CONNECTING THE DOTS….NO BAN, NO WALL, NO KILLER DRONES at Hancock Airport/Air Base

Thank God for the great crowd of 1,000 protesting Trump’s Ban of Immigrants at Syracuse International Airport, as thousands flooded airports all across the US last Saturday night, Jan. 28th, when the ban first went into effect!

We have a beautiful foto of a member of the Afghan Youth Peace Team with a poster saying “We Wish to Live Without War”. The youth sent a bolt of the sky blue fabric to US drone activists to wear as blue scarves to remember their wish for blue skies….skies safe without killer and surveillance drones hovering over them and assassinating them causing people to flee and become refugees.

Ironically on the other side of the same Hancock Airport campus of Syracuse is Hancock Air National Guard Drone Base. Many locals are not aware that the US assassinates people from Hancock Drone Base. Our US drone policy of execution without due process is a part of the driving force for the refugee crisis throughout the seven countries Trump has listed in his ban of people from the Middle East.

Lets work together to connect the dots…..drone assassinations cause people to flee…who become refugees…. who need asylum in other countries….countries who shut their borders to refugees….like the US under Trump.

I invite that great crowd of 1,000 to come around the corner to the other entrance of the same airport campus….to the Hancock Drone Base on East Malloy Rd, in DeWitt, East Syracuse, and demand that Hancock end their drone killings with MQ9-Reaper drones. We violate our US Constitution and International Law when we kill with drones.

We, who gather, would be giving a message of peace to the world and to the parents and children of the Middle East, saying “You can stay and live in peace in your own homes. You don’t have to flee the drones and become refugees. We, too, wish that you live without war.”

Please join us as we continue to say #NOKILLERDRONES Hancock Air National Guard Base -4:15-5pm 1st Tues. every month @ 6001 East Molloy Road, Mattydale, NY 13211.

You are welcome to attend the trial of the Big Books defendants, who were arrested March 10, 2o15.
They are charged with Trespass, Disorderly Conduct and Obstructing Government Administration
A jury trial is scheduled for:

5 PM, February 28th, 2017
@ DeWitt Town Court
5400 Butternut Dr, East Syracuse, NY 13057

Codefendants in the trial  (from the left): Ed Kinane (Syracuse, NY),  Fr. Bill Pickard (Scranton, PA), Brian Hynes (Bronx, NY), Daniel Burns (Ithaca, NY) and James Ricks (Ithaca. NY) on the far right, Attorney’s Jonathan Wallace and Daire Irwin of Buffalo, NY. (2nd and 3rd from the right) will advise them.

For info call: (607) 280-8797 -Mary Anne Grady Flores

upstatedroneaction.org

#dirtywars
#loveistheonlysolution
#groundthedronesandendthewars




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




Sentencing Memo Sent to Judge Gideon by Professor

I would like to take the occasion of this memorandum to continue the conversation we have had over the past five years on the nature of civil disobedience, particularly in the context of the Reaper drone control center at Hancock Air National Guard Base. I have benefited from those conversations and hope that, in some small way, you have as well. At the core of our discussions, I think, has been the question of what civil disobedience is and, specifically, how civil disobedience “works.”

I will begin by discussing the nature of civil disobedience, as defined by Gandhi and by John Rawls.

Gandhi distinguished two types of civil disobedience: “Aggressive, assertive or offensive civil disobedience is nonviolent, willful disobedience of laws of the State whose breach does not involve moral turpitude and which is undertaken as a symbol of revolt against the State. . . . Defensive civil disobedience , on the other hand, is the involuntary or reluctant non-violent disobedience of such laws as are in themselves bad and obedience to which would be inconsistent with one’s self-respect or human dignity.” i In Gandhi’s terms, our civil disobedience at Hancock involves the first type; disobeying a Jim Crow statute would have been of the second type.ii He also states: “civil disobedience is the inherent right of a citizen. . . . [T]o put down civil disobedience is to attempt to imprison conscience. . . . A civil resister never uses arms and hence he is harmless to a State that is at all willing to listen to the voice of public opinion.”iii

Rawls defines civil disobedience as “a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about a change in the law or policies of the government. … [I]t does not require that the civilly disobedient act breach the same law that is being protested.” Later, he elaborates: “[T]he civilly disobedient act is indeed thought to be contrary to law, at least in the sense that those engaged in it are not simply presenting a test case for a constitutional decision; they are prepared to oppose the statute even if it should be upheld.” Finally, he states: “The law is broken, but fidelity to law is expressed by the public and nonviolent nature of the act, by the willingness to accept the legal consequences of one’s conduct. . . . To be completely open and nonviolent is to give bond of one’s sincerity.”iv For Rawls, civil disobedience is a political act, and, while it involves breaking the law, it ultimately is faithful to the spirit of the law. Civil disobedience must be limited to “instances of substantial and clear injustice”v and legal alternatives must have been tried before engaging in it.vi I believe that the evidence we have produced of the harms, including harms to civilians and children, caused by weaponized drones satisfy the first condition and that my prior (and concurrent) legal attempts to address this issue satisfy the second. Rawls concludes: “Although this mode of action is strictly speaking contrary to law, it is nevertheless a morally correct way of maintaining a constitutional regime.”vii

I would submit that there are several ways that civil disobedience can operate, often simultaneously. First, as you argued in our first trial, civil disobedience can affect policy by the publicity it receives when the civilly disobedient person is arrested, convicted, and punished. Public outcry might lead executives or legislatures to change policy.

