Friday, May 2, 2014

Silent vigil/Potluck dinner/Drone film/U.S. Marine veteran with Grim Reaper costume acquitted of all charges 1 year after drone protest

Silent vigil/Potluck dinner/Drone film/U.S. Marine veteran with Grim Reaper costume acquitted of all charges 1 year after drone protest

There is a silent peace vigil on Fri., May 2 from 5 to 6 PM outside the Cathedral of the Incarnation, University Parkway and St. Paul St. The vigil, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, will remind us that War Is Not the Answer. Stop torture.

Following the vigil, there will be a potluck dinner at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218. Then see a DVD screening of “UNMANNED: AMERICA’S DRONE WARS,” which investigates the impact of U.S. drone strikes at home and abroad through interviews with both experts and victims and through never-before-seen footage from the tribal regions in Pakistan. Particularly moving are the interviews with a former American drone operator and with Pakistani families mourning loved ones and seeking legal redress.

“Unmanned” reveals that these covert military actions are often imprecise and result in creating more enemies for the United States. Top military officials warn against blowback from the loss of innocent life as the result of drone strikes. This important film describes the brutal reality of drone attacks ordered during the Obama Administration.

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee and others are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. The DVDs usually are shown at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse on the First Friday. At 7: 15 PM, a DVD will be shown with a discussion to follow. There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at

U.S. Marine veteran with Grim Reaper costume acquitted of all charges 1 year after drone protest

John Amidon, 66, a U.S. Marine veteran and president of the Albany chapter of the Veterans for Peace, spoke at a rally Sunday during a permitted protest of the government's use of drones at the Hancock Air Base in DeWitt. On Monday, he was acquitted of attempted criminal trespass and loitering, from another protest outside the air base April 28, 2013.

By Catie O'Toole | The Post-Standard
April 29, 2014 at 1:26 AM, updated April 29, 2014 at 1:30 AM

DeWitt, NY -- A DeWitt town judge Monday night acquitted a U.S. Marine veteran who wore a Grim reaper costume during a permitted protest last year outside Hancock air base.

John Amidon, 66, president of the Albany chapter of Veterans for Peace, was charged April 28, 2013 with attempted criminal trespass and loitering, both violations.
Amidon was among 31 people arrested that day. He was the first of the group to be tried.

DeWitt Town Judge David Gideon found Amidon not guilty of both charges after watching a video of the arrest and hearing from six witnesses, said defense lawyer Kathy Manley.

During his trial Monday night, Amidon testified he was standing on top of a barrier within the free-speech zone in front of Hancock Field during a permitted protest. He was wearing a Grim Reaper mask and long black robe at the time. The protest, he said, was organized by the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and the Syracuse Peace Council.

"I was doing street theater," Amidon said. "I was arrested in a free-speech zone and dragged out of it."

Assistant District Attorney Jordan McNamara argued Amidon was trying to climb over the barricade, Manley said. One of the prosecutor's two witnesses was the arresting police officer who testified he thought Amidon was going to climb over the barrier, Manley said after the trial. McNamara could not be reached for comment.
Amidon and three witnesses at the protest also testified.

"I did not trespass," Amidon said. "I had a Constitutional right to wear the mask."

The defense argued there was a reason for why Amidon chose the Grim Reaper costume: "The Grim Reaper is a symbol of the drone program," said Manley, a lawyer from Albany. The New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing operates unmanned MQ-9 Reaper drones from Hancock Air Base and the Navy drone program's logo is that of a Grim Reaper, she said.

"The Reaper drone is killing indiscriminately and the Grim Reaper collects the souls of the innocent and guilty alike," Amidon said.

The judge found Amidon not guilty of loitering because his Grim Reaper mask and costume were props and props were included in the permit, Manley said. Gideon found Amidon not guilty of attempted criminal trespass because "the evidence showed he was not trying to climb over the barrier," Manley said.

"They ran in and grabbed him from behind," she said. "He was surrounded by other officers and handcuffed, and his mask was pulled off."

After court, Amidon said he was happy with the verdict.

"It was an absolute splendid victory," he said. "Freedom of speech was protected."

© 2014 Syracuse Media Group All rights reserved

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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