An order of protection? Really?
I had to appear in the Dewitt Town Court on March 20 to answer to the charge of “Disorderly Conduct” and be arraigned for said charge. Being in the Dewitt Town Court was like being in a "Saturday Night Live" skit that was co-written by Camus and Kafka.
For all of my peace making efforts on Ash Wednesday (to see the blog and get part one of the story click here) I earned an “Order of Protection” (suitable for framing!) from the town of Dewitt directing me to stay away from “the business of EARL EVANS; 6001 East Malloy Road.”
Specifically the Order of Protection says:
“Refrain from assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, strangulation, criminal obstruction of breathing or circulation (there's a NON-criminal obstruction of these vital bodily functions? Who knew?!), disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, intimidation, threats or any criminal offense or interference with the victim or victims of, or designated witnesses to, the alleged offense and such members of the family of household of such victim(s) or witness(es) as she be specifically named EARL EVANS;”
Luckily the box next to “Surrender any and all handguns, pistols, revolvers, shotguns and other firearms owned or possessed, including but not limited to, the following: (you can insert tanks and flamethrowers here – both of which are legal to own) and do not obtain any further guns or firearms” was not checked.
Apparently I am enough of a threat to have a legal action brought against me but not quite enough of a threat to have to surrender my firearms (if I owed any, which I don't) - which on the face of it makes no sense at all. I guess I owe debt of gratitude to the NRA for this.
It is however a federal crime to “buy, possess or transfer a handgun, rifle, shotgun or other firearm or ammunition while this order remains in effect” - again, tanks and flamethrowers omitted.
This order is in place for one year, so that means if I go to Hancock National Guard Air Base, even in the permitted area for protests at the base and just kneel and pray, or hold a sign or just stand in silence, I can be charged with misdemeanor and be put in jail for up to a year. What a judicious use of our tax dollars.
I am standing in court with my lawyer, listening to Judge Jokl read these orders and in addition to trying to keep a straight face because the whole thing is just so ludicrous, I'm thinking a number of thoughts all at once:
“Who is Earl Evans?” As far as I know he was nowhere near me when I was praying and speaking with the police officer as I tried to stop the killing of innocent human beings by our drones. We would not know each other if we fell over each other.
Turns out Lieutenant Colonel Earl Evans is the commander of the Hancock Air National Guard Base. He has felt so threatened by non-violent, mostly Christian, witnesses for peace that he has requested and receives an order of protection against anyone who witnesses against drones and does any type of nonviolent civil disobedience at his place of employ. This has effectively shut down the weekly silent vigil that was being hosted by local peace activists.
Besides the fact that he is “afraid” of a middle age, out-of-shape Quaker woman who sings in the church choir and volunteers for the local food delivery pantry, he has at his disposal the contents of the entire base which contains assault rifles, bomber jets and drones (and that's just the stuff that we know about). Really? Who should be afraid of whom here?
This order of protection tomfoolery is simply a legal maneuver to curtail freedom of speech, the right of the people to peaceably assemble and the right of the people to petition their government for redress - the very things Lt. Col. Evans purports to protect with his vast arsenal of weapons.
“Too bad the people whose homes, livelihoods, families, communities and very lives are being destroyed by these drone bombs can't file for an order of protection from Earl Evans,” is another thought I had at the time. Talk about “assault, stalking, harassment, aggravated harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment”... etc. What could be more of an example of the aforementioned than being bombed to death? And I'm the one having to appear in court, being brought up on disorderly conduct charges and being slapped with an order of protection?
I was also thinking, “I have had stay away orders from better places than this.” Heck in five years ago I was barred from the US Congress for several months until I was acquitted of the charge of interrupting the business of the US Senate and I was barred from even setting foot on the sidewalk of the US Supreme Court, let alone going into the building for a year for being found guilty of “unlawful free speech on Supreme Court grounds.” “Don't you dare tell the truth here!” I've been admonished more than once.
I marveled at the craziness of it all. At some level you have to develop a “gallows humor” to just keep your sanity. It is not funny to carry in your heart (and soul) the images of the death and destruction these drones wreak on defenseless human beings.
I did frame the order of protection and put it up on my office wall; sometimes it makes me laugh - sometimes.