The trial of Hancock drone war crimes resisters continues later today in a town of DeWitt courtroom. The men and women, mostly from upstate New York, are defending themselves from trespass charges, after an October protest of the use of unmanned aerial drones at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Mattydale.
The 16 defendants contend their blockade of the entrance to the air base is not a crime.
“The actual crime is the killing of civilians, the war of aggression, the violation of national sovereignty,” said Clare Grady, of Ithaca.
She and other defendants say when they go to Hancock, they are calling for a halt of the use of drones, which they contend violates international law. Some of the defendants have been to Afghanistan and brought back stories of civilians killed in drone attacks.
This isn’t the first time Mary Anne Grady Flores, of Ithaca, has been in a DeWitt courtroom defending herself against trespass charges. And she believes the upstate drone resisters are part of a growing movement.
"There is a world crescendo of communities, cities and countries around the world that are saying no to the drones," Flores said. "So we want to join voices with them.”
She also says the defendants contend they were protesting what they call violations of international law.
"We were there for over two and a half hours, where the pilots couldn’t go to work that morning," Flores said. "So it was actual hope -- to say we want the killing stopped by us placing ourselves in the way of the crime.”
Flores also says their act of civil resistance is meant to point out how the use of these unmanned drones violates international law.
"We are the ones to help courts understand the change that has to happen," she said. "We’re the ones here to embody the goodness that humanity can hopefully work towards.”
Before the trial began Friday, one of the defendants pleaded guilty to trespass, leaving 15 activists returning to court this evening to continue making their case. All are members of The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End All Wars. Hancock is a target because the MQ-9 Reaper drones are piloted from the Air National Guard base near Syracuse.