31 July 2014
Russell Brown 716-570-5201 Vietnam Veteran/Upstate Drone Action
Ed Kinane 315-478-4571 Upstate Drone Action
Ellen Grady 607-279-8303 Ithaca Catholic Worker
upstatedroneaction.org; twitter @droneresister
AQUITTED! Vietnam Vet Drone Resister
Syracuse July 31, 2014 After two hours of deliberation, Vietnam Veteran and Buffalonian Russell Brown was acquitted tonight by a six person jury in DeWitt Town Court, East Syracuse. Acting as his own lawyer, he was facing charges of Obstruction of Governmental Administration (OGA), a misdemeanor carrying up to a year incarceration and up to $1000 fine, as well as Disorderly Conduct charge, a violation. Mr. Brown was arrested during a nonviolent protest at Hancock Air National Guard Base on April 28, 2013. In a roadway across from the Airbase, he lay down to symbolize the death of drone victims.
There are biweekly demonstrations at Hancock Airbase. Several times a year there are larger demonstrations and nationally coordinated events. On six occasions there have been arrests, leading to six trials since 2011. Mr. Brown's trial is the second acquittal. There are twenty activists are facing prosecution, working with Upstate Drone Action.
During testimony, Russell told what he did leading up to the "Global April Days of Action" gathering in Syracuse. This included his writing a poem that links the drone attacks conducted at Hancock with the missions he conducted in Vietnam. A marine from 1965 - 1967, he told of the war he experienced. His participation in senseless killing and brutality in Vietnam informed his understanding of the Drone War Program at the 174th Attack Wing. Russell now finds allegiance with the victims of the drone attacks.
Laying on the street with "blood" spattered clothes lifted a weight of guilt from Russell. Transforming guilt to regret makes possible a voice: poet, marcher in a 'legal' protest, drone victim laying in the street were deemed protected speech. The message was closely attended by the jury. Brian Hynes said, "They saw the human power of the message and the public value of the method used to deliver it. Drones kill senselessly and illegally and traumatize our airmen."
Russell said that the wars of the last decade brought back his experiences in Vietnam. “Lying in that road was the most peaceful moment I've experienced since I left Vietnam,” he said. "I was silent then in the face of those atrocities and I can't be silent anymore."
The jury was smiling as they returned to give the verdict. Later one juror asked a supporter to "Thank Russell for us! My brother was in the Vietnam War and lost his leg. We know what the vets went through." The juror also acknowledged the PTSD drone pilots experience. Another juror said, "We did what was needed to be done. It was fair and just".
Hancock Air National Guard Base, home of the 174th Attack Wing, is a domestic hub for drone assassinations, support and operation, particularly in Afghanistan. The Niagara Falls Air Base is also embarking on a mission to operate weaponized drones.
The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, supported by local organizations such as the WNY Peace Center, works nonviolently to stop the scourge of assassination and community terror perpetrated by weaponized drones. The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones is in coalition with the global movement to end the drone assassinations and to stop US imperialism and militarization.
In other news of drone resistance, 2 upstate drone resisters had their bail drastically reduced after being arrested one week ago from another action against killer drones on July 23, 2014 at Hancock. Clare Grady of the Ithaca Catholic Worker and Martha Hennessy from New York Catholic Worker were arrested and charged with violating an Order of Protection. Judge Jokl of the Town of Dewitt had originally set their bail at $10,000 each. During a bail reduction hearing Ms. Hennessy’s bail was reduced to $100 on Monday. Today, Ms. Grady’s bail was also reduced to $100. Both women have been released.
Three others, Joan Pleune, 75 years old, former Freedom Rider from the Civil Rights Movement, and NYC Catholic Workers Erica Brock and Felton Davis remain in jail and are still being held of $2,500 bail each. Ms. Pleune has a bail reduction hearing tomorrow morning in Syracuse.
Mary Anne Grady Flores
Ithaca, NY 14850 1-607-280-8797
Ithaca Catholic Workers / Los Obreros Catolicos de Ithaca
"If you think one person can't be effective, you've never been in bed with a mosquito" -War Resister's League
"Si usted piensa que una persona no puede ser eficaz, nunca he estado en la cama con un mosquito" Liga de Opositores de Guerra
"Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it" Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
"La protesta más allá de la ley no se aparta de la democracia, es absolutamente esencial para que" Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...
What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction...And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." -- Howard Zinn
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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"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