News Release

Resisters to Militarism on Trial Today

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The New York Times reports: “Trump to Seek $54 Billion Increase in Military Spending.”

On March 19, 2015, on the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, seven members of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition were arrested at Hancock Air Base outside Syracuse, New York. The group states that the protesters “were nonviolently protesting Hancock’s lethal and illegal use of MQ9 Reaper drones over Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“The seven deployed huge (7×4 feet) replicas of four books across the main entrance of Hancock, the home of the 174th Attack Wing of the New York National Guard — a major hunter/killer Reaper drone hub. The books were: the UN Charter; Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars; NYU and Stanford Law School’s “Living Under Drones;” and Reprieve’s human rights report “You Never Die Twice.”

“Five of the seven [protesters] are charged with Obstructing Governmental Administration (a misdemeanor requiring a jury and carrying a maximum one-year sentence), trespass, and two counts of disorderly conduct. … Originally scheduled for trial in late November 2016, the trial was postponed until February 28 so a new jury pool could be called in order to assure [James Ricks, who is an African American Muslim] a ‘jury of his peers’.”

JAMES RICKS, chavoc32 [at] gmail.com

One of the defendants, Ricks said today: “I first started doing social activism work when my child witnessed someone getting shot by a police officer. I became active with the Shawn Greenwood Truth and Reconciliation group, named for the person who was shot. It was there that someone from the Catholic Worker told me about an anti drone killing meeting.

“I learned that our government is assassinating people in other countries and this violates the UN Charter — which, as a treaty, the Constitution says is the supreme law of the land. But the judges and police are ignoring that. We’re working to uphold such laws. Our country isn’t supposed to use violence or even the threat of violence without proper authorization, which it didn’t get when it invaded Iraq.

“Yesterday I saw George W. Bush on TV talking about how power is seductive and corrosive. Well, he illegally invaded Iraq and was never held to meaningful account.

“Everyone in our group takes an oath of nonviolence when we try to expose what they are doing at this military base.

“I also do this because I went to Pakistan to learn more about drone killing. People were so friendly — they so want to build a better relationship with people in the U.S. …

“And now it’s troubling that Trump is calling for more military spending. He’s appealing to people’s anger over many of the wrong things.

“Targeted assassinations with these drone wars are war crimes. Too many people have become distracted or overwhelmed and just ignore this — or actually celebrate war crimes as some kind of patriotic victory. It’s not and we need to work to stop it.”

ELLEN GRADY, demottgrady6 [at] gmail.com

Grady is part of the Ithaca New York Catholic Worker movement, which has been a key part of organizing against the U.S. government killer drone assassinations program outside Hancock Air Force Base in upstate New York.

ED KINANE, edkinane [at] verizon.net

Kinane is author of several pieces on drone assassinations for Truthout, including “Exposing The Killer Drones Of Hancock Airbases’s 174th Attack Wing,” “Drone Surveillance Is No Longer Just ‘Over There'” and “Weaponized Drones And The Phony ‘War On Terror’.”

DANIEL BURNS and Fr. BILL PICKARD, FrPickard [at] stjosephscenter.org

Burns stated: “Drone warfare kills many innocents, including children. As a father of three beautiful children, I’m morally obligated to try and stop drone warfare. People of conscience must do everything in our power to stop such violations of human rights and international law.”