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Protester sentenced to probation, not jail time, for ongoing protests of drones at Hancock airfield

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Upstate Drone Resisters
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(file photo)

A judge has sentenced another person arrested for protesting drone warfare outside of Hancock Airfield. Mark Colville is just the latest in a string of protesters to be brought before the DeWitt town court.

Colville, of New Haven, Connecticut, was arrested a year ago for trying to deliver a letter to commanders at the base of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard. He was arrested when he refused to leave.

Before standing in front of the judge Wednesday, Colville said his court date should not be a somber event.

"The best witness that we can give today is one of joy," he said to a room full of supporters. "We should be happy, we should go into that courtroom rejoicing. And we should come out of it rejoicing." 

And that’s what they did. Several dozen activists in the courtroom broke out into applause and song after the judge sentenced Colville to a year of probation.

Colville says the court’s actions aren’t about him, but young victims of drone attacks.

"Our primary purpose is to bring these poor children and their families into the court. To speak their words, to speak their arguments," said Colville.

Another protester will be in court next week. And several more are on the docket for the coming months. The Syracuse Peace Council has been objecting to the use of drone air strikes for several years. Seventeen protesters were arrested in the fall of 2012 and are working their way through the courts.

"We have come together as a community," Colville said. "We’re a community in resistance. And each of us is doing what we can. We’re each putting ourselves out there and we doing it together, side by side."

The 174th converted from fighter jets to the remotely piloted aircraft in 2009. Pilots fly missions overseas for the U.S. Military from controls located at the airfield in Syracuse.