limit the parameters of war and make for fewer civilian casualties has proven false. General Stanley McChrystal, who led troops in Afghanistan from June 2009 to June 2010, warned that the drone ‘lowers the threshold for taking operations because it feels easy, there’s a danger in that.’ And yet the evolution of drones in the militaries of many countries around the globe has been anything but cautious. Instead there is a reckless proliferation of this deadly technology.”

Terrell and Kelly will be arraigned on February 24th, after 2:30 p.m., at the Juneau County Justice Center, 200 Oak St., in Mauston, WI. Also on February 25th, at 9:00 a.m., Mary Beth Schlagheck, will be tried for having crossed the line at Volk Field in August of 2015.  Hers is the last of seven trials stemming from nonviolent civil resistance actions at Volk Field that were undertaken as the culmination of the “Let It Shine” walk from Madison to Volk Field. The witness of the activists who have protested at Volk Field, and who have testified so eloquently in court, inspired Brian’s and Kathy’s action.

***

Contact:

Buddy Bell
Voices for Creative Nonviolence, 773-540-7657
buddy.vcnv@gmail.com

Joy First
WI Coalition to Ground the Drones, 608-239-4327
joyfirst5@gmail.com




Grandma Asks Questions About Her Volk Field Arrest

Joy First, Grandmother Activist, Found Guilty of Trespassing in Juneau County, WI

by Joy First of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, NCNR

On February 9, 2016 Judge Paul Curran found me guilty of trespass for walking onto the Air National Guard Base at Volk Field in Wisconsin on August 26, 2015.  I joined eight others who wanted to deliver a message to Base Commander Colonel David Romuald, demanding that he immediately end the program of training pilots to operate the Shadow Drone at Volk Field.  Shadow drones are used overseas for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition, and so contribute to the deaths of thousands of innocents through U.S drone warfare.  This action came at the end of the 8-day 90-mile walk organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence from Madison to Volk Field.

The trial began as predicted with DA Solovey calling Juneau County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Mueller who established that I was at Volk Field on August 26 and that I did cross onto the base after being told not to.

The following are the questions that I asked the deputy under cross examination.

What is the purpose of the area between the gates and the guardhouse?

Response: It is so cars have a place to line up while waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse without blocking the county road.

When is it legal to be there?

Response: When you are a member of the public waiting to talk to someone in the guardhouse.

Did you ask any of us why we were there so you would know if we were there for a valid reason, and were therefore authorized to be there?

Response: No I didn’t.

Why weren’t we allowed to walk to the guardhouse and state our business?

Response: The sheriff said we should arrest you when you stepped onto the base.

Why does a military base that is supposed to be protecting us need to have the Sheriff protect them from nonviolent dissenters.

Response: I don’t know.

If we are arrested at Camp McCoy the base security makes the arrest.  Whd does the county take this on at Volk Field?

Response: I don’t know.

I said I had no further questions.  I then asked the DA if the Sheriff was expected today as he had testified at the other trials.  The DA said he was not.  I was disappointed to hear that because the sheriff likely would have been able to answer my questions.  It seems clear we are being discriminated against by not being allowed to go to the guardhouse when that is what anyone else is able to do, but I was not a good enough examiner to bring this out with the witness that was there.

The defense rested and I told the judge I would like to give a brief statement as testimony, a closing statement, and then if I was found guilty I wanted to give a sentencing statement.  The judge said that was fine, and I was sworn in and took the stand.

Here is my testimony from the stand.

As each of those who came before me said, silence is complicity and so I must speak out.

I am testifying that I have a First amendment right to petition my government for a redress of grievances and that was what I was doing at Volk Field on August 26, 2015.

I am also testifying that I have an obligation following Nuremberg to speak out when I see that my government is doing something illegal.

I was not there on August 25 in order to enter the base without permission, but to get to the guard house to request a meeting with the base commander to talk about US drone warfare.  I was not there because I wanted to get arrested.

Defendants have not been permitted to present evidence as to their intent.  For example, Ms.  Ellwanger’s statement was completely stricken from the record and Mr. Timmerman was not allowed to talk about intent.

I then cited information that we had used to appeal a previous case and said:

However, according to previous court cases, the “mere omission of any mention of intent will not be construed as eliminating that element from the crimes denounced.”   The Supreme Court held that a statue’s “silence” on the mens rea element “does not necessarily suggest that Congress intended to dispense with a conventional mens rea element.”    The Staples Court importantly added that “some indication of Congressional intent, express or implied, is required to dispense with mens rea as an element of a crime.”

