Amicus Brief for Mary Anne Grady Flores

Jonathan Wallace has written an Amicus Brief for Mary Anne Grady Flores and submitted it to the Appeals Court on behalf of Upstate Drone Action.   Mary Anne, one of the first Hancock protesters to receive an Order of Protection, decided not to press her luck and participate in the next civil resistance action outside the base.   She did however come to the site of the protest and stand in the street photographing the participants.   As she walked back to her car, she was arrested for ‘violating’ the terms of her OOP.

Since she was in a public road well outside the locked gates of the base while merely photographing the protesters, Mary Anne was completely surprised by her arrest.   In her mind, she had followed what she believed was the intention of the OOP which was to refrain from protesting at Hancock Base and stay off base property.    She later learned that the public thoroughfare she was standing in  was leased by the base from the town, and subject to an easement allowing traffic to pass by.

At the trial, the Jury sided with a very aggressive prosecution that labeled her as an intruder in the affairs of the community and convicted her of not ‘staying away’ from the base.     Judge David Gideon wanted to ‘send a message’ to the protesters so he sentenced her to a year in jail.   By that time, the actual protesters she was photographing had already been acquitted of their Disorderly Conduct charges on the basis that there was no ‘intention’ to cause alarm or disruption.

Mary Anne’s case has been appealed and the appeal will be heard possibly in the fall.    This is the context in which Jonathan wrote the brief.   I have transcribed the introduction and summary portion of the brief in this post, but if you wish to read the whole brief you can click on the pdf link at the end of the post.  I have also linked a copy of her Order of Protection so you can see what Jonathan references in his document.

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INTEREST OF THE AMICUS CURIAE

Upstate Drone Action respectfully submits this brief as amicus curiae in support of Appellant’s argument that her conviction for contempt of an Order of Protection (“OOP”) violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Upstate Drone Action is a grassroots coalition founded in 2010 which, in its
own words, “seeks to expose – both to the public and to Hancock Air Force Base personnel – the ongoing satellite-facilitated Reaper drone war crimes perpetrated in West Asia and the Middle East by the 174th Attack Wing of the New York State National Guard stationed at Syracuse’s Hancock Air Force base”.

Upstate Drone Action has organized and carried out a series of peaceful protests on the public street adjoining, and in the access road to, Hancock Air Force base. Numerous members of Upstate Drone Action have been arrested during these peaceful protests and charged with obstructing government action, a misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct and trespass violations, and some have gone to trial on these charges. Almost from the very outset, authorities in the Town of Dewitt, where the base is located, have begun issuing OOP’s under Criminal Procedure Law Section 530.13, using the same blank form which would be utilized to protect a battered spouse or frightened witness, issuing these in the name of the colonels commanding the base. Appellant Mary Ann Grady was arrested for violating her OOP at an Upstate Drone Action demonstration. Three other members of Upstate Drone Action currently face contempt charges for OOP violations, which have been adjourned by a DeWitt Town Court judge without date pending a decision on this appeal.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE AND SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

Amicus maintains that the OOP issued to Appellant violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and the New York State Constitution, because:

  1. It is so vague as to offend Due Process, in that it fails to contain any geographic limitation whatever or other clarification as to the meaning of its terms, including the phrase “stay away”;
  2. Appellant’s actions, peacefully photographing a demonstration on a public thoroughfare, were First Amendment protected and cannot Constitutionally be construed as a misdemeanor violation of the OOP;
  3. The OOP fails the “intermediate scrutiny” test applicable in First Amendment cases involving content neutrality, in that the OOP itself, and Appellant’s arrest pursuant to it, were not “narrowly tailored to a significant government interest, while allowing ample alternative means of communication”; and
  4. The OOP constituted an unlawful prior restraint on Appellant’s speech.

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                                                                       Click icon to read the entire brief: Click to Download PDF

 

 

 




Are We the Terrorists?

Are we the terrorists? This is the subject of Ed Kinane and Dave Kashmer’s informative Workshop on Drone Warfare at SUNY Cortland.   Students were informed about the actions off military drones around the world then engaged on the subject of ‘Are We the Terrorists’.   Very interesting result.  A good model for introducing the subject to those who have not had an opportunity to see things as we do.