Second, civil disobedience can operate as symbolic action.viii Civil disobedience actions are often attempts to juxtapose symbols in a way that sparks insight, that enables persons in the audience to see things in a new way, to break out of fixed worldviews. In this sense, it has been called parabolic action, using the same principle as the parables Jesus used to shock people out of their worldviews by juxtaposing images in new ways (e.g., the Good Samaritan, in which the despised enemy is the one who comes to the rescue). Such symbolic actions would include the burning of draft records during the Vietnam War, the Plowshares actions initiated in 1980, blood poured on the Pentagon, and the symbolic die-ins we have used at Hancock. The juxtaposition of images (e.g., blood on the Pentagon) can be startling enough to shock some observers into a change of worldview, a change of paradigm if you will, that may be impossible through simple logical discourse. ix This approach is often related to the third approach to how civil disobedience “works.”

Third, from a spiritual or religious perspective, the practitioner of civil disobedience should be concerned with faithfulness rather than effectiveness. Catholic theologian Henri Nouwen put this distinction in terms of fruitfulness versus effectiveness. The responsibility of a person of faith is not to be effective but to be faithful (to the Gospel if one is Christian, as I hope I am). One must follow one’s conscience and bear the consequences, but the results will be up to God. Our responsibility is to plant seeds, not to achieve results. In many ways, civil disobedience as symbolic action ties in to this way of thinking – the symbolic interaction is the planting of a seed which may or may not take root. This approach challenges the very notion of effectiveness as an offshoot of industrial civilization and harks back to a more agricultural way of seeing the world. A prime example of fruitfulness was Franz Jaggerstatter, an Austrian peasant who was executed for refusing to be conscripted into the Nazi’s army. He accomplished nothing but leaving his wife and young children without a husband and father, and his story was almost forgotten. However, decades later, this story was uncovered by sociologist Gordon Zahn, who publicized it in his book In Solitary Witness. In 2007, Jaggerstatter was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. His conscientious refusal now inspires Christians around the globe.

Finally, the impact of civil disobedience on policy can be mediated by the response of judges hearing civil disobedience cases. I believe that we need human beings acting as judges within the system (as opposed, to, say, artificial intelligences) precisely because, as John Rawls argues in his discussion of civil disobedience, no human legal system is perfect. Artificial intelligence may be able to apply the existing legal rules more accurately than a human judge; however, only a human judge can take into account the larger sense of justice which animates the law; only a human judge can identify a situation in which application of even a just law becomes injustice because the law is being used to uphold a larger injustice.

Judges who have become convinced that their obligation includes a wider view of justice have chosen a variety of ways to embody that obligation.

One approach can involve the decision itself. In a 2012 lawsuit against New York City police for wrongful arrest, Federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff found for the plaintiffs and wrote:

“What a debt this nation owes to its ‘troublemakers.’ From Thomas Paine to Martin Luther King, Jr., they have forced us to focus on problems we would prefer to downplay or ignore. Yet it is often only with hindsight that we can distinguish these troublemakers who brought us to our senses from those who were simply . . . troublemakers. Prudence, and respect for the constitutional rights to free speech and free association, therefore dictate that the legal system cut all non-violent protestors a fair amount of slack. Let us hope that other judges hear this decision and that nonviolent civil disobedience can continue to hold its rightful place as a cornerstone of our liberty.” x

In my own civil disobedience career, I have sometimes been found not guilty. Two of these verdicts were, I think, attempts to address a larger justice. When I was put on trial in 1981 for civil disobedience at the Pentagon, charged with depredation of government property, for pouring blood on the Pentagon in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons, the Judge dismissed the charges because the prosecutor had not “provided me with any evidence that the government owns the Pentagon.” My mother believes that verdict was a direct result of her prayers; I believe it was an indirect attempt to address the larger issues of justice. When I was charged with trespass at the Rochester Federal Building in 2003 for protesting the impending invasion of Iraq, Rochester City Court Judge Anne Pfeiffer found us not guilty because we had been arrested before we had gone through the metal detectors. In rendering her verdict, she apologized to me (I suspect, tongue in cheek) for not addressing my international law argument that the U.S. had no jurisdiction to charge anyone with trespass because they had just committed perhaps the largest act of trespass since World War II.