I handed the judge the complete text, which included the court cases cited and continued:

And our intention for being there is an important element in this case.  We were not violent.  We meant no harm, rather we were there to try to prevent harm to others and to uphold the law.

When the police asked us to leave I believed it was my right and my duty to remain.

As I walked back to the defense table the DA asked if my complete statement could be stricken from the record.  The judge overruled this request, stating that I included some legal arguments in my statement.

The judge then said that I was found guilty and started saying I would have to pay the $232 fine when he remembered that I wanted to make a closing statement.  He asked if I still wanted to make a closing statement and I said that I wasn’t sure if it was relevant since he already pronounced me guilty.

The judge replied that he had sat through so many of these cases and heard us talk about our personal beliefs and convictions about drones and he had heard it all.  He said if that was what I was going to talk about he didn’t want to hear it, but that if I had something else to say he would listen and if necessary vacate the sentence.

So I read the following as my closing statement:

I am here before you today because I cannot and will not remain silent as our government continues to engage in drone warfare which is illegal and immoral.  I did not go to Volk Field on August 25, 2015 to break the law; rather I was there to uphold the law.  This is not a simple trespassing case.

Testimony was given that I, as a committed and concerned U.S. citizen, was there exercising my First Amendment rights, and following my obligations under Nuremberg.  I went to Volk Field not with the intention of getting arrested, but rather to try to meet with the base commander, who has never answered a letter from us.

I was not there to engage in unlawful activities.  I am a person of nonviolence, involved in Constitutionally-protected speech.  My intent was to seek to influence the commander, wake him up and affect his conscience, hardly an offense that I should have been arrested for.

You have heard testimony that when the police told me I had to leave, it was my right and my duty to refuse that order.  I acted in a nonviolent manner, and I had the right and responsibility to remain and continue my request for a meeting.

You have heard that I was acting under the First Amendment which gives us the right to peaceably assemble, speak out, and petition our government for a redress of long-standing grievances.

You have heard that I was following my citizen obligations under Nuremberg and other international law.

According to the Nuremberg Principles, if we remain silent while our government is engaged in illegal and immoral activities, then we are complicit, we are equally guilty of being in violation of international law and of going against our most dearly held values.  It is our responsibility as citizens, as taxpayers, as voters, as prosecutors, as judges to speak out.  Robert Jackson, the United States judge at the Nuremberg trials said, “The very essence of the Nuremberg Charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.”

I will not, indeed, I cannot, be complicit when our government has gone so astray.  It is my responsibility as a citizen of this great country to call attention to the unjust actions of our government and demand that they stop now.  I believe that I can make a difference, that I have made a difference, and you can too.  Please, look into your heart and see that I was doing what I was called to do, and that I did so peacefully, and now you have the opportunity to find me not guilty of trespass.

You have said that you have no authority over our foreign policy, but if a judge in Juneau County finds me innocent, it would make a difference and people would pay attention.

At the Hancock AFB  in New York resisters were acquitted because the judge said they intended to uphold the law, not break it.  We were at Volk Field on August 25 to uphold the law.

I ask that you please find me not guilty as charged and join me in saying that we need to stop arresting, detaining, and prosecuting nonviolent people of good will and conscience who take action for peace and justice.

Thank you for your time and attention to this case.

——————————————

I finished and Judge Curran again pronounced me guilty.  He said that what I was asking him to do was very dangerous.  He cannot let me off because he likes me or agrees with me.  That would set a very dangerous precedent.  He can’t let his personal beliefs affect his rulings as he picks and chooses which laws to obey and which not to obey.  He is bound and sworn to follow the law.

The trial lasted 18 minutes.  Curran left the courtroom without giving me a chance to give a sentencing statement as I had requested.  Again, he is sick of us and does what he can to shut us down.  His argument at the end makes no sense.  He IS picking and choosing which laws to obey when finds us guilty.  He is ignoring the constitutional law of our First Amendment rights.  He is ignoring international law, including Nuremberg, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions – all of which make U.S. drone warfare illegal.

