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For Immediate Release

Contact

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Press Release

U.S. Airwars Denounced by Recently Released Catholic Worker Grandmother

The New York Times reports today: “At Least 17 Civilians Killed in U.S. Airstrikes, Afghan Officials Say.”

CNN reports: “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived for an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Friday.” AirWars.org reports the current U.S.-led bombing campaign has launched 7,724 strikes in Iraq over the last 610 days — resulting in at least 1,057 civilian deaths (in both Iraq and Syria).

AP reports: “Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says he’s been invited to the Vatican for a meeting on social, environmental and economic issues.”

MARY ANNE GRADY FLORES, gradyflores08 at gmail.com
Mary Anne Grady Flores is a grandmother who was recently released from jail. She had been involved with civil resistance protests against killer drones outside Hancock Air Force Base in upstate New York. She is involved with UpstateDroneAction.org and with the Ithaca Catholic Worker community.

She said today: “The U.S. military killed an elder in Afghanistan on his way to mediate a land dispute. Then drone pilots carried out a triple tap — targeting first responders who came to help after the drones killed the first group of people, and then the next three who came to help. It’s obvious that the actions of our government are just creating more destruction and anger. We citizens must stop U.S. state sponsored terror through the use of killer drones. As the whistleblower drone operators stated in their open letter to President Obama, this practice only fuels recruitment to groups like ISIS.”

She was jailed for photographing eight Catholic drone protesters outside the Air Force base from the roadway. See her two letters from her 49 days in jail. In one of the letters, she noted: “On January 19, 2016 I was remanded after a county court decision upheld a lower court verdict that I was guilty of violating the terms of an order of protection…” Orders of protection were originally created for domestic violence victims or witnesses subject to intimidation. She said: “The Colonel of the base asked for an order of protection against me because I had previously peacefully protested in the street by the base. This curtails our First Amendment rights petitioning our government for redress of grievances.” See Huffington Post: “Anti-Drone Activist Sentenced To 6 Months In Jail For Peaceful Protest.”

She said today: “Killer drones are just one of the tools our government has used over the last 25 years in the Mideast. All wars have been planned in secret and what we’ve attempted in our protests at Hancock AFB is to unmask the secret killer drone program. We need to follow the money, to see who is profiting from this — and Lockheed Martin is at the top of the list. We need to remember our history of how all wars are spawned by lies — like the secrets and lies told about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Especially in this election frenzy, Hillary Clinton and others who supported the invasion of Iraq would like us to forget.”

Regarding Sanders’ planned visit to the Vatican, she said: “War is the missing issue. In the building of the movement to end the endless wars and the use of killer drones, there needs to be an understanding of the cross sectionalities — environment, racial, economic — all these issues are driven in large part by war. And if Sanders doesn’t prioritize it as the central issue, our nation and the world will continue to be in deep trouble.

“The National Catholic Reporter recently wrote, ‘Vatican to host first-ever conference to reevaluate just war theory, justifications for violence.’ This could not come at a more important moment. The just war theory justified colonial racist wars with blessing from the Church for 17 centuries, since the co-option of Christianity by the Roman Empire under Constantine. For the first time the nonviolent example of Jesus confronting empire may be looked at by the Vatican. It’s critical for the survival of our planet that our Church changes its course — denouncing war, understanding that violence only feeds violence. Jesus’ nonviolent example is clear, inviting us to follow.”

See the news conference after her release last month from jail and other material at: UpstateDroneAction.org.

###

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