Brian Terrell, a Catholic Worker whom you may remember from the Hancock 38 case, along with four other demonstrators, was acquitted of trespass in Senator Charles Grassley’s Des Moines office in a July 2007 jury trial after presiding judge Odell McGee allowed Brian to read the text of the First Amendment to the jury. Judge McGee further instructed the jury that the defendants “were not justified in remaining on the property if the State proved . . . that the defendant(s) did not have a constitutional right to remain on the property.”xi

Gandhi’s standard procedure in civil disobedience was to plead guilty and ask for the harshest possible punishment. Yet, in doing, so, he still gave the judge a choice of whether to affirm the legal system or not. His first case of civil disobedience in India involved defying a government order not to enter the district of Champaran, where he proposed to conduct an inquiry into labor conditions. He appeared in court and pled guilty; however, before his sentencing date, the Lieutenant Governor ordered the case against him withdrawn, and he was allowed to pursue his investigation. Gandhi saw this conclusion as a victory for civil disobedience, despite the fact that he wasn’t sent to jail: “The country thus had its first direct object-lesson in Civil Disobedience. The affair was freely discussed both locally and in the press, and my inquiry got unexpected publicity.”xii Thus, Gandhi himself felt that civil disobedience could be fruitful even without conviction and punishment.

Another approach is to address issues of broader justice at sentencing, in the sentence itself and/or in a sentencing statement. I have previously cited the case of Federal Judge Miles Lord, who in 1984, sentenced Barbara Katt and John Laforge to a six month conditional discharge and gave one of the most powerful critiques of justice in America ever presented from that side of the bench. I cite a part of his sentencing statement:

“It is the allegation of these young people that they committed the acts here complained of as a desperate plea to the American people and its government to stop the military madness which they sincerely believe will destroy us all, friend and enemy alike.

They have made a plausible argument that international law prohibits what our country is doing by way of manufacturing mass weapons of destruction. Common sense should, in my own personal view, dictate that such manufacture be curtailed.

The anomaly of this situation is that I am here called upon to punish two individuals who were charged with having caused damage to the property of a corporation in the amount of $33,000. It is this self-same corporation which only a few months ago was before me accused of having wrongfully embezzled from the U.S. Government the sum of $3.6 million. . . .

If there be an adverse reaction to this sentence, I will anxiously await the protestations of those who complain of my attempts to correct the imbalance that now exists in a system that operates in such manner as to provide one type of justice for the rich and a lesser type for the poor. One standard for the mighty and another for the meek. And a system which finds its humanness and objectivity is sublimated to military madness and the worship of the bomb.”xiii

In another case, it was the sentencing itself that was significant. On March 5, 1986, Scott Schaeffer-Duffy of the Worcester MA Catholic Worker and Carol Bellin were tried and found guilty of trespassing and disorderly conduct at an anti-war protest at the GTE plant in Westborough MA. The DA recommended sentences of thirty days for the trespass and sixty days for the disorderly conduct, to be served consecutively. Judge Paul LeConto asked the defendants if they would pay a fine or do community service. Scott replied, “No, your honor. We could not pay a fine in good conscience, and we believe that our actions at GTE were a community service.” The judge called for a recess, and, when he returned, said simply: “Guilty finding. You are free to go.” xiv

Sometimes, judges have changed their mind and reversed their positions, even after sentencing.

As one example, in November, 1978, four protestors were arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience at the First Annual Military Electronics Exposition in Anaheim, California. After spending a night in jail, they were given one year probation. In October, 1979, two of the protestors, LA Catholic Workers Jeff Dietrich and Kent Hoffman, were again arrested at the exposition, two weeks before their probation ran out. Robert Fitzgerald, the same judge who had ordered the probation, gave them six month sentences in the county jail, double the recommendation of the DA. And yet, he ordered their release two months later. Kent met with Judge Fitzgerald not long after that, and, as Kent recounted:

“He spoke of the confusion he experienced, of the influence provided by receiving over 700 letters of concern on our behalf, of the movement from distrust to appreciation for our sincerity and tenacity of commitment. He had gone through a rare agony for one so solidly entrenched in power and the pride of power. He had chosen to admit openly and publicly the mistake he had made.”xv

Kent told the judge of a dream he had had, of Judge Fitzgerald standing beside him serving Christmas dinner to the homeless guests at the LA Catholic Worker. Judge Fitzgerald told him of someone he loved who had died on Skid Row and said he would be honored to serve Christmas dinner at the Worker.