 




Good Friday Review

Photos by Eddie Rodriguez and Judy Bello

Hover to see name of photographer.   Click on an image to view in lightbox.  Use arrows to click through.   To view full sized image (though none are ‘high def’) right click on the image in the lightbox and select ‘View Image’.




War Crimes Indictment for Good Friday

WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT

WAR_CRIMES_INDICTMENT_Good_Friday_2017.pdf

Indictment read by Matt Ryan, recorded by Judy Bello:

http://upstatedroneaction.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/Audio/Good_Friday_Indictment-Matt_Ryan.mp3

To President Donald Trump, to Secretary of Defense Secretary James Mattis, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Command Chief Michael Will, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Hancock Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of Dewitt, NY:

Each one of you, when you became a public servant, serving in a government position or when you joined the United States Armed Forces or police, you publicly promised to uphold the United States Constitution. We take this opportunity to call your attention to Article VI of the US Constitution, which states:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary not with standing.

This clause is known as the Supremacy Clause because it provides that the Constitution and laws of the U.S., including treaties made under authority of the U.S. shall be supreme law of the land.

The Supremacy Clause provides part of the Supreme Law of the Land.

One Treaty duly ratified by the U.S. is the United Nations Charter. It was ratified by a vote of 89 to 2 in the U.S. Senate, and signed by the President in 1945. It remains in effect today. As such, it is part of supreme law of the land.

The Preamble of the U.N. Charter states that its purpose is to“save future generation from the scourge of war” and it further states, “all nations shall refrain from the use of force against another nation.”

This Treaty applies both collectively and individually to all three branches of government, on all levels, U.S. federal, state and local governments, starting with the executive branch: the U.S. President and the executive staff; the judicial branch: all judges
and staff members of the judiciary; the legislative branch: all members of the U.S. Armed Forces and all departments of Law Enforcement and all civilian staff, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution, which includes Article VI.

Under the U.N. Charter and long established international laws, anyone–civilian, military, government officials, or judge-who knowingly participates in or supports illegal use of force against another nation or its people is committing a war crime.

Today you must recognize that when you promised to uphold the Constitution, you promised to obey Treaties and International Law – as part of the Supreme Law of the Land and furthermore, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice of the U.S., you arerequired to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.

Based on all the above,

WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT, DONALD TRUMP AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND

TO COMMAND CHIEF MICHAEL WILL, EVERY DRONE CREW, AND SERVICE MEMBERS AT HANCOCK AIR BASE, WITH CRIMES AGAINST PEACE & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, WITH VIOLATIONS OF PART OF THE SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS, VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS, WARS OF AGGRESSION, VIOLATION OF NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY, AND KILLING OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS.

We charge that the Air National Guard of the United States of America, headquartered at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard, under the command of the 174th Fighter Wing Commander, Command Chief Michael Will, is maintaining and deploying the MQ-9 Reaper robotic aircraft, called drones.

These drones are being used not only in combat situations for the purpose of assassinations but also for killings far removed from combat zones without military defense, to assassinate individuals and groups far removed from military action.

Extra judicial killings, such as those the U.S. carries out by drones are intentional, premeditated, and deliberate use of lethal force to commit murder in violation of U.S. and International Law.

It is a matter of public record that the US has used drones in Afghanistan and in Iraq for targeted killings to target specific individuals which has nearly always resulted in the deaths of many others.

There is no legal basis for defining the scope of area where drones can or cannot be used; no legal criteria for deciding which people can be targeted for killing, no procedural safeguards to ensure the legality of the decision to kill and the accuracy of the assassinations.

In support of this indictment, we cite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who has said that the use of drones creates “a highly problematic blurring and the law applicable to the use of inter-state force…. The result has been the displacement of clear legal standards with a vaguely defined license to kill, and the creation of a major accountability vacuum…. In terms of the legal framework, many of these practices violate straightforward applicable legal rules.”
See United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council Study on Targeted Killings, 28, May 2010.

