Grandma Drone Resister Appealing While being Remanded to Prison

(Press Release) Mary Anne Grady FloresHancock drone resister and grandmother Mary Anne Grady Flores will be taken into custody on Tuesday, January 19 at the Town of DeWitt Court at 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY. Her lead Attorney, Lance Salisbury, will speak at the 4:30pm press conference at the court. Grady Flores appears before the court at 5pm.

On May 16, 2014, Grady Flores was convicted of violating an order of protection while taking pictures of eight Catholics nonviolently protesting the US drone assassination program at the Hancock Air Base in DeWitt, New York on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013. DeWitt Judge David Gideon sentenced Mary Anne to one year in prison and fined her $1000, but she was released on bail while her appeal was pending.  All eight Catholic drone resisters arrested that Ash Wednesday were acquitted, by a judge who asserted that the protesters intended to uphold law, not break it.

On January 12, Grady Flores received a letter saying that Onondaga County Court Judge Thomas Miller upheld her lower court conviction, but he had reduced her sentence to six months.  In the same letter she was informed that Justice Miller also upheld the Hancock 17 nonviolent drone resisters’ orders of protection, convictions of disorderly conduct, and 15-day sentences.

Grady Flores’ legal team, headed by Ithaca Attorney Lance Salisbury, is filing an appeal in the NYS Court of Appeals in Albany.  At stake is the local government’s new tactic of using Orders of Protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, to deter protest and suppress free speech. OOPs were never intended to allow army officers to hide from grandmothers who seek to educate on matters of law and justice. This novel use of a law designed to protect individuals against violence and intimidation must not be allowed to become a tool for repression.

Grady Flores and the other members of the Hancock 17 are activists in The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, which has resisted the drone assassination program since 2010.  According to recently leaked military documents, the Drone Papers, Washington’s use of drones for the last 14-year in a “high-value targeting campaign” has been based on faulty intelligence. In Afghanistan, 90% of those killed were not “intended targets.” This remote-control killing has exacerbated “the very threat the U.S. is seeking to confront.”  According to the Intercept, former drone pilots have come forward to say they were “horrified” by “abuses” in the program.

On November 18, 2015 four former drone operators, who are Air Force veterans, in a letter, publicly criticized President Obama’s targeted assassination program for inflicting heavy civilian casualties and developing “an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents.”

Both the Drones Papers and testimony of the former drone operators support the stance of drone and war resisters have been petitioning military officers, courts and political representatives around the world to end the program. On January 12, the date that Mary Anne and the Hancock 17 heard that they had lost their appeals, drone resisters were arrested at Creech Air Force Base (Nevada), Beale AFB (California), and Volk AFB (Wisconsin), and Ramstein AFB (Germany) and in Pakistan.

Mary Anne Grady Flores is being sent to prison the day after celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr. when many Americans reflect on his opposition to U.S. military aggression and his commitment to nonviolent protest against injustice. Supporter Beth Harris said, “Join the nonviolent resistance against U.S. drone warfare and challenge the unlawful application of orders of protection to peace activists as ways of carrying on Dr. King’s legacy.”

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