A second example is contained in a piece by Frank Cordaro, of the Des Moines Catholic Worker, from November 5, 2009. The day before, there had been a civil disobedience action at the “Space Weapons Bazaar” in Omaha, Nebraska. Four “out of state” demonstrators were held overnight in Douglas County Jail and appeared with a group of about 60 persons, mostly poor and black, before Judge Darryl Lowe the morning of the 5th. The court session went on, in assembly line fashion, for hours, and the four protestors were the last to come before the judge. Father Louie Vitale pled “no contest” and was sentenced to five days. The Judge added “If you had pled guilty it would have been three days. Next.” Father Jim Murphy was up next. Upon pleading guilty, he was sentenced to three days. When the third protestor, Steve Clemens, approached the bench, Judge Low asked “What were you guys doing at the Qwest Center in the first place?” Steve replied, “Your honor, we were there to protest the Strategic Space Symposium. We were there to protest the selling of space weapons technology to STRATCom!” Frank, still awaiting his appearance, called to the judge “And you just sentenced two Catholic priests to jail!” As Cordaro recounts:

“Judge Lowe just assumed the four of us were arrested for intoxication. He just thought we were four old drunks. . . . ‘Catholic priest! Protest!’ exclaimed Judge Lowe … ‘Bring those two priests back before me. Give me their files.’ The judge asks me to join them all at the bench. We explained to him what our nonviolent protest was all about. He congratulated us for our witness. He said he believed in nonviolent civil disobedience. He said more of it needed to be done. He told us his father was active in the civil rights movement.”

Judge Lowe shook each of their hands, and they were all sentenced to time served. Judge Lowe concluded by saying “I hope you all come back again next year!”xvi

Finally, in a more radical approach, judges can engage in civil disobedience themselves. The most powerful case I know of occurred in Germany. Although it occurred outside the United States, it may be of interest particularly because of your father’s involvement in the Nuremberg Trials. On January 12, 1987, twenty German judges were arrested in the small town of Mutlangen for blocking the road to the base which housed Pershing II nuclear armed missiles. Their action was part of a nonviolent campaign in which over 1,000 persons had been arrested by that time. One of the twenty, Judge Ulf Panzer, stated:

“Fifty years ago, during the time of Nazi fascism, we judges and prosecutors allegedly ‘did not know anything.’ By closing our eyes and ears, our hearts and minds, we became a docile instrument of suppression, and many judges committed cruel crimes under the cloak of law. We have been guilty of complicity. Today we are on the way to becoming guilty again, to being abused again. By our passivity, but also by applying laws, we legitimize terror: nuclear terror. Today we do know. We know that it needs only the push of a button and all Germany, Europe, the whole world, will be a radiating desert without human life. It is because we know this that we have to act. Many of us judges have organized ‘Judges and Prosecutors for Peace.’ We have raised our voices in warning against nuclear death. We have worked with local peace groups, advertised against nuclear armaments, demonstrated and submitted resolutions to our parliament …. Our warnings have died away unheard. That is the reason why we today block the U.S. air base in Mutlangen. We hope that such an action will be heard more loudly than all our words before.” xvii

There had been 1,096 guilty verdicts in the Schwabish-Gmund court for blocking the base. Four days after the action of the judges, there were seven acquittals, the first in the campaign.

In light of this memorandum, Judge Gideon, I make one request – that at my sentencing you make a statement that includes your conclusions about the morality and legality of using weaponized drones. For five years, you have heard evidence about weaponized drones such as those flown out of Hancock. You have heard arguments about international law as it affects drone killings. You have heard from people who have been in Afghanistan and Iraq talk about their encounters with people living under the drones. You have heard excerpts from the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan which document that drones have killed civilians, on a regular basis. You have heard that a classified report authored by Larry Lewis concluded that drones in Afghanistan were significantly more likely to kill civilians than were “manned” aircraft.

Judge Gideon, you are an intelligent, thoughtful person. You stated in your written opinion for the Hancock 38 that you have struggled with the issues we have raised. I would very much like to know your reactions to our evidence and arguments, whether those reactions be for or against the piloting of weaponized drones out of Hancock. I understand that such a statement would not be appropriate in the context of a trial or a verdict. However, I believe it can legitimately be done at sentencing and I hope you will consent to do that.

Thank you for your attention and engagement in this discussion. I look forward to seeing you on March 9th.

Sincerely,

Harry Murray

Professor of Sociology

—————————————————

i M.K. Gandhi, Non-Violent Resistance, Bharatan Kumarappa (ed.). (1951: New York: Schoken), p. 175

ii Gandhi, it seems, used the terms civil disobedience and civil resistance interchangeably. I will use the former in this memorandum.

iii Ibid., p. 174

iv John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. (1971: Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press), pp. 364-367

v Ibid., p. 372.

vi Ibid., p. 373.

vii Ibid., p. 384.

viii Murray Edelman, Politics as Symbolic Action. (1971: Chicago, Markham Publishing Company).

ix See Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition (2012: Chicago, University of Chicago Press) for a detailed analysis of how paradigm shifts work in science.

x quoted in Rosalie G. Riegle, Crossing the Line: Nonviolent Resisters Speak Out for Peace, (2013: Eugene, OR: Cascade Books), p. xiii

xi Brian Terrell, email to the author, March 2, 2007.

xii Mohandas K. Gandhi, An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1957: Boston, Beacon Press), p. 414

xiii “The Statement of Judge Lord,” reprinted in Peace Magazine, http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v02n5p40.htm

xiv Scott Schaeffer-Duffy, Nothing is Impossible: Stories from the Life of a Catholic Worker. (2016: Athol, MA: Haley’s).

xv Kent Hoffman, preface, in Jeff Dietrich, Reluctant Resister: The Prison Letters of Jeff Dietrich. (1983: Unicorn Press, North Carolina).

xvi Frank Cordaro, “Douglas County Jail Court Report,” Nov. 5, 2009, personal copy sent to me by Rosalie Riegle.

xvii “Twenty German Judges Arrested at American Air Force Base in West Germany,” January 12, 1987 and “In the Name of the :People: Away with Missiles!”, personal copies, from Jonah House website.