The drone attacks either originating at Hancock or supported here are a deliberate illegal use of force against another nation, and as such are a felonious violation of Article VI of the US Constitution. By giving material support to the drone program, you as individuals are violating the Constitution, dishonoring your oath, and committing war crimes. We demand that you stop participating in any part of the operations of MQ-9 drones immediately, being accountable to the people of United States and Afghanistan.

As citizens of this nation, which maintains over 700 military bases around the globe, and the largest, most deadly military arsenal in the world we believe these words of Martin Luther King still hold true, ”the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”.

There is hope for a better world when WE, THE PEOPLE, hold our government accountable to the laws and treaties that govern the use of lethal force and war. To the extent that we ignore our laws and constitution and allow for the unchecked use of lethal force by our government, allowing the government to kill who ever it wants, where ever it wants, how ever it wants with no accountability, we make the world less safe for children everywhere.

We appeal to all United States citizens, military and civilian, and to all public officials, to do as required by the Nuremburg Principles I-VII, and by Conscience, to refuse to participate in these crimes, to denounce them, and to resist them nonviolently.

Signed by: THE UPSTATE COALITION TO GROUND THE DRONES AND END THE WARS




Nine Arrested Good Friday at Hancock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Ann Tiffany (315) 478-4571 Syracuse, NY
Mary Anne Grady Flores (607) 280-8797 Ithaca, NY
John Amidon (518)-312-6442 Albany, NY

upstatedroneaction.org,       www.knowdrones.com/

PRESS RELEASE FOR GOOD FRIDAY PROTEST AT HANCOCK

 Syracuse, NY – April 14 Nine non-violent civil resisters of Upstate Drone Action were arrested at the main entrance of Hancock Air National Guard Base protesting the extrajudicial drone killings perpetrated from the base. Three people hung on drone crosses representing victims of US drone strikes from seven majority Muslim countries. Eleven others carried smaller drone crosses bearing words, “Drones crucify: Children, Families, Love, Peace, Community, the US Constitution, the UN Charter, the Rule of Law, US Treaties, Due Process, and Diplomacy.

The Good Friday Hancock Drone Action Statement read, “Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus.  Recognizing that 70% of our nation identify as Christian, we come to the gates of the Hancock drone base to make real the crucifixion today.  As Jesus and others were crucified by the Roman Empire, drones are used by the U. S. Empire in a similar fashion. In Roman times, crosses loomed over a community to warn people that they could be killed whenever the Empire decided.  So, too, our drones fly over many countries threatening extrajudicial killings and upon whoever happens to be in the vicinity. On this Good Friday, we recall Jesus’ call to love and nonviolence. We’re asking the air force base and this nation to turn away from a policy of modern-day crucifixion.” (full statement here)

Hancock Air Base is located on the backside of Syracuse International Airport. It hosts the 174th  Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard – the MQ9 Reaper drone hub. It is also the national Reaper maintenance training center.  The MQ9 Reaper is a robotic, satellite-linked, remote assassin drone.  Hancock is presently one of 20 U.S. drone-warfare bases across the U.S., and more in Germany, Australia, Italy, and the U.K.  The “Drone Papers”-leaked by an internal military whistle blower state that during a five month period in 2015, 90% of all drone victims were bystanders, including children.

The event was livestreamed by Wilton Vought of Other Voices Other Choices

Today’s civil resistance action is one chapter in Upstate Drone Action’s six-year nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock AFB war crimes. The drone resistance is linked to the world wide efforts to ground killer drones and end all US wars. Since 2010 there have been over 170 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock Airbase.

Those arrested today: Veteran for Peace- Ray McGovern, Jessica Stewart of Bath Harbor Maine Catholic Worker, Ed Kinane of Syracuse-Anti-militarist activist, Tom Joyce of Ithaca Catholic Worker, James Ricks, Joan Pleune of Brooklyn Raging Grannies, Mark Colville of Amistad Catholic Worker, John Amidon of Vets for Peace & Albany Friends Mtg., Brian Hynes of NYC St. Joseph Catholic Worker.




