DEWITT, N.Y. — At least 40 people gathered in support Tuesday of an Ithaca anti-drone protester who was sentenced to six-months in jail after violating a controversial order of protection.
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Mary Anne Grady Flores — a grandmother and long-time activist — wore around her neck an Our Lady of Guadalupe pendant and blue scarf in solidarity with the civilians who she said had become collateral damage during drone strikes.
She was was arrested on Feb. 13, 2013 while taking photos of an anti-drone protest at the Hancock Air Base, which is co-located with Syracuse Hancock International Airport.
A year earlier, she’d received an “order of protection” after she participated in a demonstration outside the base — controversial because many protesters say they’ve never met the man who filed the order of protection against them –Col. Earl Evans, the mission support group commander at the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard.
While taking photos of the protest, Grady Flores crossed a street briefly so a person could show her how to take photos with an iPhone — per the order of protection, a space she was not authorized to be.
She was arrested later, about half a mile away at a coffee shop, after being confused for her sister who’d been blocking the driveway of the base. That’s when officials allegedly became aware of the previous order of protection against her.
Charges against eight other protesters who were taken into custody the same day were later dropped after a judge determined that there was no intent by them to break the law.
“I feel like grace is carrying me,” she said Tuesday, all smiles and laughter less than an hour before being taken into custody. “It’s just lifting me.”
In a news conference before going into court, her and her supporters held signs, some of which said , “I am not bug splat,” depicting either innocent looking children or, alternately, dead children.
Grady Flores said it was important to her that people not forget why she and eight protesters were arrested that day — because they were against the use of drone warfare.
“People are worried about my well being? I’m alive,” she said, adding that it’s more than she could say for the hundreds of civilians killed by American drones in the Middle East.
Judge David Gideon did not allow cameras in the courtroom because a representative from the prosecution was not present to approve media in court, along with the defense, as required by law.
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