March 10, 2016

Ithaca Resident, Anti-Drone Activist Released on Bail

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Drone protestor and Ithaca resident Mary Anne Grady-Flores had been imprisoned for violating an order of protection while photographing anti-drone protesters at the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. She was released from the Onondaga County Correctional Facility on Monday.

The New York Court of Appeals ordered Grady-Flores’s release on $5,000 bail.

An active drone warfare dissident, Grady-Flores has participated in numerous demonstrations at the Hancock base to plead for government action against U.S. drone deployment abroad.

Grady-Flores joined eight Catholic workers in a protest Feb. 13, 2013, acting as a photographer instead of a demonstrator, she said.

Grady-Flores had previously been arrested for protesting outside the gates of the base in Oct. 2012. After her arrest, she said she signed an order of protection instructing her to stay away from Colonel Earl A. Evans, a man she said she did not know.

“[The other protesters] knew that because I had an order of protection, I was not going to be a part of the action,” she said. “My role was support and taking pictures that we’d use for the press release later that day.”

However, Grady-Flores said she was arrested shortly after the eight protesters on charges of violating her order of protection. Although she had not entered the base, police informed her that she had intruded on the base’s boundaries, which extended in the middle of the public street.

Grady-Flores was subsequently tried and sentenced to six months in prison beginning Jan. 19, according to a press release distributed by Prof. Beth Harris, politics, Ithaca College.

Harris said Grady-Flores has already tried appealing the court’s decision at the county level but was unsuccessful.

“[She] appealed the decision, got out on bail and the case went to the [Onondaga] County Court,” Harris said. “The judge upheld the decision of the trial court.”

Grady-Flores’ attorney, Lance Salisbury ’96, said the court of appeals released her on the grounds of a stay of judgment, which temporarily suspends her jail sentence.

“While granting of stay does not indicate that a judge … think[s] the case will win upon appeal, it is a sign that the judge may believe the case raises significant legal questions that must be carefully considered in determining whether to grant the appeal application,” Salisbury said.

Salisbury added that the stay of judgment will remain until the court makes a decision on whether Grady-Flores has leave to appeal her case.

“If leave is denied, the stay is automatically terminated,” Salisbury said. “If leave to appeal is granted, the stay remains in effect until a decision on the appeal.”

In spite of the legal repercussions, Grady-Flores said she remains adamant about her stance on drone warfare.

“I truly believe if Americans knew how this is fueling terrorism and recruitment to ISIS, they would demand a stop to the drone program,” she said.