Afterwards, I realized that I should have added something to my closing.  I should have pointed out that Deputy Mueller said that members of the public are allowed to pass through the gate and proceed to the guardhouse to request permission to enter the base.  If that is the case, why were we arrested at the gate without being asked what our business was at the base?  Why are we not being given the same rights as other members of the public?

As so many of my activist friends say, “You do not find justice in the courtroom.”  There was no justice for me today, but more importantly, there is certainly no justice for the thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed because of U.S. drone warfare.  We continue with two more trials for our Volk Field action – Phil on February 19 and Mary Beth on February 25.




Guilty of Trespass – Again

BONNIE BLOCK FOUND GUILTY OF TRESPASS — AGAIN

Report by Bonnie Block of NCNR, The National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance

Joy First is the usual reporter on the trials of Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones activists  but she is in Washington, D.C. for the NCNR action on “The Real State of the Union. So I’ll report on my bench trial on January 8th.

My statement to the court is below.  After I read the first paragraph the District Attorney objected but Judge Curran did not honor his objection and let me read the statement without interruption which is progress because in the past we have often been interrupted when trying to make our case.

STATEMENT TO THE JUNEAU COUNTY COURT, January 8, 2016

I sit in this courtroom once again charged with trespass and the claim that trespass is purely a matter of “whether or not one entered or remained on the land of another” and that any justification for doing so is merely political and thus not relevant in a court of law.  Yet the bedrock foundation of the rule of law is due process. Thus I need a chance to speak of why my action on August 25, 2015 should not be viewed as trespass. There was no intent to harm anyone or damage anything which is what trespass laws exist to prevent. Rather it was an act of nonviolent civil resistance calling on Volk Field personnel to abide by the rule of law. Why do I say that?

Because:

Drone warfare is Illegal.  From all the reading and legal research that I’ve done I’m convinced the training of and use by operators of the RQ-7 Shadow 200 UAV’s at Volk Field is part of an illegal program.  I refer the Court to the 14-page Motion to Dismiss I filed in on April 18, 2014 prior to my first trial on an almost identical set of facts.  Obviously, I won’t repeat all of that but four things do need to be said.

First, targeted assassinations are murder because bombs from the sky provide absolutely no due process and murder is illegal in all 50 states.

Second, The US has ratified the UN Charter which requires member states to settle disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against any other state.  The US claim that the right of self-defense allows it to engage in pre-emptive attacks is not valid.

Third, the UN General Assembly and its Human Rights Council both have declared drone warfare to be a war crime. This should come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court but the US has not ratified the ICC precisely because it fears US officials being might be found guilty of just such crimes.

Fourth, drone warfare violates the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which sets the basic standards by which human beings should be treated.  Multiple international human rights organizations charge the US with violations of international humanitarian law.

Drone warfare is also immoral. I need not go into the moral arguments against drone warfare because this past Monday one of my co-defendants, Fr. Jim Murphy, eloquently set them out in this very courtroom prior to being sentenced to five days in jail.  I agree and affirm every word of his statement most especially that “we cannot remain silent without becoming complicit.” There is no justification for even one person much less thousands of people being killed, wounded or terrorized by US drones.  Data for each country in which drone strikes occur can be found at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Drone warfare is ineffective.  The recent release of “The Drone Papers” is just the most recent report showing remote-controlled wars are counter-productive.  A summary of this report published on October 23, 2015 at www.commondreams.com  states:  “Even a drone operator who defended this type of warfare… admitted that things have gotten worse on the ground: “The military has quadrupled drone strikes over the past seven years; and now instead if hiding in Waziristan, al-Qaida is flourishing all over the world.”

Not only that, but what goes around comes around.  The New York Times and other media outlets are reporting that US drone operators have the same or even higher rates of PTSD than military personnel who have been in combat.  And, God bless them, many are leaving military service because they can no longer stand the stress of participating in remote control killing.

Rights and Duty. Every citizen has not only the constitutional right, but I think a duty, to engage in nonviolent resistance when our government is in violation of the law. Crossing the line is one way of exercising our constitutional rights to free speech and petitioning a branch of the government for a redress of grievances over what is being done in our name and with our taxes.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Where, after all, do universal rights begin?  In small places, close to home. (…) Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”

That’s why I keep coming to Volk Field and ending up in this Courtroom.  Wisconsin is our home and dismissal of this trespass charge could set a new precedent right here in this small place. We could honor universal human rights here.

