Your tax dollars at work, folks
Last Friday, May 16, Mary Anne Grady-Flores was found guilty by a six-person jury in DeWitt town court on second degree contempt of an order of protection (OOP). Grady-Flores did not intend to violate the order but was taking photographs of the Ash Wednesday witness against drones that I was a part of on back on February 13, 2013. The jury acquitted her of the disorderly conduct charge.
On October 24, 2013, myself and my fellow witnesses were, in a historic decision that made the national news, acquitted of disorderly conduct charges for that witness.
Grady-Flores, a grandmother and self employed caterer, was clear with all of us as were we planning the witness that she was not going to be part of the action because she did not want to violate the OOP. She was going to stay on the other side of the road. She crossed over briefly to take a photo — still thinking that she was not on base property — and returned to the other side of the street.
After the Ash Wednesday witness calling for our government to stop the bombing and killing of innocent people was over, and we had all been cuffed and hauled off, Grady-Flores was walking down the road, on the other side of the street, when a police officer recognized her as one of the people who had an OOP to stay away from Evans and arrested her.
So let's get the entire picture here.
This “order of protection” is for Col. Earl Evans, the commander of the Hancock Air National Guard Base in East Syracuse — who has never spoken to or met — any of the people against whom he has requested these orders of protections — much less been threatened by them.
At Grady-Flores' trial the good Colonel testified that he was not threatened by any these people, nor was he afraid of them. The orders of protection are to “keep people out of the road,” he told the court. (Never mind that there are victims of domestic violence in the Syracuse area who have been unable to obtain OOPs against people that actually hit them and a state Supreme Court judge's ruling that invalidated an order of protection against an anti-violence protester — the DA is appealing.)
Really? Why curtail people's First Amendment Rights? Why not just put up signs? After all the base owns to the middle of East Malloy Road — should be easy enough to keep people out of the road that you own by putting up signs telling people that they cannot be there. Or might that be too obvious?
Law enforcement personnel and the district attorney were unaware of where the property line for the base was. All assumed that the property line ended at the curbing and the roadway was public property. The correct property line was established at my trial when Evans testified that the base owned to the middle of Malloy Road. The DA could have just gotten a copy of the deed for the base from the tax assessor's office and seen for himself where the property line was — that's what I did. This confusion has since been rectified with signs making clear where private property ends and public property begins.
The guilty verdict was brought in the jury five minutes after they had asked the judge for a legal definition of "keep away,” and he had replied that they "are the sole triers of fact” — not giving them any explanation of something they obviously were not clear on. No one was really and if you asked at your arraignment for clarification on what specifically the order meant on certain points you were derided by the judge.
After the verdict was read the judge told Grady-Flores to “expect some jail time.” She could get up to a year.
So now we have the tax payers of Onondaga County about to pay $200+ per day to incarcerate someone who has never harmed or even threatened any person or property, has not stole or defrauded from anyone and is in no way an danger to the community, and has an invalid OPP against her. Even if he gives her only 30 days, that’s in excess of $6,000.
I don't know about you but I can think of some great ways to spend $6,000 — like rebuilding people's homes we have destroyed with our drones for starters.