Dec. 14th, 2012
For Immediate Release:
Contact: John Hamilton (607) 280-5191
Ellen Grady (607) 279-8303
Hancock 15 Drone Resisters Found Guilty
Syracuse. Last night, in DeWitt Town Court,
in a swift four and a half hour trial, Judge Jokl found
eleven of the original fifteen protesters of Reaper drones,
guilty of trespass. Hancock Air National Guard Base is
home of the MQ-9 Reaper drone maintenance and training
center, adjacent to Syracuse Airport where soldiers pilot
drones used in the extra judicial killings in Afghanistan.
The eleven pro se* defendants argued that their action of
civil resistance, of blocking the front gate of the base,
on June 28th, was two fold.
First, to present grievances to the government by delivering
a War Crimes Indictment, co-authored by former
Attorney General of the U.S., Ramsey Clark, indicting
Hancock base personnel, up their chain of command
to President Obama, of war crimes. Second, to prevent
war crimes of: extra judicial killings, killing of innocent civilians,
wars of aggressions, and the violation of
Defendants argued that civil resistance is upholding
law, as opposed to civil disobedience which is about
changing laws as was done during the civil rights era,
This action was done in accordance with
customary law, which prohibits acts of aggression by all nations.
In his closing argument John Hamilton said,
"There is no exception anywhere, for you, for me, for anyone
from this overarching legal certainty: acts of aggression are always
and everywhere illegal, and must not by ignored by the courts.
Extra-judicial murder must be called out and stopped." Using the
analogy of extra judicial killings by lynching of African Americans
throughout US history, Hamilton stated, "We ask that you take a bold step
tonight to end lynching, not in some backwood Alabama town in 1912,
but here in Dewitt in 2012. We ask you to find us not guilty of the (trespass) charges.
In Daniel Burgevin's closing, he stated,
"I am innocent of trespass. The unlawfulness of trespass is when a hellfire
missile enters through the roof of a family's home, exploding and spreading fire and shards of metal through the bodies of the family living inside. ... That is the unlawfulness and the criminality of trespass."
Judge Jokl did not allow the war crimes indictment into evidence, thus limiting his scope of interpretation to NY State law. Within ten minutes of deliberation the judge found the eleven guilty.
The judge sentenced Ed Kinane and Rae Kramer of Syracuse, Clare and Ellen Grady, and James Ricks of Ithaca, to 15 days in jail.
Dan Burgevin, Dave McClallen and Nate Lewis of Trumansburg,
George and Judy Homanich of Binghamton, and John Hamilton of
Ithaca, were all given fines and community service and one year
Last night Ed Kinane and James Ricks started their 15 day sentence in
Onondaga County Jail. The other three report to jail at 5 pm
on January 11th, 2012.
On January 10th, 2013, two groups of drone protesters will
be in De Witt Town Court to argue motions with their trial
dates to be announced possibly that night. On Oct. 25th, 2012,
the protesters closed all three gates of the base, blockading it,
for two hours and forty minutes.
An order of protection was signed by Judge Jokl on behalf of
Col. Earl A. Evans, preventing protesters from going near his
"place of employment", or face the penalty of seven years in prison.
* Pro Se - Defending one self in court.
WAR CRIMES INDICTMENT
To President Obama, to Secretary of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, to the full Military Chain of the Command, including Commander Colonel Greg Semmel, to all Service Members and civilian staff of Hancock Air Base, and to the local police and Sheriffs Department of the Town of De Witt, 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 are required to disobey any clearly unlawful order from a superior.
Based on all the above,
WE, THE PEOPLE, CHARGE THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENT,
BARACK OBAMA AND THE FULL MILITARY CHAIN OF COMMAND
TO COMMANDER COLONEL GREG SEMMEL,
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 Colonel Greg Semmel, 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.
THE UPSTATE COALITION TO
GROUND THE DRONES AND END THE WARS
Good Evening, Judge Jokle, my name is Ellen Grady, I am one of the defendants in this case. The prosecution just stated that this is a simple trespass case. We are charged with knowingly and unlawfully remaining on the property of Hancock Airfield.
This is not a complicated case, this is a simple case of concerned citizens going to Hancock Airfield to try to call attention to and prevent war crimes from being committed. This is a simple case of them doing so knowingly and lawfully.
The evidence will show that my co-defendant, Nathan Lewis, an Iraq War veteran who knows the horrors of war, knowingly and lawfully, went to and remained at Hancock Airfield because as a soldier he took an oath to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution states that every treaty that is signed by the US becomes the supreme law of the land. (As uncomfortable as some of us are with that statement, that is what it says).
The evidence will show that my co defendant. John Hamilton, after exhaustive study of the Constitution and our government’s international agreements, helped to draft the war crimes indictment that we tried to deliver, knowingly and lawfully, to the base on June 28th. That indictment names in detail the war crimes being perpetrated from Hancock Airfield.
The evidence will show that my co-defendant Ed Kinane, after traveling to Afghanistan and meeting with the victims and their families of US war-making, knowingly and lawfully stood at the gates of Hancock Airfield and refused to leave; because he knows that the Afghan people he met on his trip are being terrorized by the drones maintained and operated from Hancock, and that it is a war crime to terrorize a civilian population.
The evidence will show that my co-defendants George and Judy Homanich, knowingly and lawfully went to and remained on the property of Hancock Airfield, because they know the devastation of losing a child, having lost their precious son to cancer. The drones are killing children regularly. George and Judy know that the killing of civilians is a war crime.
The evidence will show that my co-defendant, Dan Burgevin, a lifetime artist, studied the images of the victims of the drone attacks and painted banners using those images. The evidence will show that we brought those banners with us to Hancock Airfield to remind ourselves and others that innocent civilians are dying in these drone attacks and that the killing of innocent civilians is a war crime.
Tonight we will also bring into evidence the posters that spell out our purpose, our knowing and our lawful action to go to and remain at Hancock Airfield. For example: We Will Not Be Complicit With Our Government’s War Crimes, Drones Equal War Crimes, Drone War Crimes: Killing Innocent Civilians.
The evidence will show that we-- Clare, George, Judy, John, Nathan, Ed, Rae, Dave, Dan, James, Daniel, and myself-- knowingly and lawfully went to and remained on the property of Hancock Airfield because the cries of the victims are ringing in our ears and wrenching at our hearts and because crimes are being perpetrated from that base. And we will show that to NOT try to stop these crimes is what’s criminal.