Press Release: ACQUITTED! Drone Resisters from Big Books Action @ Hancock Airbase
Photos of action are available at upstatedroneaction.org
PRESS RELEASE 3/2/2017
Contact: Danny Burns, Ithaca, 607-280-0369
Brian Hynes, Bronx, 718-838-2636
Ed Kinane, Syracuse, 315-478-4571
James Ricks, Ithaca, 607-280-7794
Four drone resisters, James Ricks, Daniel Burns, Brian Hynes, and Ed Kinane, from the 2015 big books action were found innocent of all charges at 11 PM at the Dewitt Town Court. After deliberating for only about a half hour, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty on all charges. Applause erupted in the courtroom upon the jurors’ announcement of the verdict. The four were charged with obstruction of government administration, disorderly conduct, and trespass and faced a year in jail. Following the rendering of the verdict, a juror approached Brian Hynes and said “I really support what you are doing. Keep doing it.”
During the trial, Brian Hynes told the jury, “This is not a case about contested facts, this is a case about contested meanings.” Hynes went on to explain to the jury that they could, in the words of the 4th Circuit of Appeals, acquit for any reason which appeals to their logic or passion. In powerful testimony, James Ricks told the jury about meeting the families of drone victims and seeing the wreckage of hellfire missiles. Jurors were brought to tears several times. Daniel Joseph Burns said, “Would any of us deem it acceptable for our precious loved ones to be sacrificed for another nation’s anticipatory self defense. Of course not! Moreover, if drones were being aimed at my children by another country, I would hope with all my might that the citizens of that country might try and stop their country’s illegal and immoral actions.” Ed Kinane told the jury in clear and powerful language about his time living in Iraq during the war and about the terror sown by drones. Closing arguments were given by lawyers Daire Irwin and Jonathan Wallace as well as James Ricks and Brian Hynes (Heidi Schloegel Hynes)
The trail resulted from an action on March 19, 2015. On the 12th anniversary of the U.S.’ illegal invasion of Iraq, seven members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars shut the main gate of the Hancock Drone Base (near Syracuse, NY) with a giant copy of the UN Charter and three other giant books – Dirty Wars (Jeremy Scahill), Living Under Drones (NYU and Stanford Law Schools), and You Never Die Twice (Reprieve).
The nonviolent activists also held a banner quoting Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, stating that every treaty signed becomes the supreme law of the land. They brought the books to Hancock to remind everyone at the base of the signed treaties that prohibit the killing of civilians and assassinations of human beings. The group attempted yet again to deliver a citizens’ indictment for war crimes to the Hancock Air base chain of command.
2017 February 21
The resolution to cut the military budget to fund New Haven, CT, human services and infrastructure passed the Board of Alders unanimously this evening.
The resolution submitted by the city of New Haven Peace Commission was presented at a hearing by the Human Services Committee of the Board and received input from various department heads of the city government.
The resolution called for this citywide hearing to “reveal what the extent of the city’s public and human services needs are, what the gaps are between the city’s needs and all funds provided by taxes, grants and debt, and how those gaps could be met by reducing the annual national military budget” which currently takes more than 55% of the federal discretionary budget and under the Trump administration is likely to dramatically increase.
Asked to imagine what they could do with greater funds, department heads and city workers enthusiastically spoke of providing more nurses and public health services to needy school children, encouraging business development for non high tech startups, provide high quality housing, end homelessness, fix potholes and sidewalks, replace outdated public works equipment, take care of the city’s coastline and harbor, replace laid-off park department workers, provide mechanics for the police fleet and build a green fleet garage – among other things.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp approved of the resolution and offered to submit a similar one to the US Conference of Mayors calling on every medium to large city in the nation to hold such a hearing.
The resolution passed this evening calls on the Board of Alders to transmit a letter to federal elected representatives asking what they are going to do to reduce the military budget, cut spending on wars and move funds to human needs.
In asking the Board to support this resolution Alder Richard Furlow, Ward 27 and Chair of the Human Services Committee, read the statement below encouraging his colleagues to support the resolution.
Statement of Alder Richard Furlow:
Imagine, if you will, an ideal world — a world where our city had nearly unlimited funds at its disposal.
That could be a reality if the federal government followed the recommendations of this resolution. It urges that military spending be cut in order to meet the needs of local communities.
On January 26, the Human Services Committee held an informative, well-attended hearing on this resolution. City department heads were invited to expound on what they would do with a bottomless well of free money.
First and foremost, of course, would be unmet social-service needs.
We would truly end homelessness and expand the re-entry programs. Rebuild the senior’s program and finish the youth center! There would be quality health care and drug rehab on demand. Food Justice for all!
We would have plenty of jobs and affordable housing. And a high-performing school system with well-paid nurses!
New sidewalks and bike lanes on every street! Buses that run on time and an international airport. Low property taxes! No potholes! A ballet and circus! We would have well–groomed parks and a skating rink with ice!
The “peace dividend” would enable the city to settle outstanding labor contracts and fully fund the pension system. We could afford a police department that enforced traffic laws, a fire department with brand-new trucks, and plenty of overtime to go around!
Colleagues, please join me in commending the Peace Commission for this admirable resolution.
I urge your support.