News Release

Jailing a Grandma for Allegedly Protesting Drone Killings

Last month, the New York Times reported: “Trump Poised to Drop Some Limits on Drone Strikes and Commando Raids.”

MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES, gradyflores08 at gmail.com
ED KINANE, edkinane340 at gmail.com
Mary Anne Grady Flores is a grandmother who is part of the Ithaca Catholic Worker community. She has worked with UpstateDroneAction.org, which has organized civil resistance outside Hancock Air Force Base in upstate New York to protest the use of killer drones.

The group states that her appeals case will be heard Wednesday. Depending on the verdict, Grady Flores, who has already served 56 days, may be forced to complete another 65 days.

Her hearing is scheduled — see New York State Court of Appeals live stream. At 3:15 a press conference with Mary Anne’s attorney Lance Salisbury, Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Ed Kinane, and others will be held in the park across from the court, posted live on Grady Flores’ Facebook page. See pieces on Truthout by Kinane, including “Weaponized Drones And The Phony ‘War On Terror.'”  Upstate Drone Action states: “On Feb. 13th, 2013, Ash Wednesday, Ithaca Catholic Worker Grady Flores took pictures of Catholic protesters from the road, unknowingly crossing what Hancock claims to be its boundary, ‘the double yellow line in the middle of the road.’ Where she stood in the road violated her ‘order of protection’ (OOP) which was given to protesters by a local DeWitt Court judge on behalf of Colonel Earl Evans to keep protesters away from the base. In an appeal, the OOP of another drone protester had been ruled invalid by Onondaga County Judge Brunetti because the OOP didn’t delineate how close or far people had to be from the base. Judge David S. Gideon sentenced Grady Flores to a year in jail to stop others protesters. However, many returned, despite having an OOP.

“Grady Flores’ appeal contends that an order of protection cannot be used on behalf of property. Normally OOPs are given on behalf of a victim or a witness. The use of a form of protective order developed to address domestic violence to deter protesters and chill speech raises important First Amendment issues, in which the N.Y. Civil Liberties Union has taken an interest, filing a friend of the court brief by NYC attorney Jonathan Wallace.

“In Grady Flores’ 2014 sentencing she said, ‘Who is the real victim here? The commander of a military base whose drones kill innocent people halfway around the world, or those innocent people who are the real ones in need of protection from the terror of U.S. drone attacks?’ According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, approximately 10,000 people have been killed by drones since 2001. Oct. 6 and 7 were the 16th anniversary of both the beginning of the Afghan war and the first U.S. drone strike, with drone attacks worsening during the Trump administration. More U.S. bombs and missiles were dropped on Afghanistan in September than in any other month for nearly seven years, higher than any month since November 2010.

“Drone warfare is a profitable enterprise for numerous military contractors, making fortunes off of the murder of defenseless people around the world. Hancock is the largest training and maintenance center for the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone program. Extra judicial killings are executed by Air Force crews sitting in front of computer screens in the Syracuse base, killing civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In a five-month period in 2015, up to 90 percent of drone assassination victims were civilians. The base shares facilities with civilian Syracuse International Airport. Hancock Air National Guard Base has been the site of protests of the U.S. killer drone program since 2010, resulting in over 200 arrests and numerous trials, appeals and incarcerations — some ending in acquittal.