Sharon peace activist goes to jail


By Patsy Nicosia

Sharon Springs peace
activist Elliott Adams has been
sentenced to 15 days in jail for
his role in an October 2012
protest at the Hancock Field
Air National Base in Syracuse.
Mr. Adams was one of a
dozen anti-drone activists
found guilty of disorderly
conduct by DeWitt Judge
David Gideon.
Because with Judge
Gideon's consent he was on
the West Coast when his
fellow protestors were
sentenced-they've already
done their time-Mr. Adams
was to report Tuesday for
formal sentencing and to
begin serving his 15 days.
The 12 protestors were
acquitted of trespassing
charges, but Judge Gideon
issued a two-year order of
protection for Base Colonel
Earl Evans, who by his own
admission during the trial, Mr.
Adams said, did not feel
threatened by their protest.
The 12 were also ordered to
pay $325 each in court costs.
The Hancock Field Base is
home of the 174th Attack Wing,
Air National Guard,
responsible, in part, for the
remote piloting of drones used
in air strikes in Afghanistan.
Mr. Adams and the other
protestors maintain their
October 25, 2012 actions were
an effort to uphold the
Constitution and international
"We believe the drones
being used in Afghanistan are
war crimes, crimes against
humanity, and crimes against
peace," Mr. Adams said last
Wednesday. "We were
peaceably petitioning the
government for redress."
In fact, he said, the
Constitution and international
law demand the kind of action
they took.
"One of the most stunning
things to come out of the
Nuremburgh trials [held after
World War II to prosecute
Germany's Nazi leaders] was
that we can't say 'I committed
this crime because someone
made me do it.' We tried
German judges and found
them guilty for enforcing the
laws that were legal under the
existing government. It is our
job to protest these drone
strikes; our position is that
we're potentially prosecutable
if we don't. And it's our First
Amendment Right to petition
our government for redress."
Mr. Adams said none of the
protestors were surprised that
they were arrested-though
he takes issue with the order
of protection issued for
Colonel Evans.
"It's absurd," he said. "He's
the one with the guns and
we're the ones who took a vow
of non-violence. Orders of
protection are for victims of
domestic violence. We had no
idea who Colonel Evans was
until we saw him in court-
where he testified that we
were no threat to him."
Mr. Adams is a Vietnam
veteran, former Sharon
Springs mayor, past-president
of Veterans for Peace, and co-
chair of the nationwide and
community-bases Creating a
Culture of Peace.
As the result of other
protests, he's spent brief
periods of time in jail, but his
15-day sentence in a Syracuse-
area facility will be his first
serious jail time for those
"It's one more bump in the
road," he said, philosophically.
"Yes, it's a big deal. But how
are we going to have a
democracy if citizens can't call
on their government to follow
the law. People say freedom's
not free. I agree. But soldiers
don't defend our freedom-
they defend our government.
And by definition, our
governments take our
freedoms away."