Good Friday Statement at Hancock Base

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Ann Tiffany (315) 478-4571 Syracuse, NY
Mary Anne Grady Flores (607) 280-8797 Ithaca, NY
John Amidon (518)-312-6442 Albany, NY

upstatedroneaction.org,       www.knowdrones.com/

GOOD FRIDAY HANCOCK DRONE ACTION STATEMENT

April 14, 2017 ~ Good Friday commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Recognizing that 70% of our nation identify as Christian, we come to the gates of the Hancock drone base to make real the crucifixion today. As Jesus and others were crucified by the Roman Empire, drones are used by the U. S. Empire in a similar fashion. In Roman times, crosses loomed over a community to warn people that they could be killed whenever the Empire decided. So too, our drones fly over many countries threatening extrajudicial killings of whoever happens to be in the vicinity.

On this Good Friday, we recall Jesus’ call to love and nonviolence. We’re asking this air force base and this nation to turn away from a policy which amounts to a modern-day crucifixion. Let’s embrace Jesus call to build the Kingdom of God on Earth instead of killing suspected enemies and innocents, including children. In the process, we are crucifying Children, Families, Love, Peace, Community, Diplomacy, the Rule of Law, the US Constitution, the UN Charter, US Treaties and Due Process.

What if our country were constantly being spied upon by drones, with some of us killed by drones? What if many bystanders, including children, were killed in the process? If that were happening, we would hope that some people in that attacking country would speak up and try to stop the killing. We’re speaking up to try and stop the illegal and immoral drone attacks on countries against which Congress has not declared war.

Those arrested today: Ex-CIA analyst of 32 yrs. Ray McGovern, Jessica Stewart, Ed Kinane, Tom Joyce, James Ricks, Joan Pleune, Mark Colville, John Amidon, Brian Hynes.

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MLK: Beyond Vietnam

Some friends of ours held an event last week to commemorate the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s powerful speech at the Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination. In that speech Dr. King makes a powerful connection between racism and war. Kings’ clear vision lit a new path for us but we were not ready to follow. Now it is more relevant than ever.

In this video, you can listen to Upstate Drone Action members Jim Clune and his wife Ann, Jack Gilroy and others in Binghamton recite the portion of the speech where Dr King explains why we should oppose the Vietnam war.

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s April 1967 Riverside Church Speech

And if you would rather listen to the original, you can watch below:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence




Hancock Nativity Tableau Charges Dismissed

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                 contact: Ed Kinane  315) 478-4571 home

10 March 2017                                                  John Amidon 518) 312-6442 cell

CHARGES DISMISSED AGAINST 12/23 “NATIVITY FOUR” HANCOCK REAPER DRONE PROTESTERS FOLLOWING LAST WEEK’S JURY ACQUITTAL OF THE “BIG BOOKS” HANCOCK DRONE PROTESTERS

In a surprise move, DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon dismissed charges against all four* Upstate Drone Action activists protesting the hunter/killer MQ9 Reaper drones piloted over Afghanistan by the 174th Attack Wing of the NY National Guard at Hancock AFB just north of Syracuse NY.

The four had staged a December 23, 2016 “Nativity tableau” in front of Hancock’s main gate, at 6001 East Molloy Road in the Town of DeWitt. The four protesters were charged with trespass, disorderly conduct and obstruction of government administration. (OGA).   OGA is a misdemeanor requiring a jury and carrying up to a year’s sentence.

Judge Gideon explained last night’s dismissal by noting that the accusatory documents provided by Hancock repeatedly referred to the 12/23 “Nativity” arrests as occurring  on Federal property – which the Judge declared outside his  jurisdiction.

In a three-day trial culminating on March 2, 2017, also before Judge Gideon, a six-person jury, after deliberating about a half hour, acquitted all defendants of the same charges for their “Big Books” action at Hancock on March 19, 2015

*

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[[nativity acquittal press release]]
UpstateDroneAction.org




Four Arrested Enacting Nativity at Hancock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

23 December 2016

Contact: Ann Tiffany (315) 478-4571 home- Syracuse, NY
Mary Anne Grady Flores (607) 280-8797 Ithaca

UpstateDroneAction.org                                                                               Video by Jay Wilcox

FOUR ARRESTED ENACTING NATIVITY SCENE AT HANCOCK DRONE BASE

Syracuse, NY – On Friday, December 23, four activists were arrested at the main entrance of Hancock Air National Guard Base as many throughout the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace from Palestine.   The base is located on East Molloy Road in the town of DeWitt, E. Syracuse New York.

