DEWITT, N.Y. Bonny Mahoney of Syracuse, was convicted by Judge David S. Gideon in DeWitt Town Court on a single count of trespass stemming from her arrest during an April 28, 2013 nonviolent protest against the use of Drones at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, in Mattydale.
Hancock Air National Guard Base is a center for piloting lethal drone missions over Afghanistan and elsewhere, training pilots and mechanics and testing Reaper drones over Lake Ontario, adjacent communities, and the Adirondacks.
When Mahoney arrived in court, January 15, for a jury trial on charges of obstructing governmental administration (OGA) and two counts of disorderly conduct, she found that Judge Gideon granted a pretrial motion by attorneys to dismiss the OGA charge on the grounds that it didn’t specify who was obstructed, or how, and - pointedly- the jury was dismissed.
Then she was charged with a new charge, trespassing, stemming from the same protest. Her request for time to modify preparations for defense was denied.
Mahoney defended herself during her two day trial.
"I consider myself lucky to be able to defend myself against charges I feel are unjust. US drone policy does not provide this opportunity for its victims,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney was convicted of the trespass charge. Her sentencing hearing is Feb. 12.
People have been protesting at Hancock National Air Guard Base since 2011 when the 174th Fighter Wing began flying Reaper drone missions over Afghanistan.
During the past year, protesters opposing weaponized, unmanned drones were arrested at Hancock, Creech, Whiteman, and Beale Air Force and Air National Guard Bases, as well as in the UK and in the German Parliament. Trials are coming up in DeWitt this spring for John Honeck on trial for OGA and Disorderly Conduct on February 11 and 12, followed by a consolidated Jury trial for Bev Rice, Ellen Barfield, Joan Pleune and Jules Orkin who are facing the same charges from the same action on March 10, 11 and 12.
There is a fair chance these too will find charges dropped and new, lower charges leveled to enable the judge to dismiss the jury, thus ensuring trial by government instead of trial by a jury of peers. dismissed and charges dropped reduced
Mahoney, formerly of Buffalo, and a Board Member of the WNY Peace Center, traveled to Pakistan to meet with families of drone victims.
“I was ashamed to say I live in a country that participates in terrorizing and killing of innocent people; where the killing of children is viewed as collateral damage,” she said.
A report in Der Spiegel says that unreported drone strikes are a daily event in Afghanistan, with a list of targets with up to 750 names on any given day. An Op-Ed published on Salon.com by a retired drone imagery analyst says pilots are encouraged to fly even when no targets are available, and performance evaluations for pilots highlight enemy kills.
Since 2010 there have been more than 150 arrests at Hancock leading to over 65 people going to trial and more than 25 citizens jailed for protesting outside the gates of Hancock Base.