After nearly a three-week break, the trial for 16 protesters of drone warfare resumed Thursday at DeWitt town court. The defendants, known initially as the Hancock 17, were arrested in October of 2012 after they blocked three gates at Hancock Air National Guard Base.
The group held demonstrations at the base against the use of drone warfare in Afghanistan and other countries. Drone pilots are trained at Hancock Air Base, and drones are flown remotely from the base to locations like Afghanistan.
All but one of the protesters will defend themselves without a lawyer, something defendant Ed Kinane says allows their true intentions to be heard:
"Sometimes, when they're represented by an attorney, defendant doesn’t have chance to express their values or their motivation. And these are pivotal things in our trial in our defense.
We don’t have benefit of a lawyer’s experience or training, so there is a certain risk to it. None of us are trained attorneys... Since we speak out of our own consciences we can gain some credibility. And I think we can be more authentically ourselves than when someone is speaking on our behalf. We have all given a lot of thought to our actions, and take this extremely seriously."
Kinane says that while they understand the risk of representing themselves, the protesters hope their trial accomplishes one overarching goal: to send a wake up call to the public about the military activity overseas and its connection to the local area..
Kinane says that many of the defendants have been to trial before in this case, so he believes they bring experience and competence to this trial. The trial may take a little longer, since each defendant will have a chance to speak.
For more information about the Hancock 17 and updates on their trial, visit upstatedroneaction.org.