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




Dorothy Day Archivist Found Guilty of Trespassing in Wisconsin

Phil Runkel, Dorothy Day Archivist and Activist, Found Guilty of Trespassing in Wisconsin

By Joy First

runkelOn Friday February 19 Phil Runkel was found guilty of trespassing in Juneau County, WI by Judge Paul Curran after a 22 minute trial. Phil had joined nine other activists in attempting to walk onto the Volk Field Air National Guard base and meet with the commander to share our concerns about the training of drone pilots that takes place there.

District Attorney Mike Solovey followed his standard procedure of calling Sheriff Brent Oleson and Deputy Thomas Mueller to the stand and identifying Phil as one of the people who walked onto the base on August 25, 2015 and refused to leave.

Phil cross-examined Sheriff Oleson asking him about the purpose of the space between the gates and guard house. Oleson responded that the space was used so that cars waiting to enter the base didn’t back up onto the county highway. Phil asked when it was legal to be in that area, and Oleson responded that it was when you are given permission. But that isn’t true. Cars drive through the gates and about a block to the guard house and wait to talk to the guard without getting permission to wait in that space.

Phil asked Oleson if we were asked why we were there so the base officials could determine if we were there for a valid reason, and the sheriff responded that he knew we weren’t there for a valid reason.

The state rested their case and Phil told the judge he would like to be sworn in to testify and then give a brief closing statement.

Testimony        

Your Honor:

I am employed by Marquette University, where it has been my privilege to have served since 1977 as archivist for the papers of sainthood candidate Dorothy Day. She has often been lauded for her performance of the works of mercy—most recently by Pope Francis–but scorned for her equally steadfast opposition to the works of war. This led to her arrest and imprisonment on three separate occasions for failure to take cover during civil defense drills in the 1950s. I am one of many who have been inspired by her example to seek peace and pursue it.

I respectfully plead not guilty to this charge. Following World War II the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual State.” (Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, vol. I, Nürnberg 1947, page 223). This was one of the Nuremberg Principles adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations in 1950 to provide guidelines for determining what constitutes a war crime. These principles are arguably part of customary international law and part of domestic law in the United States under Article VI, paragraph 2 of the US Constitution (175 U.S.677, 700) (1900).

Former US attorney general Ramsey Clark testified under oath, at a trial of drone protesters in Dewitt, NY, that in his legal opinion everyone is obligated under the law to try to stop their government from committing war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity

(http://www.arlingtonwestsantamonica.org/docs/Testimony_of_Elliott_Adams.pdf).

I acted out of a conviction that the use of drones for extrajudicial, targeted killing constitutes such a war crime, and I sought to apprise base commander Romuald of this fact. I intended to uphold international law. (As Ms. First noted at her trial last week, Judge Robert Jokl of Dewitt, New York, acquitted five resisters for their action at the Hancock drone base because he was persuadd that they had the same intention.)

Article 6(b) of the Nuremberg Charter defines War Crimes–violations of the laws or customs of war– to include, among other things, murder or ill treatment of civilian population of or in occupied territory. Weaponized drones, assisted by reconnaissance and surveillance drones piloted from bases such as Volk Field, have killed between 2,494-3,994 persons in Pakistan alone since 2004. These include between 423 and 965 civilians and 172-207 children. Another 1,158-1,738 have been injured. This is data compiled by the award-winning Bureau of Investigative Journalism, based in London (https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drones/drones-graphs/).

According to the legal scholar Matthew Lippman (Nuremberg and American Justice, 5 Notre Dame J.L. Ethics & Pub. Pol’y 951 (1991). Available at: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/ndjlepp/vol5/iss4/4)   citizens have “the legal privilege under international law to act in a non-violent proportionate fashion to halt the commission of war crimes. “ He contends that “Nuremberg… serves both as a sword which can be used to prosecute war criminals, and as a shield for those who are compelled to engage in conscientious acts of moral protest against illegal wars and methods of warfare.”

Lippman counters the common admonition for protesters to confine themselves to legally-sanctioned means of dissent, such as lobbying congresspeople. He cites Judge Myron Bright, of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Dissenting in Kabat, Judge Bright stated that: “We must recognize that civil disobedience in various forms, used without violent acts against others, is engrained in our society and the moral correctness of political protesters’ views has on occasion served to change and better our society.”

