Onondaga County taxpayers to pay $73,000 for crossing the street
In a stunning decision on July 10, Judge David Gideon of DeWitt Town Court handed down the maximum sentence to Mary Anne Grady-Flores: one year in the county jail. Literally for crossing the street.
Briefly: Mary Anne Grady-Flores had attended the 2013 Ash Wednesday witness against the killing of innocent children by US drone warfare at the Hancock National Guard Air Base in East Syracuse — not as a “protester” but as someone to document the event through photographs and support us by giving us rides home after. At the time she was under an Order of Protection (OOP) to stay away from Col. Earl Evans, commander of the base, who later admitted under oath that he had never met any of the protesters and was not in fear of any of them. The OOPs issued to anyone arrested at the base are simply a way to curtail any protest against the business of drones at the base. Mary Anne did not carry any signs but stayed across the street from the rest of us, taking photos — except for a brief moment when she crossed over to give something to someone and then immediately returned to the other side of the street. After the event was over, and as she was walking back to her car, one of the officers called to the event recognized her as someone who had an OOP and arrested her violation of the OOP. She was convicted by a jury on May 16 of violating the OOP. (See my May 22 blog - “Your tax dollars at work” for the details).
The pre-sentencing report (completed by an arm of the court that looks into the convicted person's background/prior convictions, current situation, etc.) recommended a conditional release with time served and probation. Seeing as Mary Anne has never threatened or caused any harm to person or property, has not defrauded anyone, stolen anything or caused any problems for anyone of the public, and is highly unlikely to do so, this seamed reasonable.
But the judge and the assistant district attorney, Jordan McNamara, had a “live one” — someone they could FINALLY make do some real jail time for protesting at the base. Never mind that the OOP is being challenged as unconstitutional, never mind that there was a great deal of confusion of where the property line for the base is (so much so that signs were finally erected a month or so ago), never mind that Ms. Grady-Flores has not caused one bit of harm to anyone.
Like a pack of rabid animals on a carcass they were on her, McNamara asking for the maximum sentence and Gideon granting it. Their prize? A devoutly Catholic, senior citizen, grandmother of three, who volunteers for local charities and helps to support her extended family financially and by taking care of her frail elderly mother.
So the taxpayers, the hardworking people of Onondaga county will pay more than $73,000 to incarcerate someone who has harmed no person or property in any way and is not likely to do so.
Gideon and McNamara can well afford to be “tough” on this “crime” and send a message to the peace community that these protests will not be tolerated. Gideon and McNamara don't have to worry about the money in their pockets. They enjoy the status of being a protected class of citizens in this great State of New York. As county (government) workers, their health care and pensions (remember that word — the rest of us have 401K’s, subject to the whims of the market) are guaranteed by the aforementioned taxpayers. The cost of their health care never goes up for them and their pensions never go down; the taxpayers pick up the tab. All of it. Even as the cost of the privately employed taxpayer's health care rises and value of their 401K's decrease.
Oh well. Too bad for the rest of us.
“[The protests] have to stop,” Gideon said at the sentencing, indicating by his silence on the matter that the gruesome deaths of the innocent children, and any other innocent human being unfortunate enough to be under the bomb of a drone, are free to continue.
A previous version of this post misidentified Mr. McNamara. His first name is Jordan.