The myth that the use of force such as drone warfare will make us safe and the influence of the war profiteers producing drones and other weapons of war are both very strong.  But we could all, in our own way, be one of those tiny grains of sand that slows down the gears of the machinery of death.   We could help stop the drones originating from Volk Field rather than acquiescing in ratchetting up the level of violence and injustice because we’re “just following orders” or “we can’t make policy.”

Thus I continue to engage in nonviolent civil resistance to call on my government (and its military) to abide by the rule of law and that I believe fails to meet the elements or intent of the law of trespass.  Instead I ask—as do the children of Afghanistan—that we “Fly Kites, Not Drones.”

– Bonnie Block

I was wearing one of the “Fly Kites Not Drones” T-shirts the WI Coalition has had printed so everyone in the courtroom saw our heartfelt desire–especially the Sheriff and one of his Deputies who had to identify me — thus insuring they also saw the words on the shirt.

BUT as has happened previously each time one of us has gone to trial, the Judge did find me guilty of trespass under a County ordinance.  I said that as a matter of conscience I couldn’t pay the fine and would do the jail time or better yet community service.  (At my trial in 2015, the Judge said the County couldn’t afford to hire a supervisor for court-ordered community service and thus sentenced me to five days in the Juneau County Jail.)

This time I came more prepared.  A local pastor, Rev. Terry McGinley, appeared on my behalf to say would supervise my community service at one of three non-profits in Mauston (the county seat) that he had already contacted. He also said he would report back to the Court upon the completion of the number of hours the Judge ordered and do this without charge to Juneau County. The Judge replied that he wasn’t able to make a decision “after just hearing about it three minutes ago.”

Apparently Judge Curran didn’t remember that we have been asking for the community service outcome for two years.  Or perhaps he was miffed that I was forcing the issue.  Anyhow, he sentenced me to pay the $232 fine and if it wasn’t paid in time Juneau County would attach my income tax refund and thus get the money — regardless of my conscientious objection to paying a fine for an action taken in opposition to what I believe is a war crime!

I plan to file a Motion for Reconsideration after Rev. McGinley has met with Judge Curran to see if there is still a way to work out doing community service in lieu of paying a fine.  So many human service programs have been cut because our elected officials doubled military spending since 9/11. Thus it seems only right to support a Food Pantry, an Aging and Disability Resource Center or a Habitat Restore instead. (These were the three agencies that told Rev. McGinley they would welcome court-ordered community service.)

Stay tuned.  Six more trials are scheduled later in January and in February.

——————————————————-

This is one of 3 great descriptions by Joy First and Bonnie Block of trials  for civil resistance activists protesting drones at Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin.    These scenarios seem very similar to the ones we face at Hancock Air National Guard Base in Upstate New York.    It isn’t every day that we get such a careful transcription of events.

 




Harry Murray Convicted of Trespass

January 27: Harry Murray was convicted of Trespass in a Bench Trial with Judge David Gideon Presiding.    Harry was charged for participating in a die-in April 28, 2013 when he was arrested with 30 other people for blocking the access road leading into thebase compound.   An OGA charge had been dropped prior to the trial.

College Professor, Catholic Worker, NonViolent Civil Resister, Peace Activist Harry Murray came presented  his case pro se.    He asserted that US policy of targeted killing with drones is morally unacceptable and in violation of international law.    The courtroom was filled with supporters.     This is the last trial of the Hancock 31 arrested in April of 2013.    Sentencing will be in March.

Harry’s co-defendants, Mary Loehr and Cynthia Banas accepted a plea agreement negotiated by their attorneys, Daire Irwin and Jonathan Wallace, with the DA.

Erica Bryant of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle published this Interview with Harry following his conviction.

 

 




Jerry Berrigan Memorial Blockade Press Release

Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade
Hancock Air Drone Base, Jan. 28 – Twelve Activists Arrested

On Thursday morning, January 28, thirty life sized cutouts of Syracuse peacemaker Jerry Berrigan blockaded the main entrance of Hancock Air National Guard Base outside Syracuse, NY. The cutouts were accompanied by twelve nonviolent drone resisters, who were arrested after blockading for an hour and a half. See video (of the blockade and arrests).