Examples he gave included the Boston Tea Party, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the more recent disobedience of “Jim Crow” laws, such as the lunch-counter sit-ins. Kabat, 797 F.2d at 601 United States v. Kabat, 797 F.2d 580 (8th Cir. 1986).

To Professor Lippman, “Today’s obscenity may be tomorrow’s lyric.”

I’ll conclude, then, with these words from a song many of us know: “Let there be peace on earth. And let it begin with me.”

Note that Phil was stopped in the fifth paragraph, giving statistics on the number of people killed by drones, when DA Solovey objected citing relevance and Curran sustained the objection. Phil was not able to complete his statement, but it is included in this report because he provided valuable information that could be useful in future cases.

Curran asked Phil what his testimony has to do with trespassing and Phil began to talk about why he walked onto the base when the DA interrupted and said there is nothing about intent in the statute. As Phil persisted in trying to explain his actions to the judge, Curran became increasingly agitated and angry. He said he didn’t need to be lectured by Phil about Nuremberg.

Phil tried to explain he was acting under the belief that he was obliged to enter the base, and that we are compelled to engage in resistance to illegal warfare. Again, Curran made his same old argument that his court is not going to tell Obama that what he is doing is illegal. That continues to be a false argument that the judge makes in many of our trials.

Phil was very persistent in trying to get his point across and continued to argue his case, but the judge could not hear anything he was saying.

Finally the judge said guilty and $232 fine. Phil said he wanted to give a closing statement. Curran said it was too late, it was over, and got up and quickly left the courtroom. I am concerned about a judge who refuses to allow a closing statement. Is that legal?

This is the closing statement Phil would have liked to present.

I stand with my co-defendants in the conviction that silence in the face of the injustice of the immoral, illegal and counterproductive drone warfare being carried out by our government makes us complicit in these crimes. And I fully endorse and support their testimonies before this court.

In his book The New Crusade: America’s War on Terrorism, Rahul Mahajan wrote, “If terrorism is to be given an unbiased definition, it must involve the killing of noncombatants for political purposes, no matter who does it or what noble goals they proclaim.” I ask your honor to consider which poses the real threat to peace and right order—the actions of groups such as ours, or those of the CIA and other agencies responsible for our drones policy.

Again, a very disappointing outcome, but Phil reminds us of the importance of what we are doing and why we must continue as he states,

“I was disappointed, of course, that Judge Curran didn’t allow me to finish my testimony or make a closing statement. But such rulings won’t deter us from continuing to speak our truth to the powers that be.”




Volk Protesters Kathy Kelly and Brian Terrell in Court

Volk Protesters arraigned February 25th, 2016, Update: Volk Field, Wisconsin, Action to Protest Drone warfare

low-res-volkOn February 24th, two co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Brian Terrell and Kathy Kelly, appeared before Judge Curran from the Juneau County jail via the jail’s video link. The two had been held overnight. They were served documents charging them with trespass at the “dwelling” of Volk Field. Pilots train at Volk Field to operate Shadow Drones over other countries.

Kelly told Judge Curran that she wished to plead no contest and that she would not be able, in conscience to pay a fee and that she preferred not to promise that she’d return to the court since she didn’t believe she had committed a crime in the first place. “Oh, I get what’s happening here. You have some people out there who will give you a gold star and a pat on the back for being so courageous,” said Judge Curran. He then said he would not impose a cash bond and he set a pre-trial conference date for March 23rd even though Kelly had already indicated that she wished to plead no contest and was not seeking a trial.

Terrell appeared next. He reiterated what Kelly had said, wishing to plead no contest and go directly to sentencing. “It would save the county, the court and everyone involved time and trouble if the judge would accept the no contest plea,” said Terrell, “and go right to sentencing. I don’t understand why a pre-trial conference was scheduled when we haven’t asked for a trial.”

“It’s not necessary for you to understand the process of this court,” said Judge Curran. That’s why God made lawyers.”

Kelly and Terrell were released after signing personal recognizance bonds. On February 25th they returned to the court to attend Mary Beth Schlagheck’s trial for a protest at Volk Field last August. Due to an emergency hospitalization of one of the state’s witnesses, her trial was postponed.

Following the hearing, District Attorney, Michael Solovey agreed to an informal conference with Kelly and Terrell. He discussed a motion Terrell had filed that morning to dismiss the criminal charge of trespassing at a dwelling. Mr. Solovey said he expected the charge to be changed to the less serious forfeiture of trespassing on land. He was ready to accept a plea of no contest when he learned, at the end of the conference that the U.S. Air Force was asking for another criminal charge of disorderly conduct alleging that Kelly and Terrell had disrupted traffic in their protest. Kelly and Terrell told him a video taken by Joy First would verify that Kelly and Terrell did not disrupt traffic.

Kelly and Terrell await word from the DA about whether he will seek an additional charge. “We’re building on earlier efforts by Wisconsin activists,” said Terrell, “and we see today’s events as part of a continuum.”