Upstate Drone Action members engaged in civil resistance by setting up a traditional Christmas nativity scene at the main entrance of Hancock Reaper Drone Base.  Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus were attended by a shepherd and a wise man.   Angels and carolers played a supporting role from across the street.

While being handcuffed, Mary (Bev Rice) noted that, “If Herod had a Reaper, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would have been been incinerated.” Joseph (John Amidon), also arrested, said “The indiscriminate and illegal killings of so many holy families in the Middle East must stop!”

Hancock hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the NY Air National Guard – the MQ9 Reaper drone hub. Hancock is also the national Reaper maintenance training center.

The MQ9 Reaper is a robotic, satellite-linked, remote assassin drone. Hancock drone pilots fly unmanned missions over Afghanistan and other Middle Eastern, African and West Asian nations. The CIA uses Reapers for its illegal lethal missions over Northwest Pakistan.

According to “LIVING UNDER DRONES: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians from US Drone Practices in Pakistan,” published by Stanford University and New York University Law Schools, such missions are responsible in that region for the deaths of hundreds of noncombatants, including women and children, and for the terrorizing of thousands more.

Today’s civil resistance action is one chapter in Upstate Drone Action’s Gandhian Wave, a six-year scrupulously nonviolent campaign to expose the Hancock AFB war crime. Since 2010 there have been over 170 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock.

Those arrested:

  • John Amidon, Albany, NY, (518) 312-6442 cell
  • Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY, (315) 478-4571 home
  • Jules Orkin, Bergenfield, NJ, (201)566-8403 cell
  • Bev Rice, New York, NY., (646) 335-2404 cell

They were charged with Trespass, 2 Counts of Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing Governmental Activities.   Their next hearing will be in late January.

 




MultiFaith Anti-Drone Conference

I attended the Multifaith Anti-Drone Warfare Conference at Stony Point Retreat Center in the lower Hudson Valley.   It was a busy event with good food, good company and interesting discussions. The videos were made by Wilton Vought and can be found on Other Voices Other Choices, along with a lot of other interesting materials including audio podcasts.

The panel Friday evening featured ex CIA officer, Ray McGovern, ex Airforce Intelligence Officer Christopher Aaron who served in Afghanistan, and Kambali Musavuli of the Friends of the Congo.   Between them, they revealed the connections. . . between lethal drones flying over Africa and the ongoing theft of resources in Africa. . . between government service and service to one’s country. . .  between telling the redacted truth to the rest of us and joining us on the street in active resistance.  Both kinds of action are necessary for democracy to thrive, good information – right action.

Saturday morning, Arun Kundnani, Arun Kundnani is Adjunct Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University and author of “The Muslims are Coming” and most recently, “Violence Always Comes Home: Terrorism, Empire and Islamophobia”  gave the first Keynote. He spoke about the misleading social and cultural distortion of our perceptions about Islam and terrorism.

Followed by Medea Benjamin of CodePink Women for Peace who spoke about US policies, including drone warfare, that disrespect the people in foreign lands, exacerbate misunderstandings and invite continued threats and violence.

In the afternoon, a panel of religious people discussed the place of activism in a religious context and the insight that our faith can give to the ongoing wars and terrorism that our country is engaged in.

Multifaith Perspectives on Drones, Islamophobia & Movement Building featuring Featuring: Muhammed Malik, Rabbi Michael Feinberg,
Imam Hamin Rashadah, Aaron Stauffer & Irene Siegel

Conference Sponsors:

Peace Action Education Fund
Interfaith Drone Network
KnowDrones
Community of Living Traditions

Endorsed by:

Code Pink, Veterans For Peace, Muslim Peace Fellowship, Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia, Standing Together Against Racism and Islamophobia, WESPAC, United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC), Muslims for Ferguson, Middle East Crisis Response, Veterans For Peace