Jury acquits anti-drone protester

Syracuse, N.Y. — A six-person jury acquitted anti-drone protester Russell Brown on July 31 in an East Syracuse, N.Y., court of all charges after he testified about how current U.S. murderous drone strikes are like the U.S. war crimes committed during the ­Vietnam War.

Brown was on trial for an April 2013 protest at Hancock National Guard Airbase in Syracuse. He smeared himself with red dye to represent the death of drone victims and lay down in a roadway in front of the base. He was arrested and faced charges carrying a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

People in Afghanistan are targeted by Reaper drones flown out of Hancock. Soldiers flying the drones are in the 174th Attack Wing, New York National Guard, the first U.S. squadron to convert to all unpiloted combat planes.

Representing himself, Brown, a Marine from 1965 to 1967, gave detailed narratives of U.S. military killings and atrocities against the Vietnamese people that he saw firsthand. (blog.upstatedroneaction.org)

He told the jury of years of sleepless nights, of regret and of guilt for not speaking up against those crimes. He said he wanted to say to soldiers, “You don’t have to obey an illegal order.”

Asked why he protested, Brown said he was speaking out for people being killed and dedicated his action to the people in Vietnam and in the Middle East who had suffered and died in U.S. wars.

After acquitting Brown, one juror asked supporters to “Thank Russell for us.”