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.




Another Grandmother Convicted

Grandmother and Long-time activist Joyce Ellwanger Guilty of Trespass in Wisconsin

Report by Joy First of NCNR, The National Coalition for Nonviolent Resistance

Joyce Ellwanger was found guilty of trespassing by Judge Paul Curran in Juneau County court on Friday January 22, 2016. Though Curran never formerly pronounced a verdict saying Joyce was guilty, he said she trespassed and he imposed a sentence in another heavy-handed trial for the nine activists who were arrested at Volk Field in August 2015.

Refusing our request to consolidate the cases, Judge Curran has already found Jim Murphy and Bonnie Block to be guilty. Jim spent five days in jail, and Bonnie asked for community service, but Curran refused and said that if she didn’t pay the fine it would be attached to her income tax. Four trials are remaining and coming up in February.

The DA, Michael Solvey, continued his familiar defense in Joyce’s trial. He called the county sheriff and a deputy sheriff to take the stand, establishing Joyce’s identity and that she did indeed cross onto the base.

Joyce cross-examined both witnesses. Through questioning the witnesses confirmed that when someone arrives at Volk Field they drive their vehicle to the guard house, several hundred feet past the brick gates, show their identification, and state why they are there. Joyce asked why we are discriminated against and were stopped at the gates and not asked about why we were there. The reply was that they knew were there to protest and get arrested. Joyce stated that was not her intention. She was there to talk to the commander about the drones.

Judge Curran questioned the deputy about whether he (or another member of the general public) would be able to drive to the gatehouse and the deputy responded he would.

After the defense rested, Joyce took the stand. The Judge showed her the pictures of the gate and guardhouse that were entered into evidence and asked Joyce where the gates were and where the guardhouse was. It was noted that there was quite a distance between the two. Joyce continued her testimony by reading a moving statement about why she was there. She said that she stands with Jim and Bonnie in saying that silence is complicity. She also talked about how all human life is precious. (See full statement below.)

When she finished, DA Solovey asked that her complete statement be stricken from the record, and the judge quickly sustained the motion. We were all shocked by this, and later Joyce stated,

“There were two areas in which I felt blindsided by Judge Curran and District Attorney Solovey: The first was when Mr. Solovey asked that my testimony be stricken from the record as irrelevant to the trespassing charge and the judge immediately sustained his request. There was not even time to raise an objection and I was stunned by this action which was inconsistent with allowing me and my codefendants in the past to enter our statements into the record.”

That was it. Curran never actually pronounced a verdict stating Joyce was guilty. He said that an issue was raised that caught his attention. He questioned why we were not allowed to go to the guard house which was quite a ways from the gates – if that was the standard procedure for others arriving at Volk Field. But then Curran said he got the answer from the deputy who said we were told that we were not supposed to go beyond the gates, so that solved that problem according to the judge. He told Joyce she did trespass.

Looking back, I think this was a ruse on the part of the judge. He is presiding over eight almost identical cases and I can imagine he doesn’t want it to look like he is just automatically finding us all guilty, so in this case he can say he did question whether we should have been arrested or not – whether we actually did trespass.

Joyce asked him about doing community service with Rev. Terry McGinley, who has offered to all of us and to the judge that he would supervise and report back to the court on our community service so that there would be no cost to the court in administering it. Judge Curran said that the trespass charge is an ordinance violation and it is not worth the time for Rev. McGinley to supervise us in community service and so he would not allow that.

He ordered Joyce to pay a $232 fine within 60 days or it would be attached to her income tax. This tactic, which he also used in Bonnie’s trial, does not allow us to choose to spend the five days in jail. For many of us, it goes against our conscience to pay the fine and we would prefer the jail time over paying the fine, but now Judge Curran has discovered a way to prevent that.

Joyce discusses this as the second time she felt blind-sided during the trial,

“The second was when the judge, without ever announcing a verdict, indicated community service was not an option and announced a fine of $232 with a 60 day limit to pay or to have the amount attached to my income tax return. I had asked for community service as an option, as had Mrs. Bonnie Block, whose trial preceded mine by two weeks. Rev. Terry McGinley, a local clergyperson was in court with me and had agreed to act as supervisor for that service and report my hours to the court. He had three Mauston non-profits lined up who were willing participants. Judge Curran maintained that this would be too onerous on the court. I find that a specious argument. My impression is that the judge and district attorney are attempting to use their authority to tighten restrictions and options for us in the hope that we will go away. They really do not understand that our witness is not about power or winning, but about standing with the powerless, often innocent, victims of our country’s illegal, immoral and counterproductive drone warfare.”

And so we will continue our resistance both at the base and in court.

————————————

Joyce’s statement on the stand:

Good afternoon, Judge
I would like to read a brief statement into the record this afternoon.
I stand with Fr. Jim Murphy and with Mrs. Bonnie Block in the conviction that silence in the face of the injustice of the immoral, illegal and counterproductive drone warfare being carried out by our government makes us complicit in these crimes. And I fully endorse and support their testimonies before this court. By the way, judge, Bonnie had her surgery this morning and is doing well.