Jerry Berrigan, who died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, dedicated his entire life – like his brothers Dan and Phil – to Jesus’ command to love one another, Jerry came to the base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able, in his words,

to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern was among those standing with the Memorial in the roadway. Others were Beth Adams, Bev Rice, Bill Ofenloch, Brian Hynes, Charley Bowman, Ed Kinane, James Ricks, Joan Pleune, Joan Wages, Pete Perry and Steve Baggarly.

They were all charged with one misdemeanor and two violations, with the exception of Bev Rice and Joan Pleune, who were both charged with an additional misdemeanor (for allegedly violating an order of protection taken out by the base commander).

In 2008 Jerry was asked if there was anything he would change in his life. Jerry replied, “I would have resisted more often and been arrested more often.” The activists brought Jerry’s image to the gates to remember that this is where he would be, speaking out and putting his body on the line to say a clear “NO” to killing.

The group also remembered Mary Anne Grady Flores, who is serving a six-month sentence for violating an order of protection, taken out by the colonel at Hancock Air Base. Clearly, courts in NYS believe that a colonel at this highly armed base needs protection from citizens calling attention to the drone killings.

More and more evidence mounts regarding the illegality of U.S. drone policies, from the “Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, to the four drone pilots who have come forward to speak out about what this policy is doing. The activists tried to deliver a letter addressed to the Hancock military personnel stating that “Under the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice you must not be complicit in these crimes against peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In fact, you are required to disobey unlawful orders from a superior.”

Hancock Air Base deploys hunter/killer Reaper drones 24/7 over Afghanistan and probably elsewhere. These weaponized robotic drones are instruments of terror. They perpetrate extrajudicial killings, violate due process, violate national sovereignty, and kill non-combatants and civilians.

Original PDF




Jerry Berrigan Memorial Statement

We come to the gates of Hancock Drone Base today to install a memorial of Jerry Berrigan.

Jerry Berrigan, who died on July 26, 2015 at the age of 95, was a husband, a father, a brother, a teacher and someone who – like his brothers Dan and Phil – dedicated his entire life to Jesus’ command to love one another. Jerry came to the base on a bi-weekly basis whenever he was able, in Jerry’s words,

to remind the base commander of our government’s pledge under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, a treaty to safeguard non-combatant’s well-being in any warzone in which U.S. forces are engaged in combat.” And further, “to register horror and indignation at reports of bombing missions by drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan which resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians; men, women and children.”

As more and more evidence mounts regarding the illegality of U.S. drone policies, from the “Drone Papers” published by The Intercept, to the four drone pilots who have come forward to speak out about what this policy is doing, we bring Jerry’s image here to the gates to remember that this is where he would be, speaking out and putting his body on the line to say a clear “NO” to killing. Because Jerry Berrigan knew that it matters where we put our bodies.

In 2008 Jerry was asked by The Syracuse Post Standard if there was anything he would change in his life. Jerry replied, “I would have resisted more often and been arrested more often.” In our memorial today we use an image of Jerry from The Syracuse Post Standard where he is being arrested for opposing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

As we are installing this Jerry Berrigan Memorial Drone Blockade, we also remember Mary Anne Grady Flores who is serving a six month sentence here in the Onondaga County jail because the courts in this county believe that the colonel at this highly armed base needs protection from citizens calling attention to the drone killings. We challenge the courts to apply the law as it was meant to be applied; to protect victims not victimizers.

Syracuse has a great history of men named Jerry and resistance to injustice. We call to mind “The Jerry Rescue” memorial that stands across the street from The Federal Court house where Syracusans in 1851 literally got in the way of the illegal and immoral Fugitive Slave law and the officials who tried take a man named Jerry back to enslavement in the South. They opened the prison gates for him to go to freedom. Our intent for this memorial today in honor of Jerry Berrigan, is to get in the way of the illegal and immoral use of killer drones. And to stand in solidarity with all those resisting other injustice – from Black Lives Matter to those putting their bodies to halt climate change.

Thank you Jerry Berrigan for your life and example. Your Spirit lives on!

In peace,

Beth Adams (Leverett, MA), Bev Rice (Manhattan), Bill Ofenloch (NYC), Brian Hynes (Bronx), Charley Bowman (Buffalo), Ed Kinane (Syracuse, NY), James Ricks (Ithaca), Joan Pleune (Brooklyn), Joan Wages (Roanoke, VA), Pete Perry (Syracuse, NY), Ray McGovern (Arlington, VA), Steve Baggarly (VA)

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