For me, the bottom line is that every life is precious, whether that be the life of my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, drone pilots, or their victims…every life, equally precious to God and to me.

Former drone pilots are coming forward to share the trauma associated with their job. The Air Force now offers incentives up to $125,000 I am told, to enlist drone pilots. And the shortage of those willing to serve is so severe that the Air Force is contracting with private companies to provide drone pilots. That should give us pause. The pilots being trained at Volk Field are part of an interconnected strategy of identifying potential terrorists and their sympathizers for destruction. Based on often unreliable intelligence, people are targeted and killed. It is not surprising, then, that the incidences of PTSD and suicide of drone pilots mirrors and sometimes exceeds that of combat troops on the ground.

How can you look at the strewn body parts of the men, women and children you have killed and not be affected. The trauma to the communities and families who endure drone attacks and drone killing is incredible: daily surveillance from the sky; fear of letting their children go outside to play or go to school; afraid to attend weddings, funerals, community gatherings; afraid even to offer assistance when drone strikes happen because of the double tap strike likely to follow minutes afterward.

Their suffering is beyond words. The legal arguments we have presented in the past are in the court record. I will not elaborate on them here, except to say that I believe that the U.S., as a country that subscribes to the rule of law, must honor those international laws, courts and declarations we say we subscribe to, but only seem to uphold when it is in our self interest.

The Haitians, some of the poorest people in our hemisphere, have a wonderful proverb, “We see from where we stand.” We stand in different places, judge, trying to hold on to our piece of the truth. Sue Frankel-Streit, a member of a Catholic Worker Community in Virginia, puts it well: “There are times in the lives of all people of conscience when the truth in one’s heart is in such deep opposition to the falsehood of the world that one must put everything else in life aside and act upon the truth.” I take full responsibility for my actions on August 5, and would only ask that you stand with me and my co-defendants to understand that there is nothing criminal in our intent or actions. I cannot in good conscience be silent, nor can I in good conscience pay a fine for speaking my piece of the truth.

Did you receive the letter I sent you on January 19? As you know, it concerns the possibility of community service. I have left a copy with the court clerk and ask that it be included in the record.

I cheerfully and hopefully await the verdict of the court. I do not think you were comfortable in sending Fr. Murphy to jail, and I certainly agree that is a needless expense. I hope you will consider community service as an option this court will adopt for Juneau County residents as well as us. I would ask for permission for the possibility of a short statement from Rev. McGinley after the verdict is announced and before sentencing, and also of a question for you, judge, should I be found guilty.

————————————
Joyce’s letter to the judge pre-trial regarding the possibility of community service:

January 19, 2015
Hon. Paul S. Curran, Judge
Juneau County Circuit Courthouse
200 Oak Street
Mauston, WI 53948-1349
Dear Judge Curran:
I am writing today to inform you that, should I be found guilty of trespass to land at my trial on January 22 at 1:45 in your court, I will be asking for community service in lieu of jail time or a fine.

This issue came up at the trial of Bonnie Block, my co-defendant, at her trial on January 8 before your court. My understanding of your remarks at that time is that you needed more time to think through whether you will accept this option for her. So, I am bringing to your attention now, in writing, my request for community service.

I am also writing to explain my particular situation. I am providing home hospice care for Robert Love, a 67-year old man, a member of my congregation, Hephatha Lutheran Church, 1740 W. Locust, here in Milwaukee. Mr. Love lives in a small cottage in our backyard. He spent most of his life in prison on drug-related charges, and no plans were made for his housing upon his release. We were able to put him in the cottage, and he has been with us for about five years. After having three productive years of employment, the COPD from which he suffers became severe enough that he could no longer work.

Today, he spends his days in a hospital bed, and I support the hospice nurses who look in on him two days a week by preparing his meals, keeping his house, doing his laundry, seeing to his bodily needs-emptying urinals, helping with changing Depends etc., and overseeing his meds and oxygen supply. He is expected to die within the next six months, actually, the nurses are surprised he is still alive today. Mr. Love has no family nearby, and the family he has visited him only once in the last five years, and cannot provide help to him at this time.

I can be supervised in giving care to Mr. Love by the Aurora Hospice nurses with whom I share responsibility for his care. If this is not an acceptable community service I would ask to be supervised by Rev. Terry McGinley, who will be present at my trial to provide service through his church or another non-profit in Mauston which he has contacted and agreed to such service. To be transparent, I would hope that I might do that service from here (something like data entry, mailings, thank you notes, etc.).

Trusting that you will give this your thoughtful consideration, I am prepared to cheerfully accept your judgment on January 22.
Sincerely yours,

Joyce Ellwanger

Case # 15 FO431

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This is one of 3 great descriptions by Joy First